Friday, June 8, 2018


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, Pilipinx, 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. 

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 50 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 13 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

Monday, June 4, 2018


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 6 -- CLICK on links to go to the reviews.

(June 2018)

Editor's Note:  Welcome to the sixth issue of THE HALO-HALO REVIEW where we provide engagements with Filipino-Pilipinx 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 sixth issue has been set at Nov. 4, 2018 (though I will take reviews sooner than the deadline if that is more convenient for the reviewers).

Go HERE to continue the Editor's Note.

A River, One-Woman Deep: Stories by Linda Ty-Casper (Philippine American Literary House, Santa Monica, CA, 2017)
Reviewed by Maileen Hamto

Museum of Absences by Luis H. Francia (Meritage Press and University of the Philippines, San Francisco & St. Helena / Quezon City, 2004)
Reviewed by Neil Leadbeater

Immigrant: Hay(na)ku & Other Poems in a New Land by Eileen R. Tabios (Moria Books' Locofo Chaps, Chicago, 2017)
Reviewed by M. Earl Smith

The Quiet Ones by Glenn Diaz (Ateneo Press, 2017)
Reviewed by Aloysiusi Polintan

THE NOVEL OF JUSTICE: Selected Essays 1968-1994 by N.V.M. Gonzalez (Anvil Publishing, 1996)
Reviewed by Maileen Hamto

“Flash Reviews” of Fish-Hair Woman by Merlinda Bobis (Anvil Publishing, 2012)Candido’s Apocalypse by Nick Joaquin (Anvil Publishing, 2010)Puppy Love and Thirteen Short Stories by F. Sionil Jose (Solidaridad Publishing House, 1998), Twisted Flicks by Jessica Zafra (Anvil Publishing, 2003), and The Poet Learns to Dance and Aimless Walk, Faithful River by Simeon Dumdum Jr.
Reviewed by Aloysiusi Polintan


Luisa A. Igloria

Chris Santiago


[Click HERE to see all of the Love Notes]

Eileen Tabios on Sasha Pimentel

Bianca Elorde Nagac on Nick Joaquin

Omehra Sigane on Leny M. Strobel

Bianca Elorde Nagac on F.H. Batacan

Aloysiusi Polintan on Joel M. Toledo

Malou Alorro on Eileen R. Tabios

Korina Chriestiene Reyes, Hubert Victorino, Frances Anne Guevarra, Nancy Jane Victorino, and Bianca Elorde Nagac on the anthology BARDS OF THE FAR EAST (organized by Carolyn Gutierrez-Abangan and with primary authors Carolyn Gutierrez-Abanggan, Danny Gallardo, Felix Fojas, Aine M. Losauro, and Jose Rizal M. Reyes)



Francis C. Macansantos engages Samboangan (The Cult of War) by Antonio R. Enriquez (University of the Philippines Press, Quezon City, 2006)

Neil Leadbeater reviews Love in a Time of Belligerence by Eileen R. Tabios (Editions du Cygne/SWAN World, Paris, France, 2017)


Welcome to the sixth issue of THE HALO-HALO REVIEW / The Mangozine where we provide engagements with Filipino-Pilipinx 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 sixth issue has been set at Nov. 4, 2018 (though I will take reviews sooner than the deadline if that is more convenient for the reviewers).

As well, send me links to reviews/engagements with Filipino literature! These links will be aggregated in various genre categories displayed HERE. Updating the genre categories with links will occur as information is received.

An interesting feature of The Mangozine is its putting online various Introductions, Prefaces, Afterwords and Authors' Notes to published books. The presented essays to date  corroborate the need for a journal like THE HALO-HALO REVIEW -- they highlight the uniqueness of English-language Filipino literature that cannot be subsumed in other categories like "Asian American" or "People of Color" literature. Feel free to suggest other books which may offer useful contributions that deserve to be republished online.

I also call out to readers to SHOW SOME LOVE TO A FILIPINO AUTHOR(S) by sharing statements as to why they love their writing.  All writing styles. You can focus on authors dead or alive, send as many statements as you are moved to write.  You can praise authors not already mentioned or still to be mentioned. You need not be a critic, writer, scholar or teacher (though all are welcome). You need only be a Reader. (Examples are available at all at the issues below).

The Mangozine is possible not only due to the volunteer efforts of our reviewers but  to readers who choose to share their love. 

