The Crucible: An Autobiography by Colonel Yay, Filipina American Guerrilla

The Crucible: An Autobiography by Colonel Yay, Filipina American Guerrilla

The Crucible: An Autobiography by Colonel Yay, Filipina American Guerrilla

The Crucible: An Autobiography by Colonel Yay, Filipina American Guerrilla

Synopsis

On December 8, 1941, as the Pacific War reached the Philippines, Yay Panlilio, a Filipina-Irish American, faced a question with no easy answer: How could she contribute to the war?

In this 1950 memoir, The Crucible: An Autobiography by Colonel Yay, Filipina American Guerrilla, Panlilio narrates her experience as a journalist, triple agent, leader in the Philippine resistance against the Japanese, and lover of the guerrilla general Marcos V. Augustin. From the war-torn streets of Japanese-occupied Manila, to battlegrounds in the countryside, and the rural farmlands of central California, Panlilio blends wry commentary, rigorous journalistic detail, and popular romance.

Weaving together appearances by Douglas MacArthur and Carlos Romulo with dangerous espionage networks, this work provides an insightful perspective on the war. The Crucible invites readers to see new intersections in Filipina/o, Asian American, and American literature studies, and Denise Cruz's introduction imparts key biographical, historical, and cultural contexts to that purpose.

Excerpt

On December 8, 1941, Yay Panlilio found her life suddenly and irrevocably changed by the bombing of Pearl Harbor. Panlilio, a mestiza Filipina-Irish American woman, had moved from the United States to the Philippines and quickly ensconced herself in the capital city, Manila, as one of its most intrepid journalists. When reports of Pearl Harbor reached Manila, Panlilio was one of a few envoys selected to relay grim news to President Manuel Quezon. The war was on its way to Philippine shores. In a matter of days, she would see her beloved newspaper, the Philippines Herald, razed to the ground, American and Filipino troops deployed to Bataan and Corregidor in the north to defend the islands, and Manila in turmoil. Panlilio surveyed the growing chaos surrounding her and thought furiously: how would she, a Filipina American, contribute to the war?

That question would have a complicated answer. Panlilio’s response is the subject of her 1950 memoir, The Crucible: An Autobiography by Colonel Yay, originally published in the United States. The book narrates her incredible experience as a journalist, triple agent, leader in the Philippine resistance against the Japanese, and lover of the guerrilla general Marcos V. Agustín. Panlilio’s sweeping focus moves from the war-torn streets of Japanese-occupied Manila, to battlegrounds in the Philippine countryside, to the rural farmlands of central California. Written in a style that blends wry commentary, rigorous journalistic detail, and popular romance conventions, The Crucible weaves together appearances by well-known military figures like Douglas MacArthur and Carlos Romulo, dangerous networks of espionage, and a tumultuous romantic relationship that recalls the plots of Hollywood war films, or at least, as Panlilio’s good friend and fellow writer, Lydia Arguilla noted, “a pulp-magazine love story” (chapter 35).

For Yay Panlilio, however, The Crucible was meant to be much more than a good story, and certainly more than a mere account of her life experiences during the war. Rather, she saw the book as a necessary act of political redress and retribution. Ever the consummate journalist, Panlilio published The Crucible with clear objectives: to publicize the important yet unrecognized contributions of the guerrilla resistance in . . .

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