02 February 2009

Manile Times column for 01 February 2009: "Filipino, Chinese and Literary"

beginning february 2009, my Scribe Vibe column appears every sunday na, at the Sunday Times version of Manila Times. i'm not sure why the paper changes its name every sunday, though. hm.

my column is lumped together with the Literary Times section. aptly so naman. i agree with the reshuffling and rearranging.

her'es my first sunday times piece:

original post here.

Sunday, February 01, 2009

By Libay Linsangan Cantor
Filipino, Chinese and literary

As we all greeted each other kung hei fat choi this week, I hope the Chinese New Year would inspire us to revisit literary works by Filipino-Chinese writers as well.

There are a lot of great Filipino-Chinese writers in our midst, and their stories add a distinct, unique and colorful flavor in our literary culture, much like what their contributions in other cultural sectors do. A sampling of their writings could be seen in Anvil Publishing’s excellent collection called Instik: An Anthology of Chinese Filipino Writing launched in 2000. This book won best anthology at the 2000 National Book Awards.

Edited by eminent writer-scholar Caroline Hau, this collection includes short stories, poems, essays and even a teleplay by a great mixture of Filipino-Chinese authors. Some of the people included in the book are poets Anthony Tan, Alice Sun-Cua and Jaime An Lim who are all, incidentally, based in the south of the Philippines; fictionists Charlson Ong, Alessandra Gonzales and Clinton Palanca; essayists Doreen Yu and Teresita Ang See; and TV-film scriptwriters Ricky Lee, Jun Lana and Peter Ong Lim. Even identified Filipino-American writers like poet Fatima Lim-Wilson and scholar Bliss Cua Lim’s works are included in this anthology, for more Pinoy pride—specifically, Filipino-Chinese pride.

Most of these writers are still actively producing and publishing works, despite the fact that most of them are not full-time writers by profession. Perhaps only Jun Lana and Ricky Lee could be considered as full-time writers, as both of them produce material for television, the former for GMA-7 and the latter for ABS-CBN 2, incidentally both for the teleserye, or TV soap opera genre. Some double as teachers while others write for magazines and newspapers as well.

As a fictionist, I am more familiar with the body of works of Charlson Ong, as I am actually a fan of his short stories, all crafted with a great command of the English language, peppered with humor and sprinkled with the interesting nuances of the Filipino-Chinese way of life. His 1996 book Conversion and Other Fictions, also published by Anvil, contains some of his finely written short stories about being Filipino-Chinese in contemporary Philippine society. He also has a novel, the second prize winner of the Centennial Literary Prize entitled An Embarrassment of Riches published by UP Press in 2000.

I really hope more fiction works would come out of the Filipino-Chinese community, as their literary contributions provide us with added meaningful insights into the very diverse lives of Filipinos.

Comments? Suggestions? E-mail libay.scribevibe@gmail.com.

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