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writing 5-6 pgs Biographical research paper about Carlos bulosan. i provided my university library sources and you MUST use 4 of them and you can use 2 more Sources from the internt or you can use all the sources that i provided to you. the MOST IMPORTANT THING IS TO USE TOTALL OF 6 SOURCES. i porovided Biographical research paper douc please read it carefully and follow all the instructions.
Biographical research paper

You need to choose an immigrant to the United States of some note (preferably not someone VERY well known) whose story helps contribute to our larger understanding of how immigrants have a positive impact on the United States. You may take a look at some of the authors listed in our Becoming Americans text. Your thesis statement should reflect your purpose, which is to prove that this person’s story is integral to the “immigrant story.”
You may choose to handle this paper in one of two ways:
The scholarly chronicle is the most fundamental (and common) type of biographical research with its focus on the historical portrayal of an individual life. This basic research orientation constitutes telling the subject’s story in chronological order with emphasis upon the development of a quest plot (life pattern-stages) and the description of acts of recognition (or notoriety) as the biographer marches through the life of the biographical subject. The scholarly chronicle is often viewed as synonymous with biography; however, this research orientation is markedly different from other forms of biographical inquiry. 
Another genre, intellectual biography, forsakes the need for basic chronological structure and develops a narrative of a life through the conceptual analysis of the subject’s motives and beliefs within the world of ideas. Those who write intellectual biography have overcome the interpretive angst of other educational researchers; the intellectual biographer recognizes and accepts the invasive yet justifiable analysis and overcomes the intrusive nature of inquiry with care resulting in self-reflective thoughtfulness and insight. 
(These descriptions come from AERA).
The paper should be 5-6 pages and include at least 6 sources. These sources should come primarily through UE library resources and books. 2 may be CREDIBLE Internet sources, but no more than 2 and they must be credible. If you have any question about the credibility of a source, please feel free to ask me.
I strongly recommend signing up for a Research Assistance Program (RAP) appointment to meet with a librarian once you think you know who you’d like to write about. See the link here for the form to sign up.


Carlos Bulosan
Born: Binalonan, Pangasinan, Luzon, Philippines; November 2, 1911
Died: Seattle, Washington; September 11, 1956

Bulosan was the first Filipino writer to have a major impact on American literature, and
his America Is in the Heart has become an important model for the ethnobiographies that
followed his work throughout the twentieth century.

Carlos Bulosan emigrated to the United States
from his native Philippines in 1930. Like count-
less other young men who had been driven to the
United States by the promise of better jobs, Bu-
losan found instead the crushing defeats of the
worst economic depression in U.S. history. The
story of his struggles during the 1930’s and early
1940’s, chronicled in the autobiographical Amer-
ica Is in the Heart (1946), had a profound impact
on ethnic writing after it was republished by the
University of Washington Press in 1973.

It is difficult to piece together Bulosan’s real
life story, in part because his most important lit-
erary legacy is itself a creative mix of fact and fic-
tion. Even the basic outline of his life is in some
dispute: Scholars disagree about the date of his
birth, the date and location of his death, and his
age when he died. What is known is that he was
born in the village of Mangusmana, near Binalo-
nan (in Pangasinan province, on the island of
Luzon) in the Philippines and was one of several
children. Like many rural Filipino families at that
time, his parents suffered economic hardship due
in part to U.S. colonialism. He completed only
three years of schooling and, drawn to the Unit-
ed States by the promises of wealth and education
and the dream of becoming a writer, he followed
two older brothers and purchased a steerage tick-
et to Seattle for seventyfive dollars, arriving on
July 22, 1930, while still a teenager.

He would never return to the Philippines, and
he would never become an American citizen. He
worked at a series of low-paying jobs in an Alaskan
fish cannery and as a fruit and vegetable picker in
Washington and California. Conditions in the ear-

ly 1930’s were miserable for all migrant workers
(as documented in John Steinbeck’s 1939 novel
The Grapes of Wrath) but particularly for Filipinos
(then called “Pinoys”) such as Bulosan, and he ex-
perienced racial discrimination and poverty. How-
ever, he slowly improved his English, befriended
other immigrant laborers suffering similar condi-
tions, and soon was writing for and editing union
and immigrant papers such as New Tide. He also
became involved in organizing workers and, with
his Filipino friend Chris Mensalves, formed the
union that would later become the United Can-
nery, Agricultural, Packing and Allied Workers of
America (UCAPAWA).

Never a healthy man, Bulosan was diagnosed
with tuberculosis in 1936, and he spent the next
several years in Los Angeles General Hospital, un-
dergoing surgeries and convalescence. He used
his time productively, however; he later claimed
that he read a book a day, many by the classic
authors of American literature, including Edgar
Allan Poe, Walt Whitman, Theodore Dreiser, and
Ernest Hemingway. He never abandoned his early
dream of becoming a writer and soon was publish-
ing poetry and essays. By the early 1940’s, he was
gaining national recognition.

In 1942, he published his first book of po-
ems, Letter from America, and The Voice of Bataan
was published the following year. Also in 1943,
the Saturday Evening Post commissioned articles
on the Four Freedoms, and Bulosan was paid one
thousand dollars for “Freedom from Want,” an
essay that was illustrated in the magazine by the
famous artist Norman Rockwell. Stories, poems,
and essays by Bulosan began to appear during
the early 1940’s in magazines such as Town and

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Warda Alesry


Carlos Bulosan

Country, Harper’s Bazaar, and Poetry. Bulosan’s first
collection of stories, The Laughter of My Father, was
published in 1944 and was broadcast around the
world to American troops fighting in World War
II; it soon became a best seller.

In 1946, Harcourt Brace published America Is
in the Heart, which also became popular, but Bu-
losan’s career was already beginning to falter, in
part because of two factors beyond his control. In
1944, he had published a short story, “The End
of the War,” in The New Yorker, and he was accused
of plagiarism by another writer. The charges were
never proven, but the claim and the publicity it
aroused damaged Bulosan’s career. Perhaps more
important, the end of World War II saw the rise
of anticommunist hysteria in the United States,
peaking in the early 1950’s with the witch hunts of
the notorious House Committee on Un-American
Activities and Senator Joseph McCarthy. Bulosan
was investigated for his 1930’s union activities and
eventually—like many other important American
writers—blacklisted. During this time, Bulosan
was back in Seattle working as a labor editor
but was in poor health. On September 11, 1956,
he died of tuberculosis and is buried in Mount
Pleasant Cemetery in the city’s Queen Anne Hill
neighborhood. He was originally buried in an un-
marked pauper’s grave, but, since 1982, his grave
has been marked with a black granite headstone
erected by admirers of the Filipino labor organiz-
er and writer.

Bulosan wrote other books, including novels,
but most of his later works were published posthu-
mously by scholars who went through his papers
and assembled individual titles. E. San Juan, Jr.,
has been responsible for many of these volumes,
including The Philippines Is in the Heart: A Collection
of Short Stories (1978), On Becoming Filipino: Selected
Writings of Carlos Bulosan (1995), and The Cry and
the Dedication (historical fiction, 1995), a novel set
in the Philippines during and after World War II.

While debate about Bulosan’s life continues to
exist, the importance both of his career and par-
ticularly of America Is in the Heart is clear. In this
fictional immigrant narrative, he combined fact
and myth to create an ethnobiography of his peo-
ple’s experience in the United States in the early
decades of the twentieth century. He fictionalized

much of his own life in the story but was true to
the oppression and discrimination that he and
his fellow Filipino immigrants experienced dur-
ing the 1930’s. Unlike the authors of ethnic au-
tobiographies that had been produced in earlier
waves of immigration (such as the Autobiography of
Andrew Carnegie or The Americanization of Edward
Bok, both published in 1920), Bulosan stressed the
class struggle which he saw played out in his own
life and created a counterpoint to the standard
American Dream portrayed in such works. The
result is a powerful story which tells of his own
life and that of his people from an anti-imperialist
and working-class perspective.

Bulosan’s other works have broadened his rep-
utation, but America Is in the Heart remains the
book by which he will be best remembered. Like
other Asian American fiction (written by, for ex-
ample, Amy Tan and Gish Jen), it explores a num-
ber of ethnic issues, including the theme of dual
identity—the conflict between the protagonist’s
roots in an ethnic community and culture and
the character’s search for an individual identity.
Furthermore, like a number of classic American
works, from Mark Twain’s Adventures of Huckleberry
Finn (1884) to Jack Kerouac’s On the Road (1957),
America Is in the Heart is also the story of a journey
of selfdiscovery. The narrator witnesses countless
instances of violence and discrimination but by
the end of the story comes to an understanding
of himself and of the country he has chosen as
his own. Like a number of works from the 1930’s
(not only that of Steinbeck’s Grapes of Wrath, but
also the novels of writers such as Jack Conroy and
John Dos Passos), the book depicts life at its most
miserable during the worst economic depression
in American history.

Many ethnic American literary works have un-
covered an American history that the dominant
culture has arguably ignored, including slavery,
the extermination of Native American tribes, and
the expropriation of Mexican lands. Bulosan’s
work amplifies two important aspects of these ig-
nored topics, first exposing what U.S. imperialism
meant in the Philippines in the early years of the
twentieth century and then what further injustices
befell the victims of that imperialism who fled to
the United States looking for its fabled riches. In
the first part of America Is in the Heart and in nu-
merous short stories and the later novel The Cry

American Lit Abbey-Chopin_Vol1_pp001-536.indd 406 10/27/16 3:32 AM


Carlos Bulosan

and the Dedication, Bulosan writes about his home-
land and what has happened to it as a result of
American intervention, beginning with the Span-
ish-American War in 1898. Moreover, in much of
Bulosan’s works, including the remaining four
parts of America Is in the Heart and his short stories
and essays, to say nothing of the trajectory of his
own career, Bulosan documents how he and his
fellow Filipinos have been systematically mistreat-
ed and brutalized in the American land of prom-
ise. Few ethnic writers can ignore their history,
but Bulosan lived his and wrote about it almost

America Is in the Heart
First published: 1946
Type of work: Autobiographical novel

Allos emigrates from his native Philippines in
1930 and spends a decade working as a migrant
laborer up and down the West Coast before finding
his calling as a labor organizer and writer.

Carey McWilliams, who wrote a classic study of
migrant farm labor in California titled Factories in
the Field (1939), also wrote the introduction to the
University of Washington reprint of America Is in
the Heart, the paperback which brought Bulosan’s
work back into national literary consciousness.
McWilliams called the book “a social classic” that
“reflects the collective life experience of thou-
sands of Filipino immigrants who were attracted to
this country by its legendary promises of a better
life or who were recruited for employment here.”
The work must thus be read on multiple levels at
the same time: as a greatly fictionalized memoir
or life story but perhaps even more important, as
a study of Filipino immigration—which in turn is
also part novel, part autobiography.

