• Hagedorn has a book signing in L.A. • Chauffeur wins case vs Citibank exec

Jessica Hagedorn. Photo by David Shankbone

By Linda Nietes

Authors Night, a gathering of authors, book lovers and members of the community to launch new books written by FilAm authors is being celebrated April 29 at the Asian Pacific American Legal Center in Los Angeles. As in the past, it is being held on the eve of the L.A. Times Festival of Books, which will be on the weekend of April 30-May l this year.

Writer Jessica Hagedorn will make a special appearance and sign her latest novel, “Toxicology” on May l. Author of the acclaimed “Dogeaters: A Novel,” her latest work is about the collusion of art, fame, money, love, desire and mortality. Hagedorn was born in the Philippines, and came to the U.S. in her early teens. She has taught at the Graduate Playwriting Program at the Yale School of Drama, and at the MFA Creative Writing Program at Columbia University. She is currently the Parsons Family University Professor of Creative Writing at Long Island University in Brooklyn.

The following authors will launch their books during the event:

Roseli Ilano

Lolan Buhain Sevilla and Roseli Ilano. Co-editors, “Walang Hiya: Literature taking risks toward liberatory practice.” The book is an anthology featuring 32 Filipino and FilAm writers and poets. Lolan Buhain Sevilla is a cultural worker who roots her art in community, study and practice. She works at the Audre Lorde Project in New York and is a member of Filipinas for Rights & Empowerment, a member organization of Gabriela USA. She has been published in Maganda Magazine, Cheers to Muses: Contemporary Works by Asian American Women and is the author of “Translating New Brown,” a collection of poetry and short stories. Roseli Ilano is a community organizer based in Oakland, California. Her poetry has appeared in Maganda Magazine, her nonfiction in Filipinas Magazine and the San Gabriel Valley Tribune where she was a reporter. Her eight years of community organizing experience emphasized the integration of arts into youth-led social justice campaigns. She uses her background in grassroots organizing to explore how media and documentary film can be a tool for social change.

James Daos, author of “Ants on the Rainbow … You’ll Never Know” and “Ants on the Rainbow … A Surf Colony … The Search Begins!” books for children is a native of Southern California and an avid surfer, who enjoys riding waves up and down the California coast and in Hawaii. Over the years, he has spent countless hours telling his five children bedtime stories. His dream is to bring a sense of fun and adventure to all his readers, while introducing them to the wonderful world of surfing.

Lorna Ignacio Dumapias, editor, “Filipino American Experience: The Making of a Historic Cultural Monument.” Lorna collected the various stories of members of her church, the Filipino Christian Church, located at 301 North Union Avenue in LA’s Historic Filipinotown. She turned the stories into a beautiful book with vintage photographs retelling the history of the first organized FilAm community in Greater Los Angeles, the Filipino Disciples Christian Church. Lorna is an alumna of the University of the Philippines, School of Mass Communication, with graduate studies done at Lesley University in Cambridge, MA.

Lilia Lopez-Rahman’s “For the Sake of Louise: A Mother’s Triumph over Domestic Abuse” is the personal journey of the author. She wants to share her experiences with other parents, especially with women and children who have experienced domestic abuse. An ordained pastor, Lilia served in the United Methodist churches in California and Nevada. In 2002, she married Mati Rahman, an electrical engineer from Toronto. Both are now enjoying their retirement years in Hawaii.

Cecilia Manguerra Brainard

Cecilia Manguerra Brainard is the award-winning author of eight books, including the well-acclaimed novel “When the Rainbow Goddess Wept” and “Magdalena, A Novel.” She has received a California Arts Council Fellowship in Fiction, a Brody Arts Fund Award, a Special Recognition Award for her work dealing with Asian American youths, as well as a Certificate of Recognition from the California State Senate, 21st District. She teaches creative writing at the Writers Program at UCLA- Extension, and is married to Lauren R. Brainard, a former Peace Corps Volunteer to Leyte, Philippines; they have three sons.

Virgil Apostol

Virgil J. Mayor Apostol, author of “Way of the Ancient Healer: Sacred Teachings from the Philippine Ancestral Traditions” is a healing arts therapist and certified holistic health practitioner. He is dedicated to the research, development, and promotion of Filipino cultural and healing traditions. Descended from both maternal and paternal bloodlines of Filipino healers, he is the author of several articles and the co-author of a book entitled “Healing Hands of Hilot.” He holds a degree in Business and has been associated with the Chopra Center for Well Being in La Jolla, where he earned a favorable reputation for his work in Ablon, a Filipino hands-on healing modality, and Indian Ayurvedic therapies. He currently runs a private practice specializing in Filipino Ablon.

Veronica Montes

Veronica Montes, co-author, “Angelica’s Daughters, a Dugtungan Novel.” Veronica lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with her husband and three daughters. She was the 2005 winner of the Ivy Terasaka Short Story Competition, and her work has appeared in the literary journals Bamboo Ridge, Prism International, and Maganda, as well as in several anthologies including “Contemporary Fiction by Filipinos in America.” Growing Up Filipino, and Going Home to a Landscape: Writings by Filipinas. “Angelica’s Daughters, A Dugtungan Novel” is a collaborative work written by five women: Brainard and Montes from California; Susan Evangelista and Erma Cuizon from the Philippines, and Nadine Sarreal from Singapore. After a few years of writing exercises, the group sought greater challenge and decided to write a ‘dugtungan’ novel, a genre of Tagalog novel popular in the 20th century, in which each group writer creates a chapter and hands it off to the next, who writes another chapter without direction.

Lane Wilcken, author of “Filipino Tattoos: Ancient to Modern” is an artisan of ancient technology and art, an independent researcher, scholar and private practitioner. Lane is the second oldest child from a family of eight children of mixed cultural heritage. His mother is a native Ilokana and his father is an American of English and Scandinavian descent. On Lane’s maternal side, his family is well acquainted with the traditional spiritual beliefs of the Philippines, his grandmother being a ‘mangngilut’ (midwife and healer) whose healing practices were given via communication with ancestral spirits. His great-great-grandmother was a spirit medium or ‘mangnganito.’ His interest in symbolism was expanded while attending Southern Utah University where he graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in Sociology with a focus in Symbolic Interactionism and a Minor in Communications. He resides in Las Vegas, NV, with his wife, Rebekah, and their six children.

R. Zamora Linmark

R. Zamora Linmark is the author of two collections of poetry, “Prime Time Apparitions” and “The Evolution of a Sigh,” and a novel, “Rolling The R’s,” which he has been adapted for the stage. Born in Manila and educated in Honolulu, he is the recipient of numerous grants and fellowships and has been published in journals and anthologies in both the U.S. and the Philippines. He divides his time between the Philippines and Hawaii. “Leche,” his latest novel is a witty, lyrical tale of a young man’s return to the place of his birth.

Authors Night is sponsored by Philippine Expressions Bookshop.


Beaver Martin Barril

Like most Filipino migrants in New York, Beaver Martin Barril was middle-class in the Philippines, a regional sales manager for a networking company. He ran for Davao City councilor in 2001 under the party of Mayor Rodrigo Duterte, Hugpong sa Katawhan, with Bayan Muna Partylist, on a platform of good governance and transparency. Because of the economy under former President Joseph Estrada, he was forced to migrate to the U.S.

In New York, Barril found work as a personal driver for Citibank executive Marshal Salant and his family. That’s where he experienced the exploitative work conditions and racism faced by thousands of immigrant workers employed directly by New York’s wealthy and business class, according to a press statement provided by Damayan Migrant Workers Association.

“Because of my status, Salant exploited me by making me work long hours with verbal abuse. I was able to survive for almost three years working with him,” Barril said in the statement. “You cannot complain because you’re going to get fired, and I need a job to survive in America. Until one day he told me, ‘From now on, you cannot have your lunch break. If you want to eat, do it inside the car.’ I told him, ‘I am not a robot, I am a human being!’ And he threatened to fire me. So I told him, ‘I quit, because there’s no way I can work effectively if you don’t treat me as a human being.’”

With the assistance of Damayan and the Urban Justice Center Community Development Project, Barril demanded his “stolen” wages for three years and won his case.

“Many workers in New York, particularly domestic workers, have wages stolen by their employer or suffer from poor working conditions like Martin did,” said Nicole Hallett, a staff attorney at the Urban Justice Center. “However, Martin’s case is proof that workers can stand up for their rights.”

“Martin’s claim is part of over $325,000 we’ve won back in our pursuit of wage justice for Filipino workers,” said Leah Obias, case manager and community organizer of Damayan. “Overall we are seeing more workers with wage theft cases, abrupt terminations, and reduction of hours. We’re seeing more trafficking cases with severe exploitation. This is all part of the global economic crisis. It’s connected to the union-busting in Wisconsin, the public sector worker lay-offs, and the increase in racist enforcement measures in immigrant communities. It’s really an urgent call for a highly organized response.”

“When we encounter this kind of abuse and exploitation we don’t just keep quiet,” Barril concluded. “We have to fight back for our rights. It doesn’t matter even if you are undocumented, you still have your rights as a worker.”

A February 2011 press statement on residential solar power identified Salant as head of Citi’s Alternative Energy Finance Group.

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