poetry & tsismis: emily's blog

April 29, 2013

POEM: lying in my bed: april 29, 1992

Filed under: Los Angeles,Poetry — EL @ 4:29 pm
Tags: ,

April is National Poetry Writing Month #NaPoWriMo. Here is a poem/diary/memoir I started years ago and edited last year, on the 20th anniversary of Sa-i-Gu. Follow me on Twitter for more poetry, tsismis, and daily updates: @emilylawsin

* * *

lying in my bed: april 29, 1992

© by emily p. lawsin

 

i remember living in Hershey Hall, at UCLA, trying to call our loved ones,

hugging Joyce, my Korean American roommate,

 

who crouched, praying, glued to the tube,

as the revolution was, indeed, being televised.

 

she bit her nails, wound her long ebony hair up tight in a bun,

worried about her mom and pop.

 

despite the miles of jammed phone lines, we learned that their store

stood strong, shielded by the foot of the San Bernardino Mountains.

 

we stayed on the edge of Westwood, but could still hear the helicopters whirring

and smell the fires burning, the weight of a heavier smog choking our chests.

 

i had just finished reading “A Fire in Fontana” by Hisaye Yamamoto, for a grad class

in Asian American history: its black type fading under strays of yellow highlighter.

 

i don’t remember having or going to any classes that day,

but i knew that my comrades and classmates would gather

 

to start teach-ins outside Campbell Hall,

if not caravanning to clean up Koreatown.

 

as i headed out the door, my elderly Mama and Papa called, saying in Taglish that

they didn’t want to see their anak on CNN patrolling the L.A. streets with a BB gun

 

(as if i had brought mine when i moved from Seattle the previous August)

and for the first time ever, they told me that i should just skip class.

 

i didn’t completely comprehend all of the conversations, or the impending transgressions,

or the necessary healing that would follow until years later,

 

but time slow-dragged, marched, and rallied on that smoke-filled day.

as the fires smoldered and the sun set, my long-distance-but-soon-to-be-ex boyfriend finally called me

 

after seeing the crumpled faces of the rest of his newspaper’s staff,

their eyebrows arching as high as the Kingdome’s cloud over Chinatown.

 

when he returned to his desk after lobbing tennis balls with his assistant

(the sway of her hips and the name on her racquet a cheap imitation of mine),

 

he found mounds of my phone messages on pink “While You Were Out” slips,

stabbed in the back by the spear of a tarnished paper weight, imported from Hong Kong.

 

hours after the melee on Florence and Normandie had quelled, perhaps afraid that i would cause my

own riot over his alleged tennis game, he had the nerve to ask me to write a column on the uprisings.

 

i wrote it; he edited it: our last collaboration,

right at the moment when rodney king pleaded to the press, “can we all just get along?”

 

twenty years later, i realize that everything that happened that day gave us all room to grow,

and my first front page story which began, “Welcome to Los Angeles”.

**

april 29, 2012

detroit

www.emilylawsin.com

**

**

 

January 2, 2012

Day 2: Haiku When New Year’s Falls on a Sunday

Filed under: Free-Writes,Los Angeles,Poetry — EL @ 1:21 pm
Tags: , ,

Happy 1-2-12! I’m trying to keep my new year’s resolution of writing more and loving more each day. Here’s Day 2’s haiku (poems with 17 syllables that are usually lines of 5 syllables-7 syllables-5 syllables). Please leave a comment here on the blog (as every writer, especially me, needs the encouragement)! 🙂  Maraming Salamat/Many Thanks for reading. 

–  

First Sunday: Global Warming?

© by Emily P. Lawsin

a kink out of place:

eighty degrees, new year’s day,

no parade of thorns?

1-2-12

www.emilylawsin.com

August 27, 2011

MORE POEMS: For Blair (While I Was Away)

Blair 2006 David Lewinski Photo

Today, another memorial for our brotherfriend, singer-songwriter / National Poetry Slam Champion, Blair, will be held in his hometown of Newton, New Jersey. I wish I could be there, but have family obligations here in Detroit. Here are more haikus and poems I wrote after I heard that Blair died. Hearing such tragic news while out of town makes one realize what makes a city a home. I love and miss you, Blair. Thank you for everything you did for me, our family, and our world.

.

Haikus for the Haiku Champion, David Blair (9/19/67 – 7/23/11)

© by Emily P. Lawsin

Monday, July 25, 2011, Del Mar, California

Sunset near Del Mar, the day after Blair died.

In Exile in Del Mar

.

most would enjoy this

self-imposed exile at the

foot of the ocean

.

thousands of miles

away from where they found you

in the Corktown Inn.

.

Sir Duke belted on

my phone; i thought it was Grace.

the news numbed, threw me.

.

i locked myself in

the bathroom to cry all day

humming “no, no! why?”

.

Blair 2008 Photo by David Lewinski

.

Lost South of L.A.

remembering your

last visit here to help your

friend, queen of type keys.

.

.

Blair Had a Fear of Flying?

despite your fear of

flying, you soar far and wide

above all others.

