I have joined the staff of The VIDA Review, the new literary journal of VIDA: Women in Literary Arts, as a fiction reader. I have long been in awe of everything VIDA has done in fighting for gender equality in the publishing world, and I look forward to contributing my talents to this organization as a reader for The VIDA Review. More information on the journal is available here.
(My Zumba class at the Victoria University of Wellington's Recreation Centre. Guess where I am here!)
I wrote about how taking a Zumba class at the Victoria University of Wellington helped me recover from the trauma of being hit by a car, while also allowing me to discover my love for dancing, for SBS Voices. Looking back, I can see how moving to New Zealand made me a dancer, and this particular Zumba class taught by Carolina and Maddy was where it all began. You can read the full piece here.
"To Resist Being Unseen", my essay about institutional racism in new zealand, featured in the rumpus "This week in essays"
I am happy to share that "To Resist Being Unseen", my essay about a traumatic experience with the New Zealand Police during my first year as a PhD student, was featured in The Rumpus's This Week in Essays. I struggled to place this essay, but thankfully Another Chicago Magazine, which was one of my dream journals since I was a high school student in the Philippines, stepped in to run the essay. It only goes to show that if you have a story that matters, don't stop believing in it, even if others think it's too risky or outrageous to be publishable. Let's not stop raising our voices against those who seek to erase us!
"To resist being unseen," an essay about institutional racism in new zealand, published in another chicago magazine
In 2015, when I was beginning my PhD in New Zealand, I was hit by a car while crossing the street. Instead of receiving any reparations, the police mangled my statement to show that I was equally at fault for what happened, ignoring key parts of my testimony (like the fact that I the driver stopped when I held up my hands and screamed, only to drive straight into me). I used this experience to write about institutional racism in New Zealand, and how people of colour carry a lingering trauma from having their rights routinely ignored in white settler states. This essay was rejected several times before finding a home with Another Chicago Magazine, thanks to Sandi Wisenberg, who helped me make this essay the best it could be with her astute edits. Read the full essay here.
I would like to thank The Honor Society of Phi Kappa Phi for recognizing my academic and artistic achievements with a Love of Learning Award. I was inducted into Phi Kappa Phi after graduating magna cum laude from the University of the Philippines in 2007, and I am thankful for the ongoing support they have provided for my career, which includes my recent Love of Learning Award. More information about my award can be found here. As a recipient of one of their rewards, they also made me a Merit Page, which is pretty rad.
A full list of 2019 recipients can be found here. It's nice to see two of my alma maters (University of the Philippines, University of Texas at Austin) represented in this list.
For Father's Day in Australia and New Zealand, I wrote a short essay about how I forced myself to write through my grief after my poet-father passed away, and how writing helped me maintain a relationship with him despite his physical absence. I did not expect to receive as many touching responses to this piece as I did, and I'm glad that it resonated with many. You can read the full essay here.
"By continuing to write through my grief, I was honouring that part of myself that was deeply connected to him."
"is there only one way to be free? A review of edilberto K. Tiempo's to be free" reprinted in silliman journal
When I randomly googled myself today (which everybody does, ha!) I found out that my review of Edilberto K. Tiempo's World War II novel, To Be Free, which first appeared in Eileen Tabios's Halo-Halo Review in 2016, was given a second life in Silliman Journal, Silliman University's refereed academic journal. The late Dr. Tiempo taught at the same university, and so having my review of his classic novel appear in Silliman Journal is a huge honor for me. You can read the issue of the journal in which my article appears here, and its original publication in the Halo-Halo Review here.
I am this week's guest on Cristina Querrer's Your Artsy Girl Podcast, in which I talk about my journey as a writer in the Philippines, my experiences at the Michener Center's MFA program and at wonderful writing residencies in the US (such as the amazing KHN Center for the Arts, where I began and finished my novel), and how one must make writing central to your life, which sometimes means going to New Zealand for your creative writing PhD. You can listen to our interview here. Cristina Querrer has done a great job lifting up Filipino, Filipino-American, and POC voices on her podcast, so be sure to listen to other episodes from the show here!
I'm happy to share that my essay, "The Gift of Connection", which originally appeared in New Zealand's takahe Magazine last year, has been reissued in the latest edition of Maganda Magazine, UC Berkeley's student run Filipino-American literary and arts journal. Since my essay is about tango and the immigrant experience, I felt it was a fitting expression of Maganda's current theme, "Indak", which in Tagalog means "to dance in time with the music". I am happy that this essay can reach a wider audience among Filipino-American writers and artists. This is a print-only journal, but my essay can also be read for free on takahe's website.
My 6-week writers residency at the Kimmel Harding Nelson Center for the Arts is drawing to a close, and I'd like to express my gratitude to this wonderful artists' residency program for helping me finish my novel. I wrote the beginnings of my novel in this same building in 2012, and I came back in 2019 to finish it. Truly, this is sacred ground. Got so much work done (around 100 pages more of my novel+edits, in addition to an academic article I revised for publication), and got so much living done too. I made new friends outside my studio (visual artists and writers I was in residence with) whom I shared laughter and stories with, while inside my studio, I embarked on a difficult but eye-opening journey with my novel's characters. I just feel that I'm a different person from the Monica that arrived here 6 weeks ago, and I think that's a good thing. For writers, visual artists, and composers, I highly recommend applying for this wonderful residency.