Friday, April 3, 2020


This Feature presents readers sharing some love about the talent of Filipino writers and artists. We would welcome your participation. This section is for readers. You don't have to write "like a professional," "like a critic," "like an intellectual," "like a well-rounded reader," etc. Just write honestly about how you were moved. Live writers and artists (let alone the dead) don't get to hear enough from others who engage with their works (some may not even know all who comprise their audience). To know someone read their stories and poems or appreciated their artistry is to receive a gift. Just share from your heart. It will be more than enough. DEADLINE: NOV 15, 2020 for Issue #10. Duplications of authors/artists and more than one testimonial are fine.

Mangozine's Issue #9 Presents

*     Eileen Tabios on Angela Manalang Gloria 
*     Sean Labrador y Manzano on Ron Loewinsohn
*     Beverly Parayno on Lisa Melnick
*     Jonel Abellanosa on Ralph Semino Galan
*     Eileen Tabios on Rebecca Mabanglo-Mayor
*     Sarah de Mesa on Noelle Q. De Jesus
*     Eileen Tabios on Eunice Barbara C. Novio
*     Carlene Sobrino Bonnivier on Cecilia Brainard
*     Eileen Tabios on Marianne Chan

Eileen Tabios on Angela Manalang Gloria
From “Eileen R. Tabios on Angela Manalang Gloria” which can be seen HERE at The Operating Systems’ 9th Annual NaPoMo 30/30/30 Feature. The following is an excerpt:

I adore [Angela Manalang Gloria's] passion; a favorite poem is “Soledad” where she writes about a woman who “shattered every mullioned pane / To let a firebrand in. … / for one insane / Moment with him.” The poem ends with
…no one guessed that loveliness would claim
Her soul’s cathedral burned by his desires,
Or that he left her aureoled in flame …

And seeing nothing but her blackened spires,
The town condemned this girl who loved too well
And found her heaven in the depths of hell.
The notion of “heaven in the depths of hell” reminds me of certain photographs of ascetics which are moving specifically because the camera captured well a burning passion within their gazes. That passion would seem antithetical to an ascetic, but actually hearkens a knowing by the ascetic who turned that way precisely because, once, that ascetic partook of — thus, fully knows — the desires now foregone. Relatedly, certain saints were first full-blown sinners. I put poets in this category — when some ask me how to be a good if not great poet, I reply (with the usual caveats), “through wide experience.” 
… Finally, Gloria moves me as a poet because I recognize the tight clench of her Muse onto her pen. Despite the often unsatisfactory verses that result from our attempts to write — despite the failure of our raw material of language — the poet is a poet for not being defeated by the task. To be a poet, too, is to persevere. In Gloria’s “Poems,” that process itself becomes a poem — as befits a poet who’s earned her slyness:
There are so many poems in my head
All wanting to be seen
And some are bright in silver lace,
And some are plumed with green.
But all of them, however perfect
In my mind’s retreat
Appear bewildered when released,
And oh, so incomplete.


Sean Labrador y Manzano on Ron Loewinsohn

Born in Iloilo, Philippines, Ron Loewisohn (1937-2014) was a poet and novelist associated with the poetry of the San Francisco Renaissance. He was also Professor Emeritus of English at the University of California, Berkeley, where he met Sean Labrador y Manzano. Sean recalls: “I had office hours with him discussing how to grade papers on TS Eliot, Hemingway, Barnes, etc...but didn't know when to ask what it was like to live in Santo Tomas U during the war. Which sounds like I missed a huge opportunity. I was already a grad student sfsu and gsi-ing at Cal. Had I known of his roots when I was undergrad...I'd have been all over him.

My Apology (for Ron Loewinsohn)

Dear Ron, When do you remember
the confines of Santo Thomas?
Grade papers on your behalf.
So much depends upon American 
Modernist Literature, you weigh
on San Pedro pier, brightest apple.

How was your first apple?
Savor, a Manila unremembered
ravaged for poetry to weigh
what was lost outside Santo Tomas.
But in any poem do you an American
deny, or a Filipino identify, the half

preferred resists tsismis, the halfway
house, Wheeler Hall, where A = Apple,
not Ampalaya, BM infers Americaness
like "ours" is manufactured mementos
like fruit substitute. Santo Tomas
rationing precludes words weigh

the meatiest air, the vehicle weighed
to sternum, magnetic clouds halve
ladders of the dorms of Santo Tomas,
did we DB's epileptic hounds, an apple
fixes malice, malnutrition, memory
or EH's steerage, inglorious American

repairs contrite deformity, American
uncocked to postwar weighstation
declare the baggage free of memory.
Gratitude parsing TSE, half-Spring
ruined, a fevered pitch, Manzana
loosely translates Santo Tomas'

captive vision: graced Santo Tomas
walang barbed wire and American
civilians of war, do not an apple
exploit hope, so questions halfling
have I many, how anonymity weighed
against solidarity. Or is memory

affront to amnesia, dugo memorializes
what is buried there, in Santo Tomas
did you ever return, feel the weight
of the dead, did you imagine Fil-Ams
wandering English Dept, ghostly, half
alive, and beating North Beach apples

renders Manilatown mangos as apples
suggest whiter privilege, immemorial
to what transplanted a European half
boldly ventures capital, not Thomasite 
ministering early Teach for America's
newest colonies, experience weight

of McKinley's burden, did you weigh
mentoring Fil-Ams, deny them apples
because even among liberated Fil-Ams
distrust a lighter shade remembering
history, but your accent a Thomasite
did not color correct, tongue split half

and is that how you became poet, half
forget Tagalog, then inverse weight
a sunken treasure, or as Santo Tomas
captive, university sanctuary, apples
perched above distracts dismembered.
Had I known your past, hidden Fil-Am

in plain sight. My UCB essay, Fil-Am
seeking Fil-Am author for his half
hazard existence to be dismembered
as much if not all brown weight 
removed, as my stepfather as apple
pie, but WV coal veins xanthomas.

When lahar buried Santo Tomas
River, accelerating America's
belated exit strategy, how apples
forbid testifying against who is half.
Who belongs, stays, goes, the weight
in whiteness, the lucky memoirist.

Like apples and mangoes, a half construct
weighs against an American, a Filipino heart
there is reason memory discontinues beyond Santo Tomas.


Beverly Parayno on Lisa Melnick

Dear Lisa,

Thirty-seven dollars. I’ll always remember that amount thanks to the story “Agtawid” you shared with us on the first PAWA Virtual Open Mic held on March 26. An open mic we held in an attempt to build connections during a time of social distancing. I didn’t know it at the time, but I needed to hear your story. I needed to hear an uplifting piece on familial love. 
There’s so much I admire about this piece (set during the two months you lived with your grandparents and great uncles in the mid-1970s in a Victorian in the Richmond before heading off to Japan for a study abroad program). The shared warm meals of pinakbet and salmon heads with spinach. The scene where the four of them split the grocery bill four ways, down to the penny, and stuffed it into a Folger’s coffee can they kept on top of the refrigerator. The day they handed you a white envelope filled with crisp bills as you headed to the airport.
“I imagined the four of them--Grandma, Grandpa, Uncle Pepe, and Uncle Anong--emptying out all the money and coins from the coffee can onto the table. Money they had collected from putting in their share of the groceries; calculating what was still needed for household expenses; skimming some from what remained of the money, for me; adding in their pocket change; converting the coins nicely into paper money; and finally, placing the resulting amount into a white letter-sized envelope.”
Your words settled in the gentlest way in my heart and mind; I feel as if I’d experienced your grandparents’ and great uncles’ love and generosity myself. For days after the open mic, I could sense the story becoming a part of me. Which I believe is the greatest achievement of art.
(As a funny aside, your story reminded me a bit of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, where Charlie lived with his two sets of grandparents who loved and encouraged him.)
Thank you for this piece, and for all you do for the community as a healer, an educator, an Ate, a powerful force on the PAWA Board. It has been a pleasure getting to know you and serving with you on the board for the past year. 
Much love and respect,

(Lisa Saguitan Melnick’s story “Agtawid” appears in Beyond Lumpia, Pansit, and Seven Manangs Wild, Eastwind Books, 2014).)


Jonel Abellanosa on Ralph Semino Galan

I have completed the cycle of readings I give a book that is compelling to me -- four times. The poetry collection is Ralph Semino Galán's "From the Major Arcana." I think this book deserves a much wider attention. Ralph's poetic techniques embody everything that is dear to me: clarity of expression, lines that are clean, formal honesty, precision of imagery and, most importantly, mellifluous flows of of sounds -- the effortless meld of sound and sense (the rhythm in many ways the poetry). His poetry no doubt is what T.S. Eliot had in mind when he wrote about the simplicity of words as a fulcrum of the complexity of thoughts. The allusions in his poetry make endless rooms for echoes and expansiveness -- this is the element that makes each reading new, you never fail to discover something new with each reading. I'm glad that Ralph clearly found early in his literary life what we all eventually find out -- what Leonardo da Vinci ultimately discovers as "simplicity is the ultimate sophistication" -- the element in artistry that makes poets like Mary Oliver so universally beloved.


Eileen Tabios on Rebecca Mabanglo-Mayor

I enjoyed Dancing Between Bamboo Poles by Rebecca Mabanglo-Mayor (sp, 2019).  One of its best parts is the essay that introduces the poems as it’s a useful poetics discussion on erasure poetry--an example is "Discrete Phenomena" whose image is below. The book has a section of poems and a second section of memoir-essays. Poetry is more intellectual but there’s enough heart in the essays to gladden the reader.  I also appreciate the publishing initiative the author displayed in choosing to release this project--I'm glad her book is out there in the world.


Sarah de Mesa on Noelle Q. De Jesus

Noelle’s Cursed and Other Stories is premised on the Filipino diaspora and the inevitable physical and emotional displacement that visits everyone who has had to leave home for survival, whether economic or otherwise. The details of Noelle’s stories are not entirely new, most especially in this age where the foreign has become the familiar, thanks to the internet, and most especially for people who’ve lived in places where diasporas converge — places like Hong Kong, Singapore and London. But nonetheless, reading the stories took me through a range of emotions — dread, frustration, and yearning, but also anticipation, surprise and relief. While the book does delve into the diaspora’s collective struggle for place and survival, as well as the varied discomforts of their circumstances, what Noelle has done beautifully, and with much poignance, is to portray the universal need to connect and belong — the very thing that binds us all. I would encourage anyone with even a passing interest in the humanity of every person’s condition to enter the various worlds Noelle has created.


Eileen Tabios on Eunice Barbara C. Novio

Eunice Barbara C. Novio recently released O MATTER, which is bilingual with Thai translations by Natthaya Thamdee (Hinabing Salita Publishing House, Tarlac, Philippines, 2020). I appreciate Eunice's book, partly for its interesting meta concept of writing poems in a coffee shop about coffee, at times in a coffee shop :). She exemplifies well what Gertrude Stein once said -- and that she uses as a fitting epigraph -- "Coffee is a lot more than just a drink; it's something happening. Not as in hip, but like an event, a place to be, but not like a location, but like somewhere within yourself. It gives you time, but not actual hours or minutes, but a chance to be, like be yourself, and have a second cup." Featured as examples are two poems below, "Coffee shop" and "Alone." Needless to say, this book can be best savored ... with a cuppa joe!


Carlene Sobrino Bonnivier on Cecilia Brainard

MAGICAL YEARS: MEMORIES & SKETCHES by Cecilia Manguerra Brainard is a hardbound, 8 x 8 release from PALH (2020). Carlene responded as follows to the project of 43 sketches in reed and pen and ink:
"Oh, Cecilia - I love your book. You DO capture the luminosity of childhood, something that I personally feel so strongly, and strive over and over to share with the rest of the world through my stories. Here you reveal it so sweetly. Thank you very much... If this seems childlike, it is, and you brought it out. Really wonderful, Cecilia."
Cecilia's book also offers a Special Limited Edition whereby each book is signed and numbered by the artist/author. Contact for a copy.


Eileen Tabios on Marianne Chan

I truly appreciate receiving (& of course reading) Marianne Chan's debut poetry collection as it came with a hand-drawn cat bookmark! (I assume Marianne made it -- it's purrrrrrfect!). My cat Addie also loves it. And among this book's lovely, deceptive poems, I highlight this one because it mentions that "safety smile." I've always loathed that Filipino smile that always teetered on too much subservience for me. But I'd never heard of it--nor considered it--as a "safety" strategy before, and I'm intrigued by the concept. I learn from that ... even as I remain conflicted by it. Which is also to say, Marianne's poems are successful for *also* making the reader think. Kudos, and do check it out at

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