Memorial Post: Susan Quimpo and “Subversive Lives,” Part 1

At the end of August of 2021, I was very saddened to hear from   Sarita Chiu, daughter of Susan Quimpo (pronounced Kimpo), that Susan had died last summer of systemic scleroderma, a rare autoimmune disease that affected her heart and lung. The Cultural Center of the Philippines is now preparing to honor her as one of the departed individuals who were part of their community. Susan is an author of Subversive Lives: a Family Memoir of the Marcos Year and a popular speaker on that topic, bringing history to people who are too young to

I’ve been very isolated since Read More

Encore post: Last Days in China, Part 2

In Part 1, Harriet described the xenophobic mood and the widespread discontent preceding the pro-democracy demonstrations in Tiananmen Square, then the glorious day of April 27, when she followed the demonstrators from Beijing Normal University from the school through the square and beyond.

Harriet’s Story

Sometime in the next few days, the officials had a dialogue on TV with the previously recognized student organizations [set up by university officials]. Some of the questions put by these student leaders were pretty lame, but some were to the point. The answers were rather patronizing, but they were at least talking. The activists … Read More

Encore post: Last Days in China, Part 1

On May 15, I attended a virtual reading offered by the Autumn House Press in Pittsburgh. One of the readers was Michael Wang, who read a piece about the Tiananmen Square massacre. Since this is now June, the 32nd anniversary, I thought of reposting this piece from 2011. At the time of the bloody crackdown, I was teaching in Seoul and would come home from my night class to watch events unfold on CNN. Later that summer, I was at the photocopy machine in the linguistics department of the University of Pittsburgh, my alma mater, and a Chinese graduate … Read More

Among the Uighurs in Xinjiang Province

In the spring of 1985, my friend Nichole wrote me, “I’m sitting in the square of this town selling shoes. Hundreds of people have come to look at me. Business is brisk.” When she returned we talked about her trip in my sitting room at Xiamen University. At the time, Nichole was a forty-something student of Chinese who spoke with a French accent.

It was common for foreign students to pack a bag or two and head out on their own, often to the minority areas. The government wanted foreign journalists and tourists to travel as part of a Read More

An American Husband in Filipino Court

In the Philippines it’s hard to miss ads and websites urging the western man, often of retirement age, to come to the Philippines and find a pretty, sweet young thing who’ll love him and look after him for the rest of his life. Y0u watch white men trying to outdo each other with their trophy wives or girlfriends. You hear Filipinas explain to each other that the man was just for survival, a way to get out of poverty. 

Exploitation also works the other way. Over a period of about two months, three white men told me their troubles. One Read More