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Dear Reader,

Welcome to the 9th issue of OUR OWN VOICE. The staff has been away from their respective desks, traveling to Manila, Cebu and India. Just before Christmas, a momentous event in the history of the ezine took place when Reme and I met for the very first time—eyeballed—after working together for over two years! We finally intersected in Manila where I was visiting my parents, and she was on a self-declared work retreat for a Filipino contemporary culture project. Sparks and humorous barbs flew over a lunch of pasta and salad in Quezon City. I tried to document the historical occasion with a camera that had been an early Christmas gift, but being unfamiliar with its trappings, failed miserably. Maybe next year?

In this issue, the focus is two-pronged. We have gathered a sample of literary work by or for Filipino children in the diaspora. We also feature a poetry implosion, the second in Our Own Voice's short but frenetic history. The children's stories and poetry are short enough for parents to print off and read to their own kids at bedtime, or even to hand to their children so the kids can read to their parents after dinner.

The first poetry implosion (issue 5, December 2001)) was a wonderful opportunity to bring together strong and emerging poetic voices from the Filipino diaspora. This time around, we get the same textual synergy rising from work of such writers as Jerry Grandea; Irene Suico Soriano; Jessie Badillo; Joseph Legaspi; Kermin Balawis; Luisa Igloria; renaissance men: Fernando Ayala and Seb Koh; and many other poets. Again, I urge you to bookmark this issue because you will return to it several times over the next few months, and hopefully refer it to your literary-minded friends (whether Filipino or non-Filipino), to feast on the meld of words and visuals.

A recent article in the Singapore Straits Times bewailed the sluggish performance of the publishing and marketing of literary titles in the Philippines. A Manila publisher of romance novels said that he always priced the heart throb paperbacks just below the cost of a movie, to ensure readership. OUR OWN VOICE provides you free access to quality writing by a wide variety of Filipino writers. We don't intend to compete with the publishing industry, but to whet the general appetite for Filipino writing and provide dialogue between books and the internet. To further promote Filipino literature, OUR OWN VOICE launched the Global Filipino Literary Award with a call for nominations for literary books by Filipinos. The ezine hopes the award will honor publishers, authors and booksellers. Perhaps in this way, we can do our bit to energize the flagging market.

Happy Year of the Sheep!

Cheers,
Nadine Sarreal
January, 2003

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THE STAFF

EDITOR
Remé-Antonia Grefalda

ASSOCIATE EDITOR
Nadine Sarreal

CONTRIBUTING EDITOR FOR THE ARTS
Eileen Tabios

EDITORIAL BOARD
Geejay Arriola
Seb Koh
Victoria Paz Cruz
Joanna Franco

GRAPHIC AND WEB DESIGNER
Geejay Arriola

COPYRIGHT
2002

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