maandag 31 maart 2008

Remember The Killing Fields--Dith Pran, The Last Word

I remember watching The Killing Fields when I was in The Philippines. Dith Pran's "Last Word" is a reason to keep on remembering.

vrijdag 28 maart 2008

Blog against torture day...from my lj

Wrote the following story... links are highlighted...please feel free to click.

Imagine Free

By rcloenen-ruiz 2008

Imagine you live in this city called "Free".You moved to this city when you were a child, and your parents told you there was no place in the world like this city where the sky is wide and blue and the possibilities stretch out into forever.

“Here, you have room to dream and to become what you dream,” your parents say. “Everyone in this city is free to be who he is and everyone in this city no matter where they are from is part of the fabric of what makes Free a wonderful place to live.”

One night, there is a pounding on the door. Your parents wake up, you wake up, your baby brother wakes up.

“Open up,” the voice shouts. “Open up in the name of the law.”

Still half-asleep, your father stumbles to the door and opens it to a nightmare.

Lights shine into your faces. Harsh voices make your baby brother cry. Hard hands slam you up against the wall, and you hear your father asking, “What is it? What have we done wrong?”

Pressed up against the cold wall, you think of a movie you have seen. Of men in uniform with dogs in tow, slamming helpless men and women to the wall, shouting accusations and curses and finally snatching them up and tossing them into the back of a truck.

“This is just a dream,” you tell yourself. “In the morning, I will wake up and laugh about it.”

All through the long ride to a place outside the city, you think you must be dreaming. When they shine light into your eyes, and spit into your face, when they call you names you don’t understand, and threaten you with pain, you think you are simply trapped inside a nightmare, and you wait for your mother to come and shake you awake.

In this nightmare, these people tell you that you are a threat to the fabric of all that is Free. They tell you that your very presence in this city gives birth to terror and unrest.

“Confess your hatred of the city,” they say.

“I do not hate the city,” you reply.

But no one seems to hear you.

You are put in a room that looks like a box. They pour water down your throat and when you pee in your pants and soil yourself they laugh and mock you.

“What an uncivilized beast,” they say.

They set you in front of a table while a man hurls accusations and words and threats and curses. You wish they would let you sleep, but when you ask for rest, they look at you with wild eyes and tell you there is no rest for beasts like you.

“Confess,” they say. “Confess your crime.”

“Please,” you whisper. “Can I go home?”

But you have no home, they tell you. You came to this city, a stranger, and strangers must pay if the city demands it.

“We have informers,” they hiss. “Make it easier on yourself. Confess your crime.”

But you don’t understand what crime they mean. The only crime you ever committed was in loving the city. When you tell them this, the man-in-charge grows red with rage.

Before they tie you up, before they hitch you up to the beam on the roof and turn you into the parody of a crucified man, you think of all the dreams you once cherished about this city. When they stretch your body wide, and mock you with guns and threats, when they drag you back from oblivion into pain time and again, you wonder whether this is what your parents dreamed of when they left behind a country to embrace this city called Free.

woensdag 26 maart 2008

a family incident

grandfather forgot
who he was.

voice thundered
through the house

after many
years of silence.

grandfather forgets
80 years happened

he looks up
sees his

and wonders who
are these

grandfather gets
taken to psychiatry

finally he'll
have his say

grandfather will
discover the world

the haze
today has become.

grandfather will
sleep and dream

like a baby.

woensdag 19 maart 2008

some thoughts...

Burning the midnight oil as we chase the deadline for the International Women's Day article for Munting Nayon. I am waiting for our beloved chairperson to get back to me with edits and whatever else needs to be done on the piece.

I am thinking of Twie Tjao's speech on International Women's Day. In her speech, she speaks out against social injustice. I am on the same page with this woman. I think of how much I've changed since I started out on this writing journey. I'm not living in a haze. I'm awake, I'm alert, I'm aware of what's going on around me (even without tv).

And there's nothing like working on several articles summarizing different Women's Day celebrations to bring home this awareness of how misogyny, racism, and discrimination are very much alive and well in the world today.

There's this dream to put together an anthology of the lives of my fellow migrant women. Why? So, the generations that follow will not forget how the pioneers have struggled and pushed on even in the face of discouragement and opposition.

I remember my father saying to me sometime ago: Is this what you want to write about? Are you content to write about other writers and other authors and other people's books?

I suppose he'll have to add to that: Are you content to write about other people's lives and accomplishments?

To be honest...I am. I think it's like some sort of mission in life that I've embraced as my own. To promote and support other writers and artists and poets to the best of my abilities, to support and uplift strong women.

Why? Because I believe that these people have the power to inspire and encourage others and because these are the stories that when given back to the people will encourage them to dream and change the fabric of the future.

dinsdag 18 maart 2008

World Banker and His Cash Return Home -- This article from the New York Times, illustrates the migrant situation.

Some quotes that I thought were pertinent to all migrants:

With regards to remittances home:

Mr. Ratha has argued that the importance of the money exceeds its sheer size. Unlike foreign aid, it cannot be skimmed by potentates. Unlike investors who flee crises, migrants increase their giving during hard times. The money is directed to the needy. And Mr. Ratha contends it is well-monitored, too, by intimates on the sending end. “It comes with a lot of goodwill, advice, knowledge and punishment if necessary — keeping in mind the welfare of the recipient,” he said.

And there is common thing that resonates with almost every migrant:

Globe-trotting technocrat, village boy made good, Mr. Ratha is like many migrants torn between two worlds and fully at home in neither. “On bad days, I do feel lonely in a way that I can’t explain,” he said.


