Serving Your Filipino-American Community
by C. A. Gardner (with reading suggestions by Luisa A. Igloria)
The rich literary tradition of the Philippines encompasses a multiplicity of languages; Tagalog, Spanish, and English are but a few. Poets and writers in the Philippines have made successive colonial languages their own and have shared their talents with the world as part of the ongoing Filipino diaspora. Written Filipino literature stretches back to 1610 with the first book by a native Filipino to be published in the Philippines, Librong Pagaaralan nang manga Tagalog nang uicang Castila by Tomas Pinpin. In 1880, Pedro Alejandro Paterno's Sampaguitas y Otras Poesias Varias became the first book of poetry by a Filipino ever published in Europe; and in 1905, the first published Filipino poems in English appeared in The Filipino Students' Magazine in California.1 Today, Filipino literature in English is published at least as frequently in the United States as in the Philippines.
With an estimated 60,000 Filipino—Americans living in Virginia alone2, many public libraries, especially in the coastal regions, have a sizeable Filipino patron base. The following resources provide a starting point for a collection that addresses the varied and unique experiences faced by members of a cultural heritage that has survived invasion by Spain, the United States, and Japan — a heritage that continues to exert its own identity in the face of the lingering cultural dominance of the first two.
For too long, Filipino contributions to literature in English have been overlooked amid the flood of publications available in the United States, despite the awards and praise given to individual works. Today, an increasing number of anthologies and bibliographies help to rectify this oversight, and libraries can help as well. In addition to providing material that addresses the Filipino-American experience as nothing else can, a collection of Filipino-American literature can help to expand the literary horizons of all your patrons.
The following offer a good foundation for a collection of modern Filipino fiction, poetry, and memoirs. These selections include some of the most vibrant voices in modern Filipino literature, including popular and award-winning authors; but this list is by no means comprehensive. Many other fine examples can be found in the bibliographies, recommended resources, and author biographies found in the following books, particularly the edited collections.
Barot, Rick. The Darker Fall: Poems. Louisville, Ky.: Sarabande Books, 2002. ISBN 1-889330-73-6.
Carbó, Nick. Andalusian Dawn: Poems. Cincinnati, Ohio: Cherry Grove Collections, 2004. ISBN 1-9323-3944-2.
Carbó, Nick, ed. Pinoy Poetics: A Collection of Autobiographical and Critical Essays on Filipino and Filipino American Poetics. San Francisco: Meritage Press, 2004. ISBN: 0-9709179-3-7.
Carbó, Nick, ed. Returning a Borrowed Tongue: Poems by Filipino and Filipino American Writers (cover subtitle: An Anthology of Filipino and Filipino American Poetry). Minneapolis, Minn.: Coffee House Press, 1995. ISBN 1-56689-043-8.
Carbó, Nick. Secret Asian Man. Chicago, Ill.: Tia Chucha Press, 2000. ISBN 1-882688-24-4.
Carbó, Nick and Eileen Tabios, eds. Babaylan: An Anthology of Filipina and Filipina American Writers. San Francisco, Calif.: Aunt Lute Books, 2000. ISBN 1-879960-59-1.
Francia, Luis H. Eye of the Fish: A Personal Archipelago. New York: Kaya Press, 2001. ISBN 1-885030-31-2.
Gamalinda, Eric. The Empire of Memory. Metro Manila, Philippines: Anvil Publishing, 1992. ISBN 971-27-0264-2.
Gamalinda, Eric. Zero Gravity: Poems. Farmington, Maine: Alice James Books, 1999. ISBN 1-882295-20-X.
Hagedorn, Jessica. Dream Jungle. New York: Viking, 2003. ISBN 0-670-88458-8.
Igloria, Luisa A., ed. Not Home, But Here: Writing from the Filipino Diaspora. Metro Manila, Philippines: Anvil Publishing, 2003. ISBN 971-27-1358-X.
Melvin, Reine Arcache. A Normal Life and Other Stories. Manila, Philippines: Ateneo de Manila University Office of Research and Publications, 1999. ISBN 971-550-251-2.
Nezhukumatathil, Aimee. Miracle Fruit: Poems. Dorset, Vermont: Tupelo Press, 2003. ISBN 0-9710310-8-8.
Roley, Brian Ascalon. American Son: A Novel. New York: Norton, 2001. ISBN 0-393-32154-1.
Rosal, Patrick. Uprock Headspin Scramble and Dive: Poems. New York: Persea Books, 2003. ISBN 0-89255-293-X.
Strobel, Leny Mendoza. Coming Full Circle: The Process of Decolonization among Post-1965 Filipino Americans. Quezon City, Philippines: Giraffe Books, 2001. ISBN 971-8832-43-2.
Villanueva, Marianne. Mayor of the Roses: Stories. Oxford, Ohio: Miami University Press, 2005. ISBN 1-881163-46-6.
Villanueva, Marianne, and Virginia Cerenio, eds. Going Home to a Landscape: Writings by Filipinas. Foreword by Rocio G. Davis. Corvallis, Ore.: CALYX Books, 2003. ISBN 0-934971-84-6.
The following are good places to start when creating a webpage or resource guide. While a number of the links focus on Filipino literature, others, such as Tanikalang Ginto: Golden Chains, cover a wide range of subjects of interest to the Filipino-American community.
Cultural Center of the Philippines http://www.culturalcenter.gov.ph/
Embassy of the Republic of the Philippines (Washington, D.C.) http://www.philippineembassy-usa.org/index.htm Includes "Culture & Arts," http://www.philippineembassy-usa.org/about/culture.htm
Filipino American Center, Old Dominion University http://al.odu.edu/filipino/
Filipino American National Historical Society http://www.fanhs-national.org/
Filipino American Resources http://www.seattleu.edu/lemlib/web_archives/Filipino/biog.html
FLIPS, an E-mail Discussion List for Filipino Writers http://www.uni.edu/gotera/flips/
Likhaan Online: The University of the Philippines Institute of Creative Writing http://www.upd.edu.ph/~icw/index.htm
National Commission for Culture and the Arts: Empowering the Filipino Imagination http://www.ncca.gov.ph/
The Philippine Cultural Center of Virginia http://www.philippineculturalcenterofva.org/
Tanikalang Ginto: Golden Chains (Philippine-Related Sites) http://www.filipinolinks.com/
Your Portal to Philippine Literature http://www.panitikan.com.ph/
1Nick Carbó, "A Literary Timeline," in Pinoy Poetics: A Collection of Autobiographical and Critical Essays on Filipino and Filipino American Poetics (San Francisco: Meritage Press, 2004), xii-xiii.