PAGPAG: The Dictator’s Aftermath in the Diaspora
EILEEN R. TABIOS
LOC No.: 2020930702
Release Date: March 16, 2020
Distributors: Paloma Press, Bookshop, Amazon.com, among others
Price: $16 (special price thru September 1 on Amazon and other online retailers); $11.20 (through the end of March, if ordered directly from publisher or author)
Paloma Press is pleased to announce the release of Eileen R. Tabios’ short story collection, PAGPAG: The Dictator’s Aftermath in the Diaspora. Normally priced at $18.00, this short story collection is now available for order for $16 through Amazon.
Alternatively, if you wish a signed copy, you also can order one for $11.20 through March 31 direct from the author; contact Eileen Tabios at Galateaten@gmail.com. If you order two or more copies from the author, shipping will be free within the U.S.
“Pagpag” is the practice of scavenging through trash heaps for discarded food that the poor then attempts to clean and re-cook for new meals. Pagpag heart-wrenchingly symbolizes the effects of a corrupt government unable to take care of—indeed, abusing—its people. PAGPAG’s stories, while not overtly addressing this radical torture of cuisine, relate to what lurks within the stew created by a dictator’s actions. The aftermath is not always obvious like the imprisoned, the tortured, or the salvaged (murdered); the aftermath goes deep to affect even future generations in a diaspora facilitated by corruption, incompetence, and venality.
Eileen R. Tabios wrote “protest stories” from 1995-2001 against Ferdinand Marcos’ martial law in the Philippines, including “Tapey” which was read for Hawai’i Public Radio. These stories, except for a 2019 story written as a coda, form her new short story collection, PAGPAG. As indicated by its subtitle The Dictator’s Aftermath in the Diaspora, the collection presents stories from the points of view of children brought out of the Philippines by their parents (or other adults) in response to the Marcos dictatorship—children who grew up watching and listening to adults remember the homeland they left behind and who, as adults, can more fully articulate the effect of their histories.
“Pagpag” is a Tagalog word I used growing up to dust off a pillow or a blanket. Now it is used to refer to garbage food scavenged, recooked and resold to poor people. In her short story collection, Eileen Tabios uses both contexts to bridge her personal history with Martial Law and add texture to our already failed historical memory. These stories matter to us more than ever, as many Filipinos struggle under the tight grip of another populist, and as many more have forgotten that we have seen this before, and time is eating its own tail. Tabios begins her poignant collection with a “mamau” (ghost) and reminds us the historical past is not a ghost but a reality we carry with us if we can only see it as such.
—Bino A. Realuyo, author of The Umbrella Country and The Gods We Worship Live Next Door
Pagpag is a provocation, connoting both debris and creative refashioning of memory fragments from the Marcos dictatorship—a legacy that, in the words of Philippine nationalist historian Renato Constantino, remains ruefully “a continuing past,” especially in today’s Duterteland. Here, the remains of the regime, like rescued reminiscences of an era preferred forgotten but not lost are gathered anew in a compelling telling, this time from the lens of a diasporic exile. In this volume, Eileen Tabios captures in scintillating prose the sights, smells, sounds, and ghostly hauntings of that era and offers back to the homeland, as in the gift of a proverbial balikbayan box, her reflections both heartfelt and wrenching.”
—S. Lily Mendoza, Executive Director, Center for Babaylan Studies, Associate Professor in Culture and Communication, Oakland University, and author of Between the Homeland and the Diaspora: The Politics of Theorizing Filipino and Filipino American Identities
In these stories Eileen Tabios explores the ways in which the collective experience of Filipinos echoes through generations, following us even if—or when—we drift worlds away from the archipelago. What is the legacy of government cruelty and greed, of poverty, struggle, unwanted uprooting? In the first story (“Negros”), the abject hunger of an ancestor reaches through time to shape the mind and body of a young boy. In the last story (“On Imitating a Rhinoceros”), a daughter watches helplessly as her old father clings to a wavering belief that leaving his homeland was the right thing to do. I recognize myself and my family in these pieces; I am seen and heard. Moving and necessary, this collection invites the reader to grapple with truths in all their difficult, complex beauty.
—Veronica Montes, author of Benedicta Takes Wing and Other Stories and The Conquered Sits at the Bus Stop, Waiting
In this collection of short fiction, author Eileen Tabios contemplates the terrible distances (emotional as well as physical) imposed on Philippine citizens by the country’s colonial governments and postcolonial dictators, abetted by global capitalism. In protest, the central metaphor of Pagpag, “scavenging through trash heaps for discarded food that the poor then attempt to clean and re-cook for new meals,” speaks to various forms of hunger as well as desire for transformation. Brilliantly weaving comedy, satire and elegy, the stories echo tricksterish folk tales, but with a contemporary, introspective edge. Don’t be fooled by seemingly nostalgic peeks into the Philippines’ archipelagic culture: this book cuts deep into long-held illusions, exposing painful truth.
—Jean Vengua, author of Prau and CORPOREAL, and editor of Local Nomad
Available Samples Online:
An abbreviated version of “My City of Baguio” is at Positively Filipino, Jan. 22, 2020. An earlier version of the same story is at Otoliths, 2006.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Eileen R. Tabios has released about 60 collections of poetry, fiction, essays, and experimental biographies from publishers in ten countries and cyberspace. PAGPAG: The Dictator’s Aftermath in the Diaspora is her third fiction collection. She also recently finished her first long-form novel, DoveLion. Her wide-ranging body of work includes invention of the hay(na)ku, a 21st century diasporic poetic form (whose 15-year anniversary in 2018 was celebrated in the U.S. with exhibitions, a new anthology, and readings at the San Francisco and St. Helena Public Libraries) as well as a first poetry book, Beyond Life Sentences, which received the Philippines’ National Book Award for Poetry. Translated into ten languages, she has edited, co-edited or conceptualized 15 anthologies of poetry, fiction and essays. Her writing and editing works have received recognition through awards, grants and residencies. More information is available at http://eileenrtabios.com