The work is divided into four parts. In part 1,
the narrator (named “Allos”) describes his life
in rural Luzon following World War I, when his
brother Leon returns from service. His family is
slowly disintegrating under multiple economic
pressures, as absentee landlords are crippling the
peasant farming economy, and eventually Allos
is sent to the city to work. However, the perspec-
tive is not that of a young boy: Bulosan is clearly

looking back as a writer in the United States. This
adult narrator understands the exploitation of the
peasants by landowners and the church and sees
that radical social change is on the horizon. (The
parallels to the events on the West Coast—the la-
bor organizing and strikes—in the 1930’s of part
2 are clear.) Part 1 ends with Allos standing on the
deck of the ship that will take him to the United
States “and looking toward the disappearing Phil-
ippines” that he will never see again.

Part 2 focuses largely on the racial discrimi-
nation and violence that Filipinos and other mi-
norities experienced in the United States. Allos
arrives in Seattle with twenty cents, he says, and he
is immediately exploited by a Filipino labor con-
tractor who sells him
to the fish canneries
in Alaska. “It was the
beginning of my life
in America, the begin-
ning of a long flight
that carried me down
the years, fighting des-
perately to find peace
in some corner of
life.” His “pilgrimage,
this search for a door
into America,” takes
him instead through a
world of gamblers and
prostitutes, brutality
and bestiality, and disorientation and oppression.
He travels south in search of work and comes to
realize “that in many ways it was a crime to be a Fil-
ipino in California. I came to know that the public
streets were not free to my people. . . .” Bulosan
relates a series of awful stories in this section, of
hunger and pain, poverty and loneliness, racism
and exploitation. Unlike the traditional American
rags-to-riches story (compare Benjamin Franklin’s
Auto Biography from 1793, and the story of how
he arrived in Philadelphia with only pennies and
within weeks had found friendship and success),
Bulosan’s story in this second part is an almost
unremitting tale of violence and persecution. His
“flight” here has taken him to a “crossroads” in his
life journey, and he commits himself to broadcast
his experience and organize his people.

Part 3 documents Bulosan’s intellectual awak-
ening. He becomes part of the labor movement,

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Carlos Bulosan

participates in a strike, and starts writing for New
Tide. Just as he is beginning this activist role,
however, he is diagnosed with tuberculosis and
hospitalized. Yet, despite his illness, his “insatia-
ble hunger for knowledge and human affection”
begins to be satisfied. Several white women help
him get books—he claims he reads a book a day,
“including Sundays”—and encourage his literar y
ambitions. Throughout the work, Bulosan identi-
fies with Robinson Crusoe and his castaway lone-
liness, but Bulosan’s sur vival was possible only
because of the various communities, both white
and Filipino, that he found or forged in his new

In the short, concluding part 4, he continues
to detail the writers who are influencing him—
Younghill Kang, John Fante, Louis Adamic (all,
like Bulosan, ethnic authors who wrote about
their life journeys)—and to describe his organ-
izing activities as his radical consciousness grows.
He also begins to write in the same period that
the Japanese bomb Pearl Harbor and World War
II begins in the United States. Bulosan concludes
his narrative with a song of praise to an America
that the text itself seems to deny: “the American
earth was like a huge heart unfolding warmly to
receive me. . . . It came to me that no man . . .
could destroy my faith in America again.”

The contradictions within America Is in the Heart
are everywhere. At the same time operating as
both history and fiction, a work that praises Amer-
ica at the very moment that it is describing its mul-
tiple injustices, the book is a perfect metaphor for
the paradox of America itself—its possibilities and
cruelties. As a number of scholars have pointed
out, the story fictionalizes much of Bulosan’s life;
on one hand, he came from a better-off family in
the Philippines than Allos, and on the other, given
his frail health, he could never have worked all
the arduous jobs he describes Allos undertaking
on the West Coast. The book is, however, true to
his ethnic life story and is an accurate collective
biography of the first wave of Filipino immigra-
tion to America, where exploitation and discrim-
ination were the rule. Its theme thus places it in
the mainstream tradition of American autobiog-
raphy, from Benjamin Franklin through to Young-
hill Kang (East Goes West: The Making of an Orien-
tal Yankee, 1937), as a story of someone who will,
against almost insurmountable odds, overcome

the obstacles thrown in his path. The two clos-
est comparisons, however, are Depression-based
autobiographies: Mike Gold’s Jews Without Money
(1930) and Richard Wright’s Black Boy (1945).
Like both these writers, Bulosan fictionalizes his
experience and blurs the distinctions between fact
and myth. Moreover, also like these authors, he
tells a story of internal exile, of living in America
and drawn to its dreams and yet feeling separated
from real participation in American life.

Carlos Bulosan’s career has been unique in
American literature. An ethnic writer who found
fame before most others, he fell into obscurity,
died young, and was rediscovered when the re-
cover y of ethnic American literature accelerated
in the last decades of the twentieth centur y. Amer-
ica Is in the Heart came to be considered a major
work in the Asian American literar y canon, but
that is where agreement ends. Part myth, fiction,
and histor y, America Is in the Heart puzzles crit-
ics, for it breaks the genre boundaries that schol-
ars are usually intent on establishing. Still, the
work remains Bulosan’s most important legacy,
a powerful retelling of one important chapter
in Asian American histor y, what the critic Elaine
Kim has called “a composite portrait of the Fil-
ipino American community, a social document
from the point of view of a participant in that
experience,” and what E. San Juan, Jr., consid-
ers “a massive documentation of the varieties of
racism, exploitation, alienation, and inhumanity
suffered by Filipinos in the West Coast and Alas-
ka in the decade beginning with the Depression
and extending to the outbreak of World War II.”
Carlos Bulosan will hold his place in American
literature as long as this countr y’s rich multieth-
nic histor y is celebrated.

David Peck

By the Author

long fiction:
The Power of the People, 1986
The Cry and the Dedication, 1995 (E. San Juan, Jr.,

All the Conspirators, 1998

American Lit Abbey-Chopin_Vol1_pp001-536.indd 408 10/27/16 3:32 AM


Carlos Bulosan

short fiction:
The Laughter of My Father, 1944
The Philippines Is in the Heart: A Collection of Stories,

If You Want to Know What We Are: A Carlos Bulosan
Reader, 1983 (E. San Juan, Jr., editor)
The Power of Money, and Other Stories, 1990
On Becoming Filipino: Selected Writings of Carlos
Bulosan, 1995 (San Juan, Jr., editor)

Letter from America, 1942
The Voice of Bataan, 1943
Now You Are Still, and Other Poems, 1990

America Is in the Heart, 1946
Sound of Falling light: Letters in Exile, 1960

Bulosan: An Introduction with Selections, 1983

(compiled by E. San Juan, Jr.)

edited text:
Chorus for America: Six Philippine Poets, 1942

About the Author
Campomanes, Oscar V. “Filipinos in the United

States and Their Literature of Exile.” In
Reading the Literatures of Asian America, edited
by Shirley Geok-lin Lim and Amy Ling.
Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1992.

Evangelista, Susan. Carlos Bulosan and His Poetry: A Biography and an Anthology. Quezon City: Ateneo de
Manila University Press, 1985.

Kim, Elaine. Asian-American Literature: An Introduction to the Writings and Their Social Context. Philadelphia:
Temple University Press, 1982.

Libretti, Tim. “America Is in the Heart by Carlos Bulosan.” In A Resource Guide to Asian American Literature,
edited by Sau-long Cynthia Wong and Stephen H. Sumida. New York: Modern Language Association
of America, 2001.

Morantte, P. C. Remembering Carlos Bulosan: His Heart Affair with America. Quezon City: New Day, 1984.
San Juan, E., Jr. Bulosan: An Introduction with Selections. Manila: National Book Store, 1983.
_______. Carlos Bulosan and the Imagination of the Class Struggle. Quezon City: University of the Philippines

Press, 1972.

Discussion Topics
• How does the narrator of Carlos Bulosan’s

America Is in the Heart find his own identi-

• Which institutions (the church, the po-
lice, and so on) help his growth? Which
ones hinder it?

• List all the incidents of violence, cruelty,
and racial discrimination in the novel.
What patterns do they reveal?

• Is this a story of assimilation into the
American mainstream? How so?

• Where does Allos finally find community?
Who helps him the most?

• Compare this work with other books
about writers coming of age, such as James
Joyce’s A Portrait of the Artist as a Young
Man (1916) or Sherwood Anderson’s
Winesburg, Ohio (1919). What do they have
in common?

American Lit Abbey-Chopin_Vol1_pp001-536.indd 409 10/27/16 3:32 AM

Copyright of Critical Survey of American Literature is the property of Salem Press and its
content may not be copied or emailed to multiple sites or posted to a listserv without the
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articles for individual use.

America Is in the Heart

Author: Carlos Bulosan (ca. 1911–56)

First published: 1946

Type of work: Autobiographical novel

Type of plot: Coming of age; Social issues

Time of plot: ca. 1918–41

Locales: Binalonan, Philippines; Seattle, Washington; Los
Angeles, California; and various other cities in the western United

Principal characters
Carlos “Allos” Bulosan, a Filipino American writer, poet, and
union activist

Macario, one of his older brothers, who immigrates to the United

Amado, another one of his older brothers, who also goes to

Allos’s father, a Filipino peasant farmer

Meteria, his mother

Jose, a union organizer, Allos and Macario’s friend

Eileen Odell, a woman who nurtures Allos’s intellectual growth

The Story
When America Is in the Heart begins, World War I has ended
and Carlos “Allos” Bulosan is around five years old. He is
reunited with his eldest brother, Leon, who returns home to the
Philippines after fighting in the war in Europe. With his family,
Allos, who has three other older brothers and a younger sister,
lives in Mangusmana, a barrio on the outskirts of Binalonan, a
rural peasant village on the Philippine island of Luzon. There, his
family owns four hectares of land, on which they cultivate a wide
variety of crops during the year to survive. That land, however,
quickly dwindles: first, Leon marries a local peasant girl and sells
his one-hectare share of the property to live in another part of
Luzon, then Allos’s father gradually sells off the other hectares to
moneylenders to pay for his brother Macario’s schooling.

Bulosan, Carlos. America is in the Heart: A Personal
History. © 2014, University of Washington Press. Used with
permission from the University of Washington Press.

Though Macario graduates from high school and starts teaching
in Binalonan, Allos’s family eventually loses ownership of all of
their land to the moneylenders. The remainder of his childhood
is defined by poverty and hardship, as he goes to live with his
mother, Meteria, and baby sister, Irene, in Binalonan. (Allos’s
father remains in Mangusmana to raise crops on other family
members’ property.) Allos attends school for only a short time
before being forced to drop out to support the family; he works a
number of odd jobs and frequently travels from village to village
with his mother to trade crops. Through the influence of Amado,
the brother closest to him in age, he cultivates a love of books
and reading, which offers him solace from the harsh realities of
peasant life. A series of misfortunes nonetheless befalls Allos’s
family: Irene dies after a brief illness and soon afterward Macario
is forced to move south after a peasant girl tries to blackmail
him into marriage. Amado and Macario eventually immigrate to
America in search of better opportunity, inspiring Allos to do the

Copyright © EBSCO Information Services, Inc. • All Rights Reserved Page 1

Finding his way onto a ship as a steerage passenger, young
Allos harbors idealistic notions of life in America and arrives
in Seattle, Washington, in 1930 with naïve expectations. It is
not long, however, before those expectations are dashed, as he
falls victim to callous exploitation and prejudice. Just days after
disembarking, he is hoodwinked into working in a fish cannery
in Alaska, and upon returning to Seattle, he learns that he has
been bilked out of most of his pay. He soon makes his way to
California, where he reunites with his brothers—first Amado in
the city of Lompoc, then Macario in Los Angeles. To his surprise,
both brothers have become hardened to life in Depression-era
America, which for them and other Filipinos has come to be
characterized by rampant racism and abject poverty. They have
also become desensitized to the unbridled violence and brutality
that constantly surround them. Allos eventually does, too, after
witnessing beatings, shootings, and rapes on a near daily basis.

