The beginning is the most important part of the work.
– Plato, philosopher and mathematician
When 2015 began, I would never have guessed how the year would turn out. I would not have anticipated that I would find a home for my novel, A Village in the Fields. A friend’s kindness in trying to help find that home became the seed that led to meeting people who would be instrumental in and champions of getting the novel published. Revising the novel, squeezing an eight-month process of publishing it into a three-month window, and learning how to market and promote pretty much summed up most of my energies for the year. Along the way, I have met amazing people, and so many doors and windows were opened. The novel couldn’t have been released at a more appropriate time – the 50th Anniversary of the Delano Grape Strike.
Of course, other milestones were welcomed – I turned 53, David turned 50, Isabella turned 13, and Jacob turned 15 (in Naples, so he gets the prize for having spent his birthday in the most desirable place among the four of us). As part of the LUNAFEST East Bay Committee, we put on a wonderful film festival, which included having Jeanne Rizzo, CEO of the Breast Cancer Fund, give a rousing and inspiring talk about being strong and resilient. Jacob got his braces removed and finally got his black belt in tae kwondo. Isabella got promoted from elementary school and is now in middle school. Our family established a needs-based scholarship at Jacob’s high school and awarded two deserving young women financial support to follow their dreams, which will help make the world a better and more inclusive place to be. After one year on the high school’s Investing in Academic Excellence committee, I assumed co-chair duties in the fall. We had an amazing summer vacation in Italy and shared memories with our friends, Raissa and Mike, and their kids along the way. We adopt two rabbits for Isabella, named Pudding and Maybelline, and sadly, we lost our beloved 15-year-old dog, Rex, before Thanksgiving.
It was an incredibly busy year for me, and when you have too many things on your plate and not enough time, things fall by the wayside. That happened to be my blog this past year. I’m amazed that I posted three times a week for quite some time. Posting once or twice a month became the norm. And while I like recording my thoughts on a regular basis because it became a diary of sorts, which I used to keep faithfully in my early years, I am content to check in twice a month. Life is short and time keeps slipping through my fingers. It’s time to look forward to 2016 and what to imagine and make real in the coming year. I’m excited.
New Year’s Day and New Year’s Day weekend
In order to set up the year for wonder and magic, you have to begin the New Year in good stead, which we did. We kept our tradition of having my cousin Janet and her husband, Tim, come up for a visit. They have this enormous avocado tree and it’s a tradition for them to bring up a laundry basket full of avocados. David makes a bowl of guacamole to bring to the New Year’s Eve and birthday party of our friends Raissa and Mike. On New Year’s Day we have gone to Point Reyes for a long hike the last two years. But this year, being a year older, and having slept in, we decided to stay local and hike in Tilden Park, up to Inspiration Point, where it was clear enough this New Year’s Day to see the Golden Gate Bridge, the Bay Bridge and Treasure Island, and San Francisco.
The next day we ventured into San Francisco to see the WWII in the Philippines exhibit at the San Francisco Public Library. The exhibit is ending next weekend, and for months I’d been meaning to see it before it closed. I missed the all-day symposium that was held in October because I was in Los Angeles at the time. One of the panels included a photo of the First Filipino Infantry Regiment, of which my father was a member. I pored over the photo, but I didn’t see him. We also spent time in the Filipino American Center, which is a room dedicated to Filipino American books and the brainchild of retired San Francisco Public Library librarian Estella Marina. I found books helpful for my next novel, and Janet found some information about her hometown of Ketchikan, Alaska.
After lunch at the recently reopened Sam Wo restaurant in Chinatown, we trekked to the I-Hotel on Kearney Street, but it was closed. We did appreciate the mural, painted by Johanna Poethig in 2010, which commemorates “the history of the International Hotel’s decades-long struggle for low-income housing at this site, honoring the Filipino and Chinese elders and all those who lived, worked, fought and created a home together in the I-Hotel. Annually, on August 4th, the night of the eviction in 1977, this story is passed on from one generation to the next.”
When we got home, we continued our Filipino American heritage weekend and watched the documentary Harana, the “search for the lost art of serenade” in the Philippines. It’s a wonderful documentary with beautiful music and endearing haranistas. We had a last dinner of turkey and mashed potatoes, and so we concluded a wonderful long weekend celebrating the New Year with Janet and Tim. What better way to welcome than to continue to explore my heritage with my family, immediate and extended, in 2016.
There are far, far better things ahead than any we leave behind – C.S. Lewis. Here’s to 2016: Scatter joy, sow peace, and love big.