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M. Evelina Galang

M. Evelina Galang

M. Evelina Galang is the author of Her Wild American Self, a collection of short fiction. Galang is also the editor of Screaming Monkeys: Critiques of Asian American Images, which won ForeWord Magazine’s Gold Book of the Year Award for 2003. In 2001, she was the Fulbright Senior Research Scholar in the Philippines where she continued her work on Surviving Comfort Women of World War II for her collection of essays, Lolas’ House: Women Living with War. Galang teaches in the MFA Creative Writing Program at the University of Miami.

M. Evelina Galang was recently named one of the 100 most influential Filipina Women in the US by Filipina Women's Network.

Also by M. Evelina Galang

  • Her Wild American Self

One Tribe

One TribeOne Tribe

$26.00 cloth | 321 Pages
ISBN-13: 978-1-930974-58-6
Publication Date: Mar 2006
Buy: Amazon | B&N | IndieBound | ShopWMU | UPNE

AWP Award Series in the Novel
Judge: Elizabeth McCracken

Winner of the 2007 Global Filipino Literary Award for Fiction

In One Tribe, the death of Isabel Manalo’s unborn child stirs wide spread speculation in her small Midwestern suburb. Fed up with the noise of local tsismosas (gossips), she moves to Virginia Beach to teach myth and history to Filipino American youth. Isa Manalo walks into the chaos of drive by shootings, beauty pageants, and community politicking. At every turn she runs up against youth gangs who distrust her, community elders who disapprove of her loose outsider ways, and a Filipino boyfriend who accuses her of acting too white. Eventually Isa fights back. As Hurricane Emilia brews at the edge of the east coast, Isa opens her house to a local girl gang and nourishes their troubled spirits, instigating change sudden as the shift of tropical winds.

"M. Evelina Galang’s One Tribe is a bold, ambitious, moving, and deeply surprising novel about the necessity and dangers of the human need to belong to other people. Galang writes beautifully and precisely about the world of her wonderful main character, Isabel Manalo—her students, her lovers, her parents, her fears—and in doing so has written a universal book about teaching, fear, parenting, and love."
        —Elizabeth McCracken, Judge

"Reading One Tribe, I entered a strange, feminine world—the Yin mind of a caring teacher. A teacher myself, I identify with Isabel Manalo, whose students dwell in an alien country. A poetic book."
        —Maxine Hong-Kingston

"This novel deftly navigates the tension over being American and yet not quite so; the conflict between race and personal relations; and the contradiction between the reality of history and that of the present. It adds to the growing body of literature about Filipino presence and experience on this continent."
        —Ninotchka Rosca

"One Tribe is political without being preachy, and in the end is a layered story about survival, especially for the young women caught up in this violent struggle (a veritable culture war) over affirmations of power and territory—a paradigm that mirrors the conflicted history of the Philippines."
        — Rigoberto Gonzales

“One Tribe is ambitious, beautifully paced, ingeniously constructed, a multilayered novel in which virtuosity is a vehicle for wise, deeply compassionate storytelling.”
        —Stuart Dybek

"In Virginia Beach, Isabel galvanizes the drifting teens with reenactments of the Filipino myth of creation and other empowering stories of ethnic identity. Yet she is criticized in the community for her "white" ways and for engendering what the parents see as disrespect for authority; they insist she stage a traditional beauty pageant instead. Her attempts to befriend the vapid, in-fighting teenage girls show her that their lives are circumscribed by tsismis (literally, a dangerous monsoon rain; figuratively, gossip) and hiya (a hot flower in bloom, metaphor for the shame of speaking up). Gradually, Isabel begins to transform herself into a "fighting Filipina" with the help of a fellow teacher's aggressive political preaching and through an autobiographical photography project that forces her to examine her own life."
        —Kirkus Reviews, Nov 1, 2005 v73 i21 p1158(1)

"Galang infuses her novel about Filipino Americans with a sense of urgency by crafting it around the lives of a group of troubled teenagers struggling to find their way in both their ethnic and geographic communities. . . .The danger teens face and the concern Galang expresses are real, and she demands that readers acknowledge just how difficult it can be to straddle two ways of life while seeking your own place in the world."
       —Colleen Mondor, Booklist

"Author M. Evelina Galang weaves a strange world in One Tribe which is at once alarming and familiar in its juxtaposition of languages and the undertow of cultural mayhem: Filipino "colonial mentality" versus Filipino claimants of island heritage; packs of hip hop upstarts who intermingle Tagalog and Black street lingo versus staid advocates of proper assimilation into white mainstream society."
        —Remé Antonia Grefalda, Our Own Voice, 2006


A small-boned woman with a wide painted smile kissed her on each cheek like they had known each other forever. “Sweetheart, you’re so beautiful,” she said. “I can’t believe you’re not married yet.” She waved her hand in the air, and called to her child, “Anak, come here.” She leaned over and whispered, “I’m Anita Starr, Tita Nita. I want you to meet my daughter. She’s gonna love you.” She ran her hands through Isabel’s hair. “Look at you!” she said. “What do they call you?”
     “Isabel.” She took a step away. Tita Nita smelled of heavy perfume and nicotine. Isabel pulled her camera strap over her shoulder.
     “That’s so long. What’s your nickname? Isa?”
     She hated that nickname. “Bel,” she answered.
     “That’s too American,” Tita Nita said. “I’m gonna call you Isa.” Then, waving her arms, she screamed, “Anak, where are you? I said I’m calling you!”
     “Mrs. Starr—”
     “Anak, call me Tita Nita!”
     “Okay. Tita, what kind of trouble are they talking about?” Tita Nita smiled as if she hadn’t heard her. “With the kids, I mean.”
     “What kids? Not ours. Our kids are good. They just need a role model like you to show them the way.” She smiled again at Isabel and then called out for her daughter.
     That’s so weird, Isabel thought. She gulped her water down and looked through the crowd. Bodies swam left and right, and then a small pathway opened up and she saw one of the girls sauntering toward her. It was the girl with eyes blue as stained glass. She wore hip-huggers that widened into big bells of black Spandex. Five-inch heels lifted the girl’s small body up off the ground so that she appeared to be floating right at Isabel. Her belly ring slipped in and out from underneath a cropped T-shirt. When she reached Isabel, Tita Nita put both arms around the girl and squeezed her tight. “This is my daughter,” she said. “Lourdes Starr. She’s gonna be a senior this year and her daddy is an American. Louie Starr.” She pointed across the room, to a guy sitting at a table by himself. He looked like an unkempt version of Dean Martin. Tita Nita reminded Isabel of her own Auntie Baby, a well-meaning misguided tita. “My Lourdes is gonna learn a lot from you.”
     Isabel smiled at Lourdes. “We’ve met. Hi, Lourdes.”
Lourdes mumbled a greeting, her eyes shifting back and forth. When Isabel’s cat was held against his will, his ears winged backed and his haunches rose up like furry shoulders. That’s what Lourdes looked like, she thought, only not as sweet. The daughter crawled out of her mother’s embrace. She smiled in a way that Isabel could not read. Flipping her hair back, Lourdes turned and strutted back to her homegirls.
Lourdes hated her. Isabel was sure of it. Then again, when she thought of the week she had moved to town, she remembered that Lourdes hated everybody.