10 American Filipino Pounds That Made Me Feel More Filipino


We were crossing the waters of Palawan when I saw it – Culion, an island in the Philippines that was once a leper colony. A glimmer of gratitude, and the pleasure that accompanies it, overwhelms me.

I had read on this island before, I had already had this feeling: first in a short story by Lysley Tenorio, “A View From Culion”, then in a poem by Patrick Rosal, “Instance of an Island”, where he writes about a pair of “incurables,” Josefa and Filomena, who, despite having only 10 fingers between them, find solace in the scrambling of the hospital’s only guitar.

And now I could see the island itself, if only from a distance, like a puzzle piece falling into place.

For years I tried to connect with where my parents grew up trying to figure out what it means to be Filipino if I couldn’t speak the language, if I didn’t. not living, so I kept getting food poisoning on every visit. It is a common experience for those of us who have spent our lives away from our parents’ old home.

But, books. Books, I have found, are some of the most powerful ways to develop this lineage of mine, one that seemed tenuous at first but grew stronger with every story, with every reference I catch.

Here is a list of my favorite Filipino American books, which is by no means conclusive. There are still so many more on my list to read, including Jon Pineda’s Let no one be hurt and that of Anthony Christian Ocampo Asian Latinos.

Castillo’s debut novel – which takes us from a rebel army’s refuge in the mountains in the Philippines to a Filipino community in the Bay Area and covers topics such as class, queer love, and chosen families – m ‘stifled as I finished the prologue.

Start looking into Filipino fiction and you’ll find Hagedorn to be the queen, with her spiky hair and penchant for bringing a frenzied array of characters to life: thugs, crooks, desperate lovers. In Dream jungle, she imagines what it was like on the set of Apocalypse now, which was filmed in the Philippines, and what went through the mind of a man who claimed to have discovered a “lost” Filipino tribe.

Read Patrick Rosal – whom Philly can claim as one of her own – for his poems about bar fights with fair-skinned Filipinos. Read Rosal for his meditation on Los Angeles as a kind of afterlife for his mother. Read Rosal because who else can write about Tyra Banks fantasies so beautifully? Just read it, always read it.

My main memory of reading Lysley Tenorio’s short story collection is lying on my Ninang’s couch and sobbing. That, and share it with my Filipino long-distance book club, which was also rocked. Its story, “Felix Starro”, was turned into a musical this year as part of a Filipino collaboration with Queen Hagedorn.

Another touching collection of short stories, the title of which explores a union struggle at Manila City Hospital in the 1970s over a pay gap between Filipino and American nurses and the lasting consequences for the nurse who has led the strike.

On the witches, ogres, and beasts that haunt Filipino children at night: aswangs, kapres, and the big one bu’aia.

I was gripped by this creative non-fiction work – a mysterious murder, a love story, a tribute to the indie film scene in Manila – and even ordered a second copy so I could loan it to more. friends. Fantauzzo Following is scheduled for 2021.

The Philippines was an American colony for almost 50 years, something I never learned in school. This book, which traces this little-known history, is sometimes painful to read.

I am a union journalist! So of course I devoured this book about Filipinos who do the hard and invisible customer service work for businesses.

Another treasure from the Filipino union journalist, this one answering the question of why there are so many Filipino nurses in the United States.

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