The dismaying story of the authorities ordering back 1,914 convicts who had been released from the Bilibid prisons for supposed good conduct – and seeing 2,009 return! – calls to mind my nearly harboring a murder convict. We once had a kasambahay, a devoted all-around help (she cooked, laundered and looked after the kids) who would occasionally visit a friend locked up at Bilibid for murder, and come back at the end of the day looking none the worse for it. It was on her free time and part of her private life, so even if it was somewhat disturbing having a member of the household seeing this prisoner at Bilibid, I tried not to mind her visiting Rudy. Yes, Rudy was his nickname (“alias” in police parlance), who was serving time for shooting a businessman dead for a fee, so I was told. Our house help, then in her early 30’s, claimed having met the guy through a pen-pal column and decided after some time to visit him. That was how it all started … [Read more...] about My being ‘ninong’ of a Bilibid ex-con
How prisons affect society
JUST like his previous works, there are many layers to Tash Aw’s latest book We are Survivors. One moment, you think the book is about its Chinese-Malaysian protagonist who spent time in prison for killing a migrant worker, and the next, you realise that the story is also a reflection of our society and how its marginalised people, both locals and migrant workers, have much in common. Aw, who was born in Taipei to Malaysian parents, became famous in the literary world after his 2005 book, The Harmony Silk Factory, was longlisted for the then Man Booker Prize. He went on to win the Whitbread First Novel Award for the book. He wrote two other acclaimed novels, the 2009 Map of the Invisible World and the 2013 Five Star Billionaire, as well as the 2016 non-fiction novel The Face: Strangers on a Pier that was a finalist for the LA Times Book Prize. As we sat down and spoke about We are Survivors, Aw revealed that he has been based in Kuala Lumpur for the past two years. We Are … [Read more...] about The strangers around us
By Carly Maga Theatre Critic Fri., May 10, 2019 Lillies review Written by Michel Marc Bouchard. Directed by Cole Alvis. Until May 26 at Buddies in Bad Times Theatre, 12 Alexander Street. BuddiesinBadTimesTheatre.com or 416-975-8555. To revive is to bring back to life. You can revive a heart with CPR, you can revive a plant with water, you can revive the economy with whatever your political persuasion suggests. When you revive a play, it also has the connotation that the source material has, in a sense, started to break down—the moment that created it has passed, as has its prominence in the cultural conscience (Shakespeare productions, for example, will never be revivals). But a successful revival not only literally brings a play back to life with living, breathing bodies, but proves why it needs to be; what can we learn from it now, or alternatively, what can it gain from the present. Revivals of Canadian plays are relatively rare—ours is a … [Read more...] about Lilies challenges unequal power dynamics
By Anthony Morgan Opinion Tues., April 30, 2019 “One of us goes in, and we all go through it …” — Drake, “Headlines” Incarceration is seldom a solo affair. It’s true that the individual person subjected to carceral control bears the brunt of the physical, emotional, psychological, social and financial costs of being forced to surrender their freedom to the state. However, this painful price isn’t paid by the incarcerated person alone: their friends, family members and others who care about them suffer their own sizeable share of loss, sadness, fear and frustration precipitated by their loved one’s incarceration. My family, that is my mom, my sister, Toni, and I, know this reality viscerally well. I have a younger brother, Theo (not his real name), who is currently serving a multi-year sentence in one of Ontario’s federal correctional institutions. This latest stint follows more than a decade of … [Read more...] about My brother’s in jail. Why does talking to him require hundreds of dollars a month and 1990s technology?