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Author M. Evelina Galang connects Manila and Miami using language

A woman in a purple shawl poses for a photo.
Isabella Rosa Cendan
Filipina-American author M. Evelina Galang is an English professor at the University of Miami. She directed UM's creative writing program for 10 years.

If you close your eyes and let M. Evelina Galang tell you about Manila, it starts to sound a lot like Miami.

She draws a line in her writing from her Filipino ancestry to Latino Miami.

Thick humid air, fallen mangoes and unbearable sunshine. Abuelas and Lolas standing in line at the grocery store. Tios and titos toiling in family restaurants.

Evelina’s writing is filled with familiar images if you’re from South Florida. Grandmothers talking to long-dead husbands remind you of abuelitas at the botanicas on Calle Ocho.

Evelina is the American-born daughter of Filipino immigrants. She grew up in the Midwest. But for more than 20 years, she’s been writing under a South Florida sun — as an author, a short-story writer and a teacher of creative writing at the University of Miami.

Her latest collection of short stories is When The Hibiscus Falls.

Her writing reflects a strong tie to her ancestors’ culture and a life down here. She finds herself speaking Tagalog to her Spanish-speaking neighbors. And being understood!

On the Aug. 30 episode of Sundial, Evelina joined us to talk about finding a common language in a different kind of tropical home.

On Sundial's previous episode, we spoke with comedian Mario Ramil. We laughed about the ridiculousness of life in South Florida.

Listen to Sundial Monday through Thursday on WLRN, 91.3 FM, live at 1 p.m., rebroadcast at 8 p.m. Missed a show? Find every episode of Sundial on your favorite podcast app, such as Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, and Spotify.

Carlos Frías is a bilingual writer, a journalist of more than 25 years and the author of an award-winning memoir published by Simon & Schuster.
Elisa Baena is a former associate producer for Sundial.
Leslie Ovalle Atkinson is the former lead producer behind Sundial. As a multimedia producer, she also worked on visual and digital storytelling.