This week at Kill Your Darlings we are proud to present our first showcase of new writing on the Philippines. We received over 110 submissions from writers in the Philippines, Australia, North America, Europe and the Caribbean, and more—from this phenomenal response I am delighted to share four brilliant and insightful new works of memoir, fiction and commentary from Filipinx voices. One of the things I love most about working on KYD‘s Asia-Pacific showcases is the sense of being brought into a political and cultural conversation of which I’d previously only heard in fragments—and this showcase is no exception. Huge thanks also to KYD editorial assistant Justina Ashman for her thoughtful edits and feedback on these pieces, and Guy Shield for another brilliant illustration.
In our lead feature, Patricia Arcilla unpacks the complicated role that two versions of the archetypal Filipina—the sophisticated beauty queen and the capable, compliant domestic helper—play in constructing the country’s image overseas. In memoir, Jhoanna Lynn Cruz seeks to reconcile her past as an indifferent child born into a Marcos loyalist family, aspects of her lesbian identity, and her present in the political climate under Duterte. In ‘Waterborne’, Carmie Ortego shows us life outside the major population centres; her essay outlines the political and infrastructure barriers residents in remote barangays have in accessing reliable clean water, and the added threat of climate change in upsetting the area’s delicate balance. Finally, in fiction, J. Marcelo Borromeo‘s ‘View From a Talking House’ weaves the past and the present together in a magical-realist fable that muses on how people inhabit places, and what we leave behind.
Through all these pieces, the ongoing unease around the current regime’s ongoing bloody drug war and strongman populist leadership are never far from mind. In a time when press freedom and civil liberties are being severely restricted, it is more important than ever to hear Filipinx voices on these and other important issues. Happy reading!
– Alan Vaarwerk
Editor, Kill Your Darlings
Society: The two most prominent images of the Filipina abroad are beauty queens and domestic workers—archetypes of conventional femininity which play into the hands of the country’s male leaders. Who is Miss Philippines, really?
Memoir: Ferdinand Marcos ran the Philippines under martial law for years—his removal was seen as a victory for people power. But years later, extrajudicial killings in Duterte’s drug war are on the rise. How much has really changed?
Fiction: ‘If you can talk to the other houses, why do you bother talking to people?’
Society: In my remote village, poor water infrastructure means that we must rely on local wells and pumps to survive. But as temperatures rise and development accelerates deforestation, access to safe water is increasingly threatened.