– – – – – – –

 

There’s No Room at the Inn, Blair (Or, Anger is the 2nd Stage)

Blair 2006 David Lewinski Photo

 © by Emily P. Lawsin

 Tuesday, July 26, 2011 2:43 AM Pacific Time, Buena Vista, California 

for David Blair (9/19/67 – 7/23/11)

.

for the second night in a row since your sunset

i sit in a strange motel room

struck with insomnia amidst the inquiries of your passing

.

a man cussing, paces drunk outside my window

i can hear his voice above the rumble of the a/c

ten minutes past last call

.

i want to scream back at him,

throw the spikes of my high-heeled shoes at him,

show him how we would take care of this problem in the D

.

i imagine lighting his foul mouth on fire

with the stench of the incinerator

just a few blocks from your many homes

.

i wonder what has wounded this stranger

that would allow him to crash my private pity party:

afraid to lie down and innocently rest like you did

.

just to catch my breath.

  – – – – – – –

   Blair, You Made the Earth Quake

Blair in Detroit. Photo by David Lewinski

© by Emily P. Lawsin

 Thursday, July 28, 2011, 4:55 AM Pacific Time, Culver City, California  

for David Blair (9/19/67 – 7/23/11)

On the night you left this earth,

The ground shaked,

While everyone else in this Crowded House slept.

.

A 3.3 earthquake centered near Gardena,

For just the length of an Urban Folk verse,

Jolted me awake.

.

I searched for a news report

To see if anyone else felt it,

Or if it was just the washing machine in the garage,

Or my imagination, spinning.

.

On the radio, Purple Rain played.

.

Tell me: when the soils shook this sunbelt sliver of our shores,

Was that you

Trying to find us to wave goodbye?

.

Or the angels

Lifting you up to your violet colored sky?

.

Or the gardens of bees rumbling

Because you had not yet bid them Farewell?

.

Or the ancestors’ spirits, trying to ground you,

Who knew it really wasn’t your time to leave?

* * *

www.emilylawsin.com

For my other poems/blogs about Blair, click HERE  https://divadiba.wordpress.com/?s=blair

The New Jersey Herald just published an article on Blair, HERE.

To read the cover story Remembering Blair in Detroit’s Metro Times, click HERE. 

To read  the article by Scott Kurashige eulogizing Blair, in The Michigan Citizen newspaper, click HERE.

To read The Michigan Citizen article about Blair’s funeral in Detroit and the text of his “Detroit (While I Was Away)” poem, click HERE.

To see videos of Blair performing songs and poems, see his manager Serious Artists, HERE

Thank you to David Lewinski, for the beautiful photographs of Blair: http://www.thebestphotographerindetroit.com/davidblair

Donations for Blair’s family and a healthcare fund for Detroit artists are still welcome at www.dblair.org

Rest in Peace and Poetry, my friend.

.

March 18, 2011

Remembering Auntie Helen Brown, 1915-2011

UCLA Pilipino Graduation 1993. Standing L-R: Enrique de la Cruz, Helen Brown, Philip Vera Cruz, Debbie Vollmer, Steffi San Buenaventura, Tania Azores, Royal Morales. Seated L-R: Emma, Emily, and Vincent A. Lawsin.

I feel deeply blessed to have been taught and mentored by amazing pioneers in Filipino American Studies. Many of them appear in photos and other entries on this blog. On January 25, 2011, we lost one of the most dedicated and inspiring Pinay elders: Helen Agcaoili Summers Brown, founder of the Filipino American Library (FAL) in Los Angeles. She was 95. Tomorrow, March 19, at 2PM, FAL will host a Community Tribute to “Auntie” Helen at the Filipino Disciples Christian Church and I wish I could be there.

Auntie Helen taught me (and everyone she met) the importance of preserving our Philippine and Filipino American history. I met Auntie Helen at the very first conference of the Filipino American National Historical Society (FANHS) in Seattle, in 1987. Auntie Helen had traveled all the way from Los Angeles for the conference.  As a young student at the time, I remember being awestruck by her claim to have been the first-known Filipina woman to graduate from UCLA in 1937. As a member of the FANHS Board of Trustees, Auntie Helen attended every conference after that, for several years, all over the U.S. (often with her cousin Helen Ward).

In 1990, Auntie Helen organized the first meeting to establish what is now known as the Los Angeles Chapter of FANHS. When we officially chartered the FANHS-LA Chapter in 1993, Auntie Helen was a founding member and staunch supporter, with all sorts of ideas for co-sponsored events and co-curricular programs.

August Espiritu, Meg Thornton and I helped Auntie Helen sell US-Philippine Friendship Flag pins as a fundraiser for PARRAL, along with Philip Vera Cruz's autobiography, which August helped edit when he was a student. FANHS Conference, Chicago, 1992.

When I moved from Seattle to attend graduate school in Asian American Studies at UCLA, Auntie Helen was one of the first community leaders to embrace me and teach me about Filipina/os in Los Angeles. She invited me to PARRAL, the Pilipino American Reading Room and Library (the precursor to what is now known as FAL), which she founded in Los Angeles in 1985. I remember entering PARRAL, which back then, in 1991, was just a small room in the basement of the Filipino Christian Church on Union St. I think I was with Cathy (Pet) Choy and August Espiritu, who were also Filipino American graduate students at UCLA (and who are now tenured professors at UC Berkeley and University of Illinois-Urbana Champaign, respectively). As eager student researchers, we sorted through hundreds of Auntie Helen’s books, pamphlets, event programs, newsletters, and photos. I honestly felt giddy and overwhelmed, like I had just struck gold! I also felt like I was “back home”, in Seattle, because PARRAL, with its haphazard overflowing stacks of ephemera, looked eerily similar to the FANHS National Pinoy Archives, where I had volunteered as an undergraduate intern.

