Manila International Airport in the late 70s looked, ostensibly, like a Sarasota Modern—simple, horizontal. Lodged near Manila Bay, it was a confluence of homecomings, as well as a juncture for the bereft and left behind. Like the little girl waving goodbye to her mariner father. It would be decades before she would begin to understand the social and psychological costs of departures and migrations. He, in turn, would eventually never leave the sea.
In the 1970s, labor migration was seen as a temporary solution to “rising unemployment and inadequate foreign exchange earnings.” At the time, there were less than 40,000 Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) worldwide.1 Today, they are more than eight million strong.2 Their remittances exceeded $2 billion in September 2012 alone.3 The same year, two children of OFWs, Christopher Louie Ocampo and Neil B. Nucup, took part in the Philip C. Jessup International Moot Court Competition in Washington, D.C., eventually ranking among the top 100 Oralists.4 More OFW children are being honored annually by the Bank of the Philippine Islands for their excellence in academics, sports, entrepreneurship, and leadership.5
The short story, “A Society,” by Virginia Woolf, posits that “the objects of life were to produce good people and good books.” Having accomplished the first, some people go on to give birth to the second, or vice-versa. Mrs. Beatriz Tabios, whose short stories, Dawac and Redressing the Uncelebrated Birthday, appeared in our 32nd and 38th issues, respectively, passed away in November, at age 82. She left behind children and grandchildren, among whom the poet Eileen R. Tabios, and a book, where she wrote about “childhood memories of Babaylans, as well as surviving the Japanese invasion of the Philippines during World War II.”5
Manila Bay Sunset," from Wikimedia Commons.
We chose the theme, “Left Behind,” for our 39th issue. Reme and I discussed putting out an issue based on this theme after she lost Naranja, her incorrigible cockatiel, and after my husband and I lost Alex, our beloved, hopelessly deranged cat. There were other partings before and since then that were more harrowing and less tolerable. This is for everyone who knows what it means to carry on.
This issue we proudly feature—
- poems by Ivy Alvarez, Carlene Bonnivier, Cynthia Buiza, Gloria Martillano, Herbert Siao, and Leny Mendoza Strobel;
- an interview with Tahanan Books publisher Reni R. Roxas;
- essays by Lani Montreal on the America she has come to know, James Bautista on losing a grandparent, and Rochita Loenen-Ruiz on adoption;
- a review of Carmen Guerrero Nakpil’s “A Christmas Memoir” by Kathleen Burkhalter;
- and an excerpt from Nadine Sarreal’s novel “Putsero."
- In Portrait, Lia Chang talks to theater actor Mel Sagrado Maghuyop about his role as the King in Harbor Lights Theater Company’s production of The King and I (incidentally, this is the second of Lia's interviews for OOV).
- Our Bookshelf display includes Eileen Tabios and j/j hastain’s the relational elations of ORPHANED ALGEBRA, and Beatriz Tilan Tabios’Dawac and Other Memoir-Narratives.
- And the things we simply cannot articulate, we tried to capture in Gallery, where we unveil photos such as “Mermaid’s Only Choice” by Remé Grefalda.
"Our Youthful Dreams," Filipino students and a segment of the Berlin Wall
outside the Imperial War Museum, London 1996
When we’re left behind, we do whatever it takes—hide under the covers, square our shoulders, or simply reach for someone's hand. We fight our way back, until we find our way home. Until we’re standing exactly where we ought to be. And sometimes, if we’re very lucky, we meet them again—the places we once called home, and hearts we loved the most.
1 “OFWs from the 70s to the 90s,” GMA Network, February 24, 2010.
2 “Mobilizing the Use of Remittances towards Poverty Reduction and Economic and Social Development Through Government Initiatives: The Philippine Experience,” UNCTAD, February 14-15, 2011.
3 “OFW remittances exceed $2 B in September,” Philippine Star, November 16, 2012.
4 “Top 100 Oralists,” International Law Students Association, March 25-31, 2012.
5 “BPI honors new outstanding children of overseas Filipinos,” Malaya Business Insight, December 3, 2012.
San Francisco, January 2013
ART DIRECTOR AND WEB DESIGNER
CONTRIBUTING EDITOR FOR THE ARTS
OOV 2013 RESIDENT POET