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.

Sunday, June 3, 2018



Museum of Absences by Luis H. Francia
(Meritage Press, California and The University of the Philippines Press, Quezon City, 2004)

Luis Francia was born in the Philippines and earned his BA from Ateneo de Manila University. He immigrated to the US after College, moving to New York City. Journalist, editor, poet and teacher, his other collections of poetry include The Arctic Archipelago (1992),  The Beauty of Ghosts (2010) and Tattered Boat (2014). In addition to poetry, he has also published numerous works of fiction and non fiction including A History of the Philippines: From Indios Bravos to Filipinos (2010) and a play. As well as teaching at New York University and Hunter College CUNY, he also teaches creative writing at the City University of Hong Kong.

The title is intriguing. The original meaning of the word museum signified a temple for the Muses, a resort of the learned, a place of study. We understand it today as being a repository for the collection, exhibition and study of objects of artistic, scientific, historic and educational interest. Behind every object there is a human story—at one end of the spectrum, it may be about a specific individual; at the other, it may relate to the history of a nation. Similarly, the word absence conveys the state of being away or not present; a withdrawal from worldly things. It is closely linked to the word disappearance meaning to cease to exist or to leave without explanation or warning. It also has the meaning of  to cause someone to vanish by imprisoning them or killing them, usually for political reasons.  Another word that springs to mind is vanish meaning to fade out, to become zero.

By bringing these key words together, Francia constructs a museum of the emotions, a museum of the interior life. He catalogues the feelings that are often experienced by those who live in a permanent state of exile. These are the details that you will not find in a display case yet Francia lays them bare; he holds them up for our inspection and we feel for their vulnerability. Francia is the dark mysterious writer....the archaeologist...who brings these artefacts to the surface. It is a movement that starts at the toe, heads simultaneously for your psyche and your crotch, then seizes your heart.

The collection is divided into three parts. The first part is  titled DIS / APPEARANCES.  People die (Ode to Jimmy Hendrix), outrages happen (A Request to My Landlord After a Suspicious Fire), yet they all have a habit of coming back, (Winter Ghosts), of living on in the memory or, in the case of Catholics Anonymous never really leaving at all. In this section, Francia confronts through the use of narrative the problem of urban American alientation and the broken promise of opportunities for immigrants to live the American dream.

Part II is headed ZERO GROUND – not Ground Zero – possibly because of the fact that  poems in this section also cover events that happen in other parts of the world, not just New York although Ground Zero is indeed the focus point in the poems September 11, 2001 and  On Reading The Times Memorials for the 9/11 Victims). A certain amount of levelling takes place throughout this section and throughout the book in general. For example, Francia tells us at the very start of the collection that

Experience, that clever leveller, with
its greedy mouth, ate the walls
One by one behind which I had hid.

Part III, MEDITATIONS, contains a sequence of fourteen poems, some of which are untitled. In this section, there is a subtle change of tone in which some notion of hope is held out for the future.
Stylistically, Francia is a master of wordplay and double entendre. One of his trademarks is swapping words round as if they are freely interchangeable with each other.  We see this in the heading ZERO GROUND instead of Ground Zero and in the poem vigorously do I:

dear postmodern world, cozy
with your nuclear tea, your parlor wars…

Or this example of sound play from the opening lines of the first meditation:

It starts with an itch, you see, so you scratch. Psoriasis? No. Metamorphosis.

In dogless in manhattan the word god and dog become interchangeable:

my dog, my dog,
why have you forsaken me?

The frustration experienced by immigrants is expressed particularly well in Blue in the Face the constant repetition of the phrase (itself a double entendre) adds effectively to the growing sense of anger and resentment upon which the poem is founded. It is the same kind of frustration that is brought to the fore in another poem headed vigorously do I where the reader is left to supply the final word of the titlecomplain which, by not appearing in print, goes unheard amid the faceless crowd. In it, Francia rages against blue bureaucratic blottings…civil servants…rubberstamps: all things petty and stultifying.

Brokenness, alienation, commemoration and a reflection on the brevity of life are the themes that dominate this book.  Religious imagery (covenant, testament, sacrament, blessed, hymns, bells, cathedrals, etc.) and imagery related to body parts (sinew, bone, heart, tongue, torso, limb, etc.) form some of the building blocks that he uses to construct his argument.

Sometimes the structure of a poem will mirror, or contain echoes of, a Biblical story: for example, the second of the MEDITATIONS, which begins with the line First was water out of darkness partly echoes the story of Creation.

The theme of brevity of life, especially poignant in the section called ZERO GROUND is brought out most forcefully in the first of the MEDITATIONS that opens Part III.

In the beginning….is always the beginning.

In the middle…there is no middle, only the end.

In the end…I hope it will never.

The word end is deliberately left out at the close of the sentence.

Sometimes the means by which Francia achieves his ends are extremely subtle. Notice how the following enjambment in Catholics Anonymous illustrates the pressing need to break away from institutionalized religion and, by implication, the past:

…I was break danc
ing yes I was dancing to
break a two-thousand year spell.

To lend emphasis, Francia does it twice: once within the word dancing and then again by breaking the infinitive of the verb to break.

This is a powerful collection from an undisputed master. It speaks to all people who, for whatever reason, have been pushed to the margins of society for reasons beyond their control and, as a result, feel alienated, aggrieved and dispossessed. Recommended.


Neil Leadbeater is an author, editor, essayist, poet and critic living in Edinburgh, Scotland. His short stories, articles and poems have been published widely in anthologies and journals both at home and abroad. His books include Hoarding Conkers at Hailes Abbey (Littoral Press, 2010), Librettos for the Black Madonna (White Adder Press, 2011); The Worcester Fragments (Original Plus, 2013); The Loveliest Vein of Our Lives (Poetry Space, 2014) and Finding the River Horse (Littoral Press, 2017). His work has been translated into Dutch, Romanian, Spanish and Swedish.