(Originally published as a Student of the Month feature in August, 2014.)



(My Child) 


I will break through barriers for you
So that you may run swiftly unhindered  
By the hurdles of being
Born . . . Filipino and a girl 

One day you came home from school
And said, a white girl told me . . .  
White rules brown drools
What does that mean mom? 
It means that whoever taught her that  
Is sadly mistaken 

I will empower you with weapons to fight
The pen to slay  
The word to shield  
Your heart and mind 

One day you came home from school
And said, why am I one of the few  
Filipinos in my school
Why can’t I go to a school  
With other Filipinos? 
Because education is a weapon 

I will be a bridge for you  
Illuminating your path with our ancestors dance  
Sustaining your strength with our sacrifice
Fortifying your love with our humanity 

We belong to a culture struggling  
To emerge from these invisible chains  
Virtue of a colonized mind  
Generation by generation
Stripping of our history
Silencing of our language
Searching for our ancestral land 

You will be the generation  
Who knows their history
Who knows their language  
Who knows where they come from  



Made in Hawaii . . . 


I was Made in Hawaii
Woven of different threads 

Threads of Filipinoness  
Lay only in distant yet vivid memories of my grandparents  
Cleaning yards in Kahala for only $5.00 each
The pungent smell of fresh cut grass on a Saturday morning
My grandma frying up bundi bundi
The scalding oil searing my lips and tongue
Too anxious to wait for it to cool 

Threads of Localness  
To prepare for May Day I would climb my grandma’s
Plumeria tree and pick flowers to make leis
The white milky sap from the flowers sticky on my fingers  
After school I would walk with my cousins and my grandma
To the crack seed store to buy 25 cent ice cake  
The refreshing cold on my tongue made me forget  
The Kalihi heat walking home  

Threads of Americanness
Woven together like patches of a quilt  
Land of opportunity  
Free Enterprise
Social Justice  

The threads of my identity
My Triple Consciousness
I say I am all  
But do I belong? 

I was Made in Hawaii
That is why they say I’m not a true Filipino
I’m a fourth generation woman  
Who doesn’t speak Tagalog or Ilokano
Who has never been to the Philippines
and never wanted too
The threads that connect me now are  
My memories, my face, and the color of my skin 

I was Made in Hawaii
That’s why I say I local
I grew up interwoven in Hawaii’s local cultures and traditions  
Hawaiian, Japanese, Chinese, Portuguese  
Merrie Monarch, Bon Dances
Visits to China Town, Leonard’s Malasadas
Speaking Pidgin, no more one betta feeling
Like I stay home  
And I can be myself  
But this land no belong to me, but to another
Am I only a settler? 

I was Made in Hawaii
But immersed in American and Western culture
American culture taught me to reject my Filipinoness
American culture silenced my Localness
American culture educated me to question the threads of my identity
Which made me realize   

I have the choice! 
To define myself
Not one identity  
encapsulates who I am! 

I have the choice! 
To accept or reject the status quo! 
To reinvent myself  
To honor my elders
To be the catalyst for my children 

I was Made in Hawaii
My triple consciousness  
Local, Filipino and American
I’m like a mix plate
Two scoops rice
One scoop mac salad
Chicken adobo   
Garden Salad with Ranch Dressing
All different but das what makes  
It so good…  
Three is betta den one! 


Our Journey

For Valentine Jasmin


Pacific crossing  
Blending ocean and sky
 13 days
Aboard steely S.S. Pierce
Only 16 but 19
On the Passenger Log
PI to HI  
Urdaneta, Pangasinan
May 23, 1931
Honolulu, Hawaii
June 10th, 1931
Status: Immigrant  

Plantation travels
Kauai Cane Sugar
Cheap labor
Das wea he started
Worked up  
To Janitor  
In da Hospital  
Met my grandmadda
Kid on every Island
6 in all
Bought home in Kalihi  
Status: Settler 

Paradise progress
Weekdays clean offices  
Weekends clean yards  
Kahala $5.00 each
Lunch time
Coral Tuna sandwich  
Best Foods Mayonnaise  
Hawaiian Sun
Passion Orange
Wrapped in Reynold’s foil  
Status: Happiest times with you 

Paradise lost  
 1 stroke
2 stroke
Diagnoses Alzheimer’s  
7 years  
You drifted away
Back to the PI  
In your mind
Never got to ask
All the questions
Now I find in books
Status: Searching  


Filipino Chicken Soup  


Warm Simmering Goodness  
Wafting Soothing Smells
Cradling My Soul 

Mmmm . . .  
Mmmm . . .  
Mmmm . . .  

With One Sip of  
Her Chicken Marungay  

Unscathed by Modernity  
Untainted and Authentic  
Eloquently Passed Down  

Mmmm . . .  
Mmmm . . .  
Mmmm . . .  

With One Bite of  
Her Chicken Marungay 

Plucking Tender Leaves
Together You and I  
Incandescent Love 

Mmmm . . .  
Mmmm . . .  
Mmmm . . .  

With One Bowl of  
Her Chicken Marungay  

Jovial Diasporic Communities  
Rejoice and Reconnect  
Taste of Home Resonating 

Mmmm . . .  
Mmmm . . .  
Mmmm . . .  

With One Pot of  
Her Chicken Marungay 


Writing as a fourth-generation Filipino American woman born and raised in Hawai‘i, Shannon shares the following four poems: “Anak,” which speaks to the poet’s daughter about gender, race, and cultural identity; “Made in Hawaii,” which comments on the poet’s “triple consciousness” as local, Filipino, and American; “Our Journey,” which narrates Filipino diaspora in Hawai‘i; and “Filipino Chicken Soup,” which Shannon performed with her daughter at Kōkua Market’s first Pacific Poetry Feast in October 2013. Shannon is currently writing poems about Filipino foodways in Hawai‘i and plans to include these works in her MA thesis.