poetry & tsismis: emily's blog

July 11, 2015

In Memory of ISABEL A. GALURA (June 5, 1932 – July 10, 2015)

Isabel Galura w FWD Nov 2012

Remembering Tita Belle

by Emily P. Lawsin

With immense sadness, we mourn the passing of Filipina American pioneer, Isabel A. Galura, who was one of the three narrators featured in the book that her son, Joseph, and I co-authored, entitled, Filipino Women in Detroit: 1945-1955, Oral Histories from the Filipino American Oral History Project of Michigan.

“Belle”, as she was affectionately known, died on Friday, July 10, 2015, after a courageous battle with cancer.

Isabel was born on June 5, 1932, in Bangar, La Union, Philippines, and immigrated to the United States on July 4, 1954, as the first Filipina accepted to the post-graduate internship in clinical dietetics at Detroit’s Harper Hospital. The few Filipina American women in the area befriended her and eventually introduced her to the man who would become her husband, Atilano Galura.galura wedding photo

When I first met Tita Belle almost 15 years ago, she and Joe invited me to her home for a delicious meal of Filipino food and then asked if I was interested in seeing some of her late husband’s photographs. She brought out several boxes that had letters and material artifacts, all neatly preserved in file folders, dating from the 1920s-90s. I peeked inside a crisp envelope and my hands began shaking when I found her husband’s boat ticket to America, dated 1929! Later, Tita Belle became the driving force behind our Filipino American Oral History Project, as she would open up her address book and call her friends from the Filipino Women’s Club of Detroit (founded in 1952), encouraging them to be interviewed for our project.

In 2004, Tita Belle became a founding member of the Filipino American National Historical Society Michigan Chapter (FANHS-MI) and was appointed Assistant Treasurer. She actively participated and regularly attended FANHS-MI’s intergenerational Filipino Youth Initiative classes every Sunday at the Philippine American Community Center of Michigan (PACCM).

Memorial services will be held this Sunday and Monday, July 12-13, in Westland, Michigan (see below).

Maraming salamat po / many thanks, Tita Belle, for being a mother/Lola-figure for me and so many others. We are eternally grateful for all that you did for us and for our community. Mahal kita / I love you and miss you.

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OBITUARY and MEMORIAL SERVICES July 12-13, 2015

ISABEL A. GALURA
June 5, 1932 – July 10, 2015

Isabel A. Galura, a resident of Westland, Michigan, passed away on July 10, 2015 at the age of 83.

Isabel was the beloved wife of the late Atilano; the loving mother of Joseph (Catherine) Galura, Anna (Louis) Smutek and the late Peter; the dear sister of Georgia (Cirilo) Leoncio; and the cherished grandmother of David and Genevra Galura and Christiana and Andrew Smutek.

Isabel will be resting at the L.J. Griffin Funeral Home in Westland (7707 Middlebelt Road at Ann Arbor Trail) on Sunday, July 12, from 3-9 p.m. There will be a Rosary at 6:30 p.m.

She will be Instate at 11:30 a.m. on Monday, July 13, at St. Damian Catholic Church, 30055 Joy Road (West of Middlebelt) until the time of her Funeral Mass at 12 p.m.

Her final resting place will be Holy Sepulchre Cemetery.

In lieu of flowers, the family would appreciate donations in her memory to either the University of Michigan Cancer Center, or the Philippine American Community Center of Michigan (17356 Northland Park Ct., Southfield, MI 48075).

 

Sign the guestbook online:

http://www.griffinfuneralhome.com/sitemaker/sites/LJGrif1/obit.cgi?user=83637935_IGalura

 

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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)

“THREE STARS!” – 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.

“It is rich United States history and it’s a story that should be told…Filipino Americans have been a quiet voice in promoting their contributions to American society. This video will hopefully open America’s eyes to what Filipino Americans have gone through and contributed.”

– 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 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!) 🙂

* * *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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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.

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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/

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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

December 14, 2008

POEM: For Corky Pasquil on his Birthday

great_pinoy_championsfilm

Aileen Federizo sent a cool Facebook message saying that she’s putting a collection of surprise birthday greetings together for her husband, Corky Pasquil. They moved from Southern California to live in the Philippines so that their sons can learn the culture, so I thought this was a brilliant idea! Corky and Aileen are the founders of MyBarong.com, my absolute favorite clothing company.  I met Corky when I was a grad student at UCLA and he was editing his video documentary “The Great Pinoy Boxing Era” on Filipino American boxers of the 1920s-40s (which everyone, especially all of you Manny Pacquiao/boxing fans, should definitely watch. Now you can even watch or download Corky’s video for FREE on the MyBarong.com website HERE.)


A few years after working as a physical therapist, Corky left his job to start MyBarong.com so he could work at home and help raise their son (inspiring). Corky and Aileen are what we call good people who always “give back” to FANHS and our Filipino American community, so that’s why I also give their products as gifts to family and friends of all ages. (I was going to post a slideshow of my family and me in all their fabulous Filipiniana outfits, but thought that would be too cheesy.  Just know that if it doesn’t look like it’s my mother’s vintage barong – which I also always wear – then it’s MYbarong.com.)  Happy Birthday, Corky! Here’s my gift to you, with salamats to Aileen for the inspiration:

Ang Tulâ Para sa Corky, at Salamat sa Aileen

(A Poem for Corky Pasquil, on His Birthday,

with Thanks to Aileen)

© by Emily P. Lawsin

Cornelio, Corky,

P.T.-turned-MyBarong.com man

weaving a new page

so he could be a family man

brought his bride and his boys

to their ancestral shores

stitching the threads of our history

so they could learn more:

a fine example for you and me.

made his film “The Great Pinoy Boxing Era”

as a student Bruin on a shoestring budget

with pamilya and kaibigans in his corner,

learned the ropes and edited it with love,

a gift to the pioneers and our community: all that he does.

maraming salamat / with many thanks, Corky,

for bringing the beauty of our culture to the world

staying true to your beliefs and dreams

we ride your coat tails with pride,

as you embroider our next adventure!

Maligayang Kaarawan, ang kaibigan ko! = Happy Birthday, my friend!

Mabuhay!

November 21, 2008 / December 14, 2008

Watertown, Massachusetts, USA

For my bio, go to  www.emilylawsin.com

Click HERE to read my previous blog post: “POEM: Padasal, Novena at the Polls, November 4, 2008”

October 7, 2008

Remembering Uncle Sam + Poem

Remembering Uncle Sam + Poem

I lost a lot of important people in my life this last year, including my mother, who I will definitely write more about, here or elsewhere, at another time. And today, as always, I’m remembering my “Northridge/FANHS-L.A. Dad”, Uncle Sam.

It’s been exactly one year since I received the phone call from Uncle Fred Cordova about his brother, Sam Balucas, who passed away October 7, 2007, in Southern California, at the age of 75. “Uncle Sam”, as many of us called him, was a fellow Trustee and National Treasurer of the Filipino American National Historical Society (FANHS) and President of the FANHS-L.A. Chapter.

I would have never survived the nine years that I lived in Los Angeles without Sam. By way of background: I had the good fortune of being raised in “SHE-attle”, Washington, a major port of entry for thousands of Filipino immigrants since the early 1900s. I grew up on the Filipino Youth Activities (FYA) Khórdobah Drill Team, the only one of its kind in the nation. The FYA Cabataán Folk Dancers started in 1957, and the FYA Drill Team followed in 1959. In the form of what I call a pioneering cultural/freedom school, the FYA was founded by Fred and Dorothy Laigo Cordova with other Seattle families. They wanted to teach their children pride in our cultural heritage at a time when racism and discrimination made it not so popular to do so. The FYA later became a United Way social service agency. As many Seattle Pinoys are, I am actually related to Auntie Dorothy by marriage (through my Floresca sisters and Ordonia cousins). Ever since I was 12 years old, Uncle Fred and Auntie Dorothy have been my mentors, then my college professors at the University of Washington, and then the officiant and godparents at my wedding. With the FYA drill team, we traveled everywhere, including Washington DC and California, where as Maharani/Team Leader, I must have briefly met Fred’s brothers, Phil Ventura and Sam Balucas.

So when I moved to UCLA for graduate school, Uncle Fred, the archivist and information specialist that he is, sent me with a care package and a list of phone numbers. He said, “These are my brothers in L.A, call them, and they will take care of you.” And take care of me, they did.

A couple of years later, when we chartered the FANHS-Los Angeles chapter in 1993, Uncle Sam served as our first chapter Treasurer. He went on to serve two terms as FANHS-LA Chapter President before he became a National Trustee/Treasurer and then was re-elected L.A. Chapter President the year before he died.

If you ever went to a FANHS Conference (held every two years), Sam, a widower, was usually the one counting the money or buying all the ladies drinks (probably so FANHS could make its quota on the bar tab). When my partner and I decided to move to the Valley to be closer to my work (CSUN) and a rental opened up one block away from Sam’s house, we jumped on the chance to live so close to him.

Whenever any students would meet Sam, or his brothers, sisters, or cousins,

Back L-R: Sam Balucas, Emily, Darline & Phil Ventura. Front: Fred & Dorothy Cordova, at FANHS Conference in Honolulu, July 1, 2006

they would be amazed at meeting a Filipino American elder that “didn’t have an accent”, because Sam was SECOND GENERATION. He and his siblings are from what we call the “Bridge Generation”, those Pinoys — Filipino Americans — born in the U.S. to the pioneers of immigrants before 1945. You can read more of Sam’s obituary HERE. Leave it to Sam to pass away during October, which FANHS established as Filipino American History Month, a nationwide observance.

Below is a poem that I wrote amidst a flood of tears on the day that Sam died. It is titled “Tale-Gating” because Uncle Sam was famous for “tail gating” and hosting huge Superbowl parties, as well as telling the funniest tales. I tried to remember all the moments I was blessed to share with him… His daughter, Sami, was kind enough to ask me to read this at the funeral last year. I will always be grateful to her and her family for sharing their dad with us.

Here’s to you, Uncle Sam. I know you’re cookin’ up a storm with my mom, Thelma, and many others in heaven. “Love you darlings.”

 

“Tale-Gating with Sam”

In Memory of Edward Samuel Balucas

August, 1932 – October 7, 2007

© by Emily P. Lawsin

“Social change begins in the kitchen.”

~ Joan May T. Cordova, 1989.

This is a poem for Uncle Sam,

who drove me up and down long and short paths,

crossing highways and building roads

to his Bridge Generation and so many more in the Southland,

the only way a Pinoy ever could: through food.

Half the time we talked about Filipino Americans,

the other half the time, he cracked jokes, or nuts, or ice,

while all the time, we talked about food,

all kinds of food: his nilaga and sinigang, his brother Phil’s mongo, and garlic rice.

Dinuguan became “did not go on”, pusit became “opposite”.

It was like growing up in Seattle again listening to his brother Fred’s jokes.

We shared recipes while driving to meetings,

cooking techniques while flying to conferences,

called each other when we found a yummy new restaurant in the Valley,

jumped in his truck to get a few fresh Tilapia fried at Seafood City market.

He showed me how to poke the eyeballs to test if the fish was still fresh,

then he screamed when its gills moved; he laughed about his fishing trips with Jerry,

asked me if my dad ate the eyeballs too. Who’s doesn’t?

One minute he explained tax forms and financial statements

and the next minute we compared grocery prices and the quality of Albertson’s meats.

We set up booths at festivals and community centers,

just so we could people-watch and tsismis.

A Santa Claus twinkle in his eye lit up his hacking laugh over a cooler at our feet,

with enough sandwiches, water, and sodas for the whole barrio.

While sharing 100 Ways to Tell You’re Filipino

and 100 ways to cook asparagus,

he talked story about growing up brown in the delta,

and the politics of water-cooler trash talk at Hughes Aircraft, many years after he retired.

He spoke proudly of his grandkids and his “girls”,

his daughters, who, whether they know it or not,

through his stories and their actions,

taught me to be a better daughter myself.

Sam was more than our President/Treasurer/Manong/Brother/Uncle/Friend/Cook/Taxman/Fisherman.

He was our Dad too,

who gave birth to a whole new generation

of Los Angeles Pinoys and definitely Pinays

who are proud to share his-story,

who bless the day we first met

in his kitchen.

I love you and will miss you, Uncle Sam,

but I know you’re saving us all a seat at the table.


October 7, 2007 – Detroit

www.emilylawsin.com

 

 

Click HERE to Read My Previous Blog Post: Podcast of Spoken Word Performance at East Meets West Show

 

 

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