Wednesday, May 03, 2006

D.C. Part 3 o' 3 / Opening The Archives

The spousal unit and I were married in San Francisco and then moved immediately to Washington, D.C., where we procured the first homely little rowhouse we could find in Georgetown. This was about 300 years ago, but lo and behold the rowhouse still stands. We snapped a photo while we tooled around the old neighborhood on Saturday morning:


The most alarming thing about this photo—to me—is that there is a parking spot available right in front. Because let me tell you, parking was so atrocious that the SU racked up thousands of dollars in parking tickets while we lived there. After a leisurely breakfast on Wisconsin Ave. (I had the most ingenious thing: cheddar and bacon potato skins topped with scrambled eggs. It's a good thing I didn't drop dead before the reading), we did a little shopping (hi Kuya!). This Spanish retailer had cute stuff at unshocking prices, so I indulged a bit. Afterwards, we headed back to the hotel to change, and then it was off to the Library for the reading.

I guess it's not surprising that the city looks like it's on lockdown compared to when we lived there. Now they have these big barricades that can spring up right off the street at various (I suppose) strategic spots. They say "STOP," which is kinda, you know, redundant; there are police stationed everywhere taking pictures of the various protests; and public parking lots in the city proper appear to be non-existent. Still it manages to be stunning.

The opening of the archives took place in the Asian Reading Room, and though this shot is out of sequence, it's the best way to get a feel for the room:


There are several of these study areas:


We were treated to an overview of the Philippine collection, which features...um...okay, I was so nervous at this point that I remember only one thing. It was the most rare and valuable of the lot: a 16th century catechism written in both Tagalog and Spanish, and it is the only one in existence. One more thing I recall is that 60% of the items acquired by the Library are not in English. And I recall not knowing how I felt about that, really.

After a few more really wonderful short talks (again, too busy working myself into an unnecessary psychological frenzy to take notes) about the various goings-on of the Asian Division, it was time to open the Carlos Bulosan Archives:


All but one of the previous day's scholars helped do the honors, as did Remé Grefalda's formidable mother, Remedios G. Cabacungan (that's her in the center), who singlehandedly raised a large portion of the funds required to get this whole project going. Second from the left is a nephew of Carlos Bulosan whose name, lame-o that I am, I apologize for not remembering.

Some other things happened, but I excused myself for fifteen minutes or so to gather my wits. Musician, composer, and playwright Rod Garcia, along with his daughter Jitter (for real!), whose singing voice is sweet as can be, provided some lovely music, and then it was my turn. I (think) I gave a smooth reading; I'm always pleased if I end things without having tripped up on myself or gone too fast. The crowd was surprisingly diverse, and I like to be able to look up and see people actually listening. I turned often to Susan Evangelista, who was sitting towards the back, but who remained perched literally on the edge of her seat, sending out such good energy.

As I said when I first stepped up to the podium, I was deeply honored to read on such a day. Thank you to Remé for believing me up to the task. Here we are, Wonder Woman and me, just having enjoyed the superb spread provided by the Philippine Embassy:

10 comments:

Rebecca Mabanglo-Mayor said...

Fabulous, Fabulous, Fabulous, Ver.

I'm /so/ proud! of you and our people.

Thank you for sharing.

ver said...

Aw, thanks Bec!

thelastnoel said...

Oh, what an adventure! I'm stuck in overcast Los Angeles.

ver said...

But now it's over, and I'm looking for my next one...

Shuboy said...

Good, GOOD hair!!! and the brown outfit. excellent. definitely the new "it" color.
Kuya aka "Shuboy"

rcloenen-ruiz said...

Congratulations, Ver. It's great reading these posts :)

ver said...

Thanks Shuboy & Rochita! (Hey, that sounds like a Sunday morning cartoon show...)

Leny said...

Ver -- glad to see/know that Reme's Mom is still The Superwoman! That Reme sure has good genes!:-)
thanks again for the report.
leny

L said...

I remember that house! We made pumpkin pie and you served me tea in a mug with a little ceramic mouse at the bottom. Wow, that was a long time ago!

ver said...

Hi Lu! Yeah, I know, it was three hundred years ago! And I wonder whatever happened to that cup?...