Allos passes in and out of his brothers’ lives over the next
decade, during which he leads an itinerant existence living and
working up and down the western United States. Traveling
mostly by freighthopping, he picks crops as a farm laborer,
washes dishes in restaurants and hotels, gambles for money,
and even occasionally steals. Through first-hand observations
and his own traumatic experiences, he becomes acutely aware
of the gross social injustices endured by Filipino immigrants
in America, prompting his involvement in the country’s labor
movement. Discovering a natural talent with words, Allos, along
with his friend Jose, a labor organizer, starts writing for a union-
leaning newspaper based out of San Luis Obispo, California.
The two then relocate to Los Angeles, where they help launch
a literary magazine founded by Allos’s brother Macario; Jose’s
brother, Nick; and an activist named Felix Razon. The magazine
soon folds due to insufficient funding, but Allos continues to lead
labor rights efforts all over California.

Those efforts come to an abrupt halt, however, when Allos
learns that he has become stricken with tuberculosis. The disease
confines him to a hospital bed for two years, during which time he
undergoes various surgeries. Undaunted, he becomes a voracious
reader during this time through the help of a friend, Eileen Odell,
who brings him a steady stream of books. He also begins writing
poetry in earnest and several of his poems are published. Not
long after he leaves the hospital, he is informed by a doctor that
he has roughly five years to live, a revelation that leads him to
further immerse himself in writing, as well as dive back into
the labor movement. He adopts socialist leanings and conducts
educational classes for Filipino farm workers all over California.
Meanwhile, his first book of poems, titled Letter from America
(1942), is published. The novel ends shortly after Japan bombs
the US naval base at Pearl Harbor, which leads to the country’s
entry into World War II. In the wake of the bombing, Allos says
goodbye to Macario and Amado, after both enlist in the US armed
forces. He then heads north to continue fighting for workers’
rights, proclaiming his indomitable faith in America.

Critical Evaluation
As its title suggests, America Is in the Heart is a closely
autobiographical account of author Carlos Bulosan’s life, from
his peasant upbringing in the Philippines to his turbulent first
decade on American soil. In a unique work of fiction that
subverts traditional novelistic conventions, Bulosan combines his
personal experiences with those of many others to create a vividly
harrowing portrait of Filipino immigrants living in the western
United States in the period from 1930 to 1941. Divided into four
parts, the novel eschews chronological dates in favor of historical
references to establish context for the reader and is told from
Bulosan’s intimate first-person perspective, one that veers from
wide-eyed innocence to hardened sagacity.

At the heart of America lies the theme of class divisions, which
form the roots of the prejudice, discrimination, and oppression
that Allos is subjected to throughout the novel. In the first part
of the novel, for example, when he accompanies his mother
to a neighboring town to sell beans, he witnesses firsthand the
scorn that Filipino middle-class citizens hold toward the peasant
classes, after a young, well-dressed girl deliberately knocks
over their basket of beans when they simply look at her. Such
treatment, however, pales in comparison to that in America,
where, Allos explains, “the lives of Filipinos were cheaper than
those of dogs.” Relegated to living in the seedier parts of towns
and cities, parts of which are peopled heavily by gamblers,
prostitutes, and drug pushers, Allos and other Filipino immigrants
not only have to endure relentless prejudice and exploitation but
are also treated like criminals. He is repeatedly beaten up while
looking for jobs, and in one instance, he is sadistically assaulted,
without provocation, by two police officers because of his race.
At one point, he likens his daily struggle to survive to “going to
war with other soldiers.”

Allos nonetheless maintains an unwavering “hope for the future,”
and it is this hope that allows him to overcome the class
divisions that perpetually encroach upon his spirt. Discovering
that America has as much kindness as it does cruelty, he resolves
to keep his faith in the ideals of the country and to make a lasting
contribution to society. This ultimately comes in the form of his
writing and labor activism. During his long convalescence, the
hospital becomes “a world of hope,” and upon being released,
he is determined to face society again with his newly developed
“intellectual weapon.” In the final part of the novel, he comes to
understand how America is in the hearts of men, explaining that
“it was this small yet vast heart of mine that had kept me steering
toward the stars.”

One of the first English-language works to depict the plight
of Filipino American immigrants, Bulosan’s novel is widely
regarded as a classic of social justice literature. Through the voice
of Bulosan’s own alter ego, Allos, readers will gain powerful
insight into the unspeakable hardships that Filipino immigrants
were forced to endure during the Great Depression, as well as
discover the sustaining and exalting powers of hope in the face
of crippling despair.

Copyright © EBSCO Information Services, Inc. • All Rights Reserved Page 2

Further Reading

Atienza, Herbert. “Carlos Bulosan’s Seattle.” Positively
Filipino, 21 Oct. 2014,
magazine/carlos-bulosans-seattle. Accessed 10 Apr.

De Leon, Ferdinand M. “Revisiting the Life and Legacy
of a Pioneering Filipino Author.” The Seattle Times,
8 Aug. 1999,
archive/?date=19990808&slug=2976103. Accessed 10
Apr. 2018.

Chris Cullen

Copyright © EBSCO Information Services, Inc. • All Rights Reserved Page 3

Copyright of Perfect Plots: Plot Summaries from the Experts is the property of Great Neck
Publishing and its content may not be copied or emailed to multiple sites or posted to a
listserv without the copyright holder’s express written permission. However, users may print,
download, or email articles for individual use.

Table of Contents
America Is in the Heart

Principal characters
The Story
Critical Evaluation
Further Reading

© W. S. Maney & Son Ltd 2008 DOI 10.1179/147757008X280786

comparative american studies, vol. 6, No. 2, June 2008, 123–143

Internationalizing the US Ethnic Canon:
Revisiting Carlos Bulosan
E San Juan, JR
Philippine Forum, New York City, USA

The quasi-autobiographical writing of Carlos Bulosan, a migrant farmworker
from the US colony of the Philippines from the 1930s to the 1950s, was
discovered by ethnic activists during the US Civil Rights struggles. Once
adopted as canonical texts in the US academy from the 1980s on, Bulosan’s
radical edge was blunted in critical readings of his work, his subversive
tendencies sanitized to promote a conformist multiculturalism. We need
to recover a submerged decolonizing strand in the history of Filipino deraci-
nation, sedimented in Bulosan’s testimonies. This essay seeks to excavate
those oppositional impulses in Bulosan’s works by re-contextualizing them
in the anti-colonial revolutionary movement of Filipinos dating back to the
revolution of 1896; to the Filipino-American War together with the peasant
insurgencies during the fi rst three decades of US occupation (1899–1935);
and in the popular-front mobilization during the US Great Depression up to
the onset of the Cold War. Re-situated in their historical-biographical milieu
and geopolitical provenance, Bulosan’s oeuvre acquires immediacy and

keywords Bulosan, Philippines, Filipino–American War; Anti-Colonialism; Organic

‘Go out into the world and live, Allos. I will never see you again. But remember the

song of our birds in the morning, the hills of home, the sound of our language.’ What a

beautiful thing to say to a young man going away! The sound of our language! It means

my roots in this faraway soil; it means my only communication with the living and those

who died without a gift of expression. My dear brother, I remember the song of the birds

in the morning, the hills of home, the sound of the language [. . .]

Carlos Bulosan

When the Bush administration made the fateful decision in March 2003 to invade Iraq

after its incursion into Afghanistan in the wake of 11 September 2001, the Philippines

— its only colony in Asia for over a century — became the second battlefront in the

global war against terrorism. US ‘Special Troops’ landed in the southern region of


the country (Mindanao and Sulu) hunting for Al-Qaeda-linked Muslims called the

‘Abu Sayyaf’. Up to last year, 2006, which offi cially marks the centennial anniversary

of the arrival in US territory of the fi rst twenty-fi ve natives from its new colonial

possession, US troops were still actively intervening in what is basically an internal

civil war in a neocolonial theater of confl ict (San Juan, 2007b; Aquino, 2005).

The current crisis in the Philippines, characterized by unprecedented extrajudicial

political killings and forced ‘disappearances’ carried out by State agents backed

by Washington/the Pentagon, thus cannot be understood without keeping in mind the

continuing involvement of the former colonial power in the affairs of 89 million

Filipinos, three million of whom have settled in the US as part of a Filipino diaspora

of ten million distributed around the world.

The Philippines was acquired as one of the spoils (together with Puerto Rico and

Cuba) of the Spanish-American War at the turn of the nineteenth to the twentieth

century. One may speculate that the twenty-fi ve dark-skinned ‘subalterns’ (as some

postcolonialists would now categorize them), fi rst recruited by the Hawaiian Sugar

Planters Association, may have been veterans of the Filipino-American War of 1899–

1902, America’s ‘fi rst Vietnam’, which killed more than 8,000 American soldiers

and 1.4 million Filipinos (Schirmer and Shalom, 1987: 19). Today, approximately

three million Filipinos constitute the largest of the Asian American immigrant group

originating from one nation-state, the Republic of the Philippines, which is also

perhaps the biggest exporter of low-paid migrant contract workers (chiefl y female

domestics) to all the continents (Takaki, 1989: 432; Beltran and Rodriguez, 1996; San

Juan, 2007a).

Apart from the pioneering efforts of now forgotten chroniclers like Carey

McWilliams and Emory Bogardus, only one Filipino among several thousands —

Carlos Bulosan — succeeded in capturing in expressive form the ordeals and trau-

matic experiences of Filipino workers (called the ‘Manongs’ in the West Coast and

Hawaii) in the United States in the fi rst half of the last century. This is itself a reveal-

ing symptom of the transition from classic colonial underdevelopment to neocolonial

marginality. Although elevated to the status of a ‘politically correct’ ethnic icon by

the civil-rights struggles of the 1960s and 1970s, Bulosan’s position as an authoritative

‘spokesperson’ of this expatriated, deracinated community — now mainly ‘middle-

class’ after the 1965 relaxation of immigration law — has always been precarious

from the start, contingent on the vitality of the progressive social movements

that inspired his own singular artistic development (Solberg, 1991; San Juan, 1995).

