Sunday, November 29, 2020


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 more information (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's Mangozine--Issue 10

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

(December 2020)

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

Submission deadline for the 11th issue has been set at April 15, 2021 (though I will take reviews sooner than the deadline if that is more convenient for the reviewers).


MARCELINA: a meditation on the murder of Cecilia "Celing" Navarro by Jean Vengua (Paloma Press, 2020)

Reviewed by Maileen Hamto

INSURRECTO by Gina Apostol (1) (SoHo Press, 2018)

Engaged by Michael Caylo Baradi 


INSURRECTO by Gina Apostol (2) (SoHo Press, 2018)
Reviewed by Joanna Anabo

PAGPAG: The Dictator's Aftermath in the Diaspora by Eileen R. Tabios (Paloma Press, 2020)

Reviewed by Maileen Hamto

The Filipino Cookbook by Miki Garcia and Luca Invernizzi Tettoni (Tuttle Publishing, 2010)

Engaged by Jack Villanueva

THE CONQUERED SITS AT THE BUS STOP, WAITING by Veronica Montes (1) (Black Lawrence Press, 2020)

Reviewed by Melinda Luisa de Jesus

THE CONQUERED SITS AT THE BUS STOP, WAITING by Veronica Montes (2) (Black Lawrence Press, 2020) 

Engaged by Eileen Tabios

Woman With Horns & Other Stories and Acapulco at Sunset and Other Stories, both by Cecilia Brainard (U.S. Edition, Philippine American Literary House, 2020; Philippine Edition, Anvil, 1995)

Reviewed by Herminia Menez Coben

Letters to a Young Brown Girl by Barbara Jane Reyes (BOA Editions, 2020)
Reviewed by Ella Decastro Baron

OF COLOR: POETS' WAYS OF MAKING edited by Amanda Galvan Huynh & Luisa A. Igloria (1)(The Operating System, 2019)

Reviewed by Karen Llagas

OF COLOR: POETS' WAYS OF MAKING edited by Amanda Galvan Huynh & Luisa A. Igloria 
(2) (The Operating System, 2019)

Reviewed by Niccolo Rocamora Vitug

A Kinder Way: Poems by Niccolo Rocamora Vitug (Self-published, 2020); REQUIEM: Poems by Rodrigo Dela Pena, Jr., with illustrations by Josephine Roxanne Perez (self-published, 2015); and Humanity in Predicaments by Hans Lawrence V. Malgapu (self-published, 2020)
Reviewed by Aloysiusi Polintan



Kimberly Alidio: once teeth bones coral : and why letter ellipses

Veronica Montes / The Conquered Sits on the Bus Stop, Waiting
Jean VenguaMarcelina: a
 meditation on the murder of Cecilia “Celing” Navarro


Go HERE to read:

Eileen Tabios on Luisa A. Igloria

Cynthia T. Buiza on Angela Manalang Gloria
Mary Zambales on #romanceclass, Six de los Reyes, Brigitte Bautista, and K.S. Villoso

Karen Llagas on Angela Narciso Torres

Glynda T. Velasco on Eileen R. Tabios



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

Rene Navarro presents Introduction to Ascension and Return: Poetry of a Village Daoist by Rene J. Navarro (Tambuli Media, 2020)


Shiju Pallithazheth presents Foreword to Scentsibility edited by Ayo Gutierrez and Edentu Oroso (GMGA Publishing and Pixel and Feather Printing & Digital Services, 2020)



Wednesday, November 25, 2020


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 don't just feature writers but also visual and other types of artists. We welcome hearing from those with information about additional links, reviews, and/or reader testimonials. 

Reviewers need not be Filipino but the authors and artists 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 has released over 60 collections of poetry, fiction, essays, and experimental biographies from publishers in 10 countries and cyberspace. Her books include a form-based “Selected Poems” series which focus on the prose poem, the catalog or list poem, visual poetry, and tercets: The In(ter)vention of the Hay(na)ku: Selected Tercets 1996-2019, THE GREAT AMERICAN NOVEL: Selected Visual Poetry (2001-2019), INVENT(ST)ORY: Selected Catalog Poems & New 1996-2015, and THE THORN ROSARY: Selected Prose Poems & New 1998-2010. She issues “Selecteds” based on poetry form in order to show how she expanded a form’s landscape. As well, in 2020 she released her third short story collection PAGPAG in the United States; also due is a book in French translation, Double-Talk, to be released in Belgium.

She’s also released the first book-length haybun collection, 147 MILLION ORPHANS (MMXI-MML); a collection of 7-chapter novels, SILK EGG; an experimental autobiography AGAINST MISANTHROPY; as well as two bilingual and one trilingual editions. Her award-winning body of work includes invention of the hay(na)ku poetic form whose 15th anniversary was celebrated at the San Francisco and Saint Helena Public Libraries in 2018, as well as a first poetry book, BEYOND LIFE SENTENCES (1998), which received the Philippines’ National Book Award for Poetry. 

Translated into ten languages, she also has edited, co-edited or conceptualized 15 anthologies of poetry, fiction and essays, as well as exhibited visual art in the United States, Asia and Serbia. Her writing and editing works have received recognition through awards, grants and residencies. More information is available at http://eileenrtabios.comMore information is available at