SAN FRANCISCO – It was a night of reflection and conversation about the condition of modern day Pinays.
Together with a circle of other Filipino-American women, award-winning author and educator Barbara Jane Reyes has written a book of poems that explores what it means to live as a silenced, dehumanized Pinay.
The title of Reyes’ book “To Love as Aswang” was taken from colonial times in the Philippines, when women were likened to monsters to socially shame them for alleged transgressions.
Reyes said, “I was thinking about ‘how do we take that into the 21st century?’ All these women who are rebellious against these forces that hold them back, can we be monsters too? I think there’s power in that, right? Kind of like unleashing the monster.”
Reyes hopes her book will be a resource for others fighting shame, feelings of worthlessness and to also raise awareness of stories about Pinay tragedy and perseverance.
“I think a lot of people don’t speak because they don’t know if they have permission to or because they are afraid to,” said Reyes. “What are the consequences of saying these kinds of things of what they’re afraid of and what they worry about?”
“To Love as Aswang” is Reyes’ fourth full-length collection of poetry and is available to purchase online.