On Coming Home (Eventually) and the Filipina Writing Community
I want to write a longer essay on the theme of coming home, especially because a lot of thoughts have been swirling in my mind ever since I booked the flight to Los Angeles about a month ago. The trip was turbulent and crazy, and that’s all I’ll say for now. But, these thoughts about home have been bothering, and I’ve been thinking about the meaning of “home,” its relation to our selves, and its correlation with community, especially the Filipino American community/Filipino writing community.
For now, I’ll say this: time and time again, I am flabbergasted at the large, deepening generational gap between young, emerging Filipinos and older, defensive Filipinos. The Filipino community in LA is immensely segregated, my own family is internally compartmentalized, and the writing community of Filipinos, unfortunately, is sometimes stifling rather than uplifting. An older author I admire and look up to, who has paved the way for Pinays to write, has implicitly complained that a colleague and me were “bullies” because we dared to, or rather had the audacity to, ask her if she were willing to submit to this new, exciting project that would uplift established writers and emerging writers alike. It is at its heart community-oriented and there is such a need for it. Instead, because we had the audacity to stand up and ask, we are being labeled as “vultures.” It’s heartbreaking, more than anything else. But, as I sit here, gathering up my stuff at work to prepare to go home–during this crazy tropical storm watch at Charleston where the high winds will blow you off the freeway bridges–I remember the first time I stood up in the Filipino community in Los Angeles and dared to start a literary journal during this dying age in publishing. It’s been going strong for three years now, and the power of TAYO is captured in the differing, dissenting voices of young Filipino Americans who are thriving to find who/what we are, even if it is without the help of our elders. I am reminded of Evelina M. Galang’s beautiful, visceral, inspiring story, Her Wild American Self, and am filled with joy to know that there are mentors (Galang and Barbara Jane Reyes) who continue to pick up the pieces of the Filipina and pave the way for us to keep writing, keep searching, keep fighting. This is why I do what I do, why I keep at it, why I won’t let myself stop writing. One day, I’ll pave the road for a young Filipina who wants to write but whose family tells her it’s a broken pipe dream. When that day comes, I’ll be honored.
Now, I’ve got to run and face the raging storm that’s devouring the South in fear. Whew. Life is really crazy.