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Think of a place: The sun is setting over the two-lane highway out of Ternate and Maragondon. The car is a maroon 1985 Nissan Sentra. Its seats are covered in an ochre ribbed velour. Its plates carry provincial letters, DEV. There is no motion. We’re sitting here, stalled on the empty road. It’s twilight and… Continue reading Untitled

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[Even as] the Filipinos were prepared for self-government [under US colonialism], the department of education was never entrusted to any Filipino. … In exchange for a smattering of English, we yielded our souls. —Renato Constantino, “The Miseducation of the Filipino” My limp Tagalog becomes more taut with immersion and effort. My mouth muscles relax as… Continue reading Untitled

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In my Facebook feed this morning: the headline “Sandwich Downs More Than 300 in Bataan.” At first I flicked it up, into the realm of stories I would never read. But the use of the word “sandwich,” singular (one sandwich for 300 victims?), piqued my curiosity after some delay. I retrieved the link from its… Continue reading Untitled

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J. rolled Frank Ruby’s wheelchair across the street to the Foodland parking lot. “Who’s she?” Frank demanded, gesturing at me. “She’s a volunteer. She speaks Spanish,” G. told him. “You speak Spanish, but you’re Chinese?” “I’m Filipino,” I replied. “Ahh. Maganda ka. I had a Filipina wife. You know what I said?” I nodded. I… Continue reading Untitled

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How you can be a body in motion / how you can be an arc and an axis / the fabric of muscles knitted in combat / the speed of a close-up and the delay (Watching Movana Chen’s work at The 14th Factory, Los Angeles)

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Mountain’s Edge is where Las Vegas ends for now. A large, bright-red balloon marks the sales office for a new development. New roads appear, and then they dig them up and pave them over again. Sprawl is uncreative destruction. We find a tunnel to nowhere where the road cuts off and a sign prohibits motor… Continue reading Untitled

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An exceptional sight yesterday, as P. and I were about to round the corner of his block: a little girl standing on the sidewalk, which was strewn with just-yellowed leaves, turned to look at us with an expression of unadulterated joy on her face as she drew in the bundle of leaves she had gathered… Continue reading Untitled

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About twenty miles from the outer limits of Las Vegas on I-15, I peer through the windshield at a narrow, pale, and impossibly tall beam of light in the distance. “Do you see that?” I ask P., pointing. He laughs. “That’s the Luxor.” As we park in a sleepy eastside neighborhood lined with matching mid-century… Continue reading Untitled

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At the beginning of Apichatpong Weerasethakul’s 2015 film Cemetery of Splendor, set in rural northeastern Thailand, about ten soldiers have been struck by a mysterious sleeping sickness. They lie recuperating at a makeshift hospital, an abandoned school that the film’s lead character, Jen (Jenjira Pongpas Widner), attended as a child. The soldiers awaken for brief… Continue reading Untitled

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This evening I watched Joshua Oppenheimer’s incredible film The Look of Silence, set in the Indonesian province of North Sumatra. Although I grew up a skip and a hop from Indonesia, I know inexcusably little about it. I’ve been aware since childhood that Indonesian, Malay, and Tagalog have many similarities, but I’ve remained ignorant of… Continue reading Untitled