“The Body is a Promise” (personal essay) published in BorderSenses, Volume 21, Fall 2015.
Ewan could remember lots of things. Robert the Brucewas crowned king in 1306. James the Fourth signedfor peace with Henry the Seventh in 1502, and the newParliament building was opened in October 2009. The lastone was easy because Ewan wanted to go to the Queen’sinauguration, but the divorce was just being finalized andeveryone said family needed to be together.Despite all these dates that floated in his head, aconstellation of facts with no clear order, Ewan couldremember but a faint memory long, long ago, of himself,Callum, Mum, and Dad there at that rickety kitchen table,the same humming refrigerator knocking noise into theirFriday dinner, as Dad kept shadow-boxing, showing Ewanhow to throw a punch. Was it what Callum said or hisfather’s reaction that made all four practically spit out theirfood in hysteria? It was a belly-holding kind of laugh, agiggle fever going round and round the table in fits. Ewandidn’t know the kitchen light could get so bright. He hadn’tseen cheeks so red from humor. Now he wanted that achemore than anything. A feel-good, stomach-stitched achethat pinched his cheeks and made him almost tear up.
“With Hummingbird in Hand” (short fiction) published
in Australian-based journal Kurungabaa Volume 4, No. 1, 2012:
The oil in the deep fryer bubbled and cracked as Yesenia and Claudia orchestrated the breakfast shift. Parked in a littered alley next to a super-sized Home Depot in a ragged quarter of East Hollywood, Yesenia’s mobile kitchen, Mariscos de Madrugada, served as a beacon for over-worked souls who scrambled through gridlock, measuring their lives by paychecks and commutes. Outside their kitchen, police sirens blared, cars backfired, and horns honked. The mariachis they hired to entertain their hungry customers played at the curbside. The trim of their charro outfits gleamed in the early morning sun as the rush of orders kept coming.
“Barbie’s Gotta Work” (personal essay) published in Doveglion Press, March 2012:
Under the most surprising contexts, I’m constantly reminded of the efforts my parents and grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins have contributed for the sake of our family. In 1930, my maternal grandfather arrived from Limisawa, a small island in the Gulf of Leyte where Magellan landed and held the first Filipino mass. With nothing but a pail of adobo in his hand and in serious need of a warm coat, no sea breeze or monsoon could have prepared him for the San Francisco chill that greeted him in his new home. Before arriving, he had raised and supported his brothers and sisters by managing their small family farm in the Phillippines. With my grandmother working at his side as well in the States, my grandfather juggled three jobs while raising his children.
Born in California, my paternal grandmother shuttled across the Central Valley following the harvests as many Mexican migrant families do. She doesn’t count her adolescent days picking tomatoes and prunes as official jobs because every kid in her family and in the surrounding neighborhoods worked the fields. For my grandma, hop-picking was the perfect excuse to get out of the house and meet the young, military-rated 4F men who committed backbreaking labor on the hopyards…My grandmother, her cousins, and aunts kept their feet to the earth, and, while the men worked above, they stripped the bines clean of their small, spongy blossoms. Filling the deep bins seemed to take forever as the sun burned above and the insects buzzed about in their ears. Arms and neck, face and hands were covered in pollen, and any food or drink tasted of bittersweet hops.
Read entire essay here.
“Like Fish to Ginger” (short fiction) published in UC Riverside’s Coachella Review, Fall 2010:
Before I set out to make my mark in Los Angeles, I chased Sunee. We met in a steamy noodle house in the Dusit District of Bangkok where I elbowed my way from dishwasher to sous chef. Sunee worked as hostess. Both seventeen, she knew exactly what she wanted, and it wasn’t me. Like with a delicate soup, I had to know when to stir and when to let the ingredients meld on their own. For seven months I coaxed her to me, savoring every minute of it, the taste of falling in love. This was all ages ago when cooking was like breathing.What they say about this city isn’t true. There are windows of time when you can fly, like now. The Santa Monica Freeway is as perfectly clear as the skies above, and the Pacific Ocean gleams in the distance. If I pay close attention, the 10 will rise in a sharp incline as I leave downtown behind, and, for a split second, all I’ll see is blue sky swallowing warmth and light. I hold my breath for this ascension, am lifted, and then it’s over soon as it began. I try to focus on the errand my wife has assigned me.
Read entire story here.
“Here in the States” (short fiction) published in Growing Up Filipino II: More Stories for Young Adults, edited by Cecilia Manguerra Brainard and published by PALH, 2009:
“Alma!” I hear Nanay call again, but there’s no way I’m answering. Nanay should’ve remembered my trip. She should know I have to leave soon.
Ever since we moved to the States, I’ve had to look after my brother and sister, clean their messes, cook their food—do everything! Back in the Philippines, our house was tidier. The meals weren’t burned at the edges or left frozen in the middle. Our housekeeper, Amalia, would cook breakfast, merienda and dinner. Now we’re even lucky if Nanay comes home in time to make something. Usually I end up having to and I hate cooking.
Growing Up Filipino II: More Stories for Young Adults is available at Amazon or Barnes & Noble.
“Son Jaliscense” (short fiction ) published in University of North Carolina’s Pembroke Magazine, Issue #40, 2008:
I’m looking for my son. I’ve found my way into another one of those backyard quinceañeras. Music plays loudly through a crowd of sweaty teenage boys and girls. They are blasting that awful stuff they call hip-hop and shaking their culos shamelessly. I’ll be glad when I don’t have to deal with this anymore. These pochos like to think they’re still in touch with their roots but the truth is most of them haven’t stepped a foot in Mexico. I know what this country promises, and that doesn’t amount to anything if you don’t know who you are. I wonder if my son really understands this. Does he know where he comes from and what that means?
“Don Salvador,” says a voice from behind. A screen of cigarette smoke greets me as I turn around. It’s them, the ones who have strung out their lives playing every weekend at birthdays, baptisms and bodas. Year after year, they crowd into their rusty four-banger Datsuns and beat-up Toyotas and drive to all four corners of Los Angeles just for a chance to play their music. It’s the small thrill of their day-laboring lives. They fool themselves into thinking that they’re musicians, that they bring art to these backyard parties with the store-bought carne asada and a keg of beer.
Download complete story in PDF: “Son Jalisciense”