Filipino American Writer

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Journalist casts expert eyes on Filipinos in Hollywood

BOOK REVIEW

My Filipino Connection: The Philippines in Hollywood
Author: Ruben V. Nepales
Publisher: Anvil
Details: Collection of author’s column pieces in the Philippine Daily Inquirer; 115 pages

By Lorenzo Paran III

If you wondered, while watching the animated film “Finding Nemo,” what a bahay kubo was doing in the fish tank, the answer is simple. Filipinos played a crucial role in the creation of the film.

That tidbit on Filipinos who work in U.S. animated film studios is just one of many that readers will discover in My Filipino Collection: The Philippines in Hollywood by Ruben Nepales. The book, published by Anvil, gathers Nepales’ pieces in “Only in Hollywood,” his popular entertainment column in the Philippine Daily Inquirer.

Nepales, based in Los Angeles, has taken it upon himself to be the go-to reporter for Hollywood’s Filipino newsmakers—from actors and actresses to singers to film professionals—and, true enough, over the years his column has provided his readers with a Hollywood insider’s perspective with a focus on, and from the angle of, the Pinoy.

This, along with Nepales’ fine journalism skills, makes The Philippines in Hollywood a source of solid reportage that Filipino readers, whether in the Philippines, the U.S. or other parts of the world, will not find anywhere else.

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When a Filipino comes home: New anthology opens door to understanding Fil-Ams

BOOK REVIEW


Title: Hanggang sa Muli: Homecoming Stories for the Filipino Soul
Editor: Reni R. Roxas
Publisher: Tahanan Books
Details: Anthology (memoirs, poems, short stories, essays by Filipino writers about coming home), 252 pages
More information: reni@tahananbooks.com, (425) 773-7465

By Lorenzo Paran III

Filipinos around the world will agree that there’s nothing quite like coming home. Nothing is as poignant or downright sad or joyful than when a Filipino, after spending years overseas, returns to the homeland.

A new book offers fresh testimony to that. Hanggang sa Muli: Homecoming Stories for the Filipino Soul, edited by Reni Roxas, gathers some of the most memorable essays and personal narratives, along with some short stories and poems, written by Filipino writers on the subject of homecoming.

The experience is portrayed in the book as in reality: always memorable, sometimes funny, but often heart-wrenching.
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SILENT NO MORE: Book gives voice to Filipino-American ‘bridge’ generation

BOOK REVIEW

Title: Vanishing Filipino Americans: The Bridge Generation
Author: Peter Jamero
Publisher: University Press of America, 2011
Available at: The Rowman & Littlefield Publishing Group Inc., University Press of America, Amazon
Details: History, 122 pages
More information here.
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By Lorenzo Paran III

Any Filipino-American worth his salt can tell you about the manong generation, the group of mostly single Filipino males that in the 1920s and 30s began the great wave of Filipino immigration into the U.S. in the 20th century. But, chances are, he would be unable to tell you about the generation that came next, composed of the manongs’ children, who would help bring about the acceptance of Filipinos into mainstream American society.

But anyone can be forgiven for not knowing much about—or even being aware of—these Filipino-Americans (indeed they were the first Filipino-Americans) because they have largely been ignored by historians. That is, until now.
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‘Fil-Im’ writer offers an honest look at ‘Fil-Am’ life

BOOK REVIEW

Title: Pareng Barack: Filipinos in Obama’s America
Author: Benjamin Pimentel
Publisher: Anvil Publishing, 2008
Details: Nonfiction, 157 pages
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By Lorenzo Paran III

If Filipino Americans had a sin, perhaps it’s that some of them are prejudiced against blacks. Filipinos living in the U.S. know only too well the ease with which some of their own family members often make sweeping and negative statements about African Americans.
This form of racism is well described in Pareng Barack: Filipinos in Obama’s America by Benjamin Pimentel. The book, written from the perspective of a Filipino born in the Philippines who now lives in the U.S., gives an overview of the history of racial politics in the U.S. using as a backdrop the rise of Barack Obama, an African American, to the presidency.

BENJAMIN PIMENTEL


But the casual reader may appreciate the insights the book provides into the everyday lives of Filipino Americans vis-a-vis race—including a well-known prejudice against blacks. Pimentel recounts, for instance, one Filipina’s reaction when asked why she wouldn’t vote for a black candidate.

“I don’t trust (blacks). Di ba sila ‘yung laging naggugulo? Aren’t they the troublemakers? They’re so violent,” she says.

Another example that Pimentel shares is the experience of Prosy Abarquez Delacruz, a leader in the Filipino-American community in the Los Angeles-area, who was told by her father: “You’re not going to marry a black person…. Just don’t. They’re up to no good.”

I myself can easily recount similar comments I have heard at family gatherings.

So why are some Filipino Americans racist?
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Immigrant Story unfolds and delights in Donna Miscolta’s debut novel

BOOK REVIEW

Title: When the de la Cruz Family Danced
Author: Donna Miscolta
Publisher: Signal8 Press, 2011
Available at: Signal8 Press, Amazon
Details: 342 pages, fiction, available as eBook
Watch the book trailer here.
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By Ticiang Diangson

I loved When the de la Cruz Family Danced. There, I’ve erased any semblance of objectivity. Donna Miscolta’s first novel is set in San Diego, but it could be Seattle—or Chicago (where I grew up). It’s a page turner with a strong story line that grows and surprises. I know Johnny de la Cruz’s family or folks an awful lot like them: unpredictable, many-layered and as intriguing in their own way as anybody in our celebrity cult culture.

Reading it was a relief and a reminder of how mundane and bizarre we all are; I didn’t want to put it down and I didn’t want it to end. Immigrant parents, American-born children—all the cross-cultural mishaps of trying to fit in, to keep up with the Cordovas, the class fissures, the “moving up.” Part grit and part sharp, witty commentary, Miscolta tells the story of three intertwining families, with different immigration and intermarriage histories. It’s about the familiar and fascinating ways we survive.

DONNA MISCOLTA

I talked with Miscolta in lobby chairs at Seattle City Hall; she works for the county and I work for the city and we’ve been in meetings together over the years. I asked her lots of questions about how autobiographical the novel was, how she wrote it while being a full-time government worker, wife and mother, who her favorite writers were and what her writer’s life was like.
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