Filipino American Literature Nerissa Balce-Cortes and Jean Vengua Gier
In 1974, Oscar Peñaranda, Serafin Syquia, and Sam Tagatac wrote the first historical overview of Filipino American literature in Aiiieeeee! An Anthology of Asian-American Writers. At the time they stressed the desperate "urgency and necessity" for a critical overview because of the apparent ignorance that publishers have displayed toward Filipino American writers ( Chan il). Since the publication of Aiiieeeee!, we have been able to mark the beginnings of a more concerted critical attention toward this group, especially by Asian-American critics and anthologists. However, this does not, by any means, give pause for celebration since Filipinos in the United States continue to earn among the lowest wages of any Asian-American group ( Chan170), and even our inclusion in the groundswell of Asian-American literary publications may have resulted in yet another marginality within the rubric of "Asian America." Therefore, the exhortation of "urgency and necessity" still applies.
This "overview" of Filipino American literature is a demarcating, rather than a definitive, introduction of a continuing literary tradition. We hope--and indeed see the necessity--to do more than acknowledge and catalog the existence of Filipino American literature. We recognize the importance of continuing historicization, even as we delineate concerns of form and content in the literature and discuss new directions.
Our concern is specifically with those Filipino American writers who emerged after World War II. As such, a critical overview must include second- and third- and even fourth-generation writers. The concerns that surface in the writings of