Imagining the Philippines

How do you write about a place you only have some fuzzy nostalgic connection to?

My current writing project has a lot to do with the Philippines, a country I’ve visited only twice. Five and Sixteen years old.  An enormous, complex place that my aswang character is from, where her life begins, where her imaginings about the U.S. start, that I only know as a passing two-week visitor.  I guess that is the paradigm of immigrants, or people whose parents are born in another country.

My dad tells me Tess Uriza Holte, the author of “When the Elephants Dance,” a novel about the Philippines during World War II, never visited the Philippines prior to her writing this book.  She wrote from the stories of her grandparents and parents.  But how do you get to the particularities of a place without stereotyping it?  How will my aswang navigate her hometown, a place I know nothing about?  Maybe I’m trippin too much about this, thinking too hard.


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