Saturday, November 14, 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: April 15, 2021 for Issue #10. Duplications of authors/artists and more than one testimonial are fine.

Mangozine's Issue #10 Presents

*     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

Eileen Tabios on Luisa A. Igloria

In Luisa A. Igloria’s latest book, Maps for Migrants & Ghosts, the collection’s bookends—the first and last poems—reveal something about the overall collection. The first poem, “Song of the Meridians,” is (in part) about the layers, some invisible, that make up what one witnesses. The last poem, is (in part) about what lucidity requires: fearlessness. Both poems and all the poems in-between benefit from Igloria’s understanding that to see is to delve into spaces and dimensions that comprise a matter’s significance—a journey where what’s also relevant is, if not fearlessness, the struggle to prevent fear (and/or exhaustion) from contracting vision. Thus, the last line of the last poem is “Maykan, maykan, di ka agbutbuteng,” which translates into the English “Come back, come back, do not be frightened.” It’s significant that the line is written in the poet’s birth language of Ilocano since much of many poems’ inspirations seem to come from the poet’s experiences as well as that the poet, or persona, is often presented as looking back (do note, though, that I say “inspirations” instead of calling the poems outright autobiographical).

If I regret one of the collection’s sources of power—its melancholy—then I look for comfort in how poems often transcend the poet’s autobiography. I certainly hope so, even as I admire this poet’s non-blindness for lucid poems such as this last one in the collection which I find exceedingly powerful precisely because all of the prior poems in the book gave it its formidable muscle:



Cynthia T. Buiza on Angela Manalang Gloria

(A tribute to Angela Manalang Gloria, her old house, and fellow Bicolanos battered by Typhoon Rolly)

(AMG's house before Typhoon Rolly)

(AMG's house after Typhoon Rally)

From a distance it looked like a ship moored on a calm sea, its broken windows stood for eyes that will no longer be closed to the elements, no matter how many times they violate her.
I should have never postponed. Postponements are for cowards,
fools who think time is their slave.
What I got is a chance lost.
From your grave, I will tell you: Sorry.

I never thanked you for the words and the worlds you gave this young woman when she, already old at 16, believed she would write poetry to live.
I will leave flowers at your door. You will come to me in dreams. Young girls who could have been friends had they lived in the same neighborhood in 1930. It’s the end of 2020. You are young again. To me.
-ctb. 11/2/20


Cynthia Buiza is the Executive Director of the California Immigrant Policy Center. She moved to the United States 13 years ago and is now based in Los Angeles, California. Prior to that, she worked with various international organizations, including the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, the Open Society Institute-Burma Education Project in Thailand, and the Jesuit Refugee Service. She earned a Masters in International Affairs from the Fletcher School at Tufts University, with a concentration on human security studies. Her poetry and prose have appeared in various anthologies in the Philippines and the U.S. She is also the co-author of Anywhere But War, about the armed conflict and internal displacement in the Indonesian Province of Aceh.


Mary Zambales on #romanceclass, Six de los Reyes, Brigitte Bautista, and K.S. Villoso

Six de los Reyes is part of #romanceclass, an online community of Filipino authors who write romance for a primarily Filipino audience. (Of course, everyone's welcome to read these books, regardless of background.) Her book, Beginner's Guide: Love and Other Chemical Reactions (2016, CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform)is what got me acquainted with this community. It's the first book of the Talking Nerdy series, the second one being Field Guide: Love and Other Natural Disasters.

The premise for Beginner's Guide is as follows: Kaya Rubio, a 25-year-old grad student and research assistant, designs the Boyfriend Experiment to, well, find a boyfriend so that everyone in her family can leave her alone about her nonexistent love life. Enter Nero Sison, an artsy cafe owner who is very much unlike the analytical, science-minded Kaya. Sparks fly. 

I really love Kaya in this story, because I haven't seen a whole lot of media representation of women in STEM, especially Filipino women in STEM. She's also introverted and socially awkward, which is endearing and relatable. An added plus is that she doesn't apologize for her personality and interests, because it's been my experience that nerdy, socially awkward women need to be fixed somehow. Kaya explains: "I don't want to change me. That's why I set up the parameters of the Boyfriend Experiment the way I did. Because this is who I am. And I really like my brain, and I just want someone who understands it. Someone whose brain I can also understand.” And she could be hard to understand too, given her lack of social awareness as well as the several scientific terms she uses. I personally don't have a problem with all the science. In fact, give me all the science!

Going back to Kaya's explanation, this is what makes Nero so perfect: he wants to understand her. He's no science guy, but he would never want to change who she is. In an endearing and swoon-worthy scene, he asks: "Who was it who told you to shut up. Who told you to shut up the first time? Who said what you do is boring? Who said you were boring?...It’s not boring to you. You’re a scientist. This is your thing. This is what you willingly lose sleep for. It’s not boring or not important. It’s your life. I’m sorry you had someone tell you to stop talking about the things you love. I might not understand everything you say, but I’ll never, never tell you to shut up." Gotta love someone who listens to you and accepts you for who you are.

Which leads me to the biggest reason I loved this rom-com: Kaya does not need some drastic makeover to get the guy. Sure, she learns to be more aware about dealing with other people, but she's still very much the introverted, science-oriented main character from the beginning.

So, if you like STEM romances with a lot of witty one-liners and endearing characters, please check this book out! 


