Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Penelope Flores's Rizal Lecture, SF Public Library, Slideshow

Penelope Flores's Rizal Lecture, SF Public Library, Slideshow: "TripAdvisor™ TripWow ★ Penelope Flores's Rizal Lecture, SF Public Library, Slideshow ★ to San Francisco and Madrid by Penelope V. Flores. Stunning free travel slideshows on TripAdvisor"

Read about Kwento: An article written by Ben Pimentel for Inquirer.net


A Pinoy literary fiesta in San Francisco

First Posted 13:23:00 02/22/2011
In six months, San Francisco will be, temporarily, the heart of the Filipino literary world.
The first Filipino American International Book Festival—or simply FilBookFest—will be held here October 1 and 2 at the San Francisco Main Library.
We’re talking about one big Pinoy book fiesta that would highlight the latest and best from Filipino authors all over the world.
And the timing is perfect.
Filipino writers have been drawing attention international and in the United States recently. Miguel Syjuco’s critically-acclaimed ‘Ilustrado,’ winner of the Man Asian Literary Prize, has been short-listed for the prestigious Commonwealth Writers Prize.
Bay Area poet Tony Robles, author of the wonderful children’s books ‘Lakas and the Manilatown Fish,” and ‘Lakas and the Makibaka Hotel,’ is a finalist for this year’s Pushcart Prize with his story ‘In My Country.’
Journalist Criselda Yabes’ ‘Below the Crying Mountain,’ winner of the U.P. Centennial Literary Prize, was long-listed for this year’s Man Asian Literary Prize. It’s a powerful novel about a tragic, but sadly little-known, chapter in recent Philippine history, the burning of Jolo in the 1970s.
Cris has just published her latest book ‘Peace Warrior, On the trail with Filipino Soldiers,’ an in-depth look at life in the Philippine military.
Last weekend, a new book, ‘Filipinos in San Francisco, written by the Pinoy Educational Partnership and Manilatown Heritage Foundation, was published in San Francisco.
(I’m particularly excited about this book because I and the other members of Pinoy Pod, the San Francisco Chronicle podcast on Filipinos, are featured in it. Actually, just our group photo in front of the San Francisco Chronicle building taken by Pulitzer Prize winner Kim Komenich. The image was the cover photo of Filipinas magazine five years ago.)
The Bay Area, with nearly half a million Filipinos, one of the largest Pinoy communities outside the Philippines, is the perfect venue for a Pinoy book fiesta. FilBookFest is drumming up support through a series of author conversations and readings at local libraries throughout the Bay Area, especially in areas where there are huge Pinoy communities, such as Daly City and Pinole.
I had a chat with my friend and former San Francisco Chronicle colleague Pati Poblete, at the Pinole Public Library. We talked about her book, “The Oracles,” an engaging and funny memoir focused on her growing up in an Ilocano household with two sets of traditional grandparents. (It’s a fun read and I highly recommend this book.)
Former Daly City Mayor Mike Guingona, one of the most prominent Filipino American political leaders in the region, talked to Benito Vergara about his book, “Pinoy Capital,” which is about Daly City’s history as a center of Filipino Americans including Isagani Cruz, Ambeth Ocampo, Butch Dalisay and Margie Holmes.
Several National Artists are also expected to attend including critic and poet Bienvenido Lumbera, poet Virgilio Almario, novelist F. Sionil Jose and visual artist Ben Cabrera, known as BenCab.
The two-day event will also feature exhibits, video screenings and, of course, lots of Filipino food. A highlight of the event will be a ‘Tribute to Philippine Cultural Greats,’ which would include a gala dinner to pay tribute to ten Filipinos “whose talent and achievements have brought great pride to our nation.”
The festival’s key organizers are the Literacy Initiatives International Foundation, a Bay Area non-profit focused on cultural and literary issues, particularly the Filipino-American community; the Filipino American Center of the San Francisco Public Library; and the Philippine Consulate in San Francisco.
Partner organizations include the Philippine American Writers and Artists, or PAWA, the Filipino American National Historical Society, the Filipina Women’s Network and the Book Development Association of the Philippines, as well as major Philippine publishers led by Anvil Publishing.
FilBookFest organizers recently held a launch party at the Philippine Consulate in downtown San Francisco. (I missed the shindig, thought I heard it was a blast.)
Lead organizer and author Gemma Nemenzo was there to talk about the big plans for the fiesta. And so were well known Bay Area writers including Penelope Flores, Maya Escudero and Edwin Lozada.
Yeah, we love to party, and the FilBookFest could very well be just another excuse to do so. But it’s certainly more than that.
As Bay Area poet and fiction writer Oscar Penaranda, said about what the book fiesta is also about, “The best weapon against our invisibility is our literature.”
(For more information, check out the FilBookFest site at www.filbookfest.info.)
Copyright 2011 by Benjamin Pimentel. On Twitter @KuwentoPimentel.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Well-written, literary articles, stories, and book excerpts that shed light on specific aspects of Filipino/Filipino American life

We are inviting well-written, literary articles, stories, and book excerpts that shed light on specific aspects of 
Filipino/Filipino American  life--changing social customs, natural history, government, business, the arts, immigration stories and the like.   

