Many changes are happening here at TAYO.

Since 2009, we have curated our magazine as a space for Filipino/Filipino-American themes, hoping to disrupt and diversify the American literary landscape that, to us, was too white, too suburban, too upper middle class. We wanted, we needed, to carve out a space that spoke the pangs of our hearts, and TAYO became that space. Through the difficulties, the search for sponsorships, and the growing pains of a nonprofit, we continued to solidify this space for the past five years. But it wasn't easy. Financial support wasn't readily available. A volunteer-based staff is always difficult to upkeep. And as such, as the whims of life came and went, TAYO's old team morphed, changed, and went on.

This left TAYO with either two options: one, cease and dissolve; or two, begin again with the myriad of possibilities. We chose the latter. We believe with a new team, a new online website, and an expanded goal in mind, TAYO garners the possibility to push even further our mission and vision statement:

"For our culture, by our culture."

Let me explain, and be very clear: I believe TAYO's mission as a journal and online space is integral to the American literary landscape. By continuing our open submissions policy (accepting work regardless of ethnicity and race) and also shifting our upcoming issues and leaving it open-ended (publishing issues that are not based on a specific culture—that is, 'Filipino-ness', but rather the umbrella culture of all things lost and adrift), we further place TAYO in the forefront of the literary world. As Lysley Tenorio told us in our interview with him in our last annual issue, TAYO 4, Filipinos have been here for a long, long time. This land is ours, too. He says:

It means that I’m American, it means that there’s no such thing as a definitive or a quintessential American. It means that Filipinos are here and they have been here, and they’ve invested a lot in this country. It’s also a way of affirming [our] presence here. I think, also, in the wrong context, it’s a way of marginalization; people can put you to the side because of it. It means a lot of different things.
— Lysley Tenorio

Thus: what's the value in accepting work that is varied in content, submitter, and diaspora?

I believe there is value, and that value is this: dialogue. Critical dialogue. Shared dialogue. Open dialogue. Dialogue that is beyond the community, dialogue that is in communication with others whose lives and cultures share, intersect, and reveal the post-traumatic colonized body of all who are lost and adrift. It means that we aren't pigeonholing ourselves; it means that we are not putting our voices to the side; it means we are fracturing the mainstream by implanting our voices right up front and center. 

It means that our voices matter. That our voices are not just "ethnic based." We are more than that, and we have always been more than that.

It is why, yesterday, when I received an anonymous comment from someone within our community, who was disappointed in TAYO for removing our culture/ethnic-based theme, I had to sit and think and concentrate on what exactly they were responding to. What was it that triggered this emotive, divisive response? Why was there anger to TAYO's growth as a literary space? This is what they said:

"There aren't many places that Filipinos/Fil-Ams can read work for and by us. [...] On top of that, I wouldn't WANT to read an article or work written by a white person that speaks to the issues of MY community. They say, 'We like diasporic, post-colonized, migration, dislocation kind of stuff.' Doesn't TAYO see how hypocritical this is? It's like they're actually saying, 'Come and colonize our magazine! Dislocate the artists that truly belong in it!'"

The first sentence pinpointed the trigger of their response: "There aren't many places that Filipinos/Fil-Ams can read work for and by us." I think this response is laden with the cultural fabric of erasure and amnesia, because there are many spaces that support and cultivate Filipino/Fil-Am work, such as PAWA Inc., POSITIVELY FILIPINOKundiman, the NVM Gonzales Workshop/Online Journal, AALR, Kartika Review, The Say Say Project, FilAm Arts, {m}aganda Magazine, The Manila Review, The Philippine Speculative Fiction Anthologies, PLURAL, and so much more.

I understand the commenter's anger. That anger pushed me to cofound TAYO; that anger is correct in its want for more Filipino spaces, but it is also dividing, a product of the post-colonized crab mentality. Is TAYO to blame for the lack of space for Filipino and Filipino Americans? I personally do not think so. We will always be dedicated to the cultivation of Philippine arts. Our aesthetic, like all other journals, is subjective to the associative fabric of who we are: as editors, as writers, as humans. And is TAYO asking for white colonizers to come and disrupt our magazine? Heavens no. In the past, we published two wonderful writers, Tom Sykes and Lillian Comas, who both wrote haunting, beautiful stories that diversified and gave weight to our TAYO ISSUE 2 and TAYO ISSUE 3. And yes: they were not Filipino. Does this devalue their stories? I personally do not think so. They added a sensibility that comes from the understanding and interrogation of the complicated and interlocked web that make up our racialized and post-colonized lives.

Over the past five years, TAYO has added an imperative and specific voice to the growing space of Philippine art and literature; however, it is time that we enter into conversations that go beyond the community and interrogate what is celebrated and what is not, especially within/without the community.

TAYO, as a journal and artistic space, is in a process of rebuilding and change: it wants, it needs, to grow, in aesthetic merit, in artistic merit, in critical merit. Publishing work that speaks directly to the intersectionality of migratory and disaporic experiences pushes the envelope of our aesthetics and structure; it allows TAYO to be a contender among the many prestigious journals that tend to pass over stories like this, if only because they are too ethnic, too political, too this-or-that, or even: we already have a Chinese writer, so we can't publish a Filipino writer too. Things like this do happen, and they happen too often. It is why TAYO has decided to become a space that celebrates and lifts and slices into the convoluted conundrum of diaspora and post-colonization. We want stories that make us think. That make us grab our chests. That make us angry. That make us hope. That make us laugh. That make us cry. That make us connect. That make us understand. That make us political. That make us want more.

So, I hope, this explains what TAYO's own heart is after. I hope this makes you more excited about the growing pains TAYO is undergoing. I hope this makes you want to submit: over the years, we always had to force Filipino/Filipino Americans to submit to us. I'm not sure why this is, and it might have to do with Audre Lorde's "master's tools" dilemma. And if it does, I think we must ask ourselves as writers and artists: what are the master's tools? Is it language? Is it storytelling? Is it the power of morphing marginalized/oppressed cultures into one simplistic narrative? Yes, I believe these are part of it. And I know TAYO is a publication that will counter that single story narrative, that will strive to dismantle the master's tools with something we always had as a culture: storytelling.

My favorite writer, the man who has taught and shown me—through his words, his blood, his hope, his disappointments—what it exactly means to be a brown, colored woman in America, says it better:

When you try to stand up and look the world in the face like you had a right to be here, without knowing this, you have attacked the entire power structure of the Western world.
— James Baldwin

TAYO is here to add another space for the voices that attack the very power structure of the Western world just by existing. It's a big, idealistic, and hopeful thing to endeavor, but we, the staff here at TAYO, truly believe it: we need spaces such as this. We know we need stories such as this, stories that are not exactly ours but are so much like ours. And such, publication, to us, allows us to add our voices to the growing fray of the convoluting world. It makes us go beyond being seen: it allows us to be heard.

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