FILIPINO and Filipino-American writers have come a long way from anonymity. If entry into the mainstream literature in America was difficult before, nowadays, more and more of these writers’ works are being published.

Oscar Campomanes, a leading Filipino expert on Asian-American studies and a professor at the Faculty of Arts and Letters, attributed this development to the rise of “Flip” writers, a legion of Fil-Am writers in the 70’s who asserted their identity and experience in American literature even though their works were not published and recognized in the academic scene. Their neglected works, however, provided the foundation of Fil-Am literature.

Campomanes took note of the inroads in the international publishing scene made by Ninotchka Rosca with her works, Monsoon Collection, an anthology of short fiction in 1982; State of War, a historical novel; and her creative nonfiction, Endgame: The Fall of Marcos, both published in 1988. Moreover, the success of Jessica Hagedorn’s novel Dogeaters in 1990 opened many opportunities for other Fil-Am writers. Hagedorn’s novel has been nominated for the US National Book Award.

“Incrementally, they added up to make the notions of Filipino-American literature and Filipino-American/Filipino writers in the U.S., sensible and acceptable to the publishing and academic mainstream, paving the way for the outburst and renaissance of new and emergent writing by Filipinos in the U.S.,” Campomanes said.

Another fact was the entry of many Fil-Ams to top-notch universities in the U.S., eventually becoming critics or scholars who promote Fil-Am writings, Campomanes said.

Fil-Am writing usually deals with nostalgia, “identity politics”, displacement and alienation, Campomanes explained.

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“These topics continue to figure in the work of Filipino American writers and Filipino writers in the U.S., and are likely to remain as obsessive preoccupations until such time that they have been exhaustively and differentially formulated in response to the enduring exigencies and peculiar contingencies of Filipino-American life and cultural politics,” the scholar said. Bernadette G. Irinco

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