Eileen R. Tabios is a poet working in multiple genres and in-between. She also loves books by writing, reading, publishing, critiquing, romancing and advocating for them. This blog will feature her bibliophilic activities with posts on current book engagements and links to her books and projects related to books.

Thursday, February 20, 2020


for the short story collection
Spring 2020 Release from Paloma Press (San Mateo)
ISBN-13: 978-1732302549

Paloma Press is pleased to announce a Special Release Offer for Eileen R. Tabios’ soon-to-be-released short story collection, PAGPAG: The Dictator’s Aftermath in the Diaspora. Normally priced at $18.00, this short story collection is now available for order for $16 through Amazon.  

Alternatively, if you wish a signed copy, you also can order one for the same price direct from the author; contact Eileen Tabios at Galateaten at gmail dot com  If you order two or more copies from the author, shipping will be free within the U.S.

Book Description
“Pagpag” is the practice of scavenging through trash heaps for discarded food that the poor then attempts to clean and re-cook for new meals. Pagpag heart-wrenchingly symbolizes the effects of a corrupt government unable to take care of—indeed, abusing—its people. PAGPAG’s stories, while not overtly addressing this radical torture of cuisine, relate to what lurks within the stew created by a dictator’s actions. The aftermath is not always obvious like the imprisoned, the tortured, or the salvaged (murdered); the aftermath goes deep to affect even future generations in a diaspora facilitated by corruption, incompetence, and venality. 

Eileen R. Tabios wrote “protest stories” from 1995-2001 against Ferdinand Marcos’ martial law in the Philippines, including “Tapey” which was read for Hawai’i Public Radio. These stories, except for a 2019 story written as a coda, form her new short story collection, PAGPAG. As indicated by its subtitle The Dictator’s Aftermath in the Diaspora, the collection presents stories from the points of view of children brought out of the Philippines by their parents (or other adults) in response to the Marcos dictatorship—children who grew up watching and listening to adults remember the homeland they left behind and who, as adults, can more fully articulate the effect of their histories. 


Advance Words
 “Pagpag” is a Tagalog word I used growing up to dust off a pillow or a blanket. Now it is used to refer to garbage food scavenged, recooked and resold to poor people. In her short story collection, Eileen Tabios uses both contexts to bridge her personal history with Martial Law and add texture to our already failed historical memory. These stories matter to us more than ever, as many Filipinos struggle under the tight grip of another populist, and as many more have forgotten that we have seen this before, and time is eating its own tail. Tabios begins her poignant collection with a “mamau” (ghost) and reminds us the historical past is not a ghost but a reality we carry with us if we can only see it as such. 
—Bino A. Realuyo, author of The Umbrella Country and The Gods We Worship Live Next Door

Pagpag is a provocation, connoting both debris and creative refashioning of memory fragments from the Marcos dictatorship—a legacy that, in the words of Philippine nationalist historian Renato Constantino, remains ruefully “a continuing past,” especially in today’s Duterteland. Here, the remains of the regime, like rescued reminiscences of an era preferred forgotten but not lost are gathered anew in a compelling telling, this time from the lens of a diasporic exile. In this volume, Eileen Tabios captures in scintillating prose the sights, smells, sounds, and ghostly hauntings of that era and offers back to the homeland, as in the gift of a proverbial balikbayan box, her reflections both heartfelt and wrenching. 
—S. Lily Mendoza, Executive Director, Center for Babaylan Studies, Associate Professor in Culture and Communication, Oakland University, and author of Between the Homeland and the Diaspora: The Politics of Theorizing Filipino and Filipino American Identities 

In these stories Eileen Tabios explores the ways in which the collective experience of Filipinos echoes through generations, following us even if—or when—we drift worlds away from the archipelago. What is the legacy of government cruelty and greed, of poverty, struggle, unwanted uprooting? In the first story (“Negros”), the abject hunger of an ancestor reaches through time to shape the mind and body of a young boy. In the last story (“On Imitating a Rhinoceros”), a daughter watches helplessly as her old father clings to a wavering belief that leaving his homeland was the right thing to do. I recognize myself and my family in these pieces; I am seen and heard. Moving and necessary, this collection invites the reader to grapple with truths in all their difficult, complex beauty. 
—Veronica Montes, author of Benedicta Takes Wing and Other Stories and The Conquered Sits at the Bus Stop, Waiting 

In this collection of short fiction, author Eileen Tabios contemplates the terrible distances (emotional as well as physical) imposed on Philippine citizens by the country’s colonial governments and postcolonial dictators, abetted by global capitalism. In protest, the central metaphor of Pagpag, “scavenging through trash heaps for discarded food that the poor then attempt to clean and re-cook for new meals,” speaks to various forms of hunger as well as desire for transformation. Brilliantly weaving comedy, satire and elegy, the stories echo tricksterish folk tales, but with a contemporary, introspective edge. Don’t be fooled by seemingly nostalgic peeks into the Philippines’ archipelagic culture: this book cuts deep into long-held illusions, exposing painful truth. 
—Jean Vengua, author of Prau and CORPOREAL, and editor of Local Nomad 

Monday, February 17, 2020


Deep gratitude to the professor-poet Rupert Loydell for using 1,000 Views of ‘Girl Singing’ as a writing prompt for his students at Falmouth University. 1,000 Views..., curated by John Bloomberg-Rissman presents as its core my poem "The Secret Life of an Angel" as well as Jose Garcia Villa's "Girl Singing." Rupert says:

“The work will be produced as part of our new WRITING AS A READER first year module on the Creative Writing degree at Falmouth University, which considers writing about, back to, from and responding to texts of all kinds (including written, spoken, the visual, aural, as well as poetry, fiction and non-fiction) including reversionary writing, collage, reviewing, adaptation, pastiche and parody, using texts as source material (literally and thematically), creative responses, as well as critical responses. It also considers genre, information content, point of view, tone and literary context.”

The poems are up at Zeitgeist Spam (thanks JBR for posting). These are always a lot of fun!  Go to link to see all poems but I feature below the three in non-English languages: Huttese (language of Jaba the Hutt from “Star Wars”), Klingon, and Afrikaans.

1000 Views of 'Girl, Singing' poem: "Doe secret life of an angel (--after jose garcia villa’s “girl singing…”)" by Kieran Blake

Doe secret life of an angel (--after jose garcia villa’s “girl singing…”) girl singing. Day. Doe old nek of winter reaches che immortality gee do lengthening shadow despite myo skipping neechu. Girl singing! Mee insist. Day! Mee chant like doe babaylan mee will become tah jeeska doe clouds tuta dimming doe sun, tuta milking doe sky of its cobalt gaze. He has worn many disguises, um mee have let him: doe original angel coo fell um fell. “it’s do grandio ride, ” he has whispered as part of his spell. “this sa do game of poker mee have lost, but noah longer waba tah play, ” mee reply. Girl singing. Day. Mee insist um proclaim: “u cannot scoff, myo secret demon. Che mee played gee high stakes while u only watched.” girl singing. Day. Mee risked everything while u hedged so mee could sing notes only virgin boys can muster, only fearlful dogs can hear. Mee lost magoosa noleeya doe ‘valley of evil’ but myo wings unfurled tah make je rise. Unlike do wings, mine did nopa betray— unfurling as mee changed myo mind che heaven nearer than do breath neechu.
[Note: in Huttese (language of Jabba the Hutt from “Star Wars”)--Kieran Blake] 

1000 Views of 'Girl, Singing' poem: boQqa'pu' yIn pegh (-qaSpu'DI' jose garcia villa "bom be'Hom …")" by Jake Leins

be'Hom bom. jaj. loD qan.

SIch winter immortality
lengthen QIb
lubotbe' skipping Ha'.

be'Hom bom! qap. jaj!
bom jIH rur babaylan
moj chen pol

vo' pemHov, HuvHa' vo'
chal cobalt nIm
gaze. law' 'uj

ghaH yInISQo' jech, je.
original boQqa'pu' pum 'Iv
'ej pum. "pujbe' lIgh."

tlhup, 'ej ghaH je 'ay' qabDaj
spell. "ghotvam'e' poker Qujmey
lujta' jIH, 'ach qawlu' vIneH

QujmeH, "jang jIH. be'Hom bom.
jaj. SoHvaD qap 'ej maq.
"pegh pagh scoff, SoH

veqlargh. chu' jIH jenwI'
stakes poStaHvIS neH legh tlhIH. "
be'Hom bom. jaj. bISuDqu' 'e' jIH

Hoch poStaHvIS hedged SoH
vaj notes laH bom jIH
laH muster neH virgin loDHom.

laH Qoy neH yoHbogh vay' choqlu' Ha'DIbaH.
jIH neH luj jIH ngech
mIgh 'ach tel unfurled

jIHvaD Hu'DI' loD DavoqmoHDI'. unlike
tel, wej magh vIghaj —
unfurl Hoch yab choH jIH

'u' latlhmey paQDI'norgh luchenmoHmeH puS tlhuH Ha'.

[Note: "my version of "secret life of an angel" in "Klingon" from “Star Trek"--Jake Leins]

Meisie sing. Dag. Die
ou man

van die winter bereik
met 'n verlengde
ten spyte daarvan dat
ek weggespring het.

Meisie sing! Ek dring
daarop aan. Dag!
Ek sing soos die
Babaylan wat ek sal
word om die wolke te

van die son verdof,
die lug van sy kobalt
staar. Hy het baie

vermom, en ek het
hom laat staan:
die oorspronklike
engel wat geval het
en geval het. 'Dit is 'n
heerlike rit,'

het hy
gefluister as
deel van syne
spel. 'Dit is 'n spel
Ek het verloor, maar
wil nie meer nie

om te speel,
”antwoord ek. Meisie
Dag. Ek dring aan en
'Jy kan nie spot nie,
my geheim

demoon. Want ek het
met hoog gespeel
terwyl jy net gekyk
het. ” Meisie sing. Dag. Ek
het gewaag

alles terwyl jy
verskans het
sodat ek note kon sing
slegs maagde seuns
kan saamspeel,

net angswekkende
honde kan hoor.
Ek het myself verloor
in die 'vallei
van die kwaad ', maar
my vlerke het

om my te laat
opstaan. Anders as u
vleuels, myne het nie
verraai nie—
terwyl ek van plan

vir die hemel nader as
'n asem weg.