My poem “The Tahamaling” has just been published in Mirror Dance, edited by Megan Arkenberg.
Check it out here.
Over the holidays, toasts are usually a thing. Often in a lot of languages: Cheers, some say, or L’Chaim, Prost, Sláinte, Salute, Kampai, Salud … and I didn’t know what was said in the Philippines.
Here’s the thing: there isn’t a direct translation, because the tradition is different.
On Gideon Lasco’s website, he explains how there’s no word for cheers in Tagalog because of the tradition of people drinking from the same glass to mark celebrations and special occasions. That is, unlike having everyone raise their own glass to toast or clink them together, in the Philippines one person becomes the pourer (the tanggero) and fills a glass that gets passed around for everyone to share in a communal way. The custom is called tagay.
Laso even finds a definition of tagay in a 1630 dictionary, and writes:
Then, as now, tagay is defined as the rationing of the liquor around the group using just one cup. Strikingly, this cup is also given a name in the same vocabulario passage, one that is familiar in street corners on Friday nights: tagayan.
The tanggero makes sure that all the drinkers have their fill, that everyone gets their fair share. The drinkers return the favor by drinking bottoms up from the glass, in the custom known as tagay. Tagay means that you trust each other enough to drink from that single glass. Tagay means everyone is united. Tagay is synonymous with goodwill and camaraderie.
Check out this great spoken word piece by a young artist born in the Philippines and lives in California.
Ruby Ibarra’s website is here: https://www.rubyibarra.com/
I came across this image while looking up something else. I couldn’t find the name of a photographer for it, though some say it is likely a hotel in Stockton, California, in and around 1930. Though I had read about such signs, especially in the great Carlos Bulosan book America is in the Heart, I hadn’t seen one before.
There is something visceral and powerful about this image. How dark it is. How well-used the door, floor, and walls look. It doesn’t appear to be a place of wealth; rather, it is a place on the margins of American economic security and who gets counted as belonging.
Thank you goes out to all the readers out there who’ve read my stuff, and to the editors and publisher who put my poetry and fiction out there for the world to read. Continue reading
Here’s a photo of my Lolo, Maximiano Saqui Janairo.
Basketball is a huge sport in the Philippines. In trying to figure out how that happened, I came across this image in the archives University of Michigan Library Digital Collections, which includes lots of images from the early interactions of the US in the Philippines.
First published: Sunday, October 7, 2007, in the Albany Times Union
As President Bush tries to shape his legacy in regards to the Iraq war, he should pick up David Silbey’s engaging history “A War of Frontier and Empire: The Philippine-American War, 1899-1902” (Hill and Wang; 272 pages; $26).
Though both were wars of choice, the details are quite different. Still, the generalizations that can be gleaned from Silbey’s account are eerily familiar: a quick and stunning conventional military victory turns into longer-than-expected guerrilla warfare; a failure by the United States to understand its enemy; a sense of racial superiority that enflames troops and politicians in Washington; and a native population whose loyalties seemed to change depending on the time of day.
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