Today, many doubt if Bulosan’s ‘message’ is still relevant or meaningful for

thousands of Filipinos working in the Las Vegas casinos or in the care-giver industry

of Florida, California, and other states. With the decline of labor insurgency during

the Cold War and the predominance of the neoconservative ethos of the last decades,

we can now begin to take a critical, skeptical look at the way the formation of the

academically-sanctioned ‘Bulosan’ may have contributed to the demobilization, if not

defusing, of the radically subversive energies immanent in the subterranean folds of

the author’s ‘unread’ texts. Pluralist Eurocentric assimilationism begets its opposite:

the quest for national, localizing singularity as a stage in the process of regaining

a destroyed historical specifi city and universality (Lowy, 1998). An attempt to inter-

nationalize — that is, to re-situate in the context of US-Philippines asymmetrical

interstate dynamics — Bulosan’s genealogy as a producer of historically determinate


texts might help us understand the nature of scholastic canon-making in the putative

US multicultural archive and hopefully recover its original democratizing, emancipa-

tory impulse. This is an integral part of the project of national liberation of the

oppressed and exploited Filipino masses in this post-9/11 era of corporate-directed


It will be fi fty-one years since Carlos Bulosan died in Seattle, Washington, on

11 September 1956. But up to now we have not settled the real year of his birth,

whether 1911, 1913, or 1914. Commentaries on his work abound, but a defi nitive

biography is still needed. Susan Evangelista’s pioneering effort in this regard is

valuable for suggesting what more needs to be done: a temporally differentiated

remapping of Bulosan’s intellectual itinerary or genealogy. What is certain is that

Bulosan has become canonized; his 1946 testimonio called American is in the Heart

(AIH; originally entitled ‘In Search of America’) is celebrated as a classic ur-text of

the Asian-American and, more specifi cally, Filipino American experience. Because

Bulosan is now required reading for thousands of college students and an icon for

Filipino Americans, he is in danger of becoming regarded as an allergy or aversion.

Like Jose Rizal, the national hero, Bulosan is in danger of becoming ‘inutile’,

taken for granted, and museumifi ed as a literary ‘high priest’ or monumental anito

(ancestor). Which triggers the cynical quip: so what else is new?


First, a qualifi ed mea culpa. In hindsight I am perhaps chiefl y to blame for having

started a trend when the University of the Philippines Press published in 1972

my Carlos Bulosan and the Imagination of the Class Struggle, the fi rst book-length

commentary on his major texts. Subsequently I edited the fi rst anthology of Bulosan’s

writings as a special issue of Amerasia Journal (May 1979) and his only extant novel,

The Power of the People (1977; originally titled The Cry and the Dedication,

hereafter The Cry), which was issued by Tabloid Books in Ontario, Canada, and

subsequently by National Bookstore in 1986. This was followed by a volume of

unpublished stories, The Philippines is in the Heart (published in 1978 in Quezon

City, Philippines), most of which were excluded from The Laughter of My Father

(hereafter The Laughter). By the time the next collection of his works — On

Becoming Filipino: Selected Writings of Carlos Bulosan (Temple University Press)

came out in 1995, Bulosan was already a canonical author, included in Paul Lauter’s

Heath Anthology of American Literature and in assorted other readers. This sums up

my complicity with the canonizing orthodoxy.

Whatever the claims of others, however, a great debt is owed to the late Dolores

Feria, a life-long friend of Bulosan. Aside from several insightful commentaries on

Bulosan, Feria edited the indispensable selection of Bulosan’s letters, Sound of Falling

Light (1960); her effort to publicize his works and call attention to the plight of

Bulosan’s compatriots remains unacknowledged and in fact unconscionably forgot-

ten. Let me then rectify here this ‘sin’ of omission. Meanwhile, when the Filipino

youth movement burst into the scene inspired by the Civil Rights movement in the

late 1960s and ripened into the anti-martial law movement from 1972 up to 1986,

Bulosan’s AIH (reprinted in 1973 by the University of Washington Press) was already


being quoted in Filipino community newspapers, programs, forums, and ethnic

festivals. I understand that AIH has gone through fi fteen printings and is selling at

least 4000 copies every year. And yet, especially in the last two decades, I have met

many Filipinos and Filipino Americans who have never heard of Bulosan nor read

any of his now acclaimed works. It now seems a sign of idiosyncratic atavism or

retrogression to be caught reading Bulosan in this ‘war-on-terrorism’ epoch.

One truth cannot be doubted: the changes in the political and social milieu from

the 1930s to the 1950s here and internationally, in particular the relations between

the Philippines and the United States, will explain to a large extent the position,

meaning, and signifi cance of Bulosan’s writings — why they were forgotten immedi-

ately after coming out, why they were rediscovered and acquired new signifi cance,

and why they have become institutionalized and rendered ‘safe’. This is the task of a

historical-materialist hermeneutics and epistemology. Lest I be charged for being

guilty, or at least complicit, for the direction being taken in the unpredictable recep-

tion of Bulosan’s texts, and also in fear of repeating myself, I take this occasion to

speculate on possible answers to these questions and, by implication, to the vicissi-

tudes of the Filipino presence in the United States — only one part of the ten-million

strong Filipino diaspora on this planet. I also attempt here, as a prolegomenon,

to expound a transnational poetics, between the hegemonic metropolis and the

subalternized dependency.

I begin with actuality sutured to potentiality — to use Charles Sanders Peirce’s

terminology (see Merrell, 1997). On the seventy-fi fth anniversary of his arrival

in Seattle on 22 July 1930, a news report in the News Tribune (quoted in Estrada,

2005) juxtaposed two items that signify two themes often replicated in response to

Bulosan’s life and work. First, a quotation from a letter dated 27 April 1941: ‘Yes, I

feel like a criminal running away from a crime I did not commit. And the crime

is that I am a Filipino in America’ (1995: 173). And second, Bulosan’s essay about

‘Freedom from Want’, published in the Saturday Evening Post (6 March 1943) and

displayed in a federal building in San Francisco. The lesson at fi rst seems unam-

biguous: despite suffering and disillusionment, Bulosan’s was a success story. He

personifi ed the platitudinous tale of the migrant quasi-sojourner/exile-become-famous

public personality. Yet there was an unexpected turn: we are told that ‘his star

faded, he returned to Seattle to do organizing and publicity work for Local 37 of the

International Longshoremen’s and Warehousemen’s Union (ILWU)’. So how the twist

of the plot happened, what accident intervened in complicating the web of necessity,

needs to be spelled out.

As in any news report, the gaps and lacunae shape the form and substance of what

we read. What is puzzling to me is surely of interest to many: up to now, no one,

least of all our highly credentialed ethnic studies experts, seems to have asked

the simple, obvious but seemingly intractable question: why and how did Bulosan

become a writer, specifi cally the producer of such texts as The Laughter, AIH, stories

such as ‘As Long As the Grass Shall Grow’, The Cry (as for the recently found All

the Conspirators, I am doubtful that this is a genuine Bulosan text, so discrepant is

the style, tone, and structuring of the materials). And, by extrapolation, how did these

lead to all the critical glosses and inquiries occasioned by Bulosan’s high reputation

as the author of poems, essays, stories, novels, letters, and so on?


Allos (short for ‘Carlos’) — let us call him by the name of the protagonist in the

sketch ‘Passage Into Life’ — became a writer by accident, by force of circumstance

and necessity. In the middle of AIH, after surviving much adversity fi ghting racist

white men, Allos stops at a hotel in San Luis Obispo, California, and composes a

letter to his brother Macario: ‘Then it came to me, like a revelation, that I could

actually write understandable English. I was seized with happiness [. . .] When the

long letter was fi nished, a letter which was actually a story of my life, I jumped to

my feet and shouted through my tears: “They can’t silence me any more! I’ll tell the

world what they have done to me!”’ (1982: 180). Two motives are intertwined here:

the need to communicate with kin, a part of the family, becomes also the means to

break the silence of subalternity, to act and strike back. It is a mode of decolonizing

body and psyche. Achieving solidarity, fraternal communication, is part of the

process of liberating oneself from the necessity imposed by a complex conjuncture of

political and economic forces, by the deterritorializing vectors of history. It embodies

the dialectic of the personal and the collective, the punctual and the epochal. In short,

Allos began writing as an act of rebellion against the condition he was born into,

against the circumstances and exigencies he shared with others.

One cannot understand this conjunction of forces by refusing to read the narrative

of AIH integrally, in its composite whole. Most commentators of this synoptic

life-history, disturbed by the masochistic irony of a narrator proclaiming faith in

America while being beaten up and mutilated, focus on this dissonance and allied

incongruities. They usually set aside Part I, chapters 1–12, unable to connect the

colonial subordination of the peasant, the forcible maintenance of feudal/patriarchal

despotism, and the landscape of isolation, violence, and solidarity with the way this

all leads to an affi rmation of democratic ideals in the face of fascism and imperial

aggression in the Philippines (San Juan, 1996). This failure is a symptom of either

academic ignorance, or, most likely, a cultivated blindness: ignorance of US racial

supremacy hidden behind American exceptionalism and blindness to Filipino aspira-

tions for freedom and national independence. This viewpoint separates off US racist

expansionism from the colonial subjugation of Filipinos by the whole machinery of

Anglo-Saxon white supremacy. The long and durable history of Filipino resistance to

three hundred years of Spanish domination and then to US aggression from 1899 to

1915, and thereafter — the Tayug uprising described by Allos is an insurrection

against US rule and its local agents, the quasi-feudal landlords — underwrites in

a profound, intimate way the subterranean currents of revolt in Allos and his

compatriots. These same currents motivated union organizing with the CIO in the

mid-1930s, heightening the worldwide solidarity movement amongst Spanish

republican forces combating fascism, and feeding the passionate drive to free the

homeland from the savage terror of Japanese imperialism.

We can no longer shirk the imperative of an integrative or synthesizing mode of

critical evaluation and ethical judgment. I hazard to state here that any scholarly

comment on Bulosan, or any Filipino writer for that matter, that elides the enduring

impact — the forcible subjugation and the resistance to it — of US colonial domina-

tion of the Philippines is bound to be partial, inadequate, and ultimately useless.

And so I am constantly surprised at the recurrent mistake of scholars equating the


repressed ‘nationalism’ of subordinated Filipino ‘wards’ (voiced by the chief pro-

tagonist of AIH) with American nationalism or imperial chauvinism; these two are

worlds apart. It seems an unforgivable error, at this late date, to confuse superpower

nationalist jingoism with the ‘nationalist’ impulses of the subjugated natives. Even

though they throw around words like ‘capitalism’ or ‘colonialism’, these latter-day

cosmopolitanists cannot distinguish the disparity, nor really appreciate the fl agrant

parasitic relation, between colonial master and subjugated nationality. Of course,

for hegemonic reasons, that is what we habitually get; and rare are the exceptions,

depending on the climate of dissent and critical awareness of the systemic crisis we

are all at present laboring under.

Allos’s plight was part of a collective predicament. All the known evidence

indicates that Allos left the subjugated territory as part of the recruitment of Filipino

labor for the sugar plantations of Hawai‘i and, later, for agribusiness in the West

Coast and the Alaskan canneries. Most of those permitted ‘nationals’ under indefi nite

tutelage, neither aliens nor citizens, were in search of an opportunity to work and

earn enough to support themselves and help their parents, brothers, and sisters back

home. Although the ‘push’ factor (to use the cliché of offi cial discourse) was

compelling, namely, the extreme poverty and brutalization of peasants in the admin-

istered possession (for a long time, the Philippines was under the Bureau of Insular

Affairs), the ‘pull’ factor identifying America as the land of promise, prosperity,

and easy success exercised its seductive power on most natives, especially desperate

peasants. This myth, of course, was exploded by the reality of experience and a

belated ‘shock of recognition’.