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Filipino Book Festival Call for Reviewers

Please spread the word around.  This is a Call for Reviews - 100-200 words on a Filipino authored book.  Include a thumbnail picture of the cover.  Submit your reviews to 

Filipino Book Festival.blogspot.com  or  

penelopevflores.blogspot.com   or   send to my email at


We will highlight the Filipinos'  talent in all genres.  Help us disseminate your published works.  We need YOUR input . 

Authors, please send me your 200 word descriptors. plus thumbnail book cover image  We promise to compile a readers' guide to Filipino authors at the Filipino Book Festival to be held in San Francisco, October 1st and 2nd, 2011.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Dr. Jose Rizal's Noli me tangere & El Filibusterismo: Hidden in plain sight

I received this Filipinas Magazine article reprint from Gemma Nemenzo.  Written in 2006, it is very appropriate to the Filipino Book Festival blog.

Dr. Jose Rizal's Noli me tangere was published in Berlin, 1887.  It's sequel, El filibusterismo was published in Ghent, 1891.

SLANT June 2006

"Hidden In Plain Sight 

by Gemma Nemenzo. 

When I was in high school at the University of the Philippines (UP) in Diliman, I was for the most part pasang-awa (borderline passing grade) in Pilipino (at that time it was still spelled with a P). Not that I was doing better in Chemistry or Algebra, but that’s another story. Pilipino to me was the ultimate bore. Who could get excited about grammar and conjugations and quizzes that tested one’s vernacular vocabulary? Certainly not me and, as I found out from our reunions, neither did a lot of my classmates. We have discovered that we shared a dislike for Pilipino as a subject, despite having a teacher who was sweet and gentle but whose instructional approach was so old-fashioned and uninspiring.

In my junior year, however, I started getting high marks in Pilipino because we read and studied Jose Rizal’s Noli Me Tangere and El Filibusterismo all year, and the teacher who handled the subject, Miss Jorda, approached it as literature, not grammar. Thus we discussed plots and motives, history and politics, the cruelty of the colonial masters and the heroism of the downtrodden, all in Pilipino. For the first and last time, I was actually enjoying the course. To this day, I fondly remember my year with Miss Jorda as one of the very, very few times I actually looked forward to attending a class.

In college, a course on the Noli and Fili (tagged PI 100 in UP) was a requirement for graduation. Though we were reading the two novels in English, making them easier to breeze through, the imposition dampened whatever interest I had in revisiting these two historical books seriously. Like most other required texts in my other courses, I only did a cursory reading, just enough to get a passing grade. (Yet, I was and still am a voracious reader of books of my choosing.)

Some years back I met an Australian professor of international political movements who told me about how he had managed to pique the interest of his young students, most of whom were just there for the academic credits. Instead of forcing them to read boring history books, he gave them a list of novels from various countries that told of the events and issues written about in the textbooks but in less intimidating, more interesting narratives. For teaching about the Philippines, he used the Noli and the Fili, of which the professor spoke so highly as examples of world-class literature. That piqued my interest and my shame (for taking them for granted) so I promised myself I would reread our national hero’s obra maestra, his literary masterpieces, the first chance I get.

When I got hold of the latest (1996) translation of the Noli and Fili by Maria Soledad Lacson-Locsin, handsomely printed and bound by Bookmark, I knew the time had come. An added motivation was the translator’s story: Mrs. Locsin, was 85 years old when she began her translation using the facsimile editions of Rizal’s original manuscripts. Three years later, her work done, she passed away shortly before these translations were published.

Mrs. Locsin chose a different approach from previous translators. In her introduction to the Noli, she explained: “Somehow I had the uneasy feeling that there [the other translations] was a greater pursuit to depict the political and social thoughts of Rizal’s time in the context of the translator’s milieu rather than simply to tell the story of a different world in a different time. Although translations have to be in tandem with the semantics of the age in which they are read to be appreciated, my own personal view is that they should, as much as possible, capture much of the nuances and cadence of the period in which they had been written; even at the risk of sounding awkward or stilted…It is also my view that the heart and mind need to understand and touch the past close to its pristine form, to sense the pulse of national heritage.”

