Be Pushing Up Daisies

There's a hand hangin' in the sky and it's a-wavin' goodbye.

How To Survive A Super Typhoon


For the past five months, I’ve been obsessively researching and refining this long essay for Buzzfeed. One of the places Filipinos talk about amongst themselves after every devastating typhoon is Batanes, the remotest region of the country. The residents of Batanes are the Ivatans. They know how to survive, and even thrive, during storms. They know, in short, how to do. My working title for the rough draft was “The People of the Storm.”

I spent a chilly Christmas and sunny New Year’s alone in Batanes, learning to ride a scooter and making new friends as I observed and talked and took notes and photos. I continued research in Quezon City as I corresponded with editors in New York. It was a beautiful and surprisingly emotional process. I returned home wanting to learn how to garden. I returned home more sensitive than ever about the fragility of my mother’s country, the home I’ve chosen.

Tammy David took the ridiculously gorgeous photographs, scolded me when I grew too sentimental, and taught me new Filipino slang words. (OA, for example: “overacting.”)

The Buzzfeed editors chose to open with an excerpt from a poem I found in an old, out-of-print anthology of Laji poems, compiled by historian Florentino Hornedo. Laji is the oral tradition of sung poetry in Batanes. Here is the full version of the poem:

As I await the budding forth of the shoot of
            the bamboo I planted;
Then comes the storm that breaks it,
Then comes the thunder a’rumbling,
Then comes the lightning flaring,
And then downpours the heavy rain.

But the lightning is my torch, the thunder beats
            the cadence of my steps,
And for my walking cane the rain; and then comes, alas!
The river flood washing her away to the deep sea!

So I weep tears of clotting blood bewailing my loss!

The weather is so simple, and yet so complex, in how it shapes us. Much like love, I suppose. (Getting sentimental again. Sorry for my OA, Tammy.)

(Actually I’m not that sorry.)


Hopper updated, Andy Leipzig


Hopper updated, Andy Leipzig


Leslie Jamison at McNally-Jackson, 4/16/14


Leslie Jamison at McNally-Jackson, 4/16/14

(via writinguniversity)


Beehive Heart

written by Petra Magno

Petra is probably one of the best, most interesting people I know, and it’ll be a bummer to see her gone. She’s leaving for New York and I’ll miss her so.

Background on this comic: We were hanging out in a coffee shop. Petra was trying to explain how she was dealing with being diagnosed with Bipolar disorder. Somewhere in that conversation we came up with a metaphor for how othe people have gardens inside them and she has a hive of bees for a heart. She decided to write a comic around that. And here we are. 

Anonymous said: I was wondering if you had any advice to white authors for writing a main character of color. Its something that I've always wanted to do, because it honestly bothers me that so many stories are focused around white characters. But its not something I've ever been able to do for the fact that I don't want to whitewash a character. I want to write a Korean female and I want to do it as well as I can. Are there certain things I should avoid, and other things that should be paid attention to?


good question. I think the key to making a good character of color is just…  regular old character building. which requires research & creativity.

like, “korean” — are we talking a korean who has always lived in korea? the children of korean immigrants to america? a third generation korean-australian? depending on the answer, your research topic will be different.

also ask yourself: why do i picture this character as a korean? does her korean-ness have something to do with the way i see her personality?

if so, really interrogate why this character is korean. is it because the character’s supposed to be meek & pretty, and it’s easy to see her as asian? if so, try to go deeper than that.

like i’ve written before, stereotypes are just bad writing, even if they’re not in a racialized context. like a nerdy character with glasses. or a hero who’s an orphan. boooooring.

doesn’t mean you can’t write a nerdy character with glasses or a hero who’s an orphan — or a korean girl who’s shy. just means you have to be extra creative and do your research to make this character complex.

if you really think your character through, then it will be next to impossible to write them as a stereotype.

random sketch
Selene, Before Sunrise
I’m standing still again.