Lolan Buhain Sevilla and Roseli Ilano introduce the anthology they co-edited, Walang Hiya … literature taking risks toward liberatory practice
(Carayan Press, San Francisco, 2010)
Letting go …
It has never been easy for me—this process of letting go—of sharing something that’s so close to my heart with others. But really, what are labors of love if not something meant to be shared? This project began a random conversation in-between meetings—Roseli and I chatting about our writing, questions on how one commits to artist desires amidst hectic schedules balancing full-time economic work with non-paid-might-as-well-be-full-time community organizing, and the role of cultural work within that organizing. Soon the conversation turned into how we could support one another’s writing. Let’s do a writer’s workshop series! No, let’s do a zine! What about a literary anthology?
Of course, being cultural workers we had to ask ourselves larger questions like: How can literature be used not only as entertainment, but also as educational tools? How do our personal experiences shape political development? What is the writer’s responsibility to the communities they come from? How can we make this project about more than just our own individual writing?
What you have in your hands now is two years of our lives and the many trials and transitions life threw our way, laden with intentions for engaging Filipinos in the Diaspora with their history, distance, and dialogue the best way we know how: through storytelling. In thinking about "Walang Hiya" as a title, more conversations were had about its meaning, our cultural and literal understanding, as well the possible consequences and backlash for using it. Sure, its traditionally a pejorative term meant to shame people for their behavior, but we wanted to examine it a step further: Who are the people doing the shaming? Who are the ones being shamed? By whose standard are we deeming a person's actions shameful or immoral? So did we succeed in addressing all these important questions? Time will tell, in the meantime my hope is that this book transcends us as individuals, reflects how much community love it took to birth this, hella dirtstyle. Maraming salamat to everybody who’ve laid their hands and hearts on this project.
Lastly, I can’t help but think of the anthologies and novels that fundamentally changed my life and shifted my consciousness. This Bridge Called My Back. Sister Outsider. Stone Butch Blues. Philippine Society and Revolution. Making Face Making Soul Haciendo Caras. The Parable Series. My wish, with this book in your hands, is that these writers you’re about to read will touch you deeply in that place where inspiration and passion translates into action for the communities you are a part of.
Makibaka huwag matakot,
Lolan Buhain Sevilla
I have always been interested in the power of storytelling; To educate, to inspire action, but most importantly the power stories have to bring people together. Through this anthology, our hope is to create a space for emerging Filipino and Filipino-American writers and poets to share their stories while recognizing the ability the narrative form has in making connections in ways that hard hitting journalism or even political essays cannot. Stories are a touchstone to help us make sense of the world we live in, in intimate and personal ways.
As an editor, my departure point has been a commitment to understanding how we find individual, unique voices and at the same time a sense of community amidst constant movement and dislocation. We are an ever-increasing world of migration. From rural to urban and from the global south to the global north, we have seen the biggest movement of our people in history. Currently 200 million people live outside their country of birth. 3,000 people leave the Philippines every day. My personal experience is one of constant movement, as a child I was transplanted every few years never establishing roots in one single place, and currently my family is spread across the globe on two-year migrant visas. Beyond the experience of the Philippine Diaspora and far beyond questions of identity, I believe you will find that the pieces in this anthology speak honestly to the desire for connection and the change it can bring.