Mrs. Locsin also restored a previously unpublished chapter of the Noli, titled “Elias and Salome,” which Rizal, in the novel’s first edition in 1887, chose to omit.

I read the Noli with new eyes and I wasn’t disappointed. It is, in fact, one of the best books I’ve read in my lifetime. Beyond the political theme and the historical value – already formidable assets  – the novel is beautifully written and structured. It has drama, comedy and tragedy, romance, passion, mystery, scandal, pathos, anger – all the ingredients of a present-day bestseller. If Mrs. Locsin was as faithful to the original as she claimed – and I have no reason to doubt her – Jose Rizal was one heck of a writer, one who not only had an excellent grasp of the technical aspect of crafting a novel, but who also had a lot of imagination and heart.

Read Noli Me Tangere and El Filibusterismo in the new translations.  Not only will you be treated to a graphic description of life under Spanish rule, you will also gain a deeper insight on the evolution of the Filipino psyche. Best of all, you will have in your hands the two books that inspired a revolution which changed the course of our country’s history."

Write Gemma Nemenzo at filipinasmag@yahoo.com.


Targeted: Five Million-Strong Filipino American Community in the US

The Filipino Book Festival Steering Committee is plumb right in it's plans to meet its long-term goal of putting Filipino-authored books in most public and academic libraries in California, the home state of more than half of the five-million-strong Filipino American community in the U.S. 

Dr, Penelope V. Flores, Ms. Helen Marte-Bautista

It is focusing its outreach efforts on librarians, academics,  and book distributors.  

The organizers envision FilBookFest to be the largest gathering of authors of Filipino heritage outside the Philippines. 

Teachers will be one of the important subject of FilBookFest's Academic efforts.  Let me analyze the multiplier effect of involving teachers to introduce Filipino/Filipino-American writers in their classrooms.

Every high school in the country offers English as a subject for 4 years  (Freshman English, Sophomore English, Junior English and Senior English.)  In the picture above, (right) Helen Marte-Bautista, past SF Public Library Trustee and as a former English teacher at San Francisco's Burton High School, she taught five classes of English  a day.  Each of her classes had 32 students.  (I know, the Teacher Union only contracted 30 students in a class.)  This means (5 x 32) she reaches 160 students in a day's work. 

If she assigned a Book Report of a Filipino author, that will mean their school librarian will have to purchase Filipino-authored books. 
That's one hundred sixty titles.
 (Penelope, in the picture left above-- used to assign San Francisco State University credential teacher candidates to student-teach in Ms Bautista's class.)  

However, knowing what a GREAT English teacher Helen is, she is not content with just a Book Report.  She assigns a Book Review.  
The student will now have to be acquainted with other Filipino authors in order to compare and contrast two or three authors (preferably writing from  different disciplines like History, Sociology, Anthropology etc.) who address the same topic or issue.  Then and only then will the student receive credit for the Review especially when they support their arguments with quotes from other authors. 

This Book Review assignment will  necessitate a serious English student to go to their local public library.  This in turn will obligate the public librarians to peruse the Filipino/Filipino American author's lists and contact every Filipino book distributor of their titles in order to enrich their shelves to academically serve their reading constituents. 

As if this is not enough, if ALL the teachers require this  kind of English literature assignment in the syllabus every quarter,  this 
scenario is compounded a hundred thousand times in different high schools and colleges.   Filipino-authored books will surely sell!

Then, one can picture how this small idea can germinate exponentially like a virus. One can imagine the potency of the Filipino Book Festival.

Please follow this blog for more happenings about the Filipino Book Festival.  

Mark your calendars:   October 1st and 2nd, 2011,  San Francisco Public Library,     

Monday, February 14, 2011

Press Release-Filipino Book Festival Launch


Before a sizeable crowd of authors, librarians, vendors, corporate representatives, book lovers and community leaders, the Filipino American international Book Festival (FilBookFest) was officially launched at the Philippine Consulate General Social Hall recently.

FilBookFest, the first of its scope in the U.S. that focuses on Filipino diaspora culture and literature, will take place on October 1 and 2, 2011 at the San Francisco Main Library. The event will usher in the celebration of Filipino American History Month in San Francisco this year.
Text Box: Consul General Marciano A. Paynor, Jr. delivering the welcome remarks during the event at the Philippine Center
At the launch reception, Consul General Marciano Paynor Jr. hailed FilBookFest as an idea that is long overdue. “With the richness of [Philippine] culture and the talents of our writers and artists, we should have started having book festivals a long time ago,” he stressed.