Here are my boys. Joel's in the train engineer's seat, and Samuel's just at that almost toddling stage.

Found via Leigh Dragoon's livejournal: this pro-girl blog called, Packaging Girlhood. Provides thought-provoking and well-written articles.

zondag 16 maart 2008

a brief recap

There were about 50 women present during the Bayanihan International Women's Day celebration, and the Hope Away from Home book was launched quite successfully :) I thought it went quite well, but as this was a first for me, I have no idea how it equates in terms of how launchings go.

I read a section from "Falling in Love" which was previously published on Chickflicks, and which happens to be one of my favorite sections as it describes perfectly how I felt moving to a strange, new country, falling in love and discovering that just because you fall in love it doesn't mean everything's going to be perfect and you're going to live happily ever after. (of course, I knew that ... but this relates to falling in love with a country too ).

I thought the speaking parts went quite well too. We had an amazing guest speaker,Twie Tjao, who is head of the organization ZAMI (Colored Migrant Women in the Netherlands). She gave this inspiring talk and talked about her own history and how the choices she made influenced who she is today and the choices she makes today. She is an incredibly inspiring woman and I felt so privileged to hear her speak.

There were two other ladies besides myself who also gave their own speeches. One of them, shared with us the story of her struggle towards success and how she overcame all the obstacles in her path through sheer courage and determination. This was a woman who had been born in poverty, whose parents considered education as unnecessary, and who worked from the age of 7 just so she could earn enough money to go to school. Hearing her story, I couldn't help but applaud the spirit of this woman who through her own efforts completed a college education, landed a good job, chose love over money, and after achieving success, reached out and helped those less fortunate than herself. She had this beautiful, radiant aura about her... and I think of how it's stories like these that people need to hear.

Actually, when I think of the women present during the event, I think of how each of these women are successful women. Having struggled through hardship, homesickness, racism, and descrimination, these women are the women who integrate while retaining their identity. I keep thinking of the stories each woman has to tell, how the life histories of each of us connect to the other, and how together we form a lifegiving chain.

I think of how each woman needs a historian or needs to tell their own story so that it can be recorded and remembered for the next generation, and I realize this is why it's important for women to keep on writing.

Totalling up book sales at the end of the day, we'd sold 25 books :) The consul from the Philippine Embassy was present, and bought a copy of the book for the Embassy Library.

I did wish for the presence of Mrs. Feliciano, as it feel so strange to be congratulated on a book that I'd only co-written, and not authored by myself. I had to keep repeating : I am not the author. I am just the co-author. It probably feels like how an apprentice would feel if congratulated for a work their master had produced and where they'd been allowed to contribute tiny bits of knowledge to.

If anything, I came away from the experience more determined than ever to press on and to someday write a book of my own.

donderdag 13 maart 2008


I think I may have found a new hobby. Made this during the self-image workshop at the Rotterdam International Women's Day celebration. According to other workshop attendees, the lady looks like me :)

I'm recovering from a bout with the flu. Have been down for almost a week now. I just can't seem to find sleep, so I thought I'd tinker about and update this blog a bit.

woensdag 12 maart 2008

Pageants. Are they really necessary? And what is it with us Filipinos that we feel our beauty queens have to speak english even if they can't? Would a Filipina answering in Filipino be an insult to the world of pageantry? In fact, for a beauty pageant called "Binibining Pilipinas" which purports to promote the image of the Filipina, I think it would be more important for candidates to speak the national or regional language.

I mean, I know a lot of Filipinas who are articulate in their native language but struggle with English. It doesn't make them any less intelligent or detract from their beauty.

I think it's time Filipinas liberated themselves from this ideal of the "beauty queen" as being someone who speaks good English. I mean, if you grew up speaking English and it's your first language, go ahead and speak it, but if your first language is Tagalog or Ilocano or Ilonggo or Visayan or Cebuano, I say go ahead and speak the language of your choice because it's the language in which you can best express yourself.

Watching this video and other related commentary, I found myself wondering why, why, why are we so obsessed with teaching the misses to speak straight English. So, let them go to the International competitions and speak their native tongue. Other candidates from other countries do it.

So yeah, this sort of disgusted me...and the comments on youtube...

What's with the "if you're beautiful, you don't need brains" theme. Good lord. Talk about going back to the stone ages!

vrijdag 7 maart 2008

on memoirs and hoaxes

Someone on Liberty Hall pointed out this article about the latest memoir hoax.

I wonder whether it's some sort of schizophrenia or whether once the ball gets rolling, the author feels there's no way of stopping it and the only thing to do is cross your fingers and hope to God you don't get caught.

The thing is, when a reader picks up a book and it says memoir on the cover, we do expect and trust the author to be telling us the truth about her life. As it happened to the author and not to someone else.

If it's not the truth about your life, well there is this category called "fiction".

dinsdag 4 maart 2008

International Women's Day

In connection with Bayanihan's launching of Hope Away from Home, I'll be in Rotterdam on the 8th of March, probably standing behind Bayanihan's Information booth touting the Hope Away from Home book. Since I'm attending a concert in the evening, I'll be leaving early, but the book will be available for something like five euros. All proceeds from the book are going towards the Bayanihan fund.

Here's the location for the Information Market:
Zadkine OC Welzijn, Sport en Cultuur, Benthemstraat 15, Rotterdam
There's more info on Rotterdam's International Women's Day Celebration at: