~ Baguio City You were the air base turned R&R place where we could gape at the marvel of uniformly clipped grass and level golf ovals, each punctured with one hole and a slender flag. There was a place called The 19th Tee where we could order exotic things like chipped beef on toast or scrapple cakes and eggs; and the Tee Bar where our brothers and uncles sat on stools, ordering gin tonics and peanuts instead of San Miguel beer. We'd bowl or play pool; and on Sundays, listen to Tim Tesoro's band riff on Sinatra as we ate roast turkey or $5 Porterhouse steaks. America, you were 1,764 acres of prime woodland reservation named after the Secretary of State in Mckinley's and Roosevelt's administrations. America, you claim to have bought it off the hands of a local chieftain for a pittance, but his heirs pointed out that the deed of transfer is dated at least three years after his death. This little pocket of clean American living is what you say you made to remind you and your armed forces personnel of the paradise they left behind when they shipped out to our inhospitable hills. America, even then we were trained to stand behind the cafeteria serving counters and fry baskets, the manicure stations at the beauty parlor; the popcorn machine at the Base Theatre, the old-fashioned shoeshine stands in front of Mile Hi. But no Filipino used to be allowed as guest on the base except when accompanied by a US citizen, until the '80s and then the expiration of the RP-US Bases Agreement. America, though we didn't go there that often, you're always remembered as this nostalgic postcard from the '60s: our mothers and aunts in miniskirts and cat-eye glasses, big hair poufed by hairspray; our fathers in polos or varsity sweaters and pants. Once, an older white man winked and stooped down to my level; he said Watch out, someday you're going to be a heartbreaker.
Poet Luisa A. Igloria (Poetry Foundation web page, author webpage ) was recently appointed Poet Laureate of the Commonwealth of Virginia (2020-2022). She is Co-Winner of the 2019 Crab Orchard Open Competition in Poetry for Maps for Migrants and Ghosts (Southern Illinois University Press, September 2020). She is the winner of the 2015 Resurgence Prize (UK), the world’s first major award for ecopoetry, selected by former UK poet laureate Sir Andrew Motion, Alice Oswald, and Jo Shapcott. She is the author of What is Left of Wings, I Ask (2018 Center for the Book Arts Letterpress Chapbook Prize, selected by former US Poet Laureate Natasha Trethewey); Bright as Mirrors Left in the Grass (Kudzu House Press eChapbook selection for Spring 2015), Ode to the Heart Smaller than a Pencil Eraser (Utah State University Press, 2014 May Swenson Prize), Night Willow (Phoenicia Publishing, 2014), The Saints of Streets (University of Santo Tomas Publishing House, 2013), Juan Luna’s Revolver (2009 Ernest Sandeen Prize, University of Notre Dame Press), and nine other books. She is a member of the core faculty of the MFA Creative Writing Program at Old Dominion University which she directed from 2009-2015; she also teaches classes at The Muse Writers’ Center in Norfolk. In 2018, she was the inaugural Glasgow Distinguished Writer in Residence at Washington and Lee University. When she isn’t writing, reading, or teaching, she cooks with her family, knits, hand-binds books, and listens to tango music.