detail from Labels for Hair Ribbons by Manuel Ocampo a delectable selection of oriental appetizers
Friday, July 26, 2002


: . Retail Therapy II:

An update on the previous post regarding my Filipiniana book-buying binge: After special ordering a few books from this wonderful bookshop in Los Angeles (the best prices and the best customer service in the US, trust me), I vowed never to buy another Philippine-related book again since I'm running short of cash and I still have more important things (like textbooks and the rent) to spend my money on. Until I found this book. Now I really am an accidental African-Americanist. In the past couple of years, I've spent half of my waking hours either reading about or writing on some aspect of African-American literature or African-American history. (How this happened should be the subject of a future post.) I've therefore viewed my readings on Philippine culture and history less as a nationalist infatuation and more as a diversion from a discipline where I'll always be an outsider and rightfully so. And suddenly this summer. I know, I've posted something on this before but its really worth rehashing, if only to relieve some of my frustrations. The small town I'm in has a Manila Avenue and since this town is near Camp David, the US Naval Academy, and the Pentagon I'm always bumping into active or retired military types who always seem to have an insulting Philippine story to tell. Then there are the plain ignorant, non-military types who also have Philippine stories to tell:
So you're from the Philippines? My wife and I just went on a cruise and everyone on the staff was from there. They were very efficient. Always gave us good service. Good people, those Filipinos...
A few minutes after I was told this, I got called "boy" (in that Gone With the Wind tone) for the first time in my life. I was telling my mom and my Swiss step-father this and after my mom gave a tirade on all those "stupid white people" my step-dad tells her (and me):
Oh you people are just like blacks. Every little thing and you blame racism for it. Why don't you just go on with your business rather than waste your time complaining. If you spent your half-a-brain (!) on yourself rather than on what others say then...
And so on. I guess he learned to 12 -step his way through life from all those AA meetings he attends. Petty problems require petty solutions. Hence the book-buying binge. Some other books I'm looking forward to:

By the way, for some strange reason I now have two copies of Ambeth Ocampo's Rizal Without the Overcoat: the 2000 'Expanded Edition' and the 1996 'Revised Edition.' Of course, I'm keeping the latest edition but if anyone out there (who's in the US) wants the earlier edition you can have it. I'll even photocopy the additional essays that have been added to the book since 1996 and mail the book to you. Free of charge. First come, first serve. You'll only have to wait until the middle of August when I get back to my apartment.

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