More on 2012 LA Times Festival of Books

Another chance to meet authors who were featured during 2012 Authors Night:

Ofelia V. Dirige & Aurora S. Cudal,  Cecilia Gaerlan, Theodore S. Gonzalves, Greceila Jota, Paulino Lim, Jr., Carina Monica Montoya, Donna Miscolta, Ruben Nepales, Quirico S. Samonte and Susan Vance, guest author

Other Participating Authors:

Elnora Kelly Tayag, Filipinos in Ventura County


Myrna Mulhern,  Abadeha; The Philippine Cinderella


Ludy Astraquillo Ongkeko, Forty Years of Writing in America


Albert Mortiz, Discover the Philippines Cookbook

Guest Author:

Jay WertzThe Pacific. Volume 1. Pearl Harbor to Guadalcanal. War Stories: WWII Firsthand


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2012 Authors Night

To Celebrate the Printed and Spoken Words

and to launch ten new works by Filipino American Authors

Ofelia V. Dirige & Aurora S. Cudal, Rachelle Cruz, Cecilia Gaerlan,
Theodore S. Gonzalves, Greceila Jota, Paulino Lim, Jr., Carina Monica Montoya,
Donna Miscolta, Ruben Nepales, Quirico S. Samonte and Susan Vance, guest author

Friday, April 20, 2012    6:00pm – 9:00pm
Community Hall, Asian Pacific American Legal Center
1145 Wilshire Boulevard, corner Lucas Street, Los Angeles, CA 90017

Free and Open to the Public. RSVP is requested. (310) 514-9139

Free parking available at the rooftop of APALC building after 5:30pm. There is also street parking; additional parking for a fee is available at Good Samaritan parking structure next to the APALC building. Entrances to both APALC and GS parking are on Lucas.


 Special Thanks

To  Asian Pacific American Legal Center and most especially to our host for the evening, Atty. Carmina OcampoMaraming salamat for your nurturing and generosity of spirit towards to our Bookshop and to the whole Filipino American community in Los Angeles! You are a role model for our young people and we are blessed to have someone like you in the community.


Authors and their Books

The following authors will talk and read from their book (s). There will be booksigning sessions during Authors Night and at our Booth # 024 during the LA Times Festival of Books at USC Campus, April 21-22. Please refer to Booksigning Schedule posted in this blog. Do come and join us to Meet and Greet our Fil Am Authors. Your presence means support for their creative talents and it will be a source of inspiration to them.

Ofelia V. Dirige and Aurora S. Cudal
are co-authors of Global Filipino Cuisine: Healthy Recipes. This is a revised edition of their 2009 book which was published with the late Dr Riz A. Oades. It now contains 100 modified choices complete with nutrient analysis, and the book is the authors’ contribution to healthy eating in the Filipino American community.

Rachelle Cruz is from Hayward, California.  Her chapbook, Self-Portrait as Rumor and Blood was recently published by Dancing Girl Press.  Her work has appeared in Muzzle Magazine, Splinter Generation, KCET’s Departures Series, Inlandia: A Literary Journey, among others.  She hosts “The Blood-Jet Writing Hour” Radio Show on Blog Talk Radio. An Emerging Voices Fellow, a Kundiman Fellow and a VONA writer, she lives and writes in Riverside, California.

Cecilia Ilano Gaerlan is a multi-awarded Bay Area playwright and author of several plays on a wide variety of topics. In Her Mother’s Image is her debut novel. A long-awaited journey back to the land of her birth unleashed the floodgates of Chiquita’s painful childhood memories of World War II in the Philippines. The book has been adopted for a screenplay.

Theodore S. Gonzalves, Ph. D. is an Associate Professor of American Studies at the University of Maryland in Baltimore County. His two latest books are The Filipinos in Hawaii (part of the Series on Images of America and co-authored with Roderick N. Labrador)  which captures in black and white the history of Filipinos in the islands and how they became “Hawayanos” over time, and Carlos Villa and the Integrity of Spaces which is a definitive work on the artist, educator, curator and author. This book ensures Villa’s rightful place in the art and cultural history of America. His other books include Stage Presence: Conversations with Filipino American Performing Artists  and The Day the Dancers Stayed: Performing in the Filipino/American Diaspora .

