The winter 1997 issue features fiction, poetry, and essays from the Philippines as well as new work from the U.S. and throughout the Pacific. The publication of this volume coincides with the commemoration of the 100th anniversary of the Philippine Revolution (1898), and the feature illuminates the special relationship between America and the Philippine archipelago, with its 7,000 islands and 800 languages. Among the outstanding Filipino writers are Rowena Torrevillas, Bino A. Realuyo, Jose Y. Dalisay Jr., Cirilo F. Bautista, Marjorie M. Evasco, Simeon P. Dumdum Jr., Gemino H. Abad, Lakambini A. Sitoy, Michelle Cruz Skinner, Luis H. Francia, Eric Gamalinda, and Alfred A. Yuson. The US writing includes fiction by Barry Lopez, Shirley Geok-lin Lim, Josip Novakovich, and Gordon Lish; poetry by Jane Hirshfield, Alberto Rios, Robert Dana, and Arthur Sze; and an essay by Donald Morrill. And, as always, there are insightful reviews of current books, such as one on a John Muir omnibus.

In addition, a portfolio of fine visual art by Hawai‘i photographer Franco Salmoiraghi brings to life some of the Filipino experience in Hawai‘i. The first Filipinos arrived in the islands in 1906 as contract laborers to satisfy the demand for workers created by the labor-intensive sugarcane industry, which was Hawai‘i's major economic activity until the 1960s. But local sugar growing has long been in a period of decline, and the last crop was harvested in 1996 above the town of Pahala in the Ka‘u district on the Big Island. “It was a very sad and poignant time in Pahala town,” according to Salmoiraghi. “For those people whose jobs and lives depended on the plantation, this was the only life that several generations of their families ever knew.” Many of the displaced workers are Filipinos, and this series of photographs is a salute to the passing of an era they were instrumental in shaping.

About the guest editors: Eric Gamalinda was born and educated in Manila, where he published three novels, a short-story collection, and a volume of poetry. With Luis Francia, he edited the anthology Flippin’: Filipinos on America (Asian American Writers’ Workshop, 1996). Alfred A. Yuson has received eight Palanca Memorial awards for his fiction, poetry, and essays, including the grand prize in 1987 for his novel Great Philippine Jungle Energy Cafe; first prize in the Cultural Center of the Philippines poetry contest; and the South East Asian Writers award.

CENTURY OF DREAMS
Winter 1997 (vol. 9, no. 2)
195 pages

“The Hanunoo, said my guide, were afraid of me, because I was ibang tao (a stranger). However, I found a couple of children peeking from behind a hut and managed to cajole them into socializing. Giggling and shoving each other, they posed innocently as I took pictures. It was then that a young man, who looked no more than a teenager, came out of one of the huts, ordered the children back in, and took it upon himself to receive me. He was wearing jeans and a T-shirt, not the kind of apparel I had expected of a tribe that had skirted the influences of trading cultures. This young man was the head of the village. Speaking in the literary Tagalog of this island, he informed me that I was not to take pictures of anybody, as photographs killed the soul.”

—from “One Hundred Years of
Invisibility” by Eric Gamalinda

“The valley below, cave beyond.
What we saw vanished as quickly
as our safety. The flame alone

ravished all before us. Wild
hunt led only to startling
screeches. The moon shown.”

—from “Viewing by Torchlight”
by Alfred A. Yuson

“‘Right? Right? A daughter has no right. Ignorant girl! Have you done any work in your life? Made any money? You’ve been a parasite all your life, living off my body, this body that gave you life.’ Ah Kong smacked his chest. The liver spots on his cheeks throbbed like purple thumb prints.”

—from “Sisters” by Shirley Geok-lin Lim

“Rufino comes from Cagay, a village two days’ journey into the hinterland from Papa's hometown of Barili. He is tall and lean and has thick, unruly hair and taut muscles that run like mice under his skin, but his arms and legs are overrun with strange dark blotches, so he looks as if forest moss is growing all over his body. Sometimes he reminds Lem of the solitary coconut in their backyard on F. del Rosario, raining rhinoceros beetles on a summer day. But most striking are Rufino’s eyes, which have a haunted look, as though some wild animal spirit were always calling out to him. He seems averse to light; even now, as he and Tomasa lug their things up the steps, his eyes are half-closed, as if to weave about him the forest's sheltering dark.”

—from “Houseboy” by Gemino H. Abad

Even though mechanization replaced much manual work, the workers’ hands—bruised, scratched, cut, and stitched—were still one of the most important assets to the mill.

At dusk, steam glows in the bright lights of the cleaning plant at Ka‘u Sugar Mill.

Photographs by Franco Salmoiraghi

 

Franco Salmoiraghi has lived in Hawai‘i since 1968. His photographs are featured in many books and periodicals, and his black-and-white photographic prints of Hawai‘i are represented in the collections of the Hawai‘i State Foundation on Culture and the Arts and many other public and private institutions.

 

 

About the guest editors: Eric Gamalinda was born and educated in Manila, where he published three novels, a short-story collection, and a volume of poetry. With Luis Francia, he edited the anthology Flippin’: Filipinos on America (Asian American Writers’ Workshop, 1996).

Alfred A. Yuson has received eight Palanca Memorial awards for his fiction, poetry, and essays, including the grand prize in 1987 for his novel Great Philippine Jungle Energy Cafe; first prize in the Cultural Center of the Philippines poetry contest; and the South East Asian Writers award.