Auntie Helen generously gave me the missing issues for the research that I did on the Filipino Student Bulletin, which was published in the U.S. from the early 1920s-1940. I had started cataloguing that newsletter at FANHS in Seattle and finished it my first semester at UCLA, with the help of Prof. Don Nakanishi and Auntie Helen. (My research was published many years later in the 1996 FANHS Journal.)

So many of us who research and teach Filipino American Studies owe a great deal to Auntie Helen. She was not only a teacher and librarian, she was like a Lola, a grandmother, who gave birth to several generations of Pin@y students and community activists. In her early years as a teacher, she organized for bilingual education in the Los Angeles public schools. In her retirement, she helped with the early movement for the official designation of what is now known as “Historic Filipino Town” in Los Angeles.

CSUN Filipino American Experience Class visits the Filipino American Library at its old location in Luzon Plaza 1995.

When I started teaching Filipino American Experience classes at UCLA and California State University, Northridge, Auntie Helen was our favorite guest speaker. She would blow the students away (especially the young Bruins) when she would tell them that she was THE FIRST Pinay Bruin to graduate from UCLA. She always generously opened the doors of PARRAL when Uncle Roy Morales and I would lead class tours of Filipino Town. The CSUN students were one of the first to visit when PARRAL renamed itself and moved to its former and much larger location at Luzon Plaza on Temple Street in 1994.  We had many events there and I even taught a series of Oral History classes in that space. We were all mesmerized by Auntie Helen’s stories of being “mestiza” in L.A, as she was the daughter of a Filipino mother and a white father, during the era of anti-miscegenation laws. She was like a walking history book.

Now, as I teach Asian/Pacific Islander American Studies and Women’s Studies at the University of Michigan, I think of Auntie Helen often, wishing that this new generation of students would be so blessed to hear her unique laugh, to hear her shaky voice, and to touch the pages of history that she always generously shared. In our academic and community work, we do our best to honor Auntie Helen’s legacy.

Maraming salamat po, Auntie Helen, for everything you did for me and everything you did for Filipinos worldwide. Thank you to your pamilya for sharing you with us too. Mahal kita.

 

© Emily P. Lawsin

Trustee, Filipino American National Historical Society

Detroit, Michigan

www.emilylawsin.com

HELEN BROWN DOCUMENTARY ON YouTube!

Here is a FANHStastic Documentary on Helen Summers Brown,entitled “Got Book: Auntie Helen’s Gift of Book”, produced by the phenomenal Florante Peter Ibañez in 2005. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d5gGQh3E9BQ

I love watching this film, which includes a lot of my mentors, friends, and kababayans from L.A. (and a photo of us FANHS Pinays with Auntie Helen at the Rock in Morro Bay).  MARAMING SALAMAT, Florante!

 

October 28, 2010

Day 28 of Filipino American History Month: Uncle Roy Morales in Chevy Ad During World Series

Filed under: FANHS,History Month,Los Angeles,Memorials,Pinoys — EL @ 10:03 am
Tags:

Day 28 of Filipino American History Month:

Uncle Roy Morales in Chevy Ad Aired During World Series

Did you watch 3rd-generation Filipino American Tim Lincecum, Cy Young Award winner and star pitcher of the San Francisco Giants, WIN his first game in the World Series against the Texas Rangers last night? If so, I hope you didn’t skip the commercials, or at least the “My First Chevy” ad: it includes a photo of Uncle Roy Morales!

Royal Morales in Lake Tahoe, 1952. Courtesy of Kathy Morales

Yes, that’s right, another double achievement for Filipino American History Month. This is why I love our FANHS family and the power of the coconut wire: community activist/FANHS-LA member/educator/librarian Florante Ibañez, co-author of Filipinos in Carson and the South Bay, forwarded an email yesterday from Kathy Morales, the daughter of the late Royal F. Morales, better known to us proud UCLA alumni as “Uncle Roy”. Kathy said:

> I was waiting to hear confirmation and now that I have, I just wanted to share something really awesome!! The attached picture is of my dad Roy Morales from 1952 when he was in Lake Tahoe. It will be used in a Chevrolet commercial!! And this commercial will be aired during the World Series!!  . . . please share this with everyone who you think would like to know.  I think that this is quite amazing….after almost ten years of he being absent from us physically, he will be seen throughout the whole nation! Isn’t that just so incredibly cool? And as his 20-year old self….WOW!<

If you missed the commercial, you can watch it on YouTube here:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FsILAyAqMFQ

Uncle Roy’s photo goes by really quickly, but if you pause the commercial at the 0:04 seconds mark, you’ll see him, smiling broadly in this black and white photo. General Motors announced that the ads will air throughout the World Series and maybe even during the SuperBowl.

So how did Chevy get the photo? I had to ask Kathy. She told me that the photo was taken by one of Uncle Roy’s friends when they both worked at the Cal Neva club in Lake Tahoe in 1952. A resource company contacted their family after they found the photo in the Los Angeles Public Library’s collection. Ah, yes, the power of the coconut wire and the FANHS family again: in the mid 1990s, our FANHS-LA Chapter helped the brilliant photographer Carolyn Kozo Cole and my old UCLA classmate Sojin Kim gather Filipino community photos for their “Shades of L.A.” photo archive project. They collected 10,000 photos from many communities of color, setting up cameras in church basements and community centers, and then asked us volunteers to help catalogue and write down people’s memories.  I was blessed to be able to sit down with Uncle Roy (and Uncle Sam Balucas) as they talked story about literally hundreds of photos. As my comadre Meg Thornton says, it was one of the FANHS-LA projects of which I am most proud. Many photos have made it as covers of books and now, commercials.

You can read more about our beloved Uncle Roy or donate to his Memorial Scholarship funds at UCLA and USC here:

http://web.me.com/uclapaa/UCLAPAA/uncle_roy.html

http://articles.latimes.com/2001/jan/27/local/me-17817

http://filipinoamericanlibrary.org/roy.html

http://alumnigroups.usc.edu/apaa/pdf/APAA_Scholarship_App_2010-2011.pdf

http://www.socialworkhallofdistinction.org/honorees/item.php?id=39

As I have written before, I feel truly blessed to have been mentored by many of the pioneers in Filipino American Studies like Uncle Roy. Another photograph of him – singing with a Manong at one of our FANHS-LA events – hangs on my office wall, reminding me daily of his legacy of teaching and community service that we must all carry on to younger generations.  Ironically, now, a Chevy ad with Buzz Lightyear’s voice is a reminder too, even for just a split second, as I sit here in Detroit, a few miles from the GM plant where Uncle Roy’s Chevy was probably made.

Maraming salamat to Kathy and Florante for sharing!

* * *

© Emily P. Lawsin teaches Asian/Pacific Islander American Studies and Women’s Studies at the University of Michigan.

www.emilylawsin.com

June 15, 2010

Update: Public Memorial Service for John Delloro on Saturday June 19

Filed under: Los Angeles,Memorials — EL @ 8:36 am
Tags: , ,

From our friends at UCLA’s Asian American Studies Department…  I wish I could be there:

http://www.asianam.ucla.edu/delloromemorial.html

————————————————————

Update: Memorial Service for John Delloro

Please join us for a public memorial to remember and celebrate the life of John Delloro.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

10 am to 12 noon

East Los Angeles College

1301 Avenida Cesar Chavez in Monterey Park.

We encourage you to bring a photo or message about John Delloro to share as part of a poster collage that will be assembled before and after the ceremony, and presented to his family.

The memorial will be held at the auditorium at East Los Angeles College, which is located at:

1301 Avenida Cesar Chavez
Monterey Park, CA 91754-6099

For a campus map, please go here:http://www.elac.edu/collegeservices/campusmaps/docs/2008/EasternPedestrianAccessMap_08_05_08.pdf

Parking will be free in Parking Structure #3. The entrance is on Avenida Cesar Chavez. East Los Angeles College can also be accessed via public transportation:

Metro Line 68 stops east-west at the main entrance on Cesar Chavez Avenue
Metro Line 260 stops south-north on Atlantic Blvd.
Montebello Line 30 stops north-south at the side entrance of the campus.

(More information about public transportation options is available on http://www.metro.net/)

If you would like to make a donation or contribution in terms of funeral services or other needs, please make checks payable to “John Delloro Memorial Fund” and drop-off or mail to either:

Los Angeles Trade Technical College
Dolores Huerta Labor Institute
400 West Washington Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90015
http://college.lattc.edu/laborcenter/

UCLA Asian American Studies Department
Attention: Stacey Hirose
3336 Rolfe Hall, Box 957225
Los Angeles, CA 90095-7225
http://www.asianam.ucla.edu/

This memorial is hosted by the Dolores Huerta Labor Institute, Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance, Los Angeles Trade Technical College Labor Center, UCLA Asian American Studies Department and Center, UCLA Labor Center, Pilipino Workers Center, Los Angeles County Federation of Labor, American Federation of Teachers #1521, and the Service Employees International Union.

————————————————————

Facebook Event Invite: http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=131360043557185

————————————————————

CLICK HERE to read my previous post for a poem I wrote about John: http://tinyurl.com/PoemForDelloro

Presente!


June 8, 2010

John Delloro Funeral Arrangements

Filed under: Brothafriends,Los Angeles,Memorials — EL @ 11:53 pm
Tags: ,
John Delloro leads a rally at UCLA, 1995. Photo by Dawn Bohulano Mabalon.

Statement from our alma mater, UCLA. Rest in Peace, John. We love you, brothafriend.

http://www.aasc.ucla.edu/archives/johndelloro.asp

John Delloro: UCLA Scholar Activist and Asian Pacific American Labor Leader Passes (1971-2010)
It is with deep sadness that the faculty, staff, and students of the UCLA Asian American Studies Center and Department and the UCLA Labor Center join with countless others in mourning the loss of John Delloro, an extraordinary labor and community leader, teacher, and activist. He passed away in the early morning of Saturday, June 5, 2010 from a heart attack. Delloro was a courageous, articulate, and passionate advocate for social justice in Los Angeles, the nation, and beyond. A Bruin through and through, John received his Master of Arts degree in Asian American Studies with an interest in Asian Americans and the US labor movement and his Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology and Specialization in Asian American Studies at UCLA. He received his Associate of Arts in Social Science at College of the Canyons.  He worked as a lecturer with the UCLA Asian American Studies Department for nearly three years, where he taught “Asian American and Pacific Islander Leadership Development”; “Asian Americans, Pacific Islanders, and Labor Organizing in Contemporary Society”; “Power of Story: Oral History, Leadership, and AAPI Communities”; “Public Narrative: Community Organizing, Power, and Identity”; and “Contemporary Asian American Communities.”  Lane Hirabayashi, Chair of the Asian American Studies Department recalled, “John was an amazing teacher who inspired many students to major and minor in Asian American Studies and become involved and active with the community.  John was dedicated to his students, and all of us in the Department remember seeing him spend countless hours in and around the office talking to them.”

