Sometimes, it doesn’t hurt to look back.

Studying literature, history and heritage of one’s motherland can help writers develop and enrich their sense of personal identity and literary style, UST Publishing House writers said in an online forum last March 9.

Cecilia Manguerra Brainard, author of “When the Rainbow Goddess Wept,” said that as a Filipina overseas, finding her “Filipino voice” helped her integrate Philippine historical events and culture into her writing.

Brainard, who was born in Cebu and migrated to the US for her postgraduate studies, said she was able to integrate Philippine historical events into her writing.

“Looking at [Philippine historical] times gives me a greater understanding and appreciation of being Filipino and being Filipino-American,” said Brainard.

She said her experiences as a woman familiar with both Filipino and American cultures allowed her to have an objective “misfit perspective” in writing.

“There is another thing that comes up in writing, and apparently I write a lot about women, [which] I don’t consciously do. So there is another discrepancy here because Filipinas are supposed to be shy and passive and sweet,” she said.

Luisa Igloria, author of the 2013 book “The Saints of Streets,” said that instead of finding “equilibrium” or balance, a writer should embrace cultural diversity in literature.

“I don’t think it is possible to separate life from art and vice versa, so the idea of equilibrium, the idea of balance and the idea of successful blending is beguiling,” she said.

“We are able to create more powerful connections when we tell our very specific stories and histories, which are complex and messy, as well as profound and also ordinary,” she added.

The two authors were among the speakers in a panel discussion with Filipino and Filipino-American women writers hosted by the Philippine Embassy in Washington in celebration of International Women’s Day.


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