It’s an unfortunate and ugly reality that many people in the homeland are so destitute, so poor, that they make a necessary living out of garbage. The practice of “pagpag” involves going through mountains of trash to salvage food and anything else than can be saved to be resold, reused, or traded for other goods. Eileen Tabios’ explains that her latest short story collection, PAGPAG, is so named to shed light on the ever-increasing economic inequities among the urban poor in the Philippines, casualties of decades-long theft, graft and corruption among elected officials and their cronies. Continue reading here.
“My first encounter with the work of Eileen R. Tabios was in the middle of 1999. I was in the middle of sorting submissions and curating intentionally diverse work for a flash fiction anthology I had proposed to Anvil Publishing in Manila, that eventually came out in 2003, and was called Fast Food Fiction: Short Short Stories To Go. Tabios’ story in this book was a deft piece, just 469 words (I asked for flash of no more than 500 words, and many writers went far beyond that), focusing on a man who puzzles, genuinely it seems, over the aftermath of passion that had evidently gone too far, with the use of a black leather crop. Adding further interest, the title chosen for the story was, “excerpts from After She Left The Hotel Room” and its text was divided into four petite sections headed, “W, X, Y” and “Z”…” (continue reading here).
Yes, PAGPAG is fiction, not poetry, but it’s by LR contributor and APA literary great Eileen R. Tabios—we’d be amiss not to feature it! Hot off the presses (it was released barely a fortnight ago), this collection of short stories is not one to miss.
Between 1995 and 2001 Eileen wrote protest stories against Marcos’ martial law, and now she shares those stories and more with her readers, revealing the horrendous conditions as viewed through children’s eyes. Noting that these stories are reflections of an ‘ex-patriot’ gives a new insight into the history of the political climate as viewed from afar – a more insightful blend of memory and history that makes her stories all the more compelling. Hunger in the face of the need to scavenge for discarded food, the need to change, moments of introspective humor – all these tales add to the impact of this excellent collection of short stories.
Glimpses: A Poetic Memoir by Leny Mendoza Strobel shows a more personal side of the noted academic, a departure from her usual scholarly output. Glimpses is still infused with plenty of academic language characteristic of Strobel’s voice, despite her having declared herself “free from the obligatory academic language, citations, footnotes and such…” (Positively Filipino, March 2020)
In Glimpses: A Poetic Memoir (Through the MDR Generator), Filipino-American author, academic and local community leader Leny Mendoza Strobel takes an arguably more personal approach to this work than in her previous writing. However, as the reader soon learns, the distinctions between the personal and the political, between poetics and polemics, and between the individual and the social world in which individuals operate are all just more cultural assumptions worth challenging. For example, her memories of young love and high school experiences are not disconnected from the forces of globalization nor oppressive experiences of hierarchy. Her poetry is a reflection of a thought process always questioning the foundations on which it was formed. The result is an unflinching look at how personal memories and personal dreams can affect and are affected by culture, spirit, and society. After all, she says, “I do not have an I without You”.