As a faculty member of the Los Angeles Trade-Technical College Labor Studies Center, he taught classes on “Asian Americans and Affirmative Action,” “Asian Americans and the Garment Industry,” “Labor In America,” “Labor Leadership,” “Politics and Labor,” “Race and Gender in the Workplace,” “Strategic Planning for Labor Unions,” “Building More Effective Unions,” and trainings and seminars on labor history, workplace issues and organizing at various trade unions and community organizations. “As a nationally recognized union leader, labor educator, organizer, teacher and mentor, John Delloro touched the lives of many and will be remembered for his compassion, his generosity of spirit, and for his visionary leadership,” said Kent Wong, Director of the UCLA Labor Center.

In addition to his academic background, he is remembered as a longtime labor and community organizer, who served as manager of the southwest California area of the 90,000 member SEIU Local 1000, the Union of California State Workers and as a staff director for the acute care hospital division of SEIU Local 399, the Healthcare Employees union. He has also worked as an organizer for the Culinary Union (HERE Local 226) in Las Vegas and AFSCME International organizing Los Angeles Superior Court clerical employees.

A Filipino American, his activism within and commitment to Asian, Latino, Black communities was unparalleled, both in the classroom and in the workplace. John Delloro was one of the co-founders of the Pilipino Workers Center of Southern California (PWC), and served as the National President of the Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance, AFL-CIO, which is the largest and only national organization of Asian Pacific American working families and union members. He was also the Executive Director of the Dolores Huerta Labor Institute, a member of the Board of Taxicab Commissioners for the City of Los Angeles and served as an appointee on the California Assembly Speaker’s Commission on Labor Education.

“John Delloro had a heart of a champion, with a dedication to social justice, respect, and equality for workers, immigrants, and people of color. His commitment to positive social change was contagious, inspirational, and had an indelible impact on a generation of students and activists across the nation, including myself,” said Melany Dela Cruz-Viesca, Assistant Director of the UCLA Asian American Studies Center. John Delloro is survived by his wife, Dr. Susan Suh, UCLA Sociology Ph.D. Alumna and community activist, and their two young children, Mina and Malcolm. A public viewing will be held the evenings of Thursday, June 10, 2010 and Friday, June 11, 2010, from 5-9pm at the Mission Hills Catholic Mortuary, located at 11160 Stranwood Ave, Mission Hills, CA 91345. Funeral services will be private. Per the wishes of the family, there may be a public memorial at a later date.

If you would like to make a donation or contribution in terms of funeral services or other needs, please make checks payable to “John Delloro Memorial Fund” and drop-off or mail to either:

UCLA Asian American Studies Department
Attention: Stacey Hirose
3336 Rolfe Hall, Box 957225
Los Angeles, CA 90095-7225
www.asianam.ucla.edu

UCLA Asian American Studies Center
Attention: Meg Thornton
3230 Campbell Hall
Los Angeles, CA 90095-1546
www.aasc.ucla.edu

For inquiries, please contact Meg Thornton at (310) 825-2974 or Stacey Hirose at (310) 267-5593. Please visit our websites for further information.

CLICK HERE to read my previous post for a poem I wrote about John: http://tinyurl.com/PoemForDelloro


June 6, 2010

In Memory of John Delloro + Poem

Dearest John,

I logged on to Facebook last night to ask you if you would be joining us here in Detroit this month, for the US Social Forum, since you’re the National President of the Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance. I was shocked to see my entire homepage covered with news about your sudden heart attack, just a few hours after your last post. I cried in disbelief and called our friends in L.A. to see if it was true (sadly, yes, they said it happened in the dark hours of the morning, Saturday, June 5). My heart goes out to your wife Susan Suh, and children, Mina and Malcolm. I wrote this poem for you to sort through my thoughts. As always, your spirit lifts us, as we search for an explanation, checking for updates and then realizing that you were always the first to tell us such news.

Did I ever thank you for those days, when you always put a smile on my face? Did we ever thank Susan for sharing you with us, as you made this world a better place?  Many will say: Rest in Power, an ode to the Black and Yellow Power Movement that you so epitomized in all that you did. I say Rest in Peace, because I know no one else who deserves it more.

When my father, a life-long union man, died this past March, we chose this as his epitaph, which I now offer as solace, for those who loved you too:

“I go where there are no slaves, hangmen, or oppressors;

where faith does not kill;

where the one who reigns is God.”

~from “Mi Ultimo Adios” by Dr. Jose P. Rizal, on the eve of his execution December 29, 1896

My heart is heavy. I will miss you so much, my friend. Prayers and strength to all of your family. Minamahal kita.


A Bullhorn for Justice and Peace:

Memories of John Delloro, 1971-2010

© by Emily P. Lawsin


In this union town, monsoon rains

Wash a flood of memories

In this valley of tears

As I remember the El Niño years

In the City of Angels

Almost 20 years ago, with you,

Our comrade and brothafriend.


I remember when we first met at UCLA;

Me, a Pinay grad student and wanna-be poet/professor,

You, a young undergrad, who was taught

Guerrilla theatre by college republicans and Alinksy students,

Thankfully befriended by baby-faced Bong and other Pinoys:

Your Tribung Ligaw

Who were smart enough to talk to you one-one-one, without a bullhorn.

They convinced you to reject

Or at least publicly question

The white-washed education

That one used to learn in the San Fernando Valley,

Riddled with all its racial fault lines,

Despite its acres of farmlands the Manongs had plowed before us.


I remember how you used to tell everyone

The above story of how you became politicized,

With a twinkle in your eye and a wide smile,

Followed by your chuckled laugh that sounded like gasps

Which should have told us, back then, how tender your heart really beats.


I remember our poetry readings before “Slam” even existed:

My trademark “Diva, di ba” poem (written for the Pinays who

Tabled with you to Save Tagalog classes),

Followed by your trademark

“I am SPAM: A Single Pilipino American Male” poem,

You, breaking out your t-shirt with a blue can of Spam on it, like Superman.

All the women (and gay men) would say, “Is he really single?”

While you always thought they were asking, “Is he really Pilipino?”


I remember our Marxist study groups,

Where you were the only one who ever really completed the readings,

And how you still managed to scarf down a plate of potluck

Even after talking so much,

Chopsticks in one hand and a pen in the other,

Taking notes in the margins for the marginalized.


I remember our meetings at KIWA          look closely: that is John, jumping

And rallies against Jessica McClintock

For not paying her Asian American garment workers,

How you would wear one of her pink prom-like dresses

With a red bandana wrapped around your head

Circling in front of the McClintock boutique on Rodeo Drive,

Leading us all in a chant: without a bullhorn.


I remember when you and Jay announced the creation of the

Pilipino Workers Center,

How Uncle Roy said Manong Philip would be so proud:

All three of you now our guardian angels.


I remember when you were writing your Master’s thesis

And spoke to my Asian American Studies class at Northridge,

Just a few miles from where you grew up,

Bonded with all the students who were also born to Pinay nurses,

Then taught them about sweatshop workers

With a pyramid in the shape of a dress.

I told you that you were a good teacher,

You should teach.


But you didn’t listen, for a while at least,

Had to get your feet wet in the Vegas desert,

Organizing the workers,

Fell in love with brilliant Susan, the only person (before Mina and Malcolm)

Who could ever get you to slow down.

The two of you married the same year I did,

All of us reinventing the red diaper brigade.


When Spam became synonymous with junk mail,

You disguised the poetry and became a blogger, then an author,

Teaching our people’s struggles to the masses

In the form of an American Prayer,

Paying homage to our ancestors,

Burning cane fires late into the night.


The last time I saw you in person,

You had organized a mini-reunion of our activist circle,

Carrying a pink box of pastries and your son sleeping on your shoulder,

Told us about teaching at our alma mater and

Directing the Dolores Huerta Labor Institute.

While I noticed your healthier potluck plate,

We admired you for surviving your first heart attack five years ago,

As you stroked Malcolm’s sleeping hair: your priorities, now clear.


With 1700 of your other friends,

I followed all of your travels across the country, my fellow traveler,

Until you finally went home to rest.


Maraming Salamat, ang kapatid ko / Thank You so much, my brother,

My kasama, for all that you did to make this world a better place.

We raise a power fist to you: our bullhorn with the tender heart,

Offering you this poem of peace, we reaffirm your chants:

Makibaka, Huwag Matakot! We will Fight the Struggle, Without Fear,

Just as you did,

With all your heart.


John Delloro: PRESENTE!

June 6, 2010

Detroit 3:07 AM ET

www.emilylawsin.com

UPDATES:

6-7-10: CLICK HERE for Statement from the UCLA Asian American Studies Center & Department, and UCLA Labor Center. Includes info on Public Viewing (Thurs & Fri June 10-11, 5-9 PM at Mission Hills Catholic Mortuary) and How to Send Memorial Donations for the Family. http://www.aasc.ucla.edu/archives/johndelloro.asp


6-8-10 CLICK HERE http://www.buddhahead.org/delloro.htm for a recording of John reciting one of his poems in the 1990s at UCLA, in honor of the visit of Philip Vera Cruz. Thank you to Ryan Yokota for preserving and posting it.

6-8-10: CLICK HERE  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cvJWif4WqBc for a video of John at a recent rally at UCLA, just like we used to do almost 20 years ago, except this time he’s in a suit. 🙂 Salamat/Thank you to Derek Mateo for sharing.


Join the Facebook Group “In Memory of John Delloro” for further updates.


June 12, 2009

Packing Sheets: On Philippine Independence Day

Peace, pamilya and friends. Been on hiatus from this blog during the academic year, but have a computer full of blogs to add after we move. Here’s the latest. 🙂 

Watertown, MA    7:37 AM EDT

800px-Flag_of_the_PhilippinesToday, June 12, 2009, marks the 111th year of Philippine Independence from Spain, which had colonized my parents’ homeland for almost 400 years.  My cousin, Oscar Peñaranda, has written about how his grandfather fought in the Philippine Revolution against Spain, while I, with my Filipino American life, always find myself packing sheets around this time of year, literally and figuratively. Now say it like your oldtimer uncle would say it, with a Filipino accent:  “packing sheeeiiiiiittttt.” LOL.  I always love how they can flip the “p” and “f” sounds, all puns intended.

