articles & essays

  • In The Land Of Missing Persons – Two Families, Two Bodies, And a Wilderness of Secrets

    The Atlantic
    April 2016
    By Alex Tizon

    They found what was left of him in the spring of 2014. Firefighters battling a huge blaze on Alaska’s Kenai Peninsula first spotted a boot in the dirt. Then they noticed some bones scattered across a wide grassy area. Fire crews in Alaska are used to seeing the bones of moose, caribou, bears, and other large creatures that live and die in these woods. So it wasn’t until crew members found a human skull that they stopped to consider that the pieces might go together. Read more.

  • “god bless the ded” – Why We Interview People After Tragedy (even when we don’t want to)

    Interviewing: The Oregon Method
    September 18, 2014
    By Alex Tizon

    His daughter’s body had been found in the middle of the street. He didn’t know who killed her. He didn’t know why she was killed, and why her body—legs crossed at the ankles, arms outstretched—had been laid out in the form of a cross. Read more.

  • The Bamboo Ceiling – How “Orientals” Became “Asians”

    Oregon Humanities
    September 14, 2014
    By Alex Tizon

    I knew the word, of course. Years earlier in Seattle, registering me for elementary school, my parents stood at a counter filling out forms. My mother asked my father, “What are we, Papa – Oriental or Pacific Islander?” Read more.

  • Small Man In A Big Country

    Oregon Humanities
    August 1, 2014
    By Alex Tizon

    Our early years in America were marked by relentless self-annihilation, though of course we did not see it that way at the time. Everything was done in the name of love, for the cause of fitting in, making friends, making the grade, landing the job, providing for the future, being good citizens of paradise—all so necessary and proper. Read more.

  • “It’s Color Was Its Size”

    Salon
    June 19, 2014
    By Alex Tizon

    Like every young man in the Western Hemisphere, I had put a ruler to my penis, hoping to get a read on my place in the world order. And for the longest time there was a disconnect between my ruler and my own eyes. Read more.

  • From Alienation to Understanding: One Man’s Path Through The Maze of Race and Identity

    Pacific Northwest Magazine
    June 13, 2014
    By Alex Tizon

    My father died apologizing. He was sorry for everything. He still had so much to do, so much to prove. He had scraps of paper, with lists and plans for businesses he wanted to start, tucked away in drawers, books, briefcases that he hadn’t opened in ages. If only his body could hold it together for five more years, he told me. Just five. Read more.

  • The Maguindanao Massacre: Why Andal Ampatuan Jr. Thought He Could Get Away With It

    Philippine Center For Investigative Journalism
    November 29, 2009
    By Alex Tizon

    The body count of the Maguindanao Massacre has gone up each of the past five days. The count is now at 64, with authorities continuing to sift through the blood-soaked dirt just outside the town of Shariff Aguak. About thirty of the victims were journalists and at least twenty-two were women. The women were raped and their genitals shot at close range. Read more.

  • Dispatch From Typhoon Country: Notes on Over-capacity

    Knight International Journalism Fellowship
    October 22, 2009
    By Alex Tizon

    One day this summer, on the island of Masbate, I watched a tricycle chug down the highway carrying 20 people. If I hadn’t seen it for myself, I may not have believed it. Fortunately, my journalist colleague Rowena Paraan saw it, too, and she confirmed my count. Read more.

  • Dispatch From Manila: Coming Home

    Knight International Journalism Fellowship
    September 25, 2009
    By Alex Tizon

    I am an American journalist here in the Philippines to work on a ground-breaking media project involving the poorest of the poor. I’d like to tell you about it. But I’d be lying if I said I was here only as an altruist. I’m also here for selfish reasons: to experience life in the country where I was born. Read more.

  • Dispatch From Dipolog: Pride and Poverty

    Knight International Journalism Fellowship
    August 20, 2009
    By Alex Tizon

    I was expecting a city of shanties. A sprawling ghetto. A legion of beggars stumbling around a sagging town square. But I found none of these things in Dipolog City, the capital of Zamboanga del Norte, said to be the poorest province in the Philippines. Read more.

  • Dispatch From Masbate: A Visit To The Middle of Nowhere

    Knight International Journalism Fellowship
    August 17, 2009
    By Alex Tizon

    This past week I traveled to the geographic center of the Philippines, Masbate, one of the wildest and poorest places in this poor and unruly nation. I met with widows of murder victims, with fish-less fisherfolk and destitute gold miners. I met with a governor who, though nice enough, seemed to take pride in being clueless. Read more.

  • The Great Alaska Coal Rush

    Sierra Magazine
    July 2009
    By Alex Tizon

    From Anchorage it takes just 20 minutes on a single-prop Cessna to reach this sprawl of bog and forest where no road leads, a place so remote that moose and brown bear have not yet learned to flee at the sight of a human being. Read more.

  • Rotten Fish Tales: A Radical Form of Coalmining Wreaks Havoc in Appalachia

    Sierra Magazine
    November 2008
    By Alex Tizon

    It had been years since he laid eyes on it. Longer still since he held it in his hand, the old walleye lure his uncle had given him more than 55 years ago. Read more.