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A space to encourage writing of Filipino American literature and the arts




Philippine American Writers and Artists blog for lit/arts events, reviews, news, and opportunities.

Please Consider Sponsoring Janice Lobo Sapigao's microchips for millions (Fall 2016 Release)


Dear friends and community, PAWA is proud to be publishing Janice Lobo Sapigao's full-length debut collection, microchips for millions, which will be released this fall 2016.

Here are poems from this powerful and important collection:

the assembly line

my mother is a fab operator

four days a week
ma gets up at four a.m.
boils hot water in a kettle
showers before it screams
ready for coffee
watches the news as she
pulls on her clothes –

jeans and a simple tee
enough to soak up
twelve-hour sweat resting in
orthopedic shoes that
amplify the need for
health benefits & overtime

ma is always on the frontline
of the silicon valley’s shadow
one of thousands of women
whose nimble fingers and
silenced grumbling spin
microchips for millions
powering laptops and
cell phones that she herself
does not find intuitive enough to use

at the end of every day
she watches the filipino channel
her swollen feet elevated
on the living room couch –
a luxury she buys herself
and her family

in my environmental racism class
professor pellow showed a map
of my neighborhood in san jose, ca:
there were red dots next to the
mcdonald’s grumma worked at,
near my elementary school, one
above the block of ma’s workplace

he said the dots indicated toxic waste sites, said immigrant women were on the front line of exploitation

ma says she’s a fab operator

i know she’s an assembly line worker

the union


my mother’s boss
was fired today
after nineteen years
with the company,
they cited failure
to meet deadlines
and production goals

…and ma doesn’t know
what they’re talking about

because they’ve worked over time
and they’ve scheduled
less workers

and ma asked,
if i were her
would i fight?

…and ma always fights.


her boss told them not to
that speaking out was
risking their jobs
that human resources
doesn’t like questions


the silicon valley is largely anti-union
the long hours,
hiring practices,
and runaway jobs
would be unjust
under labor laws.

my mother sees patterns,
says the new CEO is from intel,
that he hires anyone
who’s worked there.
ma jokes that even her workplace
has intel inside.
ma and her co-workers
come together to raise funds
print flyers and
meet secretly
to throw

their former boss
a pizza party.

Janice Lobo Sapigao is a daughter of Filipina/o immigrants.  Her first book, microchips for millions, critiques the Silicon Valley and its exploitation of immigrant women workers (Philippine American Writers and Artists, Inc. 2016). Her second book, like a solid to a shadow, about fatherlessness, grieving, and family lineages is forthcoming from Timeless, Infinite Light. She is author of the chapbook toxic city (tinder tender press, 2015). She is a VONA/Voices Fellow and was awarded a Manuel G. Flores Prize, PAWA Scholarship to the Kundiman Poetry Retreat. The Associate Editor of TAYO Literary Magazine, and a co-founder of Sunday Jump, an open mic in Los Angeles’s Historic Filipinotown; her work has also been published in numerous publications including Jacket2, The Volta,, and Action, Yes! as well anthologies such as Talking Back and Looking Forward: Poetry and Prose for Social Justice in Education (Rowman & Littlefield, 2015) and Empire of Funk: Hip Hop and Representation in Filipina/o America (Cognella Academic Publishing, 2014). She earned her M.F.A. in Writing from CalArts, and she has a B.A. in Ethnic Studies with Honors from UC San Diego. She teaches English at San José City College and Skyline College. Janice loves playing with stuffed animals, runs races occasionally, and frequents local, small mom + pop coffee shops. If you want, you can learn more at

We are asking for community support, in the form of sponsorship for this title! As you may know, publishing is a costly endeavor, and so anything you are able to contribute will be much appreciated! 

100% of proceeds will go towards production of Janice Lobo Sapigao's first full length book. You will be acknowledged on the publication's Acknowledgments page. 

Maraming salamat po!


GUEST POST: Barbara Jane Reyes, Work in Progress: Rules for Ladies


I am currently writing a poem that I’ve tentatively titled, “Rules for Ladies.” It’s a long prose poem, 18 pages and counting. I thought I had let go of the prose poem, but I picked it up again while I was teaching Sesshu Foster’s City Terrace Field Manualand discussing with my students what makes a prose poem a prose poem. It was great to revisit Foster’s work, and remember what he said during one of his readings a few years ago at City Lights Bookstore. Something about avoiding or eliminating the “cuteness” of enjambment, i.e. not allowing gimmick to overtake form and function. Just writing the poem, letting the lyric or narrative be. And so then, as I return to the prose poem, I think about what characteristics of poetry we maintain even when we’re not breaking lines — music, repetition, figurative language, compressed language, et al. And then, what does the density of prose serve in the poem.

I thought about this a lot when I was writing my first book, after/while reading Truong Tran’s Dust and Conscienceand then Within the Margin, which took the idea of the long poetic line, of the unbroken poetic line, beyond the confines of a single page and then beyond the confines of a set of facing pages. That line just kept going, comprising the entire book. It was refreshing to reconsider all of this, after writing what I think of as more palatable poetic lines in For the City That Nearly Broke Meand To Love as AswangHere, I say “palatable,” to mean more straight forward, more easily, visually and musically identifiable as poetic lines, after I’d read a lot of Juan Felipe Herrera, especially the litanies in 187 Reasons Mexicanos Can’t Cross the Border.

How does the prose poem form serve the content of “Rules for Ladies.” The repetitions, “A lady must always…” “You would be pretty if…” These are the litanies we hear throughout our lives as girls, young ladies, as women that our society continues to violate, objectify, repress, infantilize. There are so many rules for correct appearance and correct behavior, many of which are contradictory, most of which are absurd. You can’t do anything right or good enough. And then it’s compounded by social expectations stemming from Filipino patriarchy and internalized oppression. The more you try to comply or adhere to unrealistic social standards, the less human you feel. Not only is my lady poetic persona already feeling hideous and animal-like, not only is she feeling consumed, devoured by others, but now a ghost has made her way into this work as well.

