(In view of the planned Pelikulang Pampantikan of the Film Academy of the Philippines which aims to translate into films literary masterpieces written by Filipinos in Pilipino, English or in the dialects, the e-mailed write-up below will be of great and relevant interest. For surely, making films based on the stories of Carlos S. Bulosan will be an integral part of the FAP project. This was written by R. Sonny Sampayan, Bulosan’s grand-nephew and e-mailed by Armando ‘Doy’ heredia of the National Federation of Filipino American Associations (NaFFAA).—JC)
If Carlos Sampayan Bulosan were alive today, he would be 92 years old. How would he respond, what would he think about the recent gathering in his name? Would he realize the fulfillment of every writer’s dream — an archival repository of his papers housed in the U.S. Library of Congress? Would he pose the question to our community, to scholars and to the world at large, “Are we there yet?”, referring to the arrival of justice, fairness and a new world order in 2006 as opposed to the racial oppression towards Filipino migrant laborers during the 1930s?
Last April 28, 2006, the Carlos S. Bulosan Symposium America is in the Heart for the 21st Century took place at the globally prestigious institute, the Library of Congress. The day-long event in the heart of the nation’s capital was held at the Jefferson Building of the Library. Nine Bulosan scholars presented their papers and brought to light the life and times the writer lived in. Bulosan died in 1956.
Headed by eminent scholar, Dr. E. San Juan, Jr., the symposium panelists included Dr. Tim Libretti of Northeastern Illinois University, Dr. Richard A. Baldoz, visiting fellow at Stanford University, Dr. Susan Evangelista (Bulosan biographer) from the Palawan State University, the tandem Asian American scholars Dr. Lane Hirabayashi and Ms. Marilyn Alquizola.
They were joined by Dr. Jorshinelle Taleon-Sonza formerly of Rutgers University, Mr. Jeffrey Cabusao, doctoral candidate from University of Michigan who emphasized the relevance of Bulosan’s writings and ideology today.
Ms. Cindy Domingo, Seattle labor activist, recounted the Alaskeros’ experiences in the salmon cannery industry and the importance of Bulosan’s documentation of Local 37 activities. The papers presented centered on Bulosan’s novel, America is in the Heart, and its relevance to the present times.
Dr. Taleon-Sonza reminded the audience that Bulosan’s prophetic words in 1943 predicted the present concept of globalization. Dr. Baldoz described the circumstances that early Filipino migrations met in the hands of White America: panic response to the fear of being colonized by Filipinos as they came in droves and threatened the social fabric of puritanical communities in the West Coast.
Film footage excerpts of the play, The Romance of Magno Rubio (adapted by playwright, Lonnie Carter from a Bulosan short story) was shown, courtesy of Ma-yi Theater Company of New York. The event was coordinated by Reme Grefalda, founding editor of Our Own Voice who partnered with the Library of Congress’ Asian Division Friends Society.
The Carlos S. Bulosan Archives was inaugurated the following day on April 29, 2006 at the Library’s Asian Reading Room, Jefferson Building. This writer and Filipina matriarch and community leader Remy Cabacungan performed the ribbon-cutting ceremony.
The symposium proceedings will be available in the summer on the LOC Asian Division website, http://www.lcasian.gov