In celebration of Women’s History Month, the Philippine Expressions Bookshop presented the “Pinay Gathering 2017” this past Saturday to honor some of the Filipino-American women authors of Southern California.
Linda Nietes-Little, Filipiniana specialist and founder of the bookshop, hosted the event and introduced each of the authors: Carlene Sobrino Bonnivier, Herminia Meñez-Coben, Carmencita F. Davino, Roselyn Ibanez, Cecilia Manguerra Brainard, Ludy Astraquillo Ongkeko, Leslie V. Ryan, and Lucy Miller. Two of the ten invited authors were not able to make it: Carina Monico Montoya and Myrna J. de la Paz.
An audience of over 20 people sat in front of the bookshop, located inside San Pedro’s historic Arcade Building, as the Filipino-American women authors spoke about their experiences as well as their written works.
Bonnivier began the series of book talks by speaking about growing up in Historic Filipinotown, tearing up as she read her poem published in the book, Filipinotown: Voices from Los Angeles, an anthology of recollections about Hi-Fi. Bonnivier's poem was about her mother and the iconic location.
The message that all the authors had in common was to be proud of one’s own heritage and share that pride with others.
Ryan, who wrote the book I am Flippish!, focused on the internal conflict that many people have regarding self-identity and how people are not limited to identifying with only one ethnicity. She was inspired to write the book when her son, who is Filipino and Irish, was told he could not possibly be Irish because of the way he looked.
“This book teaches about love, tolerance, and to be accepting of who we are,” Ryan said when explaining her book.
When it was time for questions and comments from the audience, many were quick to speak about how they could relate to the problems and experiences of the women authors.
Towards the end of the event, Nietes-Little and the woman authors were all recognized by a Los Angeles city representative for their prolific work as Filipina authors.
The “Pinay Gathering” not only showcased the work of these Filipino-American women authors but also allowed a resurgence of Filipino-American pride within attendees.
As Ibanez stated during her segment, “Our history needs to be told and more needs to be written.”