Text Box: SF Public Library Chief Librarian Luis Herrera  Luis Herrera, chief librarian of the San Francisco Public Library (SFPL) system, echoed Consul General Paynor’s sentiments and announced the Library’s full and enthusiastic support for the project. He told the audience of about 100 guests that when Consul General Paynor, along with Consul Reginald Bernabe of the Philippine Consulate, Gemma Nemenzo of the Literary Initiatives International Foundation  (LIIF) and Mitchell Yangson, Librarian of SFPL’s Filipino American Center, presented the FilBookFest idea to him a few months back, “it [the Library’s support] was a no-brainer.”

The lead organizer of FilBookFest is LIIF, a San Francisco Bay Area-based nonprofit that promotes cultural literacy among Filipino Americans and other ethnic communities.  The Philippine Consulate General of SF and SFPL are co-organizers, with Asia Foundation (Philippines) on board as a major sponsor. The two-day outdoor and indoor event will gather authors, videographers and artists of Filipino heritage from all over the world. Philippine and U.S. publishers will be selling books representing a wide variety of genres, for children and adults.  FilBookFest will also feature visual arts, videos and performance, as well as Filipino food.  Lectures and panel discussions on Philippine history and culture, and on writing, publishing and marketing of books and other creative arts will take place.

The festival will have a Children’s Area inside SFPL that will feature storytelling sessions and readings of Filipino children’s books and young adult literature. The sessions will be supplemented by arts and crafts lessons for children, and a discussion on writing books for children to be led by experts in the field.  All sessions will be free and open to the public.

The Health and Wellness area will feature traditional healers, herbalists and wholistic health authors.  There will be lectures on various health issues as well as spiritual and self-help advice. The sessions are likewise free and open to the public.

Filipino culinary arts and regional cooking will be a big part of FilBookFest, with Filipino cookbook authors from the Philippines, Australia and other states of the U.S.  doing culinary demos and discussing the unique aspects of Filipino food.
To meet its long-term goal of putting Filipino-authored books in most public and academic libraries in California, the home state of more than half of the five-million-strong Filipino American community in the U.S. , LIIF is focusing its outreach efforts on librarians, academics (particularly Ethnic Studies professors),  and book distributors . U.S. publishers and literary agents are likewise encouraged to attend to expand their pool of authors. The organizers envision FilBookFest to be the largest gathering of authors of Filipino heritage outside the Philippines.

At the Consulate reception, some members of the FilBookFest Steering Committee, namely Oscar Peñaranda, Maya Escudero, Penelope Flores, Ferlie Andong,  Maia  Almendral, Edwin Lozada,  Lolly Pineda and Letty Quizon took turns briefing the audience on various planned aspects of the festival. Al Perez, the Festival Director who is also doing the graphics, unveiled the FilBookFest poster and showed the diagram of the festival setting. The organizers are seeking to close off Fulton St. between SFPL and the Asian Art Museum for the two-day event.

Special guests during the reception were Virginia Shih of the UC Berkeley Library, Valerie Sommer and Cheryl  Grantano  Rich of the South San Francisco Library, Carol Simmons and Kristi Bell of the Daly City Library and Helen Marti-Bautista, former member of the San Francisco Library Commission.

Text Box: Filbookfest  coordinator Ms.Gemma Nemenzo  delivering  her remarks during the launching eventIn her closing remarks, FilBookFest coordinator Gemma Nemenzo echoed  author-historian-educator Oscar    Peñaranda who had earlier said that “The best weapon against [our community’s] invisibility is our literature.”  In enjoining everyone to do their part in making FilBookFest a success, Gemma Nemenzo said, “This festival is about sharing our narratives to the broader community of book lovers out there, and from this sharing, our collective voices can be heard far and wide in this tapestry of cultures that we call America.”

For more information on how to  be part of FilBookFest as an author, exhibitor, sponsor, donor or volunteer, please email the Steering Committee at  filbookfest@yahoo.com.  The festival’s website is at www.filbookfest.info

See Penelope V. Flores's blog named Filipino Book Festival.blogspot.com

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

PenelopeVFlores: José Rizal's Books: Personal Library

PenelopeVFlores: José Rizal's Books: Personal Library: "The Philippine national hero, Dr. José Rizal had such a great attachment to his personal books. He resented the fact that while a stud..."