poetry & tsismis: emily's blog

April 10, 2013

POEM: Anting-Anting [NaPoWriMo Day 10]

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April 8, 2013

POEMS + Excerpts from Miscarriage V: Lost in Translation, 2003. [NaPoWriMo Day 8]

2003

January 20, 2013

The Winds of January: NVM visits

I know this blog has been MIA, but life happens. I’ve been sick for more than a week, woke up and tried to post this on Facebook and *poof* it was gone! (augh) So I typed it out again here. Follow me on Twitter for more daily updates: @emilylawsin

NVM Gonzalez plays violin at his Hayward, California home, after the Pangarap: Filipino American Literature Symposium, 1992. Photo by Emily Lawsin.

NVM Gonzalez plays violin at his Hayward, California home, after the Pangarap: Filipino American Literature Symposium, 1992. Photo by Emily Lawsin.

The Winds of January: NVM visits

© by Emily P. Lawsin

Sunday, January 20, 2013

I was awakened twice in the middle of the night by 60 miles-per-hour winds, silver maple and birch branches crashing and rolling down our pitched roof. When I was finally able to fall back asleep at 5 AM, I had a dream about my former professor, the late author and Philippine National Artist, NVM Gonzalez. We were at a ceremony honoring him, I’m not sure where or why.

I kept getting voice mails from my late mother and her friend, Auntie Flori Montante, founder of Pagdiriwang and the Filipino Cultural Heritage Society of Washington, who passed away two weeks ago. They said, “Peter Bacho says that you should give the award, anak.” Peter is a family friend from Seattle, an American Book Award winner, and my former professor too. “He said he can’t be there, so you should do it.”

“What?” I was frantic, running in circles, “What award, a plaque? Where? Hello?”

As I tripped down a hall, a glowing NVM walked in, with an entourage spanning the bright yellow walls. He squinted through his glasses, waved me to him with his cane, stretched out his arms, and said, “Emily, my dear!”

My jaw dropped. “What are you doing here?” I said.

“Do not be afraid,” NVM said. “These nice fellows just wanted to have a party. What are you writing these days?”

“You remember me?”

“Of course I do. Why wouldn’t I?” he said. Then he was whisked up to the stage, where his violin sat on a gold altar. He sat in a throne and played the most beautiful song: the music of wrinkled eyebrows, with each bend of his bow, then wide-eyed smiles as he plucked upbeat notes.

I looked up to take a photograph and noticed a white placard on an easel next to him that said, THE WINDS OF APRIL”.

In the dream, it was supposed to be the title of the song that he played. In reality, it is the title of the last book that he signed for me when I visited him in Manila, the last time that I saw him.

Then I suddenly woke up, with a smile and a tear in my eye. The winds had died down and the sun was shining through my bedroom window on this cold January day.

Salamat po, NVM, thank you, for visiting me.

Michigan 10:56 AM

www.emilylawsin.com

# # #

1:04 PM ET:

Detroit Free Press reports 195,000 without power in Michigan due to 60 m.p.h. winds.

http://www.freep.com/article/20130120/NEWS06/130120021/Winds-60-m-p-h-180-000-homes-no-power?odyssey=tab|topnews|text|FRONTPAGE

October 3, 2012

Day 3 of Filipino American History Month: Screen a Film! Filipino Americans: Discovering their Past for the Future

October is Filipino American History Month! I’ve accepted Kevin Nadal’s (fellow FANHS Trustee) challenge of posting a photo of something Filipino American every day. (If you accept the challenge too, on Instagram or Twitter, use the hashtag #fahm2012.) Today is October 3rd, so here’s my 3rd FAHM installment:

On our revamped Filipino American National Historical Society (FANHS) website, there is a list of ways you can observe Filipino American History Month, here: http://fanhs-national.org/fahm2012.html

The easiest thing to do — for all ages — is to screen a film. You can watch it by yourself, but it’s more fun to watch with others, then have a discussion. Our FANHS chapters throughout the country have done this for many years, often partnering with another organization, or a local school or community center. In the 21 years since FANHS started observing Filipino American History Month, many more films have been made by or about Filipino Americans. (There have even been Filipino Americans who have won Academy Awards for production and design.) Here is a great FANHS film that you can use for starters.