For a long-time-student-turned-educator, June is a crazy month, usually marked with final exams, submitting/receiving grades, and graduations. With that, comes the annual clean up, and often, the dreaded moving: to a new class, a new apartment, or even a new city. Forget weddings: you’ll hardly ever see any of my educator friends getting married in June. We’re too frazzled.

As I wrote in my last entry, I spent most of June 2008 watching my mother die in a hospital bed in Seattle.  On June 12th, I whispered to her how my husband had just called and said we have an offer on our Detroit townhouse that we had just listed for sale.  In her comatose state, my mom moved her eyeballs underneath lids, still closed, and shed a tear. “Happy Independence Day,” I said.

I remember when we lived in Los Angeles several years ago, on June 12, 1994, the bodies of Nicole Brown Simpson and Ronald Goldman were found fatally stabbed in her Brentwood home.  A few days later, I watched the O.J. Simpson car chase on TV. The helicopters and sirens echoed outside my apartment as they sped down the 405 freeway, its overpass just next door. An ex-boyfriend who I hadn’t spoken to in two years called out of the blue at the exact same time, liberating us from some old demons. When I hung up the phone, I whispered to myself, “Happy Independence Day.”

This week, my siblings and cousins have been calling, emailing, and texting me with busy plans of our upcoming family reunion in Seattle.  I am just praying that there will be no blow-ups or typical drama during it all:  you know, the huffing and puffing, the “pucking sheeiittt” that happens in loud Pinoy hypertension-laden dysfunctional families.  Like mine.  God love them all.  On the day of our last family reunion, that same ex-boyfriend got married just a few miles away, down the road. My cousin attended it.  And me?  I was a good girl and stayed at the reunion, barbecuing mom’s beef inihaw skewers and unpacking picnic blankets, fighting all urges to crash his wedding, like he had wanted to do at mine, akin to Dustin Hoffman in one of our favorite films, “The Graduate”. [Cue the Simon and Garfunkel music:  And here’s to you, Mrs. Robinson. Jesus loves you more than you will know (wo, wo, wo).  God bless you please, [Mrs. Lawsin].  Heaven holds a place for those who pray (hey, hey, hey… hey, hey, hey).]

Packing sheit. Ah-hem, I mean, back to packing sheiiit.

This morning, it is pouring down rain here in the Boston-area.  It looks and smells like Seattle, with bus trolleys splashing puddles onto tired office workers waiting outside my front window. Our moving pod and good friends that we have made here will arrive in just a few hours. We are packing up our rental home, which we have loved for the last 10 months, so we can return to our other jobs in Michigan.  And yes, in this recession, to still have a job in Michigan is definitely a blessing.  So I leave with a thankful heart and no regrets, though we will miss our Boston friends.

tula at TLast night, my daughter helped me fold the towels and blankets her grandmother and aunties sewed and knitted for her when she was born. I remembered how last year, my husband got all of our incredible Detroit and Ann Arbor friends to help him pack up our house while I tended to my mom in Seattle. As I separated and folded sheets, wondering how we would get all of this done in time to move next week, my daughter asked, “What are you doing, Mommy?”

“I am packing sheets,” I said. “Again,” a tear coming to my eye.

She gave me a big hug and said, “It’s okay, Mommy. I love you.”

In the end, that is all that really matters. Packing sheeiittt.

Happy Independence Day.

* * *

Postscript:

PVC BookcoverMy Pinoy friend John Delloro, fellow UCLA alum, author, lecturer, and labor activist, just reminded me how on June 12, 1994, Agricultural Workers Organizing Committee (AWOC) and United Farm Workers (UFW) co-founder Philip Vera Cruz passed away in Bakersfield, California. Manong Philip toiled long in the fields and on the picket lines for social justice.  I had met him two years earlier, when his oral history was published by my alma mater UCLA Asian American Studies Center’s Press.  My comadré Meg called to tell me the news and I cried.  I helped her make the calls because Manong Philip’s longtime companion, Debbie, had asked her to and she couldn’t do it by herself.  It was the end of an era.  Leave it to Manong Philip, who broke ranks with Cesar Chavez after the latter accepted an award from Philippine dictator Ferdinand Marcos, to leave this world on Philippine Independence Day… 

Mabuhay at Ingat.

© by Emily P. Lawsin

www.emilylawsin.com

divadiba.wordpress.com

December 29, 2008

GIVING: History for the Next Generation

Last Thursday was my first Christmas without my mom; she passed away last June at the age of 81. Finances are tight for us this year, not only because of the unexpected hospital and funeral expenses, but also because of our temporary move to the metro Boston area, where the cost of living is three times as much as Detroit. So our Christmas list this year was much shorter than previous years, with us trying to give more meaningful gifts.

Tula picks satsumasInstead of spending the holidays in snowy Seattle or Massachusetts, we’re spending them with my in-laws in Los Angeles, where they grow fruits and vegetables in their tiny backyard. When our toddler saw the tangerine tree in the back, she said, “Wow, satsumas!” and couldn’t wait to pick them fresh from the abundant dwarf tree. As I watched Anak pick the fruit, I remembered how when I was her age, my mom used to go down to Uwajimaya’s in Seattle’s Chinatown and buy crates of satsumas as Christmas gifts for her friends. My brother was allergic to them, so I didn’t really get their appeal.  Tula puts satsumas in boxThen I moved to Boston and saw them selling for four bucks a pound! And those aren’t juicy or organic like Grandma and Grandpa’s! Anak picked about 50 of the satsumas straight from their tree; we washed them off and wrapped them up to give to neighbors and friends. With every juicy, tart bite, I keep thinking how much my mother would have loved for me to ship her a crate too.

