I met Sister Helen Graham of the Maryknoll Missionaries in the early part of martial law in the Philippines (1972-1981), when we were both visiting political detainees in Fort Bonifacio. That first meeting led to many more, inside and outside the camp, and involved such clandestine activities as smuggling in and out (of prison) letters and documents, and distributing mimeographed copies of news reports of arrests, tortures and other human rights violations that were, of course, never reported in the mainstream Philippine media. Those activities, if found out, would have resulted in military interrogations, if not arrest for us, but such dark possibilities didn't deter us. I took some of my bravado from Sr. Helen, who was feisty and outspoken, but who knew how to strike a balance between being friendly and intimidating to prison guards so she could get to where she wanted to go, and see whoever she wanted to see.
More than four decades later, PF contributor Menchu Aquino Sarmiento writes about Sr. Helen's memories of those days of rage and disquiet (to paraphrase writer/author and former political detainee, Pete Lacaba) in "Helen Graham, MM -- Fighting Nun." Sr. Helen is 80 years old now and she has chosen to remain in the Philippines, still daring and raring to fight social injustice in keeping true to her religious vow.
Not quite as dangerous but probably as daring in a much different context, video documentarist and popper Devon de Leña broke through barriers of race, identity and gender to seek her place in the cultural fabric of Seattle's indie film milieu. PF Correspondent Anthony Maddela reports.
Want to give meaningful gifts for Christmas? Author Cecilia Manguerra Brainard comes up with a list of books by Fil-Am writers that should spread joy among readers this holiday season.
And if you're looking for a gift that will keep on giving, how about checking out my blog this week about the two recipe books of Elizabeth Ann Quirino, which make for good Christmas presents too.
Our esteemed PF culinary correspondent continues sharing recipes for the holiday table, this time for Ensaladang Labong, Pork Bagnet and Cathedral Windows Gelatin.
Here's our In The Know links to interesting articles this week:
Duterte's Philippines Economy Beats China's
Philippines defied experts advice on dengue vaccine
What Happens When the Government Uses Facebook as a Weapon?
For our Video of the Week, Fil-Am comic JoKoy introduces YouTube Host Sean Evans to Filipino cuisine at New York City's Jeepney Gastropub.