Filipino Americans: Discovering their Past for the Future 

Produced by Filipino American National Historical Society
and JF Wehman & Associates/MoonRae Productions, National Video Profiles, Inc. (54 minutes, 1994)

‚ÄúTHREE STARS!‚ÄĚ – Video Rating Guide for Libraries

Winner of CINE Golden Eagle Award in History, and Bronze Award, Houston International Film Festival/Worldfest

Film description:

This fascinating documentary explores hidden pages in American history and delves into the 400-year-old chronicle of one of the largest ethnic groups in the United States. Interviews with historians, readings from historical letters and transcriptions, combined with more than 300 archival photos reveal Filipino Americans in Hawai’ian plantations, California migrant farms, Alaskan fish canneries and Louisiana shrimp fishing.

FILIPINO AMERICANS: DISCOVERING THEIR PAST FOR THE FUTURE documents their involvement during World War II and their contributions to the advancement of labor organizations. Family units and strong social bonds helped them survive while dealing with discrimination and hard economic times. This video illustrates how Filipino American history has contributed to the American way of life and is an essential component of United States history.

‚ÄúIt is rich United States history and it‚Äôs a story that should be told‚ĶFilipino Americans have been a quiet voice in promoting their contributions to American society. This video will hopefully open America‚Äôs eyes to what Filipino Americans have gone through and contributed.‚ÄĚ

– Fred Cordova, Author/Historian and Founding President Emeritus of FANHS

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Currently, the film is only available on VHS video cassette, for purchase through the FANHS National Office in Seattle, on Ebay, or through the Center for Asian American Media (CAAM), here. When it was produced in 1994, AT&T agreed to sponsor it to help fund its distribution; they ended up giving videos to their customers who had Philippine international calling plans (so ask your relatives, they might have it). Some university and public libraries have it too; if your local library doesn’t carry it, ask them to purchase one from CAAM. The film later aired on PBS and someone I don’t know posted that in 4 parts on YouTube, here. (Yeah, I don’t know if that person has the copyright permission to post it, but bahala na. And just so you know: FANHS is a totally volunteer-run organization, with an office and archives, and no salaried staff and no regular source of funding, so when you purchase products from the national office or one of the 30 FANHS Chapters, you are helping preserve even more of Filipino American history. All donations are tax-deductible too.)

So, have you seen the film? What are your thoughts about it? Please leave comments below. Mabuhay and salamat.

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#FilipinoAmericanHistoryMonth  #fahm2012  #fahm

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To read my other posts on Filipino American History Month, click here:

https://divadiba.wordpress.com/tag/filipino-american-history-month/

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www.emilylawsin.com

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October 2, 2012

DAY 2 of Filipino American History Month: Read a Good Book – Tomorrow’s Memories: A Diary, 1924-1928

It’s Day 2 of Filipino American History Month and I’m going to try to drop some knowledge more regularly on this blog, at least during October.

Since I am a professor/lecturer and poet, folks often ask me what books they should read to learn more about Filipino American history. Short of handing them a syllabus (or the reading list that IS actually printed in the back of my first book), I often tell them some basic standard texts, that anyone of any age could read and appreciate: Filipinos: Forgotten Asian Americans by Fred Cordova, America Is In The Heart by Carlos Bulosan, Philip Vera Cruz: A History of Filipino Immigrants and the Farmworkers Movement by Craig Scharlin and Lilia Villanueva,¬†The Filipino Americans¬†by Barbara Posadas, and the list goes on. If they’ve taken any kind of Asian American Studies class or even just read my posts on this blog, they might have heard of those books or read them already. Then I like to pull out one of my favorite books, Tomorrow’s Memories: A Diary, 1924-1928, by Angeles Monrayo Raymundo (University of Hawai’i Press, 2003).

I am proud to have helped and relentlessly encouraged Angeles’ eldest daughter, Rizaline Raymundo, to publish the book. Riz had first typed excerpts of her mother’s handwritten diary and published them in the Filipino American National Historical Society Santa Clara Valley Chapter Journal in the early 1990s. When I first read the diary excerpts, I knew that students and countless others would appreciate the rarity of having history told from a young, female perspective. Now you can too:

Tomorrow’s Memories: A Diary, 1924-1928

by Angeles Monrayo

Edited by Rizaline R. Raymundo, with historical essays by Jonathan Okamura and Dawn Mabalon (2003)

From the Publisher, University of Hawai’i Press:

http://www.uhpress.hawaii.edu/p-2788-9780824826710.aspx

“I would like to read about me–what everyday things happened to me–when I am an old woman. Right now I am only 11 years, 5 months.” ~Angeles Monrayo, 1924

“Angeles Monrayo (1912‚Äď2000) began her diary on January 10, 1924, a few months before she and her father and older brother moved from a sugar plantation in Waipahu to Pablo Manlapit‚Äôs strike camp in Honolulu. Here for the first time is a young Filipino girl‚Äôs view of life in Hawaii and central California in the first decades of the twentieth century‚ÄĒa significant and often turbulent period for immigrant and migrant labor in both settings. Angeles‚Äô vivid, simple language takes us into the heart of an early Filipino family as its members come to terms with poverty and racism and struggle to build new lives in a new world. But even as Angeles recounts the hardships of immigrant life, her diary of “everyday things” never lets us forget that she and the people around her went to school and church, enjoyed music and dancing, told jokes, went to the movies, and fell in love. Essays by Jonathan Okamura and Dawn Mabalon enlarge on Angeles‚Äô account of early working-class Filipinos and situate her experience in the larger history of Filipino migration to the United States.”

#fahm #fahm2012 #FilipinoAmericanHistoryMonth

I hope you add this to your reading list, if you haven’t read it already, then tell me what you think of it!

www.emilylawsin.com

For more on Fiipino American History Month, see: www.fanhs-national.org

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October 1, 2012

October is Filipino American History Month!

October is Filipino American History Month! The year 2012 marks 425 years since the first documented landing of Filipinos in what is now known as the continental United States. The Filipino American National Historical Society (FANHS) has been observing October as FAHM for the past 21 years, since 1991. You can read and download FANHS’ original resolution for Filipino American History Month on my main website: http://emilylawsin.com/resolution-on-filipino-american-history-month/

The United States Congress passed the Resolution to Recognize October as Filipino American History Month nationally in 2009, 2010, and 2011. Thank you to all the D.C. and nationwide friends of the Filipino American National Historical Society (FANHS) who made it possible. Click here to read the September 29, 2010 Congressional Record: http://tinyurl.com/FAHM2010, here to download the full text from 2009: http://frwebgate.access.gpo.gov/cgi-bin/getpage.cgi?dbname=2009_record&page=H12172&position=all and here for the Senate Resolution from October 5, 2011: http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/z?r112:S05OC1-0040:/.

And just in time for history month, our FANHS website has been revamped and is back online with lots of good info on how our 30 chapters and affiliates across the country are observing Filipino American History Month. There is even a list on what you can do to organize, commemorate, and participate. Thanks to FANHS National President Mel Orpilla (Vallejo, CA) and FANHS National Secretary Patricia Espiritu Halagao (Honolulu, HI) for their work on revamping the FANHS website. Click the FANHStastic photo below and check it out! (And no, I did not know they would be posting a photo of my old FYA Drill Team on the FANHS website. But yes, that’s my FYA fam and me! Can you tell which one is me? YAY!) ūüôā

* * *Filipino American National Historical Society (FANHS) Website Revamped! www.fanhs-national.org

Click photo to go to revamped http://www.fanhs-national.org website.
(Yes, there’s a hyphen in the website name,
but NOT in Filipino American National Historical Society, got it?)

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 Twitter Hashtags #FAHM or #FilipinoAmericanHistoryMonth

Filipino American National Historical Society Facebook Page

and

Filipino American History Month Facebook Page

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www.emilylawsin.com

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September 19, 2012

My Favorite Blair Poems and Songs: Happy 45th Birthday Blair (RIP)

I am thinking of my brotherfriend, the late David Blair, on what would have been his 45th Birthday. Here are some of his poems and songs that I love and listen to the most. I feel so thankful for all the gifts that he shared with our family and the world. 

http://www.thebestphotographerindetroit.com/davidblair

Blair, 2006. Photo by David Lewinski.

Excerpt from “Behind the Garage” Poem

by David Blair, 2002 National Poetry Slam

. . . I know people think I’m crazy

Because I dare to believe

That stars can fall into my cereal bowl

And mingle with the milk swirls.

And I know it’s irrational to

Throw crayons at God

And ask him to color the sky purple.

Yet, I remember the time that I did,

And the next morning I awoke to royalty skyward

To a majestic landscape of fantastic above.

And I remember later that evening

Finding the ladders tucked away behind the garage

Strewn amongst thousands of Crayola boxes all missing violets.

Does my memory serve me correctly or was there none of this?

Am I mad?

I won’t be angry.

It’s just that you’ve been dead for so long now

But I still wake up from dreams of you running through fields of flowers

The sound of one hundred acoustic guitars strumming and picking a beautiful music.

Today, I heard a music that could make the snow shine,

That could make the dead leaves claw a path through the lawn away from me.

Today I saw the beautiful shadow of a bird soar across a concrete wall,

Was that you?

 ~by Blair

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Blair’s performance of “Behind the Garage”¬† helped the Detroit Slam Team win the¬†National Poetry Slam in 2002. Coach Aurora Harris said she told him that the opera singing would be a good addition, that it would blow everyone’s mind. Sistahfriend ain’t never lied. Now that Blair has passed away, the most poignant stanzas to me come at the end (transcribed above). Watch Blair’s 2002 “Behind the Garage” winning performance here:¬† http://www.myspace.com/video/vid/55781888¬† and a 2010 Performance at the Detroit Institute for the Arts (DIA) Film Theatre, for TedX (where Blair begins by taking a photo of the crowd), below: ¬†http://youtu.be/AiheqPT0vL4

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“Detroit (While I Was Away)”: ¬†I love watching this when I’m on the road traveling. There are several, more polished video versions online (including Detroit Lives! and TedX 2010); I like this one because it reveals Blair’s own feelings and the way strangers in the audience responded to him. Despite his decades of award-winning, amazing performances, Blair would still get nervous at events like this. Because he was human. And the best at what he did: http://youtu.be/6CCnRr1dQvw

Video: Detroit (While I Was Away) by D Blair at TedX 10/21/09

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Less than a year before Blair passed away, InsideOut Literary Arts Project commissioned Blair to put Emily Dickinson’s songs to music. This one is my favorite. In this video, he says he was working on a new album called “Reasons for Leaving”, as if he knew that he would leave us:¬† http://youtu.be/lIRu0eW9hig

Video: Blair Performs “I Haven’t Told My Garden Yet” a Poem by Emily Dickinson, at Wayne State University, February 28, 2011

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More of David Blair’s music, poetry, and merchandise are on his manager’s website: http://seriousartists.com/honor/

Blair’s YouTube Channel: https://www.youtube.com/user/BlairandtheBF

Obituary on the memorial website is here: http://www.dblair.org/

For some poems that I wrote about Blair, see elsewhere on this blog: https://divadiba.wordpress.com/?s=blair

Happy would-have-been 45th Birthday, Blair. Rest in Peace and Poetry. We love you and miss you.

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www.emilylawsin.com
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August 31, 2012

POEM: In Memory of John Vietnam Nguyen (1993-2012)

I can’t sleep. Yesterday, I stayed offline, worked all day and night, then found out about the sudden passing of a gifted poet,¬† hip-hop emcee and b-boy, John Vietnam Nguyen, who drowned while trying to save a friend’s life yesterday, at the age of 19. When he was a high school student, John was a member of the Multi-Cultural Youth Program in Chicago. He lead an interactive youth workshop and performed at the “Out of the Margins: Asian American Movement Building” Conference that our Asian/Pacific Islander American Studies Program sponsored in March, 2011, at the University of Michigan. I am thankful to UMich alum Steve Hosik Moon for introducing me (and so many others) to John.

When I can’t sleep, I write. I wrote this poem in the middle of the night, for John, for Steve, and for everyone trying to make sense of this tragedy. A talented optimist, John would always sign off messages, telling folks to “stay up” and I always liked that better than “hang in there”. Rest in Poetry, Peace, and Power, John Vietnam. Love and prayers to you, your family, and friends always. Thank you for being you.

John Vietnam Nguyen performs at an Asian American Movement Building Conference at the University of MIchigan, March 2011. Photo by Ahmad Fuad Rahmat.

trying to “stay up”: a rough draft

in memory of John Vietnam Nguyen (1993 – 2012)

 

© by Emily P. Lawsin

 

 

i met you in person only a few times,

honored to have shared the stage together,

spinning rhymes with inter-generational revolution.

 

the last time we spoke,

you called me “auntie”,

always respectful and real.

 

i told the audience i felt old and proud,

like i could be all y’all’s grandma,

you, MCYP’ers fiercely rockin the mic.

 

in the front row, you spit your big laugh,

pointing your smile to the sky,

patting your chest like a heart beat escaping.

 

you, always the first to thank me

for being Hosik’s teacher,

so he could teach all of you.

 

yet, i am the one who is thankful, like so many others,

to have been taught by you,

when you were only 17, 18, 19 years young.

 

today, we gather and sing your songs,

thankful to have received your gifts of words and music:

stories that made the dancing streets cry for our people.

 

everyone asks why, on this eve of a blue moon,

why did you leave us too soon,

leaving us drowning in lakes of our tears?

 

today, we wear purple (your favorite color and mine),

we weave a wreath of your warrior wisdom,

remembering your voice in the wind,

 

no doubt, rapping in the heavens with the elder angel poets,

as you quietly skip your usual encore cue:

“one love, stay up, and peace‚Ķ”

 

 

 August 31, 2012

Detroit

 

Emily P. Lawsin has been performing spoken word poetry since 1990.

She teaches Asian American Studies at the University of Michigan.

 

http://www.emilylawsin.com

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John Vietnam left us lots of good videos of his performances. (See his YouTube Channel here: http://www.youtube.com/user/johnvietnam13) Here are a few:

If a Minute Would Reverse (with clips and quotes of Grace Lee Boggs) http://youtu.be/LOU_vQBsW2s

A Day in The Life: http://youtu.be/YBAYhbbCDg0

Rest in Power John Vietnam Nguyen, footage by Tom Callahan: http://vimeo.com/48573282

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9/1/12 UPDATE: FUNERAL SERVICES FOR JOHN VIETNAM NGUYEN

Here is funeral info from the family’s Facebook Event Page: https://www.facebook.com/events/114861828662904/

“Please join John’s family, friends, and communities in honoring his memory, spirit, and love. Services will be held at

Cooney Funeral Home,  3918 W. Irving Park Road, Chicago, IL.

Monday Sept. 3, Visitation: Noon-9pm
Tuesday Sept. 4, Visitation: 9am-11am, with Eulogy and funeral to immediately follow.

“We are planning to carry out John’s wish to print his t-shirts. We will be figuring out the means to accomplish this and will have information available at the services for anyone who would like to pre-order shirts in their size. Once we get it set up, we will edit this to provide the link here. https://www.facebook.com/events/114861828662904/

“If you are unable to attend the services, you may make a donation to help offset the costs by:
1) Sending a payment to John’s paypal account under his email address, nguyenjvn13 (at) yahoo (dot) com
2) If you don’t have a paypal account – you can donate at the following link: http://www.gofundme.com/14l28s

We know very well how loved and admired he was by everyone he came across, and we would like to thank everyone for their support and love.”¬† ~ From John’s Family (For latest updates, check: https://www.facebook.com/events/114861828662904/ )

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July 27, 2012

Memories of Auntie Isabel Navarro (November 19, 1928 – July 18, 2012)

3 Sisters: Isabel, Emma, & Nora, 1991.

 

Memories of Auntie Isabel Navarro (November 19, 1928 – July 18, 2012)

  © by Emily P. Lawsin

 

My mother’s last remaining sister, Isabel Navarro, passed away peacefully in Seattle last week at the age of 83.¬† After a short hospitalization, she died from a sudden blood infection. Auntie Isabel, or “Auntie Chebeng”, as my cousins called her, was the feistiest Pinay I have ever known. Born on November, 19, 1928, in Tondo, a tough town in Manila, Philippines, she came of age at the onset of World War II. She was the pioneer Pinay, the first woman of our family to immigrate to Seattle in November of 1948. She spent the next 30 years bringing her parents, two sisters, two brothers, and their children to Seattle. For that, and so much more, we are eternally grateful.

 

In 1991, when I was doing research on Filipina American women, Auntie Isabel was kind enough to drive to my parents’ house in the south end of Seattle so I could interview her. I emphasize the driving part because she was also the first Pinay I knew who actually did drive, as my mother, their other sister, and my grandmother did not. Any student who has taken my Oral History Interviewing Methods class has heard of my Auntie Isabel. She is one of the examples I use when I recommend interviewing women in a quiet, private room, without men around. I often retell how Auntie Isabel told me her story in our living room, as my father, who NEVER lifted a finger when it came to chores, was all of a sudden banging dishes around in the adjoining kitchen, yelling answers like, “Tell her, tell her! You know, your Auntie was the one who taught the war brides how to make lumpia wrappers from scratch so they could sell it as a fundraiser! Tell her!” I adored Auntie Isabel because she was the only woman I knew who could stand up to my sometimes-belligerent (and hard-of-hearing) father. “Ah, yeah, yeah, yeah, shut up already!” she yelled back at him. Imagine trying to transcribe all of that.

 

In the interview, Auntie Isabel told me about growing up in Tondo during World War II. She said, “I was like the ‘achay’ of the family. You know what ‘achay’ is? Like maid. . . My eldest sister was working at the cigar factory, my other sister got married and left home at 16, my two brothers were still young, so I had to take care of them and then have lunch and dinner ready when my parents came home.”

 

When I asked Auntie Isabel how she met Juan Ordonia, an Ilocano manong from Seattle, who was a Master Sergeant in the U.S. Army, she said,

 

“Well, actually when I was 16 years old, in 1945. . . my responsibility was going to the market and buying the food. . . no means of refrigeration, so. . . Nora, my older sister, went with me at that time we went to the market.¬† The market is at least about three. . .or two miles from our place. . . . To go to the market, we had to pass [my old] school. . . Rizal Elementary School.¬† And then we cross the bridge, [to] the Pritil Market. . . coming back, I met my future husband. . . He was attached to the P-CAU they call it, capital P, capital C, capital A, capital U. I don’t know what it stands for, but. . . he was stationed out there.¬† They took Rizal Elementary School to be their headquarters.¬† And he was on guard at the time.¬† So we passed him by. . . [almost everyday]. . .”

 

Indeed, many Filipino American soldiers served in the PCAU, Philippine Civil Affairs Units, which were stationed in 30 provinces for “mop-up operations” during World War II.

 

When I asked Auntie Isabel about their wedding, she continued,

 

“[He] proposed to my mom and my dad that he wants to marry me, then all this process. . . it’s a big meeting, you know. . . They agreed, so they set up the wedding.¬† At the time, Manila was just recovering from the war and there’s no clothes to be had. And so my wedding dress was made out of a parachute. It’s a white parachute.¬† I had a short dress and I was married at Santa Monica Church, June 10th, 1945.”

 

Meanwhile, one population study showed that before the war, males comprised an overwhelming 95 percent of all Filipinos in the State of Washington. By 1935, exclusion laws and immigration quotas had limited Filipino migration to the U.S. to only 50 per year. However, this all changed with the passage of the War Brides Act of 1945, which temporarily waived quota restrictions for alien spouses and dependents of servicemen. Auntie Isabel was one of these war brides that helped the Filipino population of Seattle triple in size in the post-war period.

 

  After giving birth to her first child, Josie, and completing rounds of exams and applications through the American Red Cross, Auntie Isabel landed in Seattle aboard a military transport ship in November, 1948. They lived among other Filipinos and veterans in the Central District of Seattle. She and Uncle Johnny eventually bought a house on Capitol Hill, where the Gene Lynn School of Nursing at Seattle University currently stands. In 1949, Auntie Isabel became a founding member of the Philippine War Brides Association of Seattle, an organization that is still in existence. She claimed that the organization was conceived of and founded in her house, during a party, of course.

 

Auntie Isabel gave birth to three more children in Seattle: Elizabeth, John, and Carmen. When I asked Auntie how she managed to survive with all these kids and none of her family around, she said that it was hard to do at first. She said, “I had to perfect my English. So you know what I did? I used to turn the radio on and listen to country music on the radio. I would imitate and repeat everything they said. That’s right, that’s how I did it.” I laughed, finally realizing why she had such a twang to her voice and why she always spoke English instead of her native Tagalog to us.

 

Still, Auntie was lonesome and used to write her parents in the Philippines of how homesick she was. After ten years, she convinced her elder sister, Nora Espa√Īol, to move to Seattle with her army husband and children. A few years later, my mother Emma, decided to visit. Auntie Isabel introduced her to Uncle Johnny’s cousin, Leandro Floresca; they fell in love and my mother stayed. In the 1960s and 1970s, after a change in immigration laws, Auntie Isabel successfully petitioned her parents, her brothers Junior and Felipe, and their wives and children, to all move to Seattle.

 

Auntie Isabel and Uncle Johnny, who was 20 years her senior, eventually divorced and she later remarried; this was another way that Auntie was ahead of her time, as divorce was largely frowned upon in the Filipino community. In her interview, she said that she and Uncle Johnny were better friends after they split and that she was there when he died. She joked, “That son-of-a-gun got me back by dying on my birthday. I will never forget it.”

 

Auntie Isabel said she had originally intended to go to school to become a nurse, even at one point working as a nurse’s aid. She worked many different jobs, moved to West Seattle, and eventually retired from a successful career at the Seattle branch of HUD (Housing Urban Development), where she got my sister a job. In the early days of her retirement, Auntie loved to travel to California, Reno, and Vegas. All of us cousins remember how Auntie Isabel loved to dance and show off her “sexy legs”. She would drink whiskey on the rocks with the fellas and laugh loud, slapping her leg like a cowgirl. The fellas would all show their legs too. Then she would laugh and lecture them in her Taglish: half Tagalog, half English, with a twang.

 

When she first got a mobile phone (with free long distance), Auntie Isabel would call me in Detroit to check on me. We would tsismis about recipes, celebrities, and the latest fashions. She would tell me the latest local news, as she read the Seattle Times religiously. In her later years, she slowed down and became more of a hermit, but she still loved spending time with her eight grand children, nine great-grandchildren, and her most recent great-great grandchild, taking our family now into its 5th generation.

 

When my mother was in a coma four years ago, my cousins kept vigil with us at the hospital for three weeks. On the night before my mother passed, the staff let us stay in a room with recliners set up for our family across from my mom’s room. That night, Auntie Isabel stayed up with us, talking story about my mom late into the night. She said she hated seeing her sister go like this. Then she shook her finger at us and said, “Hey, when it’s my time, I don’t want none of this gud damn sheeit. And if you don’t listen, I will come back and pull on your toe, you hear? I want you all to stick together and have a party.” Then she leaned back and started snoring. We were so cramped in that little room, Auntie Isabel’s big toe was in my cousin Carmen Espanol’s face. Carmen took a photo ‚Äď two actually, one with flash ‚Äď and we all slapped our legs, laughing. Auntie did too.

 

Maraming salamat po, thank you so much, Auntie Chebeng, for a lifetime of love and laughter. Thank you for all you did to bring and keep our family together. Minamahal kita. We love you and will miss you very much.

 

———–

 Obituary, Published in The Seattle Times on July 25, 2012:

http://www.legacy.com/obituaries/seattletimes/obituary.aspx?n=isabel-porcincula-navarro-chebeng&pid=158742446

 

 

 Isabel P. Navarro

 November 19, 1928 РJuly 18, 2012

 

Isabel passed away peacefully at the age of 83. She was born on 11/19/1928 in Tondo, Manila, Philippines and is survived by her four children, Josie Whitehead (Stephen Banks), Elizabeth (Paul) Trias, John (Laurie) Ordonia and Carmen Ordonia-Lindal (Martin Lindal). She is also survived by a brother, Sergio Porcincula Jr. along with 8 grandchildren, 9 great grandchildren and one great-great grandchild as well as numerous nieces and nephews. She was preceded in death by her sisters Nora Espanol, Emma Lawsin and her brother Felipe Porcincula.

 

Funeral Information

At her request, there will be no viewing. Funeral services will be held at Evergreen Washelli, 11111 Aurora Ave. North, Seattle, WA. A Rosary will be held on Friday, July 27, 2012 at 7:00 PM with a Mass of the Christian burial to be held in the Chapel on Saturday, 7/28/2012 at 12:30 PM followed by entombment at the Washelli Mausoleum.

 

* * * 

July 27, 2012

www.emilylawsin.com

 

June 22, 2012

Vincent Chin 30th Year Remembrance Events in Detroit, June 23-24, 2012

Filed under: Detroit,Memorials,Performances — EL @ 12:23 am
Tags:

I am honored to be invited to perform a poem at the gravesite of Vincent Chin, during the 30th Year Remembrance, this Saturday, June 23, 2012. See below for the Detroit-area commemorations happening this weekend. Hope to see you, and if not, I hope you are doing your own part to remember Vincent Chin; help stop hate crimes and anti-Asian violence. Rest in Peace, Vincent Chin (May 18, 1955 РJune 23, 1982).

Vincent Chin:

30th Year Remembrance

Saturday, June 23, 2012

10AM-2:30PM Panels and Nationwide Townhall, Chinese Community Center, Madison Heights, MI

3PM Visit to Gravesite, Forest Lawn Cemetery, Detroit, Featuring Poet Emily P. Lawsin. 

Organized by American Citizens for Justice and Association of Chinese Americans

Followed by a Tour of Asian American historical sites, lead by Detroit Asian Youth Project. 

Vincent Chin gravesite, Forest Lawn Cemetery, Detroit. Photo by Emily P. Lawsin, June 23, 2010.
Forest Lawn Cemetery, Detroit. Photo © by Emily P. Lawsin, June 23, 2010.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Legacy of Vincent Chin – Commemoration and Action in Detroit’s Historic Chinatown¬†

Detroit Chinatown Mural, 425 Peterboro St (and Cass), Detroit, Michigan. Designed in 2003 by Tony Osumi, Soh Suzuki, and Scott Kurashige, with youth and community members from the Detroit Chinatown Revitalization Workgroup (Detroit Asian Youth Project) and Detroit Summer. Photo by Soh Suzuki.

3PM Р7PM BBQ, plant flowers, and help restore the mural on Peterboro Street and Cass, in Detroit

Sponsored by Detroit Asian Youth Project and Detroit Summer. 

Click here for the Sunday event info on Facebook.

***

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To learn more about Vincent Chin, see Helen Zia’s book Asian American Dreams. In ¬†2002,¬†Amerasia Journal 23:3 published reports from Detroit’s 20th Year Remembrance, including a piece “Detroit and the Legacy of Vincent Chin”, by Scott Kurashige.

For films, see the Academy-Award-nominated documentary, “Who Killed Vincent Chin”, by Christine Choy and Renee Tajima-Pe√Īa:http://www.pbs.org/pov/whokilledvincentchin/

and the recent film “Vincent Who?” by¬†Curtis Chin,¬†http://vincentwhomovie.com/

Yesterday, The Detroit News published a pretty good article, “30 years later, Vincent Chin’s family awaits justice in fatal beating”, by Shawn D. Lewis:¬†¬†http://www.detroitnews.com/article/20120621/METRO/206210385#ixzz1yVGcYPNG.
For a roundup of recent articles and a list of Vincent Chin 30th Year Remembrance events nationwide, see: http://www.apaforprogress.org/vc30

www.emilylawsin.com

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