Dr. Joan May T. Cordova

Dr. Joan May T. Cordova

Satsumas also remind me of my sistahfriend Dr. Joan May T. Cordova, who often wears the satsuma scent.  She is the President of our Filipino American National Historical Society (FANHS) and writes a FANHS blog HERE. Today is her birthday, so I kept wondering what I should send her, since she always buys pasalubong/gifts for the whole barrio. “Should we send her satsumas?” Anak asked. Nah, she has plenty of that. Then I was reminded of the appeal letter Joanie sent last week, the first one FANHS has ever issued in its 25-year history:

http://fanhsis25.blogspot.com/2008/12/support-fanhs-for-next-generation.html

Emma Lawsin, 1953

Emma Lawsin, 1953

When I got married, Joanie gave us a 10 Year Membership to FANHS (like she does for many others). When my mother died, Joanie was the first to ask to what organization friends should make remembrances. My mother was the longest-serving council member of the Filipino Community of Seattle, Inc, and belonged to almost every Filipino organization in the city, so it would be difficult to specify just one. Joanie never lets me forget how, when a FANHS delegation flew from Seattle to Manila for a conference, my mother sent a bag of store-bought cookies for everyone to snack on; although I was initially bothered by their weight, during our layover, we were grateful for those cookies because we didn’t have anything else to eat. As a World War II survivor, my mother was frugal, but she always made sure we had plenty of food. And although she never had a chance to earn a college degree, my mother valued education and believed in the importance of knowing and sharing our roots. She may not have understood all that I do in terms of teaching and preserving Filipino American history, but she supported it in the simple ways that she could: through stories and food.

FANHS 810 18th Ave, Room 100

FANHS is housed in 3 old classrooms here, at 810 18th Ave

When my mother died, I had to write the eulogy, but did not have any of my material, so I went to the FANHS National Pinoy Archives in the old, converted Immaculate School in Seattle’s Central District. The archive barely fits in two rooms: one is an old classroom and the other is in the basement. When I was a teenager on the Filipino Youth Activities (FYA) Drill Team, this same basement was where we learned Kulintang (ancient gong music), practiced Arnis/Eskrima (the Filipino martial art), and heard aswang/ghost stories. The National Office of FANHS is upstairs, in what was once, 25 years ago, the FYA Trophy Room, where we had “brown room” meetings and cultural classes. Twenty-five years before that, it was probably my cousin’s classroom. The FYA offices are gone, but FANHS remains. Now cardboard file boxes pile high to the ceiling, with sepia exhibit photos peeling the paint from the century-old walls. A snooty university archivist once asked me if the FANHS office and archives, with its thousands of valuable photos, interview tapes, and material artifacts, had “climate control”. I chuckled and said, “I think there’s a dial that controls the radiator.” Of course, that radiator is covered with papers too.

Fred & Dorothy Cordova

Drs. Fred & Dorothy Cordova

Joanie’s aunt, Dorothy Laigo Cordova, founded FANHS in 1982 and has served as its unsalaried, volunteer Executive Director since then. Auntie Dorothy’s husband, Uncle Fred Cordova, a retired newsman, is the FANHS archivist. When I arrived at the FANHS office (two days after my mother had passed), Auntie Dorothy shared a bowl of curry and rice she had made the night before. Downstairs, Uncle Fred had already pulled my mother’s files for me to see. They had material I didn’t even know existed: a speech my mom had written, a faded newspaper article on her parents’ arrival from the Philippines, a party invitation she had someone make. I still needed more, so I found her sister’s file, some of her organizations’ files, plus a book where part of her oral history is published.

I felt so grateful to have this sanctuary of information, where I could research and write, and still feel at home: the memory of kulintang beats and childhood ghosts dancing in my ears. Before I left the FANHS archives, I whispered a prayer, hoping that when Anak is older, she can touch, read, hear, and smell all of this too. But prayers don’t pay the rising rent (even if Uncle Fred is now an ordained Catholic Deacon)!

Remembering our pledge to give meaningful gifts, I wrote our check to FANHS and put it in the mail today, just in time to honor Joanie’s birthday, my mother’s memory, AND get our tax-deduction (since FANHS is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization). My mother would have wanted that, plus the satsumas, of course.

*  *  *

Please GIVE a gift of history and support FANHS for the next generation:

Click HERE to Download FANHS Donation Form.

And Mail Donations Payable To:

FANHS

810  18th Ave. Room 100

Seattle, WA 98122

UPDATE 2012: You can now donate online [in annual or monthly recurring donations] via PayPal or using a major credit card on the redesigned FANHS Website.

All donations are tax-deductible: http://fanhs-national.org/filam/donate/

* * *

 

Maraming Salamat!

© by Emily P. Lawsin, FANHS Trustee

December 29, 2008 in Los Angeles, CA

Click HERE for my full bio: www.emilylawsin.com


Click HERE to Read My Previous Post: POEM: FOR CORKY PASQUIL’S BIRTHDAY

Next Page »

Blog at WordPress.com.

%d bloggers like this: