Tuesday, August 2, 2016


Filipino literature--in the Philippines and the diaspora--is a vibrant area of English-language writing. The Halo-Halo Review is an accessible online summary of critical and other responses to Filipino literature's multiple and diverse forms. We hope that what others are saying about Filipino English-language literature will encourage others to read, teach and engage. 

By "Filipino," The Halo-Halo Review means all who self-identify as Filipino whether they're in the Philippines or the diaspora, as well as mixed and hyphenated Filipinos. Alternative monikers include Pinoy, Pinay, Pin@y, Pilipino, Pilipina -- we welcome you all as long as you enjoy halo-halo and manga!

Reviews and engagements are sorted by genre. Click on the genre below to see the book titles reviewed and their accompanying links. Multi-genre books may be placed in more than one category (e.g. if a book includes poetry and fiction, it will be sorted in both of the categories).







The Halo-Halo Review has two components. The first component, as described above, is an aggregation of online links to reviews and other engagements with Filipino literature throughout the internet. While the editor has begun collecting such links, readers are also encouraged to share information on other links. Links will be posted on an ongoing basis at the applicable genre sites.

The Halo-Halo Review's second component is The Halo-Halo Review's Mangozine which will contain new reviews. We welcome reviewers (reviewers need not be Filipino) -- click HERE for a list of available review copies (though feel free to review Filipino English-language books from your own sources). Also featured will be a "Readers Show Love to Filipino Authors" section--we are always looking for contributions; more info HERE. In addition, The Mangozine also will serve as the first online publisher for reviews and other engagements (e.g. book introductions)  published in print but not yet available online. Finally, its feature articles will include author interviews. Click HERE for a Table of Contents to The Mangozine's current issue, Issue 3!

While reviewed publications are in English, we will cover bilingual editions, as well as Filipino-language books if the review is in English.

To share information about additional links and/or to discuss your interest in writing a review, please go to the ABOUT section for contact information.


(to be updated over time)

If you're a Filipino writer and you're writing in English, you have to have a clear reason for the language that you're using ... I'm going to write in English: why? ... It really has to do with class ... For me to be part of the world of the enemy and yet to be attached to that world ... For the Filipino, English is a very literary language. The writers in English are always working with or working against the language we are given, the colonizer's language. People who live in a colonized world recognize you are living in a world of translation...

Ricardo M. de Ungria in “An English Apart” ...claim[es] that “[w]riting well in English is [his] best revenge against English,” De Ungria searches the various polemics that surround the English debate: 

But why do I want to take revenge at the English language? … Because it taught me, among other things, to think poorly of my native language and exclude this from the discourse of my deepest needs and joys and aspirations? … Because it foisted upon me a rich heritage of writing that I could never be a part of nor even closely relate to…? Because it left me inside a wonderful labyrinth of a symbolic world whose exquisite emblems and implements only heighten my sense of helplessness and futility at being understood…? Because it has opened me up to a fascinating world where I am condemned forever to live as a stranger? 

In 1898, the United States claimed it owned the Philippines after buying it for $20 million from Spain through the Treaty of Paris. The Filipinos—who had won and declared their independence from Spain—protested, and thus commenced the Philippine-American War, a war that has been called the United States’ “First Vietnam.” With their prowess on the military terrain, the U.S. defeated the Philippines. The U.S. solidified its colonial domination through the cultural and linguistic terrain with the popularization of English as the preferred language for education, administration, commerce and daily living. Thus, English is sometimes called by Filipinos to be “the borrowed tongue,” though enforced tongue would be more accurate.

whenever I sit down to chat your English rises like a mountain peak
Paolo Javier, from "Soldiering On Like The Devil" in COURT OF THE DRAGON

We used to talk about the course of Philippine literature in English as though it passed somewhat miraculously through three stages: a period of apprenticeship, of emergence or growth, and then of maturity. It was in the 1950s a useful if also a subtly condescending way of picturing what was called its “development.” On the other hand, Fr. Miguel A. Bernad, S.J., thought in 1957 that Philippine literature is whatever language was “perpetually inchoate” because, first, the writers couldn’t earn a living from their writing; second, we were torn by several languages or had not mastered English well enough; and third, we were culturally confused or had not fostered enough our own hybrid culture. It is well worth quoting Fr. Bernad:
Filipino writers in Spanish flourished at the end of the nineteenth century and the first decades of the twentieth. But this flowering of a culture never bore fruit: its roots were soon withered. While Apostol and Guerrero, Bernabe and Balmori, Barcelon and Recto, were writing poems that were admired in Spain, a generation of Filipino was growing up that would not understand the language in which they were written.
This is not to deplore the coming of English to our shores. Its coming was by no means deplorable: it was a cultural windfall. It does explain, however, why Philippine letters, which had finally flowered (and it is a curious thing that it did not come to its full flowering until after Spanish political domination was over) died out quickly, even in flower. Philippine letters had to seek other roots in a different cultural soil. This is why even after sixty years of English in the Philippines, Philippine literature in English is still young. But it has much promise: it may eventually attain to full maturity. (Bamboo and the Greenwood Tree) 1957/1961).
Gemino Abad,  from Our Scene So Fair: Filipino Poetry in English, 1905-1955