I’m taking language from an old school Filipino text, Tomas and Pilar Andres’s Understanding the Filipinowhich among the many cultural artifacts and phenomena it addresses, states plainly Filipino gender roles and responsibilities without a hint of irony. It’s an explanatory text, directed (I believe) at a Western audience. It’s meant to alleviate East/West cultural disconnects.

I am also taking language from fashion and beauty advertisements. I haven’t spent a lot of time looking at or reading fashion or beauty magazines. I don’t think my sanity could take it right now, though I certainly will. Soon. But the language in the advertisements — for example, the daily emails I receive from Sephora and Ulta! — are great. How much money do we spend on fashion and beauty treatments, and whose standards of beauty are we trying to meet/fulfill. There’s this tendency to think we are doing the empowering #selfcare thing, being beautiful for ourselves to feel good for ourselves. We say we’re feminists, but there’s the insidious presence of Euro-hetero-dominant, patriarchal aesthetic preferences, which inform our standards of beauty for ourselves. And of course, this rabid desire to preserve youthfulness. I am in my mid-40s. I have smile lines, crows’ feet, and gray hair. I have no children. If I am not useful to the patriarchal order, then do I become invisible?

What prompted this poetic project is Miss Universe. Of course Miss Universe. One question: Can I personally have nothing against Pia Alonzo Wurzbach, can I still admire her and think she’s stunning and gorgeous, and still be a feminist, and critique beauty pageant culture, and standards of beauty, its ties to colonialism and neocolonialism. Is that too irreconcilable a contradiction? As she is the current, ultimate icon of beauty, I think she embodies contradiction. I think we all do, perhaps as a survival tactic.

In a previous blog post, I asked for Pinays’ participation in “Rules for Ladies.” I am so glad and grateful to be receiving such terrific responses. I am not surprised that these other Pinays and I have all had these, “You should…” “You should not…” rules and ultimatums leveled at us. And failing to meet these numerous, unrealistic expectations, we are at fault for not trying hard enough.

I don’t know how to end this work. I don’t know when it will feel done. I am just writing it.

Photo credit: Peter Dressel

Photo credit: Peter Dressel

Barbara Jane Reyes is the author of To Love as Aswang (Philippine American Writers and Artists, Inc., 2015). She was born in Manila, Philippines, raised in the SF Bay Area, and is the author of three previous collections of poetry,Gravities of CenterPoeta en San Francisco, which received the James Laughlin Award of the Academy of American Poets, and Diwata, which received the Global Filipino Literary Award for Poetry

Need some gifting ideas? How about some Filipino American authored books?


To Love as Aswang by Barbara Jane Reyes


PAWA is pleased to announce the publication of To Love as Aswang, by Barbara Jane Reyes.

Book Description: The Philippine aswang is a mythic, monstrous creature which has, since colonial times, been associated with female transgression, scapegoating, and social shaming, known in Tagalog as hiya. In the 21st century, and in diaspora, she manages to endure. Barbara Jane Reyes‘s To Love as Aswang, the poet and a circle of Filipino American women grapple with what it means to live as a Filipina, or Pinay, in a world that has silenced, dehumanized, and broken the Pinay body. These are poems of Pinay tragedy and perseverance, of reappropriating monstrosity and hiya, sung in polyphony and hissed with forked tongues.

To Love as Aswang is award-winning Pinay poet Barbara Jane Reyes's fourth full-length poetry collection, and it is available for course adoption. Please contact us at if you are interested in teaching this title.

To Love as Aswang: Songs, Fragments, and Found Objects

Poems by Barbara Jane Reyes

5.5 x 8 | 83 pages

Paperback Original

ISBN 978-0-9763316-8-1


Number of copies + Postage:
Add To Cart

04/19/2015: "sound, word." National Poetry Month with Jason Bayani and Janice Sapigao


April is National Poetry Month, and PAWA and Kearny Street Workshop are doin' a little something for the occasion. 

Pin@y poets are doing remarkable things in print publication and in performance. Please join us on 04/19/2015 at 1:30 pm, at Arc Studios and Gallery, for "sound, word." Bay Area Pin@y poets Jason Bayani and Janice Sapigao will be droppin la poesía!

Jason Bayani is the author of Amulet from Write Bloody Press. He's an MFA grad from Saint Mary's College, a Kundiman fellow, and is currently the program manager for Kearny Street Workshop. 

Janice Sapigao is a Pinay poet and writer from San Jose, CA. She earned her M.F.A. in Critical Studies/Writing at CalArts. She co-founded an open mic in Los Angeles called Sunday Jump and she is the Associate Editor of TAYO Literary Magazine. She works at Skyline College and San Jose City College. She enjoys running, drinking tea, and playing with stuffed animals. 

Where: Arc Studios and Gallery  1246 Folsom Street, San Francisco, CA 94103 

When: Sunday, April 19, 2015 at 1:30 pm.

How much: FREE! 

" poesía es como el pan, de todos." "...poetry, like bread, is for everyone." (Roque Dalton)


11/22/2014: #allpinayeverything Pinay Playwrights in Conversation


Please join us for #allpinayeverything: Pinay playwrights in conversation, with Kat Evasco, Darah Macaraeg, Lorna Velasco, and Christina Ying! 

We'll be at Bindlestiff Stdio, 185 - 6th Street @ Howard, SF on Saturday 11.22.2014, starting at 2 pm. This event is FREE and open to the public.

Please feel free to RSVP at our FB event page: