Meet the Alaskeros

They call themselves Alaskeros, Filipinos who are seasonal workers in the fish canneries of Alaska. In his youth, author/poet/beloved teacher Oscar Peñaranda was one of them, but he did something more than scaling and slicing salmon. He chronicled in vivid detail the grit, the color, the toughness and of course the joy of being an Alaskero, a job or a circumstance that lends itself to a lot of riveting stories. Here, in "Pieces of the (Midnight) Sun: Sketches of An Alaskero" are those stories, with some name changes for privacy. 

What is a Poet Laureate and what does she have to do? Apparently plenty, as Filipino American poet Aileen Cassinetto describes her day. She was chosen by the San Mateo County (California) Board of Supervisors as its third Poet Laureate, the first Asian American to be thus honored. In addition to telling us what her mandate is, Aileen shares the poem she wrote and read before the county board's first meeting this year. 

This week, we join our homeland in mourning the passing and celebrating the life of Armida Siguion-Reyna, TV personality and cultural activist, who long-lasting TV show, "Aawitan Kita," preserved the legacy of Filipino music, particularly the kundiman. Read Again the profile written by her granddaughter, Sara Siguion-Reyna, "We Call Her Mahal."  

To add flavor to your Valentine's Day, how's about baking some Meringue Cookies with Toffee, a recipe from PF Correspondent and cookbook author Elizabeth Ann Quirino for the Happy Home Cook. 

And here's a Read Again that should make you appreciate better your unencumbered Valentine's Day: 

Here are our In The Know links for your reading pleasure:

Journalists, institutions decry 'absurd legal attack' against Rappler

History of New Manila & Doña Magdalena Hemady

This place in Metro Manila takes you on a gripping Martial Law tour

'Comfort women' activist, dead at 92, fought for reparations 'until the end'

For Video of the Week, educator Dr. Carl E. Balita posted an informational video on facebook on the importance of the Philippines to the world.

Gemma Nemenzo

Editor, Positively Filipino

A Visayan Surprise International Hit

Some Filipino songs have been recognized internationally and one of them is the Visayan (Cebuano) song "Rosas Pandan," currently a staple among choirs in various countries, thanks to the intricate vocal arrangements of San Francisco-based musical arranger George Gemora Hernandez. PF Correspondent Myles A. Garcia gives us the story behind this popular song's unexpected success and lists 22 different renditions in "The Late, Surprising 21st Century Success of Rosas Pandan." 

Ambassador (Ret.) Virgilio A. Reyes Jr. chronicles the story of the Tempongko family, originally of Pulong Mayaman, Malate, whose evolution spans over a century in "Portrait of History as a Filipino Family."

February may be the month of love but Philippine history also marks it as a month of bloodshed. On February 4, 1899, the bloody Philippine-American War began which resulted in over 20,000 Filipinos and over 4,000 Americans dead. Forty six years later, on February 3, 1945, the battle to liberate Manila from the Japanese began. Read Again our stories on these two monumental events in our motherland's history:

"A Valiant People's Army" by John L. Silva

"The Battle of Manila, WWII" by James M. Scott 

Here are our links to stories you may have missed:

The Philippine War - A Conflict of Conscience for African Americans

The Black Presence in The Philippines

A Son of Immigrants Contemplates What His Life Might Have Been

Small Filipino restaurant in New York sees popularity skyrocket after Esquire names its among best

5 Filipino Marine Scientists Who Are Saving Our Seas

Our Happy Home Cook features another recipe from San Francisco-based foodie, Voltaire Gungab: Longganisa with Apples and Asian Pear.

For Video of the Week, South China Morning Post features how a family in Marawi was ripped apart by fighting between ISIS and the Philippine military. 

Gemma Nemenzo

Editor, Positively Filipino

Our Unhappy Homeland

Though we are thousands of miles away, our motherland is never far from our minds and whatever tragedy and/or insanity that happens there affect us deeply. This week there are two issues that tug at our hearts and conscience: the unconscionable bombing of the Cathedral in Jolo during Sunday service that killed more than 25 people, and the pending legislation now being debated in the Senate lowering the criminal age to 12 years old.

On the latter topic, here's an Opinion piece by Fr. Shay Cullen of the Preda Foundation, a non-governmental organization that protects children, entitled "Many Filipino Children Are Treated as Criminals."

And here's an astute analysis by author/social commentator Walden Bello on the underlying motivations behind this obnoxious bill:

Not quite Jolo but close enough, Read Again veteran journalist Criselda Yabes' 2013 situationer on Patikul, Sulu, "Island of Hope." 

As the US Midwest braces for the freezing polar vortex, here are two stories that can warm hearts and stomachs:

Millennial writer Christian Gabriel Pareja profiles Jamey Buencamino, a classical/rock guitarist who grew up in freezing Wisconsin {"Jamey Buencamino Strikes a Cord").

PF Correspondent Rey de la Cruz writes about Cid's Ma Mon Luk, an eatery in Chicagoland that brings back warm memories of its namesake in Manila ("It's More Bun in Cid's Ma Mon Luk, Chicago").

From the restaurant comes our Happy Home Cook recipe this week for Lomi, a perfect treat for the snowbound.

For a touch of levity, here is Forgive Us Our Signs 13, culled from the Viber and Facebook postings of various friends. 

A variety of topics are covered in our In The Know links this week:

Triumph, Then Tragedy in the Philippines

Philippine church attack clouds outlook for peace in Mindanao

This Pixar Artist Is Creating a Comic Book About a Filipino Martial Art

Marc de la Cruz on his shot as first Fil-Am ‘Hamilton’ 

For Video of the Week, after the passage of the Bangsamoro Organic Law, CNN Philippines featured a story on our Muslim brothers in the south.

Gemma Nemenzo

Editor, Positively Filipino