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March 31, 2014

Finding Home with Connecting Flights: Filipinos Write From Elsewhere

Connecting FlightsFilipinos have been travelling the world over, whether for business or for pleasure.  But however far away they fly, sail, or drive away, every trip brings with it new perspectives on where and how home is defined.

Anvil Publishing Inc. takes a look at this via Connecting Flights: Filipinos Write From Elsewhere, a compendium of short stories, essays, and poetry by 20 contributors: Dean Francis Alfar, Jose Dalisay Jr., Lourd De Veyra, Karla P. Delgado, Rosario A. Garcellano, Ramil Digal Gulle, Christina Pantoja-Hidalgo, Alya B. Honasan, Marne L. Kilates, Angelo R. Lacuesta, Ambeth R. Ocampo, Charlson Ong, Manuel L. Quezon III, D.M. Reyes, Sev Sarmenta, Alice M. Sun-Cua, Yvette Tan, Joel M. Toledo, Alfred A. Yuson, and Jessica Zafra.

Editor Ruel de Vera notes in his Introduction, “These dizzying days, we constantly move from home to in-between places before landing somewhere else. But I believe that we Filipinos bring our true selves along with us on every leg of every journey. We leave with it—and we treasure it enough to take it home, changed perhaps, but always overjoyed to have returned.”

A slim volume that offers personal glimpses into various destinations, this book contains a few pieces that I liked.  From Lourd De Veyra’s  poem “Amsterdam. Red Light”, we see the city’s hedonistic appeal to foreign visitors via its notorious flesh trade and free-wheeling drug culture.  Traipse over to Madrid, Spain and go back in time via Ambeth Ocampo’s “The Rain In Spain, According to Rizal”, where he traces our hero’s steps in an essay that is at once familiar yet unknown to most of us fed history by rote. Let Charlson Ong bring you over the Great Wall, where myths of old clash with the realities of modern times in “That Other Country We Now Speak”.  Then, catch a flight to good ol’ US of A and read a twist on the mail order bride story of horror queen Yvette Tan as she spins her tale in “Seek Ye Whore”.

The next time you’re at the airport waiting for your flight to be called, or perhaps, idling at a bus station prior to it pulling out to a long-distance travel, pause for a moment and ponder how a trip through time and space can become a voyage can bring you back home through words, memory and the imagination.

Connecting Flights: Filipinos Write From Elsewhere is available at National Bookstore.

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