Greetings from Hurricane Elsa

I write this from the west coast of Florida, from an island off the coast of Fort Myers. This morning, Hurricane Elsa (which was upgraded from a tropical storm) is passing its cone closer to Sarasota and Bradenton. We had to board up our windows and live without the sunlight for several hours yesterday. And I tried what I could to watch the wind whipping the palm branches, seeing what 25 miles per hour looks like against vegetation. A little further west and the winds were gusting up to 80 miles per hour.

It made me wax nostalgic for the Philippines during rainy season. The thunder and lightning, the broken sound barrier, the rush of wind, the flickering lights.

When there is a hurricane spinning in your midst, the news in the rest of the world seems, well, secondary. A person’s interests become more immediate, more narcissistic. So, I write this column having been disengaged from everyone else. In antagonistic weather, life slows down.

This is probably just as good a time as another to write this: I may dial down the frequency of my column. I will contribute perhaps every two weeks instead of every week. During the pandemic, with long stretches of time on my hands, I took up writing fiction again. Two of my short fiction pieces, By the World Forgot and Nights of the Swollen Moon, were published during this time. They were the only two fiction works I completed and the only two I submitted for publication. I will probably spend more of my writing time on writing fiction…which has to be one of the most uneconomic ways to use time in any profession or business I have ever worked in. Nevertheless, writing doesn’t have to make sense. Sometimes, it’s just something you have to do.

If you are still reading at this point, I should mention that I do write about the Philippines. Nights of the Swollen Moon was set in the Philippines after World War II on an enchanted island that protected its inhabitants from the atrocities of history. I am actively seeking Philippine experiences from World War II and also during the Marcos Dictatorship. I would also love to hear your stories of immigration. In fact, I’m looking for any stories that the FilAm community has to share, not just American Dream stories, but stories of missing home and not liking it here as well as the happy stories of love and reconciliation.

Interviewing the audience of this paper is how I would like to spend more of my time in the coming year…years, maybe. When I run into you in the months and in the years, please keep this in mind if you know of a Filipino or Filipina with a story to share.