So, what do you think? Too much? Just right?
- “Upland Dance” was written after the Ifugao Music and Dance Ensemble of Banaue San Francisco performance, September 2007. The words ima, pagay, billít, and angin are Ilocano words meaning “hand,” “rice plant,” “bird,” and “wind.” Kastoy means “like this.”
- “Duyong 1” uses “salvaged” in the term’s Philippine context. Poet and journalist Jose F. Lacaba writes, “As used in the Philippines, the verb ‘salvage’ and the noun ‘salvaging’ are the slang equivalents of the terms ‘to execute extrajudicially, to assassinate’ and ‘extrajudicial execution,’ terms used by human-rights organizations such as Amnesty International.”
- [Edits.] “Call It Talisman (If You Must)” was written after the Tatak ng Apat na Alon Tribe, and anthropologist Ikin Salvador’s “Signs on Skin: Beauty and Being: Traditional Tattoos and Tooth Blackening among the Philippine Cordillera” exhibit and talk at Pusod in Berkeley, October 2004. In one photograph, a group of newly tattooed, young Ilubo warriors posed in traditional headdresses and loincloths for a portrait in 1949. Their rite of passage (for which they were inked) was the killing of invading Japanese soldiers. The Ilubo were traditionally headhunters. [Addendum: I found my old blog post about this 10/2004 event.]
- “Aswang” was written after Rachelle Cruz’s currently unpublished poetry collection, Ascela at the World’s Greatest Fair, and Vince Gotera’s “Aswang.” Anthropologist Alicia Magos has written that in an effort to spread Catholicism in the Philippines, the early Spanish Catholic clerics maligned the “pagan and demonic” indigenous women priests by calling them Aswang, a god of evil. “It was a perfect religious-military tool for conquering other cultures. Through time, the term aswang was invented and its description became more morbid and cruel as generations passed these fabricated stories.” The aswang is now known as a mythical creature that uses her long, thin tongue to suck babies out of their mothers’ wombs.