REVIEW GROWING UP FILIPINO: PHILIPPINE LITERATURE
“DIYANDI” Freeman Magazine, for July 2003
"A Book-Launching in UCLA"
by Linda Kintanar-Alburo
Baby Manguerra-Brainard had just finished editing a pioneering collection called Growing Up Filipino: Stories for Young Adults and it was for its launching last May that
I went to UCLA. The book has twenty-nine short stories, some partly autobiographical, taking up from 3 to 13 pages each. Although all of the twenty-nine writers focused on a
significant adolescent experience in a bildungsroman form of narrative, they are of three sorts: the Filipinos in the Philippines (including well-known names like Jimmy Abad, Krip Yuson, Jing Hidalgo, Tony Tan, and Gilda Fernando), Philippine-born emigres (again including the well-known like Linda Casper, Bert Florentino, Marianne Villanueva, Oscar Penaranda, and Mar Puatu), and Fil-Ams (familiar like Vince Gotera, Evelina Santos, Connie Maraan who's at DLSU; and new ones like Veronica Santos, Edgar Poma, and Brian Roley).
Among the contributors are three Cebuanos:
Baby Brainard herself, co-WILA Ruby Enario-Carlino
Despite its title, the book is also for adults. Its five sections on Family, Angst, Friendship, Love and Home carry us through the different ways that a young Filipino (or Filipino-American) negotiates life. Understandably, many of the stories by the emigres look backward nostalgically, like Paula Angeles' "Lola Sim's Handkerchief" which tells us of a young girl's recollection of going to the market with her lola back home and cooking sinigang for the family (I asked her if they cooked sinigang with carrots like she describes in the story and she said yes, or perhaps she forgot?).
Personally, I find the book an enjoyable read not only for the stories with their gamut of emotions accompanying "first" experiences (love and kissing, physical violence, deceit, encounter with the NPA, gay club, seeing agta and santilmo, camp life, tuli, losing a favorite toy, etc.). The brief notes before each story that inform the unfamiliar reader (apparently for an American audience) are gems. Take the note to Paula Angeles' story on "Lively Philippine Markets", which ends: "For safekeeping, old-fashioned Filipinas will tie their money in a handkerchief and pin this small bundle inside their blouses next to their bosoms."
to us would be those notes by the Fil-Ams: For example,
Veronica Montes writes, to introduce the
story "Lolo's Bride," of the Filipino American family:
"At my Lolo and Lola's small home in Daly City, California, certain
things could be counted on: an abundance of food (naturally), a visitor or
two from the Philippines, the fact that you would be forced against your will
to sing in front of everyone, and---best of all---an ongoing undercurrent
of drama provided by the strong, sometimes overwhelming personalities of certain
women in my family." There's also "Filipinos in
As to the
Cebuano pieces, Baby's uses the patintero game as metaphor (as in a poem by Cora Almerino's)
for the love pursuit. Ruby's is more painful because of treachery on the part
of a man who takes advantage of the loneliness of the narrator's Aunt Julia,
who is dying. Alex' "The Spirits of Kanlanti"
says farewell to the foreigner parish priest, an important personage in a
small town in
When it gets here, do grab a copy!
Linda Kintanar-Alburo is Director,
E-mail questions/comments to
Copyright © 2003 Cecilia Manguerra Brainard