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Welcome to the premiere issue of Our Own Voice. Please bookmark this site so you can come back to enjoy the work we've gathered from the Filipino diaspora.

As a reader of submissions for this first issue, I've had the heady experience of seeing work from different strata in the Filipino population from cities spread out over the world. Work from young writers, established writers; work from those who take time out from their professions to express themselves in the written word—people who put their hearts and minds on the page for others to read! Because all submissions were "blind," the identity of the writers remained unknown at first reading. Perhaps it was that anonymity that intensified their voices in my ear—the universality and particularity of their life themes, angst, mind curves. They felt like close relatives but also like strangers. I recognized the names of places, kinds of food, terms used to address elders. Yet the ways Filipinos have moved out and on, and sometimes back, are so specific. I wanted to know more.

Some might question the value of a Filipino-centric ezine like ours. Why focus on this narrow segment to the exclusion of other segments? The answer is simple—more and more Filipinos away from the Philippines are searching for their reflection in literature, in the mirror of life. Other people away from their first countries have their mirrors in place. And too often foreign writers reflect their perceptions of us in a sadly distorted way. Or perhaps the distortion exists because we aren't writing a wide enough body of literature about ourselves. Or is the literature out there, in people's desk drawers, attics? On their hard drives, waiting to be shared?

We need to take responsibility for putting out our image, painting our portraits, instead of leaving our documented reflections in the hands of non-Filipinos who have no ethnic investment in us. Here is Our Own Voice, a place for our stories. Come and listen. Come and share. Without our own literature, we are like the interned people in Jose Saramago's novel, Blindness—locked into ourselves, disconnected from a source of personal memory and power. In the novel, the main protagonist, a doctor's wife, said, "I shall become more and more blind because I shall have no one to see me."

In his article for the Philippine Inquirer on the late Filipino artist, V.C. Igarta (see Eileen Tabios' essay "Meditations on Ilokano Abstractions"), Luis Francia said, "A great deal of our invisibility here is tied to our cultural obscurity."

Definitely enough of obscurity! Heighten awareness! Where were you on January 20th, 2001, when the twelfth president of the Philippines was sworn in?


Nadine Sarreal

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Nadine Sarreal

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Geejay Arriola


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