Irene Ramirez Santos, my paternal grandmother, pictured in the 1960s in the Philippines.

Sitting in her wheelchair, my grandmother looked up at me with a polite grin. Her eyes were large and bright with curiosity.

“Do you remember her?” my father asked his mother in Tagalog, pointing at me as I stood in the tiny, drab living room of my grandma’s apartment in Mandaluyong City, just outside Manila, Philippines. “That’s Darleen, your granddaughter.”

“Hi Lola,” I said. “How are you?”

She took a few seconds to consider the words. Then her smile widened and she began to nod slowly, as if to say “yes, she looks familiar.”

I leaned down and kissed her…


Grieving mother formed nonprofit to honor her son’s legacy

Kathie Parks, founder of Harrison Hugs (courtesy photo)

Kathie Parks is not the same person she was four years ago.

After unexpectedly losing her 16-year-old son, Harrison, to a sudden cardiac death on March 30, 2014, she knew she would have to find a way to transform her sorrow into something positive.

“When Harrison died, there were two girls who told us about how he prevented them from committing suicide. One told the story during a vigil and the other came to us privately,” Parks said. “The stories were similar; the night they were going to commit suicide, they called (Harrison) and he told them not to do…


For Eleanor Lipat-Chesler, playing the kulintang is not just about the music.

It’s about understanding and sharing Mindanao culture, breaking down barriers and fostering human connections.

“The prejudices about people who live in Mindanao are so strong and deep,” said Lipat-Chesler, a Los Angeles-based ethnomusicologist and performing artist. “The anti-Muslim sentiment is so dangerous and frightening, and now more than ever it’s important to find common ground and help break down this mistrust, this suspicion of ‘the other.’”

Mindanao is the second largest island of the Philippines, located in the southern part of the predominantly Catholic, archipelago nation. About…

Darleen Principe

Journalist. Sourdough bread aficionado. Karaoke enthusiast. I teach news and feature writing (among other things) at CSU Northridge.

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