All Best,

Eileen R. Tabios
Contact: galateaten at gmail dot com

Index (May it Grow!):
ISSUE 1, September 2015
ISSUE 2, February 2016
ISSUE 3, August 2016
ISSUE 4, February 2017
ISSUE 5, December 2017
ISSUE 6, June 2018



(Philippine American Literary House, Santa Monica, CA, 2017)

Memory and imagination take full flight in the sometimes agonizing search for reconciliation and redemption in Linda Ty-Casper’s A River, One-Woman Deep: Stories. Accentuated by the author’s sharp attention to defining place and time, the exquisite collection of stories encapsulate the depth and heft of any woman’s regret, guilt and remorse.

“Lives are fables upon which to hang stories of lost lives.” Throughout the volume, reflections and realizations transcend time, place and identity, revealing complex and – at times, forcibly – forgotten entanglements. Confronted with mortality, a mother silently grieves that her grown children could not pronounce her Filipino name. A woman struggles with her ambivalence toward fully embracing motherhood. Anita, a balikbayan, seeks to make up for almost 40 years of absence from the homeland. A daughter makes peace with her mother’s sorrow over stillborn children, all buried outside the cemetery walls.

Prepare yourself for the tears, for they will come. These stories explore the depth of ruin and loss in exile, self-imposed or otherwise. Returning to lost places remembered in dreams, Ty-Casper’s women live lives interspersed with brief moments of joy, only to be interrupted by tragedies and catastrophes, both large and small. They come to terms with anguish and find a reason to move on, despite near-fatal wounds.

“Being with relatives help us to discover who we are.” In the novella that bears the collection’s name, the author sets Anita’s homecoming amid the backdrop of the chaotic political theater that embodied the rule of ousted Philippine President Joseph Estrada. Ty-Casper’s previous works of historical fiction have focused on the retelling of reported events that occurred during the hard-fought battle for Philippine independence, as well as torture and mayhem during the Marcos regime.

In “A River,” turmoil in Philippine society mirrors manipulations and maneuverings of Anita’s relatives who are shamelessly angling for material inheritance. Casper-Ty’s intimacy with Filipino culture and psyche renders her characters recognizable and approachable, if not endearing: Tios, Tias and other familiar pamilya characters that surface at any family reunion. Patro speaks of penises and old Tios relive their trauma through the same stories. Every woman has a confidante -archrival, and Lili plays the part well.

The Filipino reader will also appreciate how Ty-Casper’s narrative form appropriately employs Filipino thought and tradition in revealing clues about unspoken secrets and unimaginable heartaches. It is a well- known Filipino practice to wake from dreaming, and share details of dreams with others. Although Anita does not verbalize her visions, she flows in and out of her dreams and recollections from her childhood during her visit, straddling memory and reality of otherness in the homeland she abandoned decades ago. Her return to the homeland ravaged by moral bankruptcy also became an occasion to confront the horrific violence of a not-so-distant past.

“Memories are part of the wholeness of our lives.”  The constant search for authentic identity and self has been a recurring theme in Ty-Casper’s works, and “A River, One-Woman Deep: Stories” carries forward this legacy. As a survival tactic, it has been the Filipina’s way to rise from torment and shame, to conveniently forget atrocities committed by enemies within and without. But some stories are too important to simply be forgotten.

We are gifted with Ty-Casper’s continuing and deepening interrogation of the Filipino self and unnamed collective traumas through historical narratives that focus primarily on the lives of women. Although painful, there also is beauty in searching for the unvarnished truth in mangled memories and white-washed lies, anchored by dreams of the past.  


Born and raised in Manila, Philippines, Maileen Hamto currently lives in Colorado, by way of the Pacific Northwest and the Texas Gulf Coast. For more than 20 years, Maileen has worked in organizations focused on eliminating poverty, dismantling racism, and creating opportunities for diverse communities. Presently, she leads equity and inclusion strategies for a community mental health agency. In her everyday work, she is guided by wisdom gleaned from her lived experiences as an immigrant woman of color who is humbled everyday by the journey of decolonization.  Maileen curates content for the Colors of Influence blog, which covers issues from workforce diversity, cultural preservation, community advocacy, health disparities, and social inequities.  Since obtaining a degree in Journalism from the University of Houston, Maileen has earned two master’s degrees: an MBA from the University of Portland and a master’s in Healthcare Management from Oregon Health & Science University. She is currently pursuing doctoral studies in Educational Leadership with a concentration in Urban and Diverse Communities at the University of Colorado in Denver.