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There Comes a Point When You Exhale

That Whitney Houston song, "Waiting to Exhale", has been a longtime favorite of mine and this line from the song came to me as I watched the coffee in my cup spin round while I mixed in the milk and brown sugar this morning. It was my moment to exhale. Let's recap:

#30 Collantes Street (Carayan Press, 2015) popped hot off the press on October 1,"para bibingka," said Mauro Tumbocon- FACINE, just in time for the Filipino-American International Book Festival (Filbookfest 3) at the San Francisco Public Library Oct.2-4. More on this in a separate post, later.

Please visit: to purchase and also to view the lovely blurbs and descriptions about my debut sola piece.

On the alternating weekends, FANHS -East Bay's anthology,Beyond Lumpia, Pansit, and Seven Manangs Wild (Eastwind Books, 2014) held back-to-back book launches on September 26 in Mountain View, October 3 (one of the Filbookfest3 panel offerings) in San Francisco, and October 17, in Fremont, totalling five events in six months with more in the works for 2016.

On October 8, the 2015 Plaridel Awards, Philippine American Press Club, USA's annual event which celebrates "excellence in Filipino-American Journalism," honored me with the Plaridel Award for Best Entertainment Story for my piece, "Maseg: An Artistic Tempest" (, 5/4/2015)

I really loved writing this piece, inspired by the amazing artistic work of master choreographer Jay Loyola, creative director/producer Alleluia Panis, and composer Florante Aguilar.

Pictured left is my son, Ryan, rocking his barong, and on the right, fellow honorees, Jorge Emmanuel (, Cecile Ochoa( a fellow NVM Gonzalez Memorial Writing Workshop alum, and Prosy Abarrquez-Dela Cruz, JD (Asian Journal), also a fellow NVM Gonzalez Memorial Writing Workshop alum, and joyful recent lola to a beautiful granddaughter.

And THEN, On October 30, the Filipina Women's Network awarded its 2015 selections of the 100 Most Influential Filipina Women in the World. The WORLD. The category I was honored in, along with 10 others, was Behind the Scenes Leader.

"This category recognizes Filipina women who may not have the big title or corner office, but is a driving force behind the success of a social cause or life issue, a community organization's project or initiative; or her employer's organizational business unit or department. Someone who has gone beyond the call of duty to devote time, energy, and resources to advocate for those who need a voice, or support the organization she represents or works for."

Pictured here are Colonel Shirley Raguidin, Chief Diversity Officer for the Air National Guard, Chief of Diversity for the National Guard, and Principal Advisor to NGB Chief, General Frank J. Grass and ANG Director, Lt. General Stanley E. Clark III. and my life partner, Mark.

You know what? The screening process is quite rigorous, thorough, and completely relevant to necessary self-examination. The FWN Global 100 award is a working award. This means that one's acceptance for consideration means a commitment to actively participate in the three-day summit as a member. Awardees pay the fee for the conference, just as one would do for any other professional conference. Out in the community I have heard this required payment criticized, so I spent a good amount observing at this, my first time to an FWN Summit: observing the down-to-earth and intelligent board members and how they were genuinely welcoming; observing the other honorees, each so accomplished that there was never a need to put on airs, nor to be anything less than transparent with one another, women who were open and engaged, and with whom I would love to be friends with; observing the events that were chosen for us--on site events where we participated in stimulating panels and workshops, where real conversation was allowed to take place; observing that Marily Mondejar, sharing her personal story with us, made sure up to the very last session, that every single woman had an opportunity to be heard.

When I was informed that I had been nominated by Evangeline Canonizado Buell, I wondered what she had in mind? What would ameaningful partnering with FWN and me -- an Educator in language arts and wellness disciplines, an author-- look like? On the night of the Awards, Vangie honored me by standing with me to receive my award. As we walked back to the table, she asked, "So, how are you enjoying the Summit?" to which I answered, "Mind-blowing. I, mean how can such deeply immersive activities-- field trips to Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, San Francisco City Hall, Charles Schwab to highlight a few of the main offerings among many panels-- be full of fun at the same time?"

"I knew you'd love it." My spirit guides and God must really love me a lot to have gifted me with Vangie as a mentor. Anyway, I have my path. FWN has its path. We are at a point of juncture for sure.

So long, October. Welcome, November.

"When you've got friends to wish you well, you'll find a point when you will exhale."

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