Today, whatever standing I may have as a poet in the Philippines will probably be based on my Tagalog poems. But I will also probably be remembered, or remain notorious, for my last poem in English. // It’s an acrostic poem, and the first letters of the lines, if read downwards, spell out a Tagalog slogan popular among demonstrators before martial law: MARCOS HITLER DIKTADOR TUTA (Marcos Hitler, Dictator, Running Dog).
—Jose F. Lacaba, from "Why I Stopped Writing Poetry in English"


The Halo-Halo Review aggregates reviews of Filipino authors found in the internet.  In addition, through its The Mangozine, it will publish new reviews as well as features like author interviews and reader testimonials about beloved Filipino authors. We welcome hearing from those with information about additional links, reviews, and/or reader testimonials. 

Reviewers need not be Filipino but the authors under review must be Filipino (including mixed/part Filipino).  Reviewers may review any books they wish, including those in their personal library. We also have some review copies available which we can send to you and, if you review them, you may keep.  The list of review copies is available HERE.

CONTACT:  galateaten at gmail dot com

Eileen R. Tabios loves books and has released about 40 collections of poetry, essays, fiction and experimental biographies from publishers in nine countries and cyberspace. She has also exhibited visual art and visual poetry in the United States and Asia. Recipient of the Philippines’ National Book Award for Poetry (Manila Critics Circle) for her first poetry collection, she has crafted an award-winning body of work that is unique for melding ekphrasis with transcolonialism. Her poems have been translated into seven languages as well as computer-generated hybrid languages, Paintings, Video, Drawings, Visual Poetry, Mixed Media Collages, Kali Martial Arts, Music, Modern Dance and Sculpture.  She also has edited, co-edited or conceptualized ten anthologies of poetry, fiction and essays in addition to serving as editor or guest editor for various literary journals.  She maintains a biblioliphic blog, “Eileen Verbs Books“; edits Galatea Resurrects, a popular poetry review; steers the literary and arts publisher Meritage Press; and frequently curates thematic online poetry projects including LinkedIn Poetry Recommendations (a recommended list of contemporary poetry books).  More information is available at http://eileenrtabios.com


In addition to aggregating reviews from the internet, THE HALO-HALO REVIEW presents The Mangozine which features new reviews and serves as the online publisher for reviews and other engagements (e.g. book introductions) published in print but not yet available within the internet.  Other features, including author interviews and reader testimonials, also will be presented. The following presents a Table of Contents for Issue 3 -- CLICK on links to go to the reviews.

(August 2016)

Editor's Note:  Welcome to the third issue of THE HALO-HALO REVIEW where we provide engagements with Filipin@ literature and authors through reviews and engagements, interviews and other prose. We hope readers, writers and publishers will continue to participate and share information about numerous Filipino authors and the wide variety of their writings. 

The Mangozine's Review Copy information is HERE; you are encouraged to fatten up the list as well as pick some to review! Submission deadline for the fourth issue has been set at Jan. 31, 2017 (though I will take reviews sooner than the deadline if that is more convenient for the reviewers).

Eileen Tabios' Editor's Note continues over HERE.


Dogeaters by Jessica Hagedorn (Pantheon Books, New York, 1990). Engaged by Sheila Bare

The Art of Exporting by Cristina Querrer (dancing girl press & studio, 2011). Engaged by Eileen R. Tabios

To Be Free by Edilberto K. Tiempo (New Day Press, Quezon City, 1972. Seventh Printing, 1993). Reviewed by Monica Macansantos

TO LOVE AS ASWANG by Barbara Jane Reyes (Philippine American Writers & Artists, San Francisco, 2015). Reviewed by Rose Booker

THE CONNOISSEUR OF ALLEYS by Eileen R. Tabios (Marsh Hawk Press, New York, 2016). Engaged by Leny M. Strobel

In Praise of Absolute Interpretation by Felino A. Soriano (Desperanto, 2010). Reviewed by Constance Adler

