Friday, July 11, 2008

Excerpt from "America is in the Heart"

Photo used from of Literaryhistory.com


Filipino-American poet Carlos Bulosan is an OG in every meaning of the word "OG." While many of us youngins run around happy and proud that Pacquiao is knocking down half of Mexico and 75% of America's Best Dance Crew are Filipino (and super attractive at that), it really should be made known that our Filipino immigrant pioneers in the United States were trying their best to make it all possible for us. And because I was raised on hip hop, it is my RESPONSIBILITY to 'respect the OGs'. People should really give themselves the chance to read America Is In The Heart, Bulosan's autobiography and a first-hand look at how things started for the pinoy and pinay folks, especially in the West Coast. It's not that exciting of a read but it's honest and informative. It is also tragic yet passionate.


I have included the following excerpt from the book and for some reason it inspired the HECK out of me when I read it. So hopefully Mr. Bulosan's legacy of his literary efforts will continue on for generations to come, long after Pacquiao retires and ABDC gets canceled.

Excerpt from America is in the heart:

I was becoming aware of the dynamic social struggle in America. We talked all night in my brother's room, planning how to spread progressive ideas among the Filipinos in California. Macario had become more serious. When he talked, I noticed his old gentleness and the kind voice that had rung with sincerity at my sickbed in Binalonan. His words seized my imagination, so that years afterward I am able to write them almost word for word:

"It has fallen upon us to inspire a united front among our people," he said. "We must win the backward elements over to our camp; but we must also destroy that which is corrupt among ourselves. These are the fundamentals of our time; but these are also the realities what we must grasp in full.

"We must achieve articulation of social ideas, not only for some kind of economic security but also to help culture bloom as it should in our time. We are approaching what will be the greatest achievement of our generation: the discovery of a new vista of literature, that is, to speak to the people and to be understood by them.

"We must look for the mainspring of democracy, but we must also destroy false ideals. We must discover the origin of our freedom and write of it in broad national terms. We must interpret history in terms of liberty. We must advocate democratic ideas, and fight all forces that would abort our culture.

"This is the greatest responsibility of literature: to find in our struggle that which has a future. Literature is a living and growing thing. We must destroy that which is dying, because it does not die by itself.

"We in America understand the many imperfections of democracy and the malignant disease corroding its very heart. We must be united in the effort to make an America in which our people can find happiness. It is a great wrong that anyone in America, whether he be brown or white, should be illiterate or hungry or miserable.

"We must live in America where there is freedom for all regardless of color, station and beliefs. Great Americans worked with unselfish devotion toward one goal, that is, to use the power of the myriad peopls in the service of America's freedom. They made it their guiding principle. In this we are the same; we must also fight for an America where a man should be given unconditional opportunities to cultivate his potentialities and to restore him to his rightful dignity.

"It is but fair to say that America is not a land of one race or one class of men. We are all Americans that have toiled and suffered and known oppression and defeat, from the first Indian that offered peace in Manhattan to the last Filipino pea pickers. America is not bound by geographical latitudes. America is not merely a land or an institution. America is in the hearts of men that died for freedom; it is also in the eyes of men that are building a new world. America is a prophecy of a new society of men: of a system that knows no sorrow or strife or suffering. America is a warning to those who would try to falsify the ideals of freemen.

"America is also the nameless foreigner, the homeless refugee, the hungry boy begging for a job and the black body dangling on a tree. America is the illiterate immigrant who is ashamed that the world of books and intellectual opportunities is closed to him. We are all that nameless foreigner, that homeless refugee, that hungry boy, that illiterate immigrant and that lynched black body. All of us, from the first Adams to the last Filipino, native born or alien, educated or illiterate - We are America!

"The old world is dying, but a new world is being born. It generates inspiration from the chaos that beats upon us all. The false grandeur and security, the unfulfilled promises and illusory power, the number of the dead and those about to die, will charge the forces of our courage and determination. The old world will die so that the new world will be born with less sacrifice and agony on the living...."

Find it on Amazon here.

America is in the heart
by Carlos Bulosan
University of Washington Press (1974)

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hey Ramon!! i found this blog link from your myspace website! =) so i thought i'd check it out. This is an awesome book, I truly enjoyed reading it for my Fil-am class in college. I totally agree with you, it is sad how our generation is more focused on mainstream popular culture than learning about their history, our history. This book made me aware that there's was a struggle, that things were not always good. And although our struggle may not be readily visible as it was once during Bulosan's time, yet it continues in one way shape or form today. His story is inspiring and yeah, I also wish that it is more appreciated. I mean you can't even find this book at some local libraries!! If there were one, it barely has been touched. Did you know about his little gallery somewhere in the international district? they turned his old apartment complex into an exhibition on his life and work. You should check it out!! -rose ann