And so it was neither personal ambition nor dire want that made Allos a writer.

Rather, history and a body confi gured by the colonial milieu converged to lead him

by a circuitous or ‘rhizomatic’ line of fl ight (to use Deleuze and Guattari’s term) to

his peculiar vocation. Consider this history: his arrival in 1930 in the depths of the

Great Depression, when 13 million people were out of work, with thousands of

homeless workers and their families foraging in garbage for food; and the way this

was punctuated by the brutal Watsonville anti-Filipino riot of 19–22 January 1930,

when ‘Flips’ were beaten up and driven out of town (Bogardus, 1976). It was the

climax of years of racist scapegoating and vigilante atrocities against immigrant

and colonized minorities. Exposure to these incidents quickly dissolved all youthful

illusions in Allos, whose search for his brothers in order to reconstitute the semblance

of family life gave a stabilizing purpose to his nomadic existence. Consider next the

breakdown of the body: in 1936 he was diagnosed with tuberculosis and spent two

years at the Los Angeles County Hospital. He had several lung operations, lost the

ribs on his right side, and later, in the 1950s, a cancerous kidney had to be removed.

It was this physical infi rmity that prevented Allos from fulltime continuous work in

the fi elds thereafter; his period of convalescence (for two years, at least) allowed him

to read and educate himself, partly thanks to the Los Angeles Public Library, but

more to the love of two sisters, the socialist writer Sanora Babb and her indefatigable

sister, Dorothy Babb (Alice and Eileen Odell, in AIH). This was a fortuitous

encounter, equivalent to Allos’s friendship with Josephine Patrick when he moved to

Seattle, Washington, in the 1950s. Deterritorialized and dispossessed, the uprooted

native tried to reconstitute home and family in the network of communing minds,

interethnic praxis, and collaborating affections.


To be sure, Allos did not journey to the US to ‘complete his education and become

a writer’ (Campomanes, 1998: 113), nor even to support his parents fi nancially.

He could not do it. That might have been the result of a felicitous conjunction of

multiple causes. It was mainly the friendship of the Babb sisters that functioned

as the enabling condition for Allos to become a writer with a radical, progressive

orientation. The cultural-political setting of Los Angeles reinforced the personal

liaison between Allos and the Babb sisters, especially Dorothy (Feria, 1957), as well

as with other intellectual fellow-travelers. We do not know exactly when this friend-

ship with the sisters began, but I surmise that he made their acquaintance when he

moved within the circle of left-wing CIO labor organizers, as well as Communist

Party writers and cinema cultural producers, in Los Angeles between 1930 and 1936.

Allos’s contact with dissident intellectuals like Carey McWilliams, John Fante, and

Louis Adamic, together with his involvement in the nationwide American Committee

for the Protection of the Foreign-Born, a popular front organization campaigning for

US citizenship for Filipinos, eased his way into the pages of East Coast publications

like New Yorker, Town & Country, and Harper’s Bazaar, aside from leftist periodi-

cals like The Masses and so on. In addition, Harriet Monroe, editor of Poetry

magazine, may have inspired Allos to produce, somewhat later, Letter from America

(1942), Chorus from America (1942), and Voice of Bataan (1943).


We learn from AIH that in the summer of 1934 Allos was involved in the Filipino

Labor Union strikes in Salinas, El Centro, Vacaville, and Lompoc. Collaborating with

Chris Mensalvas, the legendary organizer who arrived in the US in 1927, Allos and

Mensalvas edited a short-lived proletarian literary magazine, The New Tide, which

would ‘interpret the struggles and aspirations of the workers, the fi ght of sincere

intellectuals against fascism and racial oppression in concrete national terms’

(Bulosan, 1946: 199). Affi liated with Mensalvas, Allos participated in the unprece-

dented Stockton strike in 1949–1950, as well as in the activities of the United Cannery,

Agricultural, Packing and Allied Workers of America (UCAPAWA), and the

Committee for the Protection of Filipino rights. Anchored to these collective

struggles, the Bulosan Imaginary acquired ‘a local habitation and a name’.

We can cite Filipinos who resembled Allos but whose lives followed a different

trajectory. Other possible extrapolations of his life can be drawn. If Allos did not

enjoy the nurturing friendship of Dorothy Babb and was healthier, he could have

pursued the path of Chris Mensalvas and become a charismatic union organizer. If

he attempted to get a college degree and devote himself to support his family back

home and also enter the petty-bourgeois circle of Filipinos in Chicago, as did Philip

Vera Cruz, he probably would not have written AIH, The Laughter, The Cry, and

other agitprop works whose frame of intelligibility springs from the transcendence

of kinship/blood affi liation and by the exercise of a popular-democratic will to eman-

cipate the colony. Both Mensalvas and Vera Cruz, of course, carved out their own

distinguished niches in the history of Filipinos and the multiethnic proletariat in the

US. Both are Filipinos with singular vocations, but they did not write AIH, The

Laughter, nor The Cry.


Summing up, then, Allos became a writer not through any single act of choice,

as may be illustrated in certain episodes of AIH. Rather, it came about through

his being inscribed within what (to use Fredrick Engels’ term) may be named a

‘parallelogram’ or constellation of forces: the physical dislocation of Allos from

colonial Pangasinan in the Philippines to the metropole’s West Coast; his initiation

into the labor-capital arena of confl ict (initially through his brothers, but more

effectively through Mensalvas) and, eventually, into the intellectual-cultural milieu of

Popular Front politics (through the Babb sisters); the breakdown of his health as a

result of years of malnutrition and neglect that he shared with the Filipino peasant/

working class; and so on. In effect, the historical process of US colonial domination

of a people with a vital revolutionary tradition and the emerging resistance of citizens

and ethnic workers in the metropolitan center made Allos the kind of writer that he

was in that particular and unrepeatable conjuncture of the Thirties Depression, leftist

resurgence, united front internationalism during World War II, the Huk rebellion,

and the McCarthy period of the Cold War in the last century. In brief, he was not a

hybrid but an organic product both of his times and his creative interventions.

Does this mean Allos had no agency, nor freedom of choice? On the contrary. The

paradoxical truth stems from the proposition that the individual is really defi ned

by the totality of social relations in which she/he operates. Thus Allos’s personal

decisions acquired value, meaning, and effi cacy in consonance with the play of

the historical forces that I have enumerated, in particular the political and cultural

pressures and tendencies symbolized by organizations, discourses, and institutional

fi gures which allowed Allos’s contribution to register its distinctive signature. The

dialectical principle of self-transformation sprung from the unity of opposites (the

fusion of chance and necessity) explains Allos’s singular evolution as a Filipino

bachelor, artist, racialized scapegoat, union militant, and socialist intellectual. No

individual makes history alone, it goes without saying, except as a part of the

contradictory social groups and forces — the ‘elective affi nities’ that constitute the

map of humankind’s struggle for freedom against natural and man-made necessity.

This explains Allos’s continuing relevance.

Alone among contemporary Anglo Americanists, Michael Denning, in his

wide-ranging The Cultural Front, deploys a historical-materialist analytic to chart

and assay the exact placing of Allos’s AIH in the precarious, ever-shifting fi eld of

hegemonic contestation. Denning’s genealogy of literary forms is highly instructive;

however, he has needlessly limited himself by concentrating on AIH to the neglect of

Bulosan’s other writings. In this he shares the prevailing tendency of current scholar-

ship to virtually equate AIH with all that constitutes Bulosan and thus prejudice

any larger, more informed aesthetic or moral judgment. No wonder young Pinays

sometimes say that Bulosan is passé, obsolete and that he no longer speaks to the

hip-hop, rap gangs in Daly City, Manhattan, or elsewhere. He no longer speaks to

the volatile and ludic desire of Pinays, dreaming of becoming postmodern babaylans.

Everyone knows that the few surviving ‘Manongs’ are today an object of sanctimo-

nious nostalgia, or exoticizing charity. Even before Vera Cruz’s resignation from the

Mexican-dominated United Farmworkers of America, Filipinos have already moved

from the farms to service and care industries, some to professional-managerial

occupations, a few to bureaucratic niches. Some have been deported as suspected


terrorists …

Reviewed Work(s): Writer in Exile/Writer in Revolt: Critical Perspectives on Carlos
Review by: Leo Angelo Nery
Source: Philippine Studies: Historical & Ethnographic Viewpoints, Vol. 65, No. 4, Hegemony
and History Textbooks: Archive of Colonial Spies Filipina–GI Intimacies (dec 2017), pp.
Published by: Ateneo de Manila University
Stable URL:
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Writer in Exile/Writer in Revolt: Critical
Perspectives on Carlos Bulosan
Lanham, MD: University Press of America, 2016.378 pages.

“Occupation: Writer . . . Estate: One typewriter, a twenty-year old [sic]

suit, worn out socks; Finances: Zero; Beneficiary: His people” (xix). Thus

read Carlos Bulosan’s obituary, which was published in the Daily People’s

World in 1956. Penned by his friend and fellow unionist Chris Mensalvas,

the tribute is a brief but poignant summation of Bulosan’s contribution not

just to Philippine literature but also to social movements both in the US

and the Philippines. However, although Bulosan’s place in literature and

history is beyond dispute, interpreting his work (and his life) has been a site

of contestation for the past sixty years. Early literary criticism of Bulosan’s

writings was dominated by formalist readings until in the 1970s, under the

repressive but radicalizing conditions of martial law, Bulosan and his work

were liberated from “promiscuous sentimentalism” (xxi) and reimagined as

products of the struggle against repressive and exploitative colonial relations

between the US and the Philippines. Post-martial-law scholarship on

Bulosan has since branched out to include, among other lenses, gender,

migration, transnationalism, and culture; recent events, such as the

resurgence of authoritarianism, ultranationalism, and the intensification

of racial and gender discrimination, have made Bulosan’s experience as a

Filipino exile in the US contemporary once more. The task, however, is to

reintroduce Bulosan to a new generation of aspiring scholars, activists, and

social scientists, without disregarding the more than half-century of scholarly

work that Bulosan has inspired.

Introducing new scholars and readers to the history of Bulosan scholarship

is Jeffrey Arellano Cabusao’s primary objective in his compendium Writer

in Exile/Writer in Revolt: Critical Perspectives on Carlos Bulosan. It is not

simply a collection of Bulosan-inspired works, but also a historical narrative

of Bulosan criticism as well as an exposition on the appropriate methodology

in reading Bulosan’s life and works. Affirming E. San Juan Jr.’s perspective

that Bulosan should always be viewed in light of his emancipatory vision

and project, Cabusao aims to contribute toward “historicizing, decentering,


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and renewing Bulosan criticism” (xix). By positing that “the formation of

the critical reception of Bulosan’s art parallels the formation of Bulosan’s

literary imagination” (xvii), Cabusao firmly asserts that an appreciation of
Bulosan’s work must also include the historico-material conditions that

provided Bulosan an ethico-political vision geared toward the liberation of

oppressed peoples, an interpretation that in 1972 San Juan introduced in

his pioneering work, Carlos Bulosan and the Imagination of Class Struggle

(University of the Philippines Press).

The book is composed of twenty works on Bulosan, curated in a manner

that parallels the emergence of Bulosan’s social, political, and literary views.

