Tuesday, December 26, 2017


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

(December 2017)

Editor's Note:  Welcome to the fifth 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 June 1, 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.


Magdalena by Cecilia Manguerra Brainard (University of Santo Tomas, 2016)
Reviewed by Maileen Hamto

Lolas’ House: Filipino Women Living With War by M. Evelina Galang (Coffee House Press, Minneapolis, 2017)
Engaged by Eileen R. Tabios

Tattered Boat by Luis H. Francia (University of the Philippines Press, 2014)
Reviewed by Neil Leadbeater

After the Sunstone by Michellan Sarile-Alagao (CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, 2016)
Reviewed by Christine Fojas 

To Be An Empire Is To Burn! by Eileen R. Tabios (Moria Books' Locofo Chaps, Chicago, 2017)
Reviewed by M. Earl Smith

Wings of Smoke by Jim Pascual Agustin (The Onslaught Press, 2017)
Reviewed by Aloysiusi Lionel Polintan

Fictionary: New and Award-Winning Stories by Jenny Ortuoste (University of Santo Tomas Publishing House, 2016)
Engaged by Eileen R. Tabios

The Mango Bride by Marivi Blanco (Penguin Random House, New York, 2013)
Reviewed by Justine Villanueva

SILK EGG: Collected Novels (2009-2009) by Eileen R. Tabios (Shearsman Books, Bristol, U.K., 2011)
Reviewed by Jonel Abellanosa

The Highest Hiding Place by Lawrence Ypil (Ateneo de Manila University Press, 2009)
Reviewed by Aloysiusi Lionel Polintan

THE OPPOSITE OF CLAUSTROPHOBIA: Prime's Anti-Autobiography by Eileen R. Tabios (Knives Forks and Spoons Press, Newton-le-Willows, U.K., 2017)
Reviewed by Nikki Dudley

Navel n. the central point of a place by Rica Bolipata-Santos (University of Santo Tomas Publishing House, Manila, 2016). Reviewed by Aloysiusi Lionel Polintan


Renee Macalino Rutledge

Angela Peñaredondo


Go HERE to read

Leny M. Strobel on Mia Alvar

Eileen Tabios on José Garcia Villa

Aloysiusi Lionel Polintan on Angelo Suarez

Eileen Tabios on Barbara Jane Reyes


From Books: Introductions, Prefaces, Forewords, Afterwords and Author's Notes
Alfred A. Yuson introduces BLOODLUST: Philippine Protest Poetry (From Marcos to Duterte), edited by Gemino H. Abad and Alfred A. Yuson (Reyes Publishing, Philippines, 2017)

Avotcja introduces UNSENT LETTERS: SELECTED POEMS by Glynda Tejada Velasco  (Vallejo Phoenix Rising Collective Press, Vallejo, CA, 2003)


Welcome to the fifth issue of THE HALO-HALO REVIEW / The Mangozine where we provide engagements with Filipin0-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 fifth issue has been set at May 1, 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

Monday, December 25, 2017



Magdalena by Cecilia Manguerra Brainard 
(University of Santo Tomas, 2016)

In her preface to the 2016 Philippine edition of Magdalena, author Cecilia Manguerra Brainard wrote about the process of harnessing the novel’s form. Departing from a linear style of storytelling that followed the conventions of structure, voice and tense, Cecilia opines that the “cleaned-up version” may appear “fragmented,” “cluttered,” and “difficult to read.” Form follows design and substance, as the novel carries us through the complex narratives that weave the fateful realities of three generations of Filipina women, strong and proud all.

Since the novel’s publication in 2002, Cecilia has reveled in the literary impact of Magdalena on Filipino-Americans.  In 2016, the University of Santo Tomas Publishing House released the Philippine edition of the novel to critical acclaim.

Merging patterns of poetry and fiction, Magdalena succeeds in delivering historical fiction that moves gently and steadily to reveal multiple levels of meaning for Filipinos in the homeland and in the diaspora. In Magdalena, the characters embody unique components of the Filipino psyche through traditions and values. The Filipino reader would recognize members of our own pamilya in the multitude of intrigues, secrets, tragedies and heartaches that fill each chapter.

Hard choices and life-altering sacrifices made by Luisa and Magdalena reflect the Filipino values of preserving the family’s honor by protecting it from hiya (embarassment and shame). To a lesser, yet still-significant extent, the actions taken by Estrella,Fermin, and Nestor embodied the tenets of kapwa (shared identity), utang na loob (debt of gratitude), and pakikisama (adjustment).

And this is why reading Magdalena from a Western feminist perspective is a bit challenging. The novel exposes the weakness of Filipino men who philander openly without delicadeza (sense of propriety), as their wives carry the burden of betrayal and the heft of secret heartbreaks. The reason why women choose to stay in loveless marriages built on deception is all too familiar, particularly among Filipinos who understand the age-old querida system. Patriarchy strengthened by colonization has “allowed” married men to “keep” a mistress (or two), as long as they can provide for both households.

Patriarchy has caused two generations of fathers to be absent from their daughters’ lives. There is a vast gap between the circumstances that kept Nestor and Nathan from being present and involved in the upbringing of Magdalena and Juana, respectively. Absence is absence, and a vacuum of affection carries forward to the next generation.

Lives of women in literature are defined by their relationships to each other, to men, to their children, and to their mothers. Although bound by tradition and obligation, the women of Magdalena are not ones to shrink and wilt silently because of pain and loss. Life moves along, and women choose love and desire, while keeping a hardened outer shell. Luisa quietly nurtures a secret borne of deep undying love, tragic because it was never fully acknowledged. Following a betrayal, Magdalena chooses to love in secret, never mind the certain catastrophe of losing a life cut short by a senseless war.

Reading Magdalena from the perspective of a Filipina in the process of decolonization, I relish the appropriate irony of place. Much of the novel takes place in Mactan and Cebu, islands that bore the early brunt of 300 years of Spanish Colonial period. In distinct ways, Magdalena offers metaphors for the disparate cultures and influences that defined period of Philippine history: colonized by the Spaniards, brought under the burgeoning American empire, and occupied by Japanese military forces during World War II. Somewhere in there, Chinese entrepreneurs and merchants continued to make economic advances at the expense of poor Filipinos.

In the lives of Magdalena’s women, the self-serving and violent motivations of colonizers and imperialists are in full view. The Spanish came for souls and land. Fermin’s Spanish family is fixated on controlling their land holdings and wealth, that they took great risks in the genetic lottery. The Chinese came for starting and expanding businesses, and this is why it’s important for April to marry a Manileño. Americans valued the islands’ logistical importance in engaging their enemies in the Pacific, and it’s no accident that Nathan Spencer is a bombardier.

Throughout the novel, war is a constant and all-consuming element of a people’s struggle for sovereignty. For Filipinos caught in the clutches of Western empires seeking world domination, freedom is a far-flung dream. Facing violence and annihilation, one wonders if the characters’ propensity to engage in dangerous dalliances is a way of reminding themselves of what it is to be truly human. For as long as they can still feel desire and take comfort in star-crossed trysts, the true nature of humanity – the one that seeks peace and kapwa with others – is sheltered from annihilation.  

Given that the novel was originally released in the United States, it’s hard not to miss expressed sympathies accorded to the Americans. In Nathan Spencer’s lamentation, we learn of his vacillation between carrying out his duties as a soldier and seeing plainly the cruelty of an unnecessary and unpopular war.

“War is about pain, death and destruction,” Nathan writes.

In Magdalena, author Cecilia Manguerra Brainard draws from her upbringing and experiences to tell stories of the Filipino experience. She has every reason to be proud that her sophomore novel “belongs to Filipinos.” And it does. Magdalena’s beauty lies in its unapologetic portrayal of the Filipino psyche. Its power is harbored in its ability to inspire a critical look into the scars of colonization and oppression in all of their forms: political, cultural, social and psychological.

Despite many tragic turns, Magdalena carries a hopeful message drawn from a naked, full-bodied and emboldened depiction of the strong and resilient Filipina.    


Maileen Hamto has led equity and inclusion strategies for organizations with expressed values of eliminating poverty, dismantling racism, and creating opportunities for diverse communities. In her 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. Born and raised in Manila, Philippines, Maileen currently lives in Colorado, by way of the Pacific Northwest and the Texas Gulf Coast.