I’m currently in Seattle, USA to attend the AWP Conference and Book Fair where my new book, Waking Up to the Pattern Left by a Snail Overnight, will be launched and presented alongside other writers with Asian heritage. NOTE: I now have both Asian and African roots, if you ask me.
The book will be officially released in April, but pre-orders are now open. Here are my publisher’s website and some distributors you can check:
Early copies will be available during the AWP Conference and at the following events. Here are the relevant posters:
Since I was going to be in Seattle before an audience, my good friend from my university days in the Philippines, poet and musician Zosimo Quibilan (who is now based in the US) asked if I could say something about the concept album by David Byrne and Fatboy Slim, “Here Lies Love” – about the so-called rags to riches story of Imelda Marcos. “Here Lies Love” is now also a stage musical with audience participation that was apparently performed in Seattle, among other places, and will soon hit Broadway.
I admire the early work and solo output by David Byrne. I hate censorship, so I have no right to tell any other artist, including Byrne, what they must or must not produce. But putting out anything in the world naturally opens it to feedback and criticism.
I think his concept album is a complete misfire and should be challenged. Not because he is white. Not because he played no part in the dark Filipino history he claims to focus on. But because of how the Imelda Marcos he chose to depict was never shown as complicit and even active in the abuse and murder of countless Filipinos.
Imelda Marcos has been convicted by the Philippine courts for fraud and corruption, and should be in jail (check #ImeldaIselda). Her family, including the current president of the country – perhaps president only by some magical mathematical calculation attributable to fautly vote counting machines and invisible hands – owe a few hundred billions in taxes and refuse to admit or pay for them. Not to mention their refusal to apologize for their past deeds and to return what their clan stole under martial law.
Imelda, to cite one instance, was never held responsible for what happened to the now-abandoned and haunted Manila Film Center. During construction, part of the structure collapsed. The bodies of the workers were not dug out but simply buried with quick drying cement. Those whose bodies protruded, including survivors, had to be cut to pieces so that she could open her international film festival on time. With this concept album, and now stage production, one can only expect Imelda Marcos to be hoisted up as some nearly-mythical and desirable figure who will gain more sympathy than she deserves. The whole affair, despite the few hints of failed irony in the lyrics, tramples on the bones of the victims.
The album cover should not have been that image of Imelda as some damsel with an umbrella, but this one:
Perhaps a better concept album title and appropriate work has to be put out there to challenge Byrne’s. Before I even heard of his album I had actually started putting together a chapbook of poetry (aiming for a full collection) tentatively called “Blind as Love.” Maybe I should re-think that and replace the title with – HERE: LIES, LOVE FOR MONEY, MURDER – THE REAL “IMELDA THE CENTIPEDE STORY”