Anemal Uter Meck by Mg Roberts (Black Radish Books, 2017). Engaged by Marthe Reed

THE CHAINED HAY(NA)KU PROJECT, curated by Ivy Alvarez, John Bloomberg-Rissman, Ernesto Priego & Eileen Tabios (Meritage Press / xPress(ed), San Francisco & St. Helena / Puhos, Finland, 2010). Reviewed by Chris Mansel

AMBIL: Mga Pagsubok, Pahiwatig & Interbensyon by E. San Juan (CreateSpace/Amazon, 2014). Reviewed by Roger Rigor

PRAU by Jean Vengua (Meritage Press, San Francisco & St. Helena, 2007). Reviewed by Chris Mansel

VERSES TYPHOON YOLANDA: A Storm of Filipino Poets edited by Eileen R. Tabios (Meritage Press, San Francisco & St. Helena, 2014). Reviewed by Mary Kasimor

traje de boda by Aileen Ibardaloza (Meritage Press, San Francisco & St. Helena, 2010). Reviewed by Chris Mansel

"Lyrics #3" from the book Have Come, Am Here by Jose Garcia Villa (Viking, New York, 1942). Engaged by Rene J. Navarro


Amanda Ngoho Reavey, Post-MARILYN (The Operating System, Brooklyn, New York, 2015)

Felino A. Soriano, Post-sparse anatomies of single antecedents (Gradient Books, Finland, 2015)


Go HERE to see the Love expressed by the following:

James E. Cherry on Cecilia Brainard

Eileen R. Tabios on E. San Juan, Jr.

Joseph O. Legaspi on R. Zamora Linmark

Leny M. Strobel on Rene Navarro

Eileen R. Tabios on Rene Navarro

Oliver de la Paz on R. Zamora Linmark

Malou Bobu Alorro on Erma M. Cuizon

Tony Robles on Jason Bayani

Eileen R. Tabios on Edilberto K. Tiempo



Vince Gotera reviews Dogeaters by Jessica Hagedorn (Pantheon, New York, 1990) and State of War by Ninotchka Rosca (Norton, New York, 1988). First appeared in Pilipinas: A Journal of Philippine Studies No. 21, Fall 1993

Ralph Semino Galán reviews Museum of Absences by Luis H. Francia (UP Press, Quezon City / Meritage Press, San Francisco & St. Helena, 2004). First appeared in Ralph Semino Galán's Discernments: Literary Essays, Cultural Critiques and Book Reviews (UST Publishing House, 2013)

Theodore S. Gonzalves engages Rolling the R's by R. Zamora Linmark (Kaya Press with a 20th Anniversary Edition, 2016)

Diana C. Hoagland engages Apperceptions of Reinterpretations by Felino A. Soriano (Calliope Nerve Media, 2009). First appeared in Leaf Garden, Issue 10, August 2010

From Books: Introductions, Prefaces, Forewo
rds, Afterwords and Author's Notes

Luis H. Francia introduces Vestiges of War: The Philippine-American War and the Aftermath of an Imperial Dream 1899-1999 co-edited by Angel Velasco Shaw and Luis H. Francia (NYU Press, New York, 2002)

Ralph Semino Galán presents Preface to his FROM THE MAJOR ARCANA (University of Santo Tomas Publishing House, Philippines, 2014)

Dean Francis Alfar introduces KUWENTO LOST THINGS: New Anthology of Poetry, Fiction and Non-Fiction Inspired by Philippine Mythology edited by Rachelle Cruz and Melissa Sipin (Carayan Press, San Francisco, 2015)

Duane Locke offers a Prologue to INTENTIONS OF ALIGNED DEMARCATIONS by Felino A. Soriano (Desperanto, New York, 2011)

Theodore Gonzalves introduces his edited Carlos Villa and the Integrity of Spaces (Meritage Press, San Francisco & St. Helena, CA, 2012)

Rocio Davis introduces GROWING UP FILIPINO: STORIES FOR YOUNG ADULTS edited by Cecilia Manguerra Brainard (PALH, 2003)

Eileen Tabios introduces the Poetry Section of Screaming Monkeys: Critiques of Asian American Images edited by M. Evelina Galang in collaboration with Poetry Editor Eileen Tabios, Non-Fiction Editor Sunaina Maira, Art Editor Jordan Isip and Found Images Editor Anida Yoeu Esguerra (Coffee House Press, Minneapolis, 2003)

Billy Burgos introduces Compatible Aspects of the Disparate Endeavor by Felino A. Soriano (NeoPoiesis Press, 2011)


Thanks to a volunteer-typist for this issue:  Amy Pabalan!