ALL THINGS come to an end, but good writing remains timeless.

Two years after her death, Ophelia Alcantara-Dimalanta’s literary legacy continues. The second lecture in her tribute underscored the politics of humor and the beauty of poetry.

Unite States-based Filipino writing couple—Nerissa Balce, assistant professor of Asian American literature at Stony Brook University in New York, and award-winning poet Fidelito Cortes, whom Dimalanta “discovered” when she was juror in a campus literary derby at the University of the East—paid homage to Dimalanta’s literary legacy in the 2nd Ophelia Dimalanta-Alcantara Lecture Forum, on July 18 at the Roque Ruaño Building.

The lecture was organized by Literature professors Ferdinand Lopez, Ralph Semino Galan, Nerisa del Carmen Guevara, John Jack Wigley, along with third-year AB Literature students.

“Her (Dimalanta’s) writing has always been about the power of describing the human senses. It’s a very passionate kind of poetry,” Balce said.

“Becoming a writer can be very complicated; you have to navigate a lot of things. But she told me what I needed to do in order to continue writing. She makes the decision yourself,” Cortes said.

Balce asserted that there are more pressing issues than humor in modern society— technology has found an easy access to inject violence and racism in an ordinary man’s laughter. According to her, Filipinos are the eighth largest users of social media in 2010.

“In this overly saturated digital world we have, we should start thinking about what we watch,” Balce said.

Though macabre-themed entertainments started during the days of Roman gladiator battles, Balce said that violence is deeply rooted in American culture.

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Cortes said his poetry is a quest for order.

“Maybe it is my mathematics degree that explains why I have an inclination for order—even in poetry,” Cortes said.

Asian sexuality

The media’s mythification of the sexuality of Asian men and women suggests the inferiority of the race, said scholar-filmmaker Celine Parreñas Shimizu,said during the 15th instalment of the Filipino-American Scholar Lecture Series last July 10 at the Tanghalang Teresita of the Benavides Building.

In her lecture, “Asian American Cinema: Race, Sexualities and Media,” Shimizu, a professor of the Department of Asian American Studies at the University of California (UCSB), Santa Barbara, said that Asian men are often stereotyped in American cinema as asexual, like Bruce Lee in his famous kung fu movies.

She said the stereotyping is a form of racism. She urged the audience to critique misrepresentation of Asians in US movies.

“Social critique can only be strong, can only be as powerful as it can get, if it comes into a meaningful encounter with people like you, meaning young people – students,” she said.

Shimizu works as a filmmaker and film scholar in Asian American, Film and Media, and Feminist Studies at UCSB.

She has published two books: The Hypersexuality of Race: Performing Asian/American women on screen (2007) and Straitjacket Sexualities: Unbinding Asian American Manhoods in Movies (2012). J. C. R. OBICE and S. M. J. A. RAMOS

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