Saturday, July 12, 2003

CARLOS BULOSAN: PHILIPPINE NATIONAL TREASURE

The expatriate writer Alberto Florentino posted on Plaridel Papers a few comments on and a short selection from his fellow expatriate writer, the late Carlos Bulosan. At the end of his message, he said that Carlos Bulosan is a Philippine National Treasure.

I completely agree.

Among the Filipino writers in English who appeared during the first half of the previous century, Carlos Bulosan is one of those I really look up to.

Not only was he a fine writer who learned complicated literary techniques under conditions not conducive to proper learning. Not only did he have the amazing ability to come up with many of the best collections of works in Philippine literature faster than a mango could ripen.

Besides all these, his convictions were clear, unlike those who presume it fine to have no convictions.

Even when he had only the vaguest notions of politics and philosophy, he already had the beginnings of egalitarian ideas.

He was unequivocably for the common people of whom he was one, the workers and the peasants who comprise the greatest number of Filipinos. He stood for them against exploitation by a few. He faithfully and zealously wrote of their simple dreams and degrading conditions--even to the point of forsaking meals!

He fought a good fight for justice in that land where he and other Filipinos had been going in search of a better life. In the US he fought for the rights of his fellow Filipinos against racial discrimination and against oppression by Big Business. Torture did not prevent him from pursuing the causes he had hurled himself into.

And his life, up to his last breath, was devoted to the cause of justice for all.

By all these Carlos Bulosan is definitely one of the greatest Filipino writers of all time. He is indeed a Philippine National Treasure, and should have been among the first to be given the National Artist Award.

Expanded version of a comment on Plaridel Papers.

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