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In Our Own Words: Writing from the Philippines

November 2019

November-2019-Philippines-Corinne-de-San-Jose-Vanitas-Omnibus-Versions-1-to-25
Corinne de San Jose, "Vanitas (Omnibus) Versions 1 to 25," 2015, inkjet print on Hahnemühle Photo rag® Bright White 310 gsm paper. Photo courtesy of SILVERLENS.

Image: Corinne de San Jose, “Vanitas (Omnibus) Versions 1 to 25,” 2015, inkjet print on Hahnemühle Photo rag® Bright White 310 gsm paper. Photo courtesy of SILVERLENS.


We’re delighted to present our first issue of writing from the Philippines. The Philippines has a long colonial history that has contributed to an incomplete understanding of the country’s plurality of cultures. The work here reclaims both language and literature to rewrite the conventional monolithic narrative imposed by colonial and nationalistic discourses. In the aftermath of a typhoon, Daryll Delgado flashes back to her multilingual childhood. Genevieve Asenjo’s homesick expats find comfort in karaoke. Waray poet Voltaire Oyzon dives into a love-hate relationship with water. In two views of indigenous communities, Joy Serrano-Quijano brings a child’s perspective to a militarized village, and M. J. Cagumbay Tumamac mourns the gradual disappearance of a traditional way of life. Anthropologist and writer Tito Valiente spins a traditional tale of a young woman romanced by a mythical being. Poets Marlon Hacla and Mesándel Virtusio Arguelles explore the philosophy of language and the meaning of experience, and Enrique Villasis takes poetic flight from a painting by artist Vicente Manansala. And Jessica Hagedorn speaks with us about living in and with multiple languages. Guest editors Kristian Sendon Cordero and Kristine Ong Muslim contribute an insightful introduction. Also this month, we bring you three tales of the otherworldly.

(Re)writing the Philippines: An Introduction
By Kristian Sendon Cordero & Kristine Ong Muslim
The works we have selected challenge a monolithic view of the fragmented histories and interconnected, overlapping cultures in the Philippines.
Translated from Filipino by Kristine Ong Muslim
from “Remains”
By Daryll Delgado
Coconut trees, palm fronds gone. Decapitated.
Water
By Voltaire Oyzon
Three or four days / he hangs out in our house.
Translated from Waray by Merlie M. Alunan
Multilingual
“Languages Constantly Crackling in the Air”
By The Editors of Words Without Borders
Not enough is known about the Philippines.
Norebang
By Genevieve L. Asenjo
We belt out everything from ABBA to K-pop, to “Ang Pasko ay Sumapit,” grinding and wiggling.
Translated from Filipino by Michelle Tiu Tan
Multilingual
Juggler
By Mesándel Virtusio Arguelles
How does one grasp making / sense of timing when to hurl and when to catch?
Translated from Filipino by Kristine Ong Muslim
Multilingual
Erlina’s Sugilanon
By Tito Genova Valiente
Actually, the night Erlina first saw an Onglo was the night the creature was regenerating his power.
A Planned Brief Documentary on a Teenage Boy in a Badjao Village
By M. J. Cagumbay Tumamac
Like a fish / in an aquarium, you are a source of distress and distraction.
Translated from Filipino by Kristine Ong Muslim
MultimediaMultilingual
Can’t Go Out
By Elizabeth Joy Serrano-Quijano
I want to cry and look for Papa, but I can’t go out.
Translated from Cebuano by John Bengan
Multilingual
Birds of Paradise, 1965
By Enrique Villasis
In the mind, a flock of birds, feathers from an unshakable, shadowy thing.
Translated from Filipino by Bernard Capinpin
Multilingual
from “Melismas”
By Marlon Hacla
What / are the things we need to prepare?
Translated from Filipino by Kristine Ong Muslim
Multilingual
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