Part I, “Bulosan’s Voice: Listening to the Manong Generation,” serves as

a starting point both for Bulosan’s literary journey and the maturation of

Bulosan criticism. Part II, “Location of Exile: Creating an Alter/native

Filipino Literary Practice,” situates Bulosan within Filipino and Third

World writing through literary criticism produced by his texts America is

in the Heart (1946) and The Laughter o f My Father (1944). Part III, “The

Writer as Worker: Broadening the Bulosan Canon,” charts Bulosan’s

growing commitment to the utilization of literature as an instrument of

social change, which coincided with his increased literary production from

the Great Depression to the Cold War period. The concluding section,

“Collective Memory and Revolt: Becoming Filipino—Becoming Free,” is a

collection of articles that provides a unifying thread for Bulosan scholarship.

By claiming that the process of remembering Bulosan is linked to the

preservation of the collective memory of Filipinos as “subjects in revolt”

(xxvii), Cabusao reaffirms simultaneously Bulosan’s historical significance

and his relevance in the contemporary period, as the conditions of racial

and national subordination are not just present, but have also intensified
over the recent decades.

In addition to serving as a repository of rare and/or out-of-print works,

Writer in Exile/Writer in Revolt is also an attempt at establishing a canon for

Bulosan criticism, as most of the articles featured in the compendium either

contributed to or defined the direction of scholarship on Bulosan. Cabusao

pays homage to San Juan’s pioneering efforts in challenging tropes that

negated the “proletarian aesthetics” and the complexity of representations

of exile in Bulosan literature. San Juan’s three essays, “The Achievement

of Carlos Bulosan,” “Carlos Bulosan: The Poetics and the Necessity of

520 PSHEV 65, NO. 4 (2017)

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Revolution,” and “Carlos Bulosan: Critique and Revolution,” encapsulate

the history of radical reengagement with Bulosan. By challenging the

immigration assimilationist paradigm that castrated the emancipatory

message of Bulosan’s writings, and by situating Bulosan in the context of

the social and literary movements against US-Philippine colonial and

neocolonial relations, San Juan proposes that the central theme of Bulosan’s

works was the “unfolding struggle for Filipino national sovereignty” (xviii).

Dolores Feria’s “Filipino Writers in Exile,” which anticipated San

Juan’s shift toward a historical materialist reading of Bulosan, contributes

in elucidating the experience of exile, especially Bulosan’s paradox of exile

that “those who went away never succeeded in escaping from themselves,

and those who stayed at home never found themselves” (40). The essays

of Delfin Tolentino (“Satire in The Laughter of My Father”), L. M. Grow

(“The Laughter of My Father: A Survival Kit”), and Marilyn Alquizola and

Lane Ryo Hirabayashi (“The Laughter of My Father: Adding Feminist and

Class Perspectives to the ‘Casebook of Resistance'”) challenge the comic

misrepresentation of the Bulosan satire; after all, Bulosan said he was not “a

laughing man, [but] an angry man” (82). Odette Taverna’s “Remembering

Carlos Bulosan: An Interview with Josephine Patrick” is a valuable text,

especially as a primary source, since Patrick’s recollections are one of the few

first-hand accounts that prove Bulosan’s life can never be divorced from the

anticolonial and antiracial discrimination struggles of his milieu. Although

the reprinting of these articles and other scholarly works in Parts II and

III may seem redundant given their availability in online repositories and

journals, Cabusao makes them more accessible given that articles such as

Grows are often blocked by paywalls and subscription fees.

Although the primary objective of the book is to introduce (and

reproduce) pivotal articles on Bulosan, Writer in Exile/Writer in Revolt also

provides new material that can serve as starting points for new research

and reengagement with Bulosan’s life and art for the contemporary period.

Kenneth Bauzon’s “Identity and Humanity in the Age of Corporate

Globalization: A Review Essay” and Michael Viola’s “Filipino American Hip

Hop and Class Consciousness: Renewing the Spirit of Bulosan” assert that

Bulosan is still relevant in contemporary times, given the need for collective

struggle and resistance amid the onslaught of neoliberalism, racial tensions,

economic exploitation, and wars of aggression. “The Bulosan Files: Another


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Layer in an Ongoing Dialogue,” a written dialogue between Alquizola,

Hirobayashi, and Arellano, highlights opportunities for new research on

Bulosan. Recently released archival materials such the Federal Bureau of

Investigation’s surveillance of Bulosan reveal additional layers on Bulosan’s

life, his generation’s engagement with coercive US state instruments, and

the consequences of their struggle against neocolonialism in the US and the


The primary sources found in the appendix are as valuable as the

articles selected for inclusion in this volume. The appendix contains rare

photographs of Bulosan and his works and selected sections of the J952

Yearbook of the Local 37 of the International Longshoremen’s and Warehouse

Men’s Union, which Bulosan edited. The editorial of the J 952 Yearbook as

well as the articles “To Whom It May Concern” and “Terrorism Rides in the

Philippines” provide a glimpse of Bulosan and his generations perspectives

on social justice and equality along class and racial lines. As Bulosan declared,

the union did “not discriminate against sex, race or national origin,” and the

“unconditional unity of all workers [was the] only weapon against the evil

designs of imperialist butchers and other profiteers of death” (326-27).

Cabusao’s rationale for the selection of essays included in this book is

to offer “critical perspectives” on Bulosan scholarship. But glaring are his

omissions, which may be due to the voluminous nature of Bulosan-inspired

texts and copyright issues; still, it is evident that commentaries by Leonard

Casper, PC Morantte, and Joseph Galdon have been excluded, even though

they could provide context to the conflicts within Bulosan scholarship. The

debates between San Juan and his critics, Casper and Galdon, represent

a turning point for Bulosan scholarship, as well as literary criticism and

cultural studies. Because Bulosan scholarship was a site of contestation,

especially during the 1970s, these debates offer a historical perspective on

the emergence of committed scholarship, especially since it occurred during

the repressive conditions of the Marcos regime. The introduction to All the

Conspirators (University of Washington Press, 1998) by Caroline Hau and

Benedict Anderson could also have enriched discussions on Bulosan’s literary

vista, but copyright issues and the recency of All the Conspirators might have

contributed to its exclusion.

Writer in Exile/Writer in Revolt fulfills its basic objective, which is to

serve as an introduction to Bulosan, his works, and theoretical perspectives

they have inspired. Despite the exclusion of some works that could have

522 PSHEV 65, NO. 4 (2017)

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contributed to an appreciation of the evolution of Bulosan scholarship, this

volume provides readers with an excellent starting point to expand the field

and make it relevant amid contemporary challenges and issues.

Leo Angelo Nery
Uepartment or interdisciplinary btuaies, institute or Arts ana sciences

Far Eastern University


Hidden Lives, Concealed Narratives:
A History of Leprosy in the Philippines
Manila: National Historical Commission of the Philippines, 2016.293 pages.

Leprosy, or Hansen’s disease, has attracted scholarly inquiry for a number of

right reasons. For one, scholars can examine the ways by which societies and

regimes of power have made sense of a disease that has caused mass suffering

in different places at different times. While it is now known that the microbe

Mycobacterium leprae causes leprosy, the disease’s longevity had allowed

it to gain various cultural meanings in the past, ranging from its Judeo

Christian association with impurity and sin to miasmatic interpretations

to its association with lewd behavior and lack of hygiene—notions that are

general knowledge in the literature. In the Philippines the history of leprosy

has inspired scholarship, from Enrico Azicate’s MA thesis, “Medicine in the

Philippines: An Historical Perspective” (University of the Philippines, 1989)

to Warwick Anderson’s “Leprosy and Citizenship” (positions 1998:707—

30). Yet, there are more stories to tell. Enriching the literature is the book

Hidden Lives, Concealed Narratives: A History of Leprosy in the Philippines,

commissioned by the National Historical Commission of the Philippines

(NHCP) and edited by Maria Serena Diokno, professor of history at the

University of the Philippines-Diliman and former NHCP chairperson. With

Diokno are esteemed Filipino scholars, mostly historians, who authored the

chapter essays. Marshalling materials that include missionary documents,

travelogues, materia medica, health journals, as well as oral testimonies, the

book retells Philippine history through the lens of the history of leprosy.

Hidden Lives, Concealed Narratives is composed of three parts that are

organized chronologically. Part 1 looks into the precolonial and Spanish


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p. 519
p. 520
p. 521
p. 522
p. 523

Issue Table of Contents
Philippine Studies Historical & Ethnographic Viewpoints, Vol. 65, No. 4 (dec 2017) pp. 415-556
Front Matter
Editor’s Introduction [pp. 415-416]
Hegemonic Tool? Nationalism in Philippine History Textbooks, 1900–2000 [pp. 417-450]
Bonifacio and the Katipunan in the Cuerpo de Vigilancia Archival Collection [pp. 451-483]
Authorizing Illicit Intimacies Filipina–GI Interracial Relations in the Postwar Philippines [pp. 485-513]
Book Reviews
Review: untitled [pp. 515-518]
Review: untitled [pp. 519-523]
Review: untitled [pp. 523-526]
Review: untitled [pp. 526-530]
Review: untitled [pp. 531-534]
Review: untitled [pp. 534-537]
Review: untitled [pp. 537-541]
Review: untitled [pp. 541-545]
Review: untitled [pp. 546-550]

Index [pp. 551-555]
Back Matter

A Neatly Folded Hope: The Capacity of Revolutionary Affect in Carlos Bulosan’s “The
Cry and the Dedication”

Author(s): Peyton Joyce

Source: MELUS , SPRING 2016, Vol. 41, No. 1, Negotiating Trauma and Affect (SPRING
2016), pp. 27-47

Published by: Oxford University Press on behalf of Society for the Study of the Multi-
Ethnic Literature of the United States (MELUS)

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A Neatly Folded Hope: The Capacity of
Revolutionary Affect in Carlos Bulosan’s
The Cry and the Dedication

Peyton Joyce
The George Washington University

In his 1942 poem “The Manifesto of Human Events,” Filipino author Carlos
Bulosan stages the failure of a Utopian community commemorating positive
affects such as “love” (3) and “happiness” (4). In the poem’s narrative, a com-
munity prepares for a celebratory performance. However, the performance is

interrupted by violence before it can even begin, as “the gunmen came and
wrecked I the place in the dance of our fears” (8-9). Rather than simply foreclos-

ing the Utopian possibilities encouraged by the performance, this violence orients

the poem’s speaker and his community toward an oppositional response couched
within affective terms:

Now we hold a neatly folded hope.
When they come again with murder in their hands
nobody can stop us from touching a gun
nothing can keep us from throwing a bomb. (10-13)1

Significandy, “fear” acts as the affective hinge between positive communal affects

and a radicalized, concrete hope directed at a potential future, a move that Sara

Ahmed calls an “affective form of reorientation” (8).2 The poem suggests that this

hope, sustained through ideals of love and happiness, motivates a collective chal-

lenge to the social and political systems that deploy fear as a tactic.3

Although the revolutionary subjects in Bulosan’s poem go unnamed, the
impulse for collective resistance to violence that Bulosan describes is likely indic-

ative of his involvement in what Michael Denning calls the “cultural front,” or
Popular Front public culture (14).4 In 1942, in the midst of World War II, the vio-

lent opposition to aggression that the poem offers was likely understood within
the context of the anti-fascist activism of the Popular Front, which Alan M. Wald

describes as “Left cultural worker[s] . . . primarily advocating a ‘people’s culture,’

battling for ‘democracy,’ and ultimately championing an anti-Axis ‘victory'” (8).
Bulosan would continue to expand on these revolutionary ideals in both his fic-
tion and activism. Following the war, Bulosan maintained his participation in the

© MELUS: The Society for the Study of the Multi-Ethnic Literature of the United States 2016. Published by Oxford
University Press on behalf of The Society for the Study of the Multi-Ethnic Literature of the United States.

