Sunday, October 26, 2008

Posing With The Stars

SARA HAD A RARE chance to pose with Melinda Doolittle of American Idol and Kimee Balmilero (a Filipina-American from Hawaii) and Shaun Taylor-Corbett of Emmy-nominated children's television program Hi-5. Miley Cyrus, where were you?

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Queens College Offers An MFA In Creative Writing

MY OTHER alma mater, Queens College (the University of the Philippines Diliman being the other) is now offering an MFA program in Creative Writing and Translation. I have always dreamed of obtaining an MFA, in addition to my MLS, and maybe this is my chance despite my age. I work on the same campus at Rosenthal Library, one of two jobs I hold at the City University of New York system (the other being at the Center for Teaching Excellence of Bronx Community College). QC has a lovely 77 acre campus about ten minutes drive from home, has always been considered as "the jewel of the CUNY system," and was ranked by Kaplan/Newsweek College Guide as one of "America's Hottest Schools" in 2008. Writers-in-Residence include Kimiko Hahn, Nicole Cooley and Roger Sedarat. Last Monday, they had an open house and launched a new literary journal called Ozone Park. I will post the program's activities as they come. QC also sponsors Evening Readings on Tuesdays at 7 pm.

Here is my degree, and pictures of the QC campus from the main quadrangle. One looks west, with the Manhattan skyline in the background and the clock tower of Rosenthal Library, known for its Louis Armstrong Archives, in the foreground. The other looks east through the main quadrangle toward Jefferson Hall, built in 1907.

Queens College, 65-30 Kissena Boulevard, Flushing, Queens, New York 11367, phone (718) 997-5000

My Maspeth

Maspeth Sign
WE LIVE IN A SINGLE FAMILY brick Cape Cod on a street just off the fork of Grand Avenue and Flushing Avenue. Right now there is a DOT Project going on as the island between these two thoroughfares and pedestrian crossings are improved for the safety of nearby St. Stanislaus Kostka School's students. My daughter used to attend Pre-K at this school, but this year, we have transferred her to P.S. 153 on 6oth Lane which is a farther walk up Fresh Pond Road but a better education bargain. It is a public school with a Beacon Program for talented children which I hope my kid can one day crash into.

Maspeth is an old little town (it was founded in 1642) in the borough of Queens, with a large Polish and Irish population. Far from any subway station, it has retained its residential neighborhood charm. It has a long veteran tradition and several American Legion Halls (Memorial Day parades on Grand Avenue are attended by such politicians as senator Chuck Schumer), but it also has numerous Irish pubs that can get quite rowdy on Friday nights when blue collar folks come home to party. Grand Avenue, the main strip, has many banks, restaurants and mom and pop businesses. It is complimented by the frontage of Mt. Olivet Cemetery, handsomely fenced and gated with ironwork grills. Inside, towering hundred-year-old oak trees dominate the headstones, and give one a sense of being in a time warp in the middle of the city. I have always enjoyed walking on the sidewalk under those trees.

Our house sits up a hill on 64th Street, which follows the gradient of the Mt. Olivet slope on the east. From the highest point of our street, one can see the skyscrapers of Manhattan, and from our attic window facing west, we can see the Empire State Building, the traffic on Kosciusko Bridge and the Fourth of July fireworks on the East River. During September 11 anniversaries, the twin shafts of light from where the World Trade Center look magical from that window as they penetrate the night sky. These are the extras that we got with the house, and we were not even aware of them until days after we moved in.

We have made changes to the house and property since we moved in in November of 2006. I planted an American sycamore on our curb and a northern red oak on the lawn by the rose bushes. I expanded the garden space in the backyard by digging up part of the concrete (work done by John Kenny, an Irish contractor who lived a few houses downhill) to extend the existing garden all the way to the back fence. I wanted to plant more trees and have a summer vegetable garden, to maximize my share of Long Island earth.

Here are pictures of the backyard before (taken before we moved in in 2006) and after (taken during Sara's 5th birthday party a year later. She is in red.) Aside from my little girl and her friends, you can see other things growing: a Jonathan apple tree, a littleleaf linden tree in the far back, and lots of beefsteak tomatoes.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Welcome To The Blog

WELCOME to my blog. I am a Filipino-American writer who lives in Maspeth, New York in the borough of Queens. In this blog, I want to share how it is to live and raise a family in the great city of New York from the point of view of a Filipino-American.