 Greceila Jota. Popularly known as Grace, she holds a masters degree in Education and a Diploma in Theology. Along with her husband of thirty-one years, she is a Bible Study leader. Her book, The Deliverer is her first novel. It  is about love, materialism, and challenges faced by unbelievers, rich and famous. It exposed a love triangle between Dun Rosenberg, a prominent Jew turned atheist, and his son, Alex. Both fell in love with Phyllis, who was engaged to be married to Brad Dennison, a church minister. Tragedy came, but once we allow deliverance to begin, we never know where it will end. Author lives in Sydney, Australia.  

 Paulino Lim, Jr was chairman of the English Department of CSU-Long Beach where he taught for several years. Now retired, he writes fiction as a hobby and his latest novel is Death of the English Zen Professor. A British professor at an American university is found dead on a meditation cushion in his office by Neil Saguisag, the Filipino chairman of the English Department. The novel takes the point of view of Neil as it “investigates” a murder, divorce, and postcolonial education. His other books include four novels: Tiger Orchid on Mount Mayon; Sparrows Don’t Sing in the Philippines; Requiem for a Rebel Priest; Ka Gaby, Nom de Guerre; two short story collections, Passion Summer and Other Stories, and Curacao Cure and Other Stories, and Menage Filipinescas: a Play in Three Acts.

Carina Monica Montoya. Her latest book is Santa Maria Valley (part of the series, Images of America) which she co-authored with the Santa Maria Valley Historical Society. The book has made mention of the Filipino farm workers who have worked on the rich agricultural fields of this Valley. Also known as Carina Forsythe, her other books include Los Angeles’ Historic Filipinotown; Filipinos in Hollywood and a juvenile cookbook, Let’s Cook Adobo!

Donna Miscolta has received many awards and her fiction has appeared in literary journals. Her short story collection Natalie Wood’s Fake Puerto Rican Accent was a finalist for the 2010 Grace Paley Prize for Short Fiction. Her debut novel, When the De la Cruz Family Danced is an all-familiar story of how immigrants carry the heavy burdens of family life in America, welding the past into the present. You will love the journey of the De la Cruz family.

Ruben Nepales’ “deftly-written stories of Filipino-American personalities, The Philippines in Hollywood showcase his masterful craft of writing. It comes from his persistent, disciplined, dogged hard work of interviews and honed by his writing experience of more than three decades. This book takes you on a global journey with these mostly Filipino-American talents that include an executive chef in the White House. In his pieces, Ruben reveals their gentle spirits which mirror his generosity of spirit as well.” – Prosy Abarquez-Delacruz, J.D. Columnist, Asian Journal Press and writer, Balikbayan Magazine – 

Quirico S. Samonte. He is a Professor Emeritus, Eastern Michigan University, and  a graduate of the University of the Philippines and the University of Michigan.  His book of fiction, Panagani means harvest time in Ilocano. It is about ordinary people who try to make sense of their fears and frustrations, bound to injustices committed by rich agrarian landlords and the corrupt political system that exists. Since many Filipinos today still suffer the same fate, this is almost the story of Filipinos living in the countrysides. His other books  include At the Table with the Family, and Not at the Table, Please! Both books of narratives about growing up in the Philippines are entertaining, and were illustrated by his wife, Judy.

 Susan Vance.  Tropic Born War Torn: Untold Tales of WWII in the Philippines as retold by Susan Vance. This is the story of her mother,  Gloria Haube whose family was living in the Philippines when war broke out in 1941. A story of romance, gold-mining ventures, and idyllic lifestyles torn asunder by the Japanese invasion of the Philippines. Near war’s end they followed indigenous Igorots into remote mountains to seek refuge from American bombs, living on sweet potatoes until their harrowing escape from retreating Japanese troops. As a journalist, Susan Vance developed an active interest in documenting history.


Tropic Born War Torn

TITLE:  Tropic Born  War Torn

AUTHOR: Susan Vance

PUBLISHER:  Inkwater Press

123 pages


While the scope and horror of war can never be fully realized, personal life stories encourage one to learn history surrounding these events. The author’s mother and grandfather, Gloria Haube Vance and William Haube, were caught up in the Japanese invasion of the Philippines during World War II. On the evening of Gloria’s engagement party, December 7, 1941, her life changed direction and she was plunged into survival mode. Reinforcements for the Philippines were diverted to protect Hawaii after the Pearl Harbor attack, leaving the Philippines to the Japanese. Gloria’s fiancé was captured, endured the Bataan death march — only to die on a Japanese ship bombed by American planes.

“Against these odds you try to survive, always at the mercy of the whims of the invaders.  Failure to carry out their orders offered only the prospect of horrible torture or death. Blanketing all of one’s mental and physical suffering is the endless feeling of fear that you live with 24 hours a day.”

Gloria’s story is augmented by the diary of her father, who managed a mine taken over by the Japanese. The photographs bring authenticity to the straightforward narration. Even though there are hundreds of books about this period of the bloody battle for the Philippines, this compelling story could have been helped along by greater historical context, better maps and reference to the ongoing battles. Since 1521, the Philippines have been colonized and battered by wars. The heroes of the book are the two natives who hide, shelter, and feed the Haube family. The natives and Japanese are referred to by pejoratives commonly used at that time. This book will ultimately lead the reader to an interest in this fascinating part of the world and the rollercoaster ride of war, subjugation, and liberation, along with the nightmares caused by war.

2012 LA Times Festival of Books

Our Bookshop has participated in the LA Times Festival of Books since 1997 and this is now our sixteenth year at the Festival. We started with just a couple of Filipino American authors and we are happy to present  a total of 14 authors this year, and two Americans who had written Philippine-related titles, for a total of 21 books. They come from different parts of the US – Ann Arbor in Michigan, Los Angeles, Long Beach, San Francisco, San Diego,  Seattle, Tucson in Arizona, Washington DC. And one  is coming all the way from Australia! Our writers in the diaspora are blooming, especially where the soil has been most hospitable!

We are glad to be part of the cultural scene of the City of Los Angeles all these years. And we are happy to fulfill our Bookshop’s vision to provide a home for Philippine writings in North America. In 1972, when martial law was declared in the Philippines, we provided a home for Philippine writings when we opened Casalinda Bookshop in San Antonio Plaza, Forbes Park, in the City of Makati. Casalinda Bookshop was closed in 1984 when owner Linda Nietes decided to migrate to the US. She settled in Westwood Village close to UCLA and reopened it as Philippine Expressions Bookshop.  And forty years later, of which 28 years were in American soil, the mail order bookshop which specializes in Filipiniana is still going strong. 

Thank you for your support and we continue to seek it as we present new programs that make a difference in the cultural life of Filipinos in the diaspora. Please support Filipino American authors as we find our place in the literary map of mainstream America! Inspire our authors with your presence and have a book autographed for your private library when you visit us at the Festival. Do come and bring your family and friends.

Philippine Expressions Bookshop
Booth # 024
T1 Section, Trousdale Parkway, along Exposition Boulevard
USC Campus, Los Angeles

For details on the Festival, visit
For maps and direction of USC Campus, visit


Saturday, April 21

11:00am – 12:00pm
Ofelia V. Dirige and Aurora S. Cudal, co-authors, Global Filipino Cuisine: Healthy Recipes 
Elnora Kelly Tayag, Filipinos in Ventura County

12:00 noon – 1:00pm
Greceila Jota, The Deliverer: A Novel
Paulino Lim, Jr., Death of the English Zen Professor: A Novel
Quirico S. Samonte, Panagani (Harvest Time): A Short Story written in English.
Theodore S. Gonzalves, His latest books are Filipinos in Hawai’i (part of the Images of America Series  and co-authored with Roderick N. Labrador); Carlos Villa and the Integrity of Spaces: Essays on Villa’s Art. His other books are LifeStage Presence: Conversations with Filipino American Performing Artists;  The Day the Dancers Stayed: Performing in the Filipino American Diaspora;

1:00pm – 2:00pm
Donna Miscolta, When the De la Cruz Family Danced: A Novel
Greceila Jota
Paulino Lim, Jr.
Theodore S. Gonzalves

2:00pm – 3:00pm
Cecilia Gaerlan, In Her Mother’s Image: A Novel on WWII in the Philippines
Jay Wertz, The Pacific. Volume 1. Pearl Harbor to Guadalcanal. War Stories: WWII Firsthand.
Donna Miscolta
Quirico S. Samonte

3:00pm – 4:00pm
Carina Monica Montoya, Her latest book is Santa Maria Valley (part of the series, Images of America). Her other books are  Filipinos in Hollywood  (part of the Images of America Series ); Los Angeles’ Historic Filipinotown (part of the Images of America Series); Let’s Cook Adobo, a juvenile cookbook
Susan Vance, Tropic Born War Torn: Untold Tales of WWII in the Philippines
Cecilia Gaerlan
Jay Wertz

4:00pm – 5:00pm
Elnora Kelly Tayag
Jay Wertz

Susan Vance
Carina Monica Montoya

Sunday, April 22

12:00 noon – 1:00pm
Albert J. Mortiz, Discover the Philippines Cookbook
Ludy Astraquillo Ongkeko, Forty Years of Writing in America
Myrna Mulhern, Abadeha, The Philippine Cinderella
Jay Wertz

1:00pm – 2:00pm
Greceila Jota
Donna Miscolta
Quirico S. Samonte
Ludy Astraquillo Ongkeko

2:00pm – 3:00pm
Ruben Nepales, My Filipino Connection: The Philippines in Hollywood
Greceila Jota
Donna Miscolta
Albert Mortiz

3:00pm – 4:00pm
Quirico S. Samonte
Jay Wertz
Myrna Mulhern
Ruben Nepales

If you will be unable to attend the Festival, we accept orders for autographed copies of the titles mentioned above. Just email:


Forty Years Of Writing in America

 TITLE: Forty Years Of Writing In America

AUTHOR: Ludy Astraquillo Ongkeko

PUBLISHER: Jack Bacon & Company (Reno, Nevada)

449 pages


REVIEW PUBLISHED IN PHILIPPINE NEWS (April 11, 2009)  By Allen Gaborro

There is something rather intimate about Dr. Ludy Astraquillo Ongkeko’s most recent book, “Forty Years Of Writing In America.” The work not only has a contemplative and reflective aura about it. It also, especially with subsequent readings, radiates with a personal tone and gravity that touches on the author’s collective experiences as a Filipino in America. Ongkeko’s experiences, much of which came about as a writer and as a teacher, span some forty years and two very different, yet historically- interrelated cultures and societies.

The immediate image that emerges out of “Forty Years Of Writing In America” is one of Ongkeko as a female émigré who strongly identifies with both her Filipino heritage and with the United States, which is for her “a new world renewed.” Ongkeko sees America this way because she initially lived in the US before returning to the Philippines. She eventually chose to settle back in the former. With both the Filipino culture and the American ethos having an active and constant presence in her life, it was to be expected that Ongkeko would ponder whether Filipino immigrants should say “Home is where the heart is,” or ask if “Home is where its hearth is?”

Several key themes are expounded on in “Forty Years Of Writing In America,” all of which have been painstakingly chronicled and organized by its author. It is Ongkeko’s intent to disseminate these pertinent themes to Filipinos back home and to Filipinos in the US so that they can ruminate over them and gain a more thorough awareness of their bifurcated identity.

As a citizen of both the Philippines and then later, of the United States, Ongkeko was deeply sensitive to the swirl of contending influences she was exposed to. Ongkeko’s reading of her own sense of culture shock in America is quite perceptive and alert to the multitude of factors that inform how an expatriate like herself registers the world around them. Ongkeko reminds us that there is no perfect formula for dealing with the effects of culture shock. Rather, she thinks that perhaps it is the peculiarities of an individual personality that constitute the primary elements that will make all the difference in fathoming and integrating into a new culture.

Ongkeko received her education first at the University of the Philippines and then as a graduate student at the University of Southern California (USC). As a university student, Ongkeko shared a passion with her contemporaries from other Filipino families for learning and getting a college education. In “Forty Years Of Writing In America,” she speaks to this passion as she quotes Philippine Consul General Armando C. Fernandez: “a college diploma ranks as the number one ornament in any [Filipino] home.”

Ongkeko continued to envision education as a worthwhile investment as she passed on its intrinsic value to her children. Ongkeko’s three children excelled in graduate school, something that came as a relief to her for she was concerned upon her emigration to the US that they might “veer away from education.”

Contemplatively, Ongkeko imagines an alternative definition of the American Dream that does not correspond with how it has been traditionally defined. How she visualizes the American Dream is based on a less materialistic perspective than what American society has predominantly become accustomed to: “Answers pertaining to the fabled American dream are not all tangible; that dream is not measured in possessing grand real estate properties; it is not evaluated by bank deposits; it is not measured by material comforts.” Ongkeko also writes that “the quest was for that one yardstick which involved attaining higher education,” an aspiration that she cared deeply about for herself and for her children.

“Forty Years Of Writing In America” is a cornucopia of historical narratives, autobiographical sketches, social and political commentary, and observations on personal, everyday activities like cooking and the raising of a family. Other than a bicultural and bi-national dialectic that is crafted into her book, finding a common thread in Ongkeko’s wide-ranging work is not as easy as it looks since she apparently projected it to be many things to many people.

But this refrain from putting forth a singular thesis is balanced by Ongkeko’s dedication and uncompromising focus on the various issues and positions that unite Filipinos and Filipino Americans of every generation, political persuasion, and socio-economic background.