Ninotchka Rosca is an outstanding contemporary writer, human rights activist and feminist. She is the author of six books: her short story collections include Bitter Country and Monsoon Country; her two novels are State of War and Twice Blessed which earned the 1993 American Book Award for excellence in literature; and her books of non-fiction are The Fall of Marcos and her most recent, Jose Maria Sison: At Home in the World - Portrait of a Revolutionary. Rosca's short stories have been included in several anthologies, among them, the 1986 Best 100 Short Stories in the U.S. compiled by Raymond Carver and the Missouri Review Anthology. She is a two-time recipient of the New York Foundation for the Arts Fellowship and a frequent contributor to Ms. Magazine, The Nation, Village Voice, Q and other U.S. and European periodicals.
On Friday, Oct. 19, 40-year-old Grace Grande surrendered to the Los Angeles Attorney General’s office; she faces extradition hearings, based on a request from the Philippine government to the U.S. State Department. The request alleges that Grande “stole” jewelry worth around $43,000 from a Nancy Manlangit, an employee of Philippine Congressman Patrick Antonio, with whom Ms. Grande had a 10-year relationship and by whom she has two sons. During that decade, Grande and her sons lived on the “down-low,” because the congressman was married. In 2007, the year the alleged theft took place, Grande had decided to end the relationship and left for the U.S.
When Wisconsin started the current mushrooming, multi-state siege on the collective bargaining rights of workers, few recognized this as a rollback of a major gain of the women’s movement. Yet women’s organizing has been pivotal to earning workers’ right to equal wages, job security and decent working conditions. Nearly half of all union members today are women; we are expected to become the majority in a few years. Workers of color and transnational (im/migrant) women are the fastest-growing segment of new union members. With 12 percent of U.S. households run by women and 19.2 percent of children living with single mothers, the right to unionize and to collective bargaining is pivotal to women’s struggle for equality.
The young heroine of a Greek tragedy elected to bury her younger brother, despite the king’s edict that he should lie dead and exposed to the elements.
Not burying the dead is violating their primal right: to lie buried, undisturbed-- Requiescat In Pace.
This was the core template for one of my short stories: Earthquake Weather. I wrote it in honor of several friends killed by Marcos’s military and left exposed in front of various town halls. Being left unburied was one of the direst punishments inflicted under martial law; the other, ironically, was being buried in unmarked mass graves.
From a character in Orhan Pamuk’s The Black Book: “I realized I’d change nothing by proving that the life we live is someone else’s dream.”
The sentence floated through my mind as I watched the fifty-some new members of AF3IRM, all under 30 years of age, take their oath of commitment to principle, cause and organization after two days of intensive deliberation at the end of nearly two years of study. I wished then I could add a footnote to Pamuk’s book: “At least it gives one a chance to choose -- not to do so, or to live a different dream or a dream built on one’s experiences.”
If one question were to define the character of your people and if two events were to be pivotal in defining the character of your nation – what question and what events would you choose? Maria Venus Raj, 22-year-old Miss Philippines contender for the Miss Universe crown, likely did not anticipate she would be at the center of the above-mentioned situations. The question that became a character definition, not only for her but for her entire country mates, was whether she had committed a big mistake and what she did to correct it. Ms. Raj replied candidly that she’d never had a major, major problem and thanked her family for guiding her – not in perfect English, granted, but neither unintelligible nor incomprehensible either. I've heard worse from winners and losers alike.
The mockery with which neo-cons participate in the current US discourse on torture is not surprising: Limbaugh slapping himself gently and facetiously; Hannity offering to be waterboarded for charity; giggling theses as to what constitutes and does not torture…
For women of the Philippines, 2009 began with President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo’s Administrative Order 247 to the Philippine Overseas Employment Agency to “execute a paradigm shift by re-focusing its functions from regulation to full blast market development efforts, the exploration of frontier, fertile job markets for Filipino expatriate workers.”