Brigitte Bautista is another #romanceclass author who writes LGBTQIA romances. The book I recommend is You, Me, U.S. (2020 in paperback, independently published, but 2019 is the Kindle Edition
)and this is one of the more serious stories from this community. Jo and Liza are friends and roommates trying to get through life the best way they know how. Jo's a sex worker, and the cool thing about this book is that she's not ashamed of being one, and her work is not stigmatized by those who matter to her. In fact, she meets Liza because the latter saves her from getting arrested in a sting operation. Liza, on the other hand, is a sales clerk looking for an American husband to get a green card not just for herself, but also for her family. Along the way, Jo and Liza fall for each other, but Liza can't afford to be with Jo because, even though she's happy with her, she needs to think of her family's well-being. In a tear-jerking scene, Jo leaves Liza saying, "Someday, I hope you realize that you matter, too." 

Still, romance as a genre has a non-negotiable rule: to have a happily-ever-after, or at least a happy-for-now. In other words, the characters must end up together. Do read this story if you want to know how Jo and Liza find their way back to each other. Perfect for those who love mutual pining in their romances. 


K.S. Villoso
 is the author of The Chronicles of the Bitch Queen fantasy trilogy, and the first two books, The Wolf of Oren-yaro (2020, Orbit
) and The Ikessar Falcon (2020, Orbit)are out right now. The final book will be out next year.

This trilogy follows Queen Talyien, the queen of Jin-Sayeng, a land rife with political intrigue and unrest. Not only must she deal with opportunists wanting to overthrow her and a people who do not look at her favorably, largely due to her ruthless father Yeshin and the fact that her privilege had made her unaware of her people's suffering, she must also come to terms as to why her estranged husband, Rayyel, had abandoned her and their son Thanh. Words can't fully do these books justice; Villoso's world-building is so intricate and compelling, and her characters are amazingly complex. She also examines the "strong female character" trope. Talyien's not just physically kicking butt, but we also see her in her weakness, her hesitation, and vulnerability. In other words, she's a fully realized person. I especially love the political intrigue, and the endings of each book both made me gasp. Can't wait to read the finale! 

Mary Zambales is a 1.5 generation Filipino-American, born in the Philippines and grew up in the Bay Area. She's had some poetry published in Maganda Magazine in the past, and recently had a short story published under a pen name, due out next year. She's currently revising a rom-com and is looking to write other genres in the future. Current works in progress include fantasy/horror and YA contemporary.


Karen Llagas on Angela Narciso Torres

I so enjoyed Angela Torres's poetry chapbook To The Bone, which can be downloaded from Sundress Publications HERE, and I can't wait for her 2nd full length poetry collection to be published in February 2021! Below is a gorgeous stanza from a poem entitled "What Happens is Neither," which is also the the title of her upcoming book:


Glynda T. Velasco on Eileen R. Tabios

I had a rollicking time reading this short story collection: PAGPAG: The Dictator's Aftermath in the Diaspora by Eileen R. Tabios (Paloma Press, San Mateo, 2020). At first read, I had to have a double-take and re-read it again. Prior to reading this, I was reading Malcolm X's Autobiography which had the word "negroes" practically on every page given the colloquial language of his times. I mis-read "Negros" which is the title of PAGPAG's first story. In this context, the author Tabios referring to a place (Negros Occidental).

As I continued reading this story, I had to underline in pink-color pencil all of the puns, Taglish references, speculative references such as "mamaus" as ghosts as well the word “crazy” replaced by “loko-loko.” I knew the story’s backdrop is the Philippines after Marcos. I expected it to be seriously political. But it is rather fun, sorta like how for Sound of Music the musical’s historical backdrop was Nazi Germany (and in these time of Trump and his regime and his other regime cronies—Rodrigo Duterte, oh all those in the Global South aka Latin Americathis book PAGPAG is waaay too relevant). 

(excerpt from "Negros")

In tribute to the MDR (the poetry generator created by the author; info HERE) I will take those pink pencil underlined phrases and words for use in my new hay(na)ku poem. Who knows if I survive this Shelter In Place pandemic, so I might as well create a musical with Tabios's words. After all, in La Boheme artists were dying of tuberculosis and in RENT artists were dying from gentrification and AIDS. In these times, it is Covid-19 and neoliberalism. 

I highly recommend PAGPAG. Although this is fiction, it is filled with statistics of the haves and have nots—the disparities then set in the time during and after the zenith of a dictator foreshadows this present moment. 

(excerpt from "Negros")

Here is my hay(na)ku as a found poem from various words in PAGPAG and inspired by the MDR poetry generator:

kawa wa 
Mount Asawa nyo 

yan hindi 
loko-loko Ayyyyyy-suus su... 

... maryosep 
puta (ina) maya 
Ano ano yan 

—Glynda T. Velasco, 05.16.2020 

For “translating” the poem, I share that it is really sad that here we are doing our best as poor people but they think we are crazy when we pick up trash and recycables and other things as left-overs. But we are not left-over people because we are not disposable like the things they take for granted, and we just leave it to Jesus, Mary, and Joseph.

(excerpt from "Negros")

Mood music: "US" by Ruby Ibarra, Klassy, and Rocky Rivera
Mood pilipinx dessert: Magnolia Mais con queso (I prefer ube)
Glynda T. Velasco (she/they/siya) currently lives in Nissen Territory (Sacramento, California). They are a babaylan-inspired change agent who focuses on social literacy, mad and disability justice, and edu-tainment with a peminist lens. They are exploring a new literary genre called speculative realness which is influenced by San Francisco Bay Area poets, performers, and artists. Currently she is a co-curator and participant of #HellaAnalogSIPmailart with the Zasu Collective.

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