They Who Dare

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?

Cafe sa Bukid

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.

Gemma Nemenzo

Editor, Positively Filipino


Nineteen days before Christmas and we're pretty sure you're stressing over the meals you plan to make for your family. Well, stress no more as starting with this issue and the whole of December, our PF culinary correspondent/cookbook author Elizabeth Ann Quirino will share with you recipes she chose for proper holiday meals. This issue, she offers Estofado de Vaca, Lobster Thermidor and Almond Jelly with Lychees for The Happy Home Cook.

Ms. Quirino also writes about the successful culinary tour of Amy Besa and Romy Dorotan, owners of Purple Yam in Brooklyn and Manila, in "Savoring Hidden Flavors of the Philippine Kitchen." 

Cape Town, South Africa, despite its storied legacy of apartheid, remains a favorite tourist destination. But did you know that in Kalk Bay, one of the city's picturesque suburb, some 80% of the original fishing families are descended from Filipinos? Former Philippine Ambassador to South Africa Virgilio A. Reyes, Jr. tells us the story of how Filipinos landed in Cape Town sometime in the 1860s in "Filipinos in Cape Town -- A Valuable Presence Since the 19th Century."

Meanwhile, in the Philippines, PF Correspondent Rene Astudillo asks the question, "Will the Philippine Jeepney Soon Be Extinct?" as plans for a more modern, safer and more environmentally friendly transport system are about to be implemented.

Our In The Know links this week covers a variety of interesting topics you will want to bookmark: 

An Investment Boom in Philippines Leaves Neighbors in the Dust

14 Amazing Filipina Heroines You Don't Know But Should

The Desirability of Storytellers

Young businessman reveals rivers of success bridged by enthusiasm

For our video of the week, the Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center presents Frank Chi's film which was inspired by Carlos Bulosan's "America Is In Heart."

Gemma Nemenzo

Editor, Positively Filipino

Yesterday's War, Today's Divide

If you wonder how the US has become so divided, look no further than the Vietnam War, which officially lasted 20 years, from 1955-1975. As the 10-hour documentary by Ken Burns that aired in September showed, the war affected everyone in the country --  as soldiers, as soldiers' families, policy makers, analysts or as protesters -- and split the country like no other time since the Civil War. PF contributor Ed Diokno brings us back to those days and how they inform the present in "Ken Burns' 'Vietnam': The War In Our Hearts and Minds."

November 30 is celebrated yearly in our motherland as Bonifacio Day, it being the birth date of the Supremo of the Katipunan, the revolutionary movement that helped free the Philippines from Spain. Let's Read Again "Seven Little Known Facts About the Supremo," as compiled by the blog site, and "Andres Bonifacio, the Other National Hero" by Penelope V. Flores.

This year marks the centenary of the very first National Artist for Literature, Nick Joaquin, whose humongous personality is just as memorable as his classic writings. Marra PL. Lanot, who came of age as a poet and essayist under Joaquin's watchful eye, writes a personal recollection of her friendship with the late great in "Remembering Nick."

Ilocanos and other lovers of goat dishes will love Kusina de Manila, the way PF Correspondent Rey de la Cruz, an Ilocano, raves about this "goat-to restaurant" in Des Plaines, Illinois (a Chicago suburb). Its chef Niel Salvatera shares his version of Goat Papaitan as our Happy Home Cook recipe this week.

Here's our In The Know links:

Does Race Matter in America’s Most Diverse ZIP Codes?

Malacañang orders easing, lifting of foreign investment restrictions in 8 areas

The taste of Filipino Christmas

This Toronto artist learned English from comic books - now he's the force behind DC series 'Trinity'

For our Video of the Week, actress Judy Ann Santos-Agoncillo cooks up her version of the popular Vietnamese street food – the Banh Mi sandwich.

Gemma Nemenzo

Editor, Positively Filipino