Saturday, November 20, 2021


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, 2022 for Issue #13. Duplications of authors/artists and more than one testimonial are fine.

Mangozine's Issue #12 Presents

*   Eileen Tabios on Patrick Rosal
*   Allan G. Aquino on Barbara Jane Reyes
*   Eileen Tabios on Justine Villanueva
*   Edna Consing Concepcion on Cecilia Brainard

*   Alice Brody on Eileen Tabios

Eileen Tabios on Patrick Rosal

I love books. I read them, I write them, I publish them, I promote them, I just love them there books! And so I also love those who do something to expand the landscape of the book form. Patrick Rosal's ATANG (which is downloadable for free at his website) is a stellar example of someone, in this case Patrick, expanding what a book might look like so that the book becomes more than just a commodity. Here's how Patrick created ATANG:

Atang is a different kind of book. I mean, it’s like the other books I’ve written in that it took years to generate the text and the images. However, this book is completely free. It has no ISBN or copyright and isn’t distributed in any typical retail settings. So, it is an experiment in the tradition of Filipinos and other folks’ cultures who are inclined to give things away, especially things that are dear to them… In a lot of ways this is a love letter for all the gathering and making in my childhood neighborhood in New Jersey and in the house that my mother made with her trans-oceanic memory. With this experiment, I hope to acknowledge more intentionally how making anything meaningful is a collaboration with the living and the dead and the yet-to-be-born, so Atang includes not just commentary on collaborative and improvisational practices but artifacts of them. In short, the book is part of a somewhat larger continuum of practices and experiences that I share with people I care about and who care about me.

Go to his website link to learn more about how he created ATANG, which he also calls "an altar for listening to the beginning of the world." It is a moving story of creation, with the text itself both historical and spiritual. In fact, I think ATANG, should be read by all poets, but especially Filipino-Pilipino poets. It's my favorite of all his books, and is masterful, mature work.


Allan G. Aquino on Barbara Jane Reyes

The passion and prolificacy of Barbara Jane Reyes blooms from, to crib Prof. N.V.M. Gonzalez, the “rhizomatous nature” of the Filipino voice. She is a chronicler whose words bear the watermark of their own specific place and time, while her imagination stretches across history, heritage, and memory. As history is reflective, she evokes our own passage(s) through time, how ways of seeing inform ways of living. If heritage is the sum of cultural treasures, we find memories of our own families and personal moments in the nuances, chemistry, and music of her language. As interstellar black holes bend time and light, she demonstrates how poets, as forces of gravity, bend or re-make the “rules” of language. Her unstoppable catalogue is a defiance against silence and marginalization, while a compassionate light for others, most especially Filipinos of the world who, beyond place and time, grow from a common root: an identity undeniably our own, which we’re all responsible for nourishing.


Eileen Tabios on Justine Villanueva

I've long admired this lawyer-writer-mother for how she's melded her concerns into community-based activism for creating children's books. She also writes adult fiction but I want to focus on her children's books, about which she says on her website: "I often use Filipino folklore, indigenous worldview, and relationships with the land as foundations for my story telling. I also write children’s stories and strongly believe in the need for those that tell of the Filipino-American children’s experiences in the diaspora. My writing is my contribution to our collective effort to belong."

Her newest effort, whose cover image is presented above, will be MUNGAN AND HER LOLA which is  written in a mix of three languages: Binukid, Bisaya-Cebuano, and English. It is also written in hay(na)ku, a distinctly Filipino form of poetry that covers diasporic themes. You can see more information at the book's IndieGoGo site, which I also mention because the fundraising is not just to raise funds in Justine's eyes; fundraising is to facilitate community involvement in the creation of a book.

I first met Justine when her first children's book was still a dream. I am so proud to witness her journey--her successful, award-winning journey--on behalf of increasing the number and types of books available for our community's children.


Edna Consing Concepcion on Cecilia Brainard

The Newspaper Widow still tops my personal favorite list. Didn't put that book down until I read the last page. And then my reading mind wanted even more. When I got to the last page of the book, I started missing the characters. [Cecilia Brainard should] do a sequel of this book. Better yet, this book has to be turned into a movie.


Alice Brody on Eileen R. Tabios

DOVELION: A Fairy Tale for Our Times by Eileen R. Tabios is a novel but also an erotic prose poem which at the same time is political, erudite, romantic and mysterious. It begins at a deliberate pace, rhythmically growing to include more involving and complex layers as you read. Philosophy and myth are also found within its pages.  The notes and sources included by the author further enrich the narrative, providing context and depth to the story.

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