All rights reserved. For Permissions, please e-mail: [email protected]
DOI: 1 0. 1 093/melus/mlv089

MELUS • Volume 41 • Number 1 • (Spring 2016) 2 7

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far Left. As Marilyn C. Alquizola and Lane Ryo Hirabayashi note, in the years after
World War II, Bulosan “consorted with known Communists[,] . . . had friend-

ships with suspect Hollywood leftists [,] . . . had been a colleague and friend to

Filipino immigrant union leaders[,] . . . long supported Local 7 of the
International Longshoremen and Warehousemen’s Union (ILWU)” (35), and
was even investigated by the FBI for his (alleged and ultimately unproven)
involvement in the US Communist Party (41). The affective sentiment Bulosan

expresses in his 1942 poem informs his later work, particularly his final, unfin-

ished novel, The Cry and the Dedication, about a group of Marxist revolutionaries

in the Philippines. However, Bulosan seems to have had a “painful personal
reassessment” of his political and sexual life in the years before his death, which

included a public distancing from the Communist Party (Wald 300), that led him

to interrogate the assumptions of “Philippine [and American] radical and social

formations” (Ponce 1 19), perhaps most explicitly the justification for violence as a

path to positive social change. As a result, The Cry and the Dedication reconsiders

the possibility of such a “neatly folded hope” (Bulosan, “Manifesto” 10) for rev-

olutionary change.
In The Cry and the Dedication, Bulosan enacts a dialogue between revolution-

ary socioeconomic ideology and affective experience that revises the affective
stance of “The Manifesto of Human Events” and, in so doing, questions the pro-

cesses by which such revolutions take shape. Bulosan’s novel is set during the
later years of the Huk Rebellion, a Marxist “peasant revolt” in the Philippines that

began in 1942 and lasted until the early 1950s (Kerkvliet xix). The Huk Rebellion,

or Hukbalahap movement (a Tagalog acronym for the People’s Anti-Japanese
Liberation Army), began as an anti-Japanese insurgency during World War II.

Following the Japanese defeat and the establishment of the Philippine
Republic, and in large part a response to US influence and its post-war
anti-communist policies, the Huk continued its guerrilla insurgency, now aimed

at overthrowing the US-backed ruling government.5 By the 1950s, the Huk
Rebellion was in decline. In his novel, Bulosan is sympathetic to the socialist ide-

ology underpinning the rebellion, but, as Wald more explicitly argues, Bulosan’s
conflicted depictions of violence in the novel hint at “an uncertainty on Bulosan’s

part about the Enlightenment heritage of Marxism as a tool of liberation” (301).6
However, Bulosan’s concern with affect suggests one possible (if complicated)

means by which to productively engage with revolutionary ideology. E. San Juan,

Jr., argues that “in a dependent formation such as the Philippines^] . . . what pre-

ponderates in intellectual circles is not so much reason as hope and fear”
(Introduction xxxi), suggesting the limitations of reason under a regime of terror.

In The Cry and the Dedication, Bulosan reiterates the revolutionary stakes of affec-

tive response to violence laid out in “The Manifesto of Human Events” before
complicating the affective shift between fear and hope, thus critiquing the utility

of violence as a means for effecting social change. Rather than expressing the


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A Neatly Folded Hope

possibilities of oppositional combat, Bulosan’s later work reassesses the affective

grammar of his poem, calling into question the revolutionary potential available

in the coupling of fear and hope. In addition, Bulosan rethinks the importance of

affect to revolutionary ideology, countering the presumption that affective
responses to violence supersede reason. Instead, Bulosan argues that affective
responses, in general, supplement ideology by demonstrating the common feeling

encouraged by revolutionary thought. However, more complicatedly, he also sug-

gests that affective responses precede and contour ideology and, in the last
instance, offer a corrective to the rigidity of rational thought through world-mak-

ing practices contingent on but removed from ideology itself.

Unreasonable Encounters

In a 1955 letter to Florentino B. Valeros, Bulosan describes The Cry and the
Dedication as the first draft of “an 800-page novel based on the Huks [sic] move-
ment” ( All 155). Bulosan died before the novel was finished, and a draft was not

published until 1977 (San Juan, Introduction xxxiv).7 In the resulting incomplete

304-page novel, Bulosan employs the Huk movement to draw out the connections

between international socialism, US labor activism, and the Philippine struggle

for national liberation. The plot is simple: a seven-member guerrilla cell must
travel to Manila to meet an expatriate Filipino contact and benefactor from the

United States, Felix Rivas. In order to safeguard against government infiltrators,

Rivas will be identified by Dante,8 the group’s propagandist and Rivas’s former

acquaintance, and Mameng, the sole woman in the group: Rivas’s genitals have
been disfigured during a horrifying encounter with anti-labor vigilantes in the

United States, and Mameng’s role is to verify this fact through sexual contact.9

The other members of the band – Hassim, Old Bio, Dabu, Legaspi, and Linda
Bie10 – provide support and protection. While the rendezvous with Rivas is the

group’s primary objective, along the way, the guerrillas must also stop in their

respective hometowns to organize resistance, allowing Bulosan to stage anti-im-

perialist ideological arguments throughout his text. However, these ideological
arguments are often at odds with the affective experience of the guerrillas and
the people they encounter.

The Cry and the Dedication translates such revolutionary ideology through

affect, describing and producing revolutionary feeling in its readers, thus widen-

ing and revising the stakes of the movement by addressing communities both in
the United States and in the Philippines.11 At the same time, the affective
responses the text demands exceed (as they always do) the political theory care-
fully delineated by Bulosan’s revolutionaries, exposing tensions between a ratio-

nal political model of violent revolution and its lived experience. Although
Bulosan’s critics12 have touched on affect in their readings of The Cry and the

Dedication 13 – Tim Libretti reads Bulosan’s novel through Ernest Bloch’s concept


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of the not-yet conscious, a term which José Esteban Muñoz has more recently

deployed in his discussion of the affective possibilities of hope, and Joseph
Martin Ponce’s work on sexuality emphasizes Bulosan’s concerns with the social
location of bodies in culture – none has focused on the circulation of affect within

the text as a means of revising the revolutionary ideology so frequently invoked by

the guerrillas.

Bulosan put great faith in the capacity of literature to promote social con-

sciousness. In an undated letter to the wife of Filipino writer and revolutionary

Salvador P. Lopez, Bulosan describes “the greatest responsibility of literature”
to “find in [the Philippine] national struggle that which has a future” (“Letter”

211). Echoing Franz Fanon’s description of political literature in The Wretched

of the Earth (1963) as that which “open[s] the mind, awaken[s] the mind, and
introduces] it to the world” (138), Bulosan explains that literature must “inter-

pret the resistance against the enemy by linking it with the stirring political awak-

ening of the people and those liberating progressive forces that call for a complete

social consciousness” (“Letter” 211). In The Cry and the Dedication, Bulosan
insists that “the stirring political awakening of the people” occurs through the

twinned forces of rational argument and affective experience.

The most overt signs of Bulosan’s attempts to awaken the political conscious-

ness of his readers through rational, anti-capitalist arguments are the political lec-

tures given by the guerrillas as they move from town to town. Reflecting what San

Juan calls the “geometric simplicity” of the plot (Introduction xxi), these sections

of the novel obey a strict narrative structure: Hassim, the guerrilla band’s leader,

and another member of the group visit that member’s home village in order to

radicalize the townspeople, largely through lengthy ideological lectures. In one

of the more prominent examples, following a violent encounter that leaves his

brother, a government collaborator, dead, a guerrilla named Legaspi condemns

the “system of exploitation” embodied by “American imperialism and their
native partners in plunder” (Bulosan, Cry 160) before invoking an international

solidarity of workers. Toward the end of his lecture, addressed to his father,
Legaspi explains why the guerrillas do not salute their flag with a hand over their

heart: “The heart is faulty, it vitiates and abrogates the dictates of the mind”

Legaspi’s statement privileges rational thought and disregards affective
responses as the mark of a true social consciousness, what Wald calls the text’s
“rel[iance] on ‘reason’ as a version of utilitarian calculation poised to master all

the contradictions” (300) of revolutionary praxis. Such reasoning is quickly put to

the test when Legaspi’s lecture is lost on his father, who disrupts it by asking
about the place of religion in the underground. The father’s question is answered

by Hassim, who represents an idealized revolutionary subjectivity, modeling the
privileging of reason at the expense of emotion. Earlier in the text, Legaspi himself

wonders if Hassim “has steeled himself against emotions,” considering it proof


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A Neatly Folded Hope

that Hassim’s “intellectual capacities are above [his own]” (Bulosan, Cry 140).
However, in this instance, Hassim recognizes the impossibility of disregarding

emotion; although “he want[s] to explain the political issue as it was tied up with

the economic situation” (161), he must instead address the issue through a more

generalized apolitical explanation that attends to the father’s emotional response

to his son’s death. Affective forces emerge over and over again, disrupting but

also supplementing the rational social critique exemplified in Legaspi’s speech.
Thus, Bulosan suggests that revolutionary praxis is easily foreclosed, calling into

question the utility of the ideological lectures that fill his text.

As the father’s question suggests, throughout the text, the affective is associated

with nonintellectual peasant tradition. While the guerrillas discount such a tradi-

tion as one lacking the proper social consciousness, across his oeuvre Bulosan
declares the folk tradition the primary aspect of Philippine national literature,

one which supplements the social consciousness of political intellectualism. In a

1950 letter to Jose de Los Reyes, Bulosan explains that he tries to “utilize common

folklore, tradition, and history in line with [his] socialist thinking” (“CB” 73), a

position taken up in The Cry and the Dedication by Bulosan’s alter ego, Dante.

In his book Tales of My People (a title taken from one of Bulosan’s own unpub-

lished works), Dante combines autobiographical experiences with “legends and
folklore and lost tales,” in the process fostering “happiness and a feeling of close-

ness to the Philippines and [its] people” (Bulosan, Cry 194). Later, in an almost

verbatim version of Bulosan’s essay “How My Stories Were Written” (1972),
Dante recounts a conversation with Apo Lacay, an old peasant who is the source

of the folklore rewritten in Dante’s (and Bulosan’s) early work, that challenges the

intellectual preference for reason. Dante explains to Apo Lacay: “Man has a mar-

velous mind. He can think, analyze, break apart and put things together.” Apo

Lacay responds: “That is the seed of all living fears. The mind of man. The beasts

in the jungle with their ferocious fangs are less dangerous than one man with his

cultivated mind in a civilized city. It is the heart that contains the world of truth

and beauty. The heart is everything” (198). In stark contrast to Legaspi’s claim
that “the heart is faulty,” Apo Lacay implies that positive affect counters the fear

brought on by rational arguments and their application in the modernizing world.

Apo Lacay, as the epitome of the Filipino folk tradition, expresses a national folk

culture that underscores the importance of affect in revolutionary movements.

Thus, while Bulosan “utilizes folklore” to articulate his “socialist thinking,” he also

suggests that the affective dimension of life that folklore illustrates must be a nec-

essary part of a successful social movement.

Bulosan’s argument joining affect and reason is perhaps his most prescient
with regard to many current conceptions of affect theory. Although Bulosan’s
revolutionaries privilege the reason and logic of ideology (in word if not in
action), Bulosan himself grapples with the primacy of affect on this ideology.
Psychologists such as Robert B. Zajonc and Richard S. Lazarus have attended


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to affect’s role in cognition. Zajonc famously argues in “Feeling and Thinking:
Preferences Need No Inferences” (1980) that “the form of experience that we
came to call feeling accompanies all cognitions” and that this may occur “at
any point of the cognitive process” (154). Further, as Lazarus suggests, affective
responses “are the product of reason in that they flow from how we appraise what

is happening in our lives. In effect, the way we evaluate an event determines how

we react emotionally” (87). Importantly, Lazarus suggests that the division
between rationality and feeling is a construct of Western thought, and as Mel
Y. Chen points out, the opposition of rationality and feeling supported systems

of oppression in which “the responsibilities of feeling then fell to lower places

on the hierarchy – women, animals, racialized men, disabled people, and incor-

poreals such as devils or demons” (46). Apo Lacay’s declaration that “the heart is

everything” interrogates revolutionary ideology from the colonial margins by
asserting the primacy of feeling from a folk culture that, as Bulosan’s collected
works demonstrate, is not simply the peasant culture of the Philippines but the

contingent working classes of the world. Such a declaration emphasizes that
socialist thinking must begin with feeling if it is to succeed, a claim Bulosan
spends the entirety of The Cry and the Dedication investigating.

In “Hope and Hopelessness: A Dialogue” (2009), José Esteban Muñoz coins the
expression “feeling revolutionary,” which he defines as “the feeling that our current

situation is not enough, that something is indeed missing and we cannot live with-

out it” (Duggan and Muñoz 278). “Feeling revolutionary,” a collective affective expe-

rience of what John Protevi calls “political affect,” becomes the way in which

“individual bodies politic cognize [specific] situations” (35). For Muñoz, drawing
from the work of Ernest Bloch, “feeling revolutionary” begins in a negative affective

space but orients subjects toward a Utopian future, “open[ing] up the space to imag-

ine a collective escape, an exodus, a ‘going-off script’ together” (Duggan and Muñoz

278), an argument that parallels Libretti’s own discussion of Bloch in relation to The

Cry and the Dedication. For Libretti, Hassim in particular “charts the path to the

new, the not-yet-conscious, through a projection of past pleasures and promises
that ratify what Bloch calls the principle of hope, anticipations or extensions of

‘existing material into the future possibilities of being different and better'” (142).

Significantly, Muñoz’s invocation of the not-yet-conscious exposes the com-
munal aspect of hope absent in Libretti’s argument. Although Bulosan depicts
individual affective reorientations through radicalization, many of the most pro-

vocative affective experiences in the text emphasize the capacity of affect to form

“collective escapes” in the present as a synthesis of ideology and revolutionary

feeling. In one instance, during a march between villages, Hassim explicates
the connection between the revolutionary goals of the movement and the affective

experiences that supplement them:

They were propelled toward [the end of their struggle] by a common feeling of


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A Neatly Folded Hope

the end, where the purpose would be compounded with all their anxieties, fears,
thoughts, tenderness, and joys; as though everything that they had lived for would

come to this very purpose, would crystallize in it finally

vital in an experience shared in common, he knew, that bound people
together; … for in such experience, the commonly shared, individual freedom
and diversity were arrogated into a collective creative purpose, thus opening the
way to a more wholesome activity for the common good. (Bulosan, Cry 180)

In this insightful passage, Hassim recognizes the potential of emotional experi-

ence, both positive and negative, to the struggle. Importantly, Hassim argues that

the guerrillas’ affective experiences – “anxieties, fears, thoughts, tenderness, and

joys” – supplement the rational purpose of the struggle through the formation of

collective bonds of “an experience shared in common,” revising without denigrat-

ing Apo Lacay’s claim that “the heart is everything” (198), thus synthesizing the

peasant and radical traditions. As Hassim implies, a focus on affective experience

expands (and critiques) the rational and ideological basis for revolution and is, at

the same time, a strategy for the creation of a community that recognizes the

specificity of the Philippine context and connects it to various international strug-

gles against exploitation (without standing in for these struggles). Hassim thus

refigures what San Juan calls the novel’s “allegory of revolutionary praxis”
(Introduction xxix) into the practice of revolutionary feeling that translates the

logic of revolutionary ideology into a lived affective experience.

The Transmission of Revolutionary Feeling

In the United States, the Huk Rebellion was publicized in Huk leader Luis Taruc’s

1953 biography Born of the People 14 and in the International Longshore and
Warehouse Union (ILWU) Local 37 Cannery Workers 1952 Yearbook, edited
by Bulosan and featuring commentary by Taruc and American Huk leader
William J. Pomeroy. Criticism on The Cry and the Dedication has generally agreed

that Bulosan used Taruc as a historical source15 – San Juan suggests that the gen-

eral plot of his novel “could have been inspired only by . . . Taruc’s memoir”
(Introduction xxxiii), and Ponce points out the correlation of “sociopolitical
themes” in both works (102).16 However, San Juan cautions against reading
the novel as “a documentary transcript of the actual Hukbalahap movement”
(Introduction xxxv). Instead, as Ponce notes, “Despite the thematic and ideolog-

ical similarities between The Cry and the Dedication and Born of the People,
Bulosan’s novel interrogates Taruc’s resolute political agenda of ‘national libera-

tion'” (105) by “also articulai [ing] a transnational connection of solidarity” (106).

Along with this ideological reconfiguration toward transnational socialism,
Bulosan reworked primary source material, including Taruc’s autobiography
and William Pomeroy’s essay in the ILWU 1952 Yearbook, emphasizing the affec-
tive dimension of the Huk movement to question the potential of socialist


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ideology divorced from feeling and offer a revised affective ideology that begins

with collective feeling.

In “The Manifesto of Human Events,” Bulosan suggests that violence and its

attendant affective response, fear, precipitate such revolutionary feeling, a move-

ment reiterated in both Taruc’s Born of the People and The Cry and the Dedication.

Bulosan draws on and expounds the affective arguments in Taruc’s work linking
fear and revolutionary praxis. Taruc emphasizes that affective responses to this

violence have the capacity to revolutionize the population, noting that “the hatred

of the masses for their persecutors [produced through terror] is a positive emo-
tion. It counteracts fear and complacency, and makes them ready to act and to

support action against the persecutors” ( Born 246). While Taruc is content to
explain the process of revolutionary feeling, Bulosan deploys this affective frame

to reconsider the consequences of the Huk Rebellion described in Taruc’s auto-

biography and of revolutionary movements defined, as Muñoz does, more gen-

erally. Such a focus necessarily hinges on the relationship between fear and
hope. In doing so, Bulosan is less interested in documenting the Huk movement

than in thinking through the contradictions of revolutionary movements in gen-

eral, both in the United States and abroad. In particular, the “ambiguity and con-

tradiction” (Wald 302) with which the novel ends17 calls into question the
oppositional tactics tacitly endorsed in “The Manifesto of Human Events.”

Bulosan elaborates what are in Taruc’s autobiography very brief descriptions

of violence,18 employing biographical histories of the guerrillas to illustrate the

ways in which the affective economy of fear circulating throughout the
Philippines reorients subjects toward the underground. Although Bulosan
expands the affective dimension of Taruc’s autobiography, his writing reflects

Pomeroy’s rhetorical conflation of social consciousness and affective response
in an article, “Heritage of Truth,” in the 1952 Yearbook, edited by Bulosan. In

the article, Pomeroy riffs on the question, “What can a man do?”: “What can a
man do? I am not blind. I am a man of feeling. Having trained myself to think

socially, I felt it deeply when my fellowmen [sic] were murdered, tortured, and
starved.” As Pomeroy implies, revolutionary feeling is created not only through

individual experiences of violence but …
BULOSAN, Carlos 



Full Text

Listen       American Accent       Australian Accent       British Accent      
September 1956, Seattle, Washington
Among the most celebrated of Filipino American writers was B., whose poetry, short stories, and autobiographical history, America Is in the Heart (1946), remain vital texts for scholars of Asian American literature and class struggle alike. Known as much for his activism as for his writing, B.–who never returned to the Philippines–made the uplift of his countrymen in America his principal cause during his lifetime.
B. was one of the first Filipinos to write in English while in America, and achieved nominal fame as a writer of poems and stories. Who’s Who listed him in 1932, only two years after his arrival in Seattle. “Freedom from Want” (1943), an essay published in the Saturday Evening Post and illustrated by Norman Rockwell, expressed B.’s ultimate faith in American democracy, an ideal that would alternately trouble and encourage him throughout his life. One stow, “The End of the War” (1944), published in the New Yorker, drew charges of plagiarism. Though the claim was settled out of court, B. and his reputation suffered from the publicity. Laughter of My Father (1944), a collection of stories serialized in the New Yorker, was misinterpreted by critics as a humorous work. B. had tried satire to convey the hardship of Filipino peasant life, a convention he decided to eschew in his personal history.
Look magazine recognized America Is in the Heart as one of the fifty most important American books ever published. It documents the period beginning with the narrator’s childhood in the Philippines through his time in the American West searching for work and organizing Filipino laborers. Though it celebrates minor triumphs, the book focuses upon the disillusionment and tremendous brutality suffered by the narrator and his acquaintances at the hands of a racist America. Perhaps to eliminate any further doubt over his disposition as a writer, B. features the injustices of an unsympathetic system, explicitly detailing the violence visited upon the narrator because of his race and union sympathies. Still, moments of kindness from strangers rescue him from total despair and also keep the narrative from turning into polemic. Critics have described the book’s style as uneven–perhaps owing to B.’s belief that he was dying as he was writing it–with the author himself recognizing its fragmentary quality.
Controversy continued to follow B., as Filipino intellectuals questioned the veracity of his life account. The narrator could not possibly have experienced everything claimed, they argued: B. must have fabricated certain events to elevate his own stature. Since the author most likely appropriated the experiences of others, America Is in the Heart is more accurately regarded as a collective autobiography instead of as B.’s own. Still, since B. saw his writing as a means toward winning equality for all Filipino laborers, he must have felt himself bound less by convention than by the strictest need to voice their common protest. His work remains the logical introduction to Filipino American literature for all students of the field.


Evangelista, S., C. B. and His Poetry (1985); Morantte, P.C., Remembering C. B.: His Heart Affair with America (1984); San Juan, E., Jr., C. B. and the Imagination of the Class Struggle (1972)

By David Shih

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