Notes on Syllabus Creation: Filipino Literature Courses

Some notes on the recent flurry of syllabi creation. As you may know, I am teaching Filipino Lit at USF this semester, and if all goes according to plan, I will be teaching Pinay lit next semester at USF. Additionally, I will be teaching Filipino Lit at SFSU next semester as well.

Many of you have been asking for my syllabi, which I do take as a compliment. I appreciate that you consider me a resource or even an authority on the subject. I should also say that if you are interested in Filipino literature, DO take the time and initiative to dig and search, try to “discover” or “uncover” Filipino writers you’ve never heard of, and try to figure out how these many, many writers and pieces fit together. This is how I’ve come to find lots of the writers whose works I am now teaching or planning to teach. Lots of searching. Finding lines of association. Scouring academic databases. Linking to other places to link and so forth.

On FB, a Filipina scholar has noted that she appreciates my inclusion of writers who are not “the usual suspects.” I am interested in this, the “usual suspects,” and why such a grouping exists, or is considered as such. Interesting how a literature born of social change and contributing somehow to social change can be also resistant to change.

Similarly, in another conversation with another WOC poet and scholar, we discuss how poetry is badly handled in teaching situations, precisely because folks have been given bad experiences while learning poetry in their own education. How does this translate into the current state of mishandled or disregarded poetry. I think also this is why the pressure on poetry to DO something, like build a house, or stop a war.

That said, some brief mention of some Filipino writers and/or titles on my syllabi (in no particular order):

  • Nice Rodriguez, stories from Throw It to the River.
  • Lynda Barry, One Hundred Demons.
  • M. Evelina Galang, One Tribe.
  • Cecilia M. Brainard, stories from Growing Up Filipino: Stories for Young Adults I and II (Amalia Bueno, Rashaan Alexis Meneses, Leslieann Hobayan, Tony Robles, Aileen Suzara, Wanggo Gallaga, etc.)
  • Sasha Pimentel Chacón, “Blood, Sister,” from Insides She Swallowed.
  • Catalina Cariaga, “Excerpts from Bahala Na!” from Cultural Evidence.
  • Conchitina Cruz, poems from Dark Hours.
  • Marjorie Evasco (Pernia), poems and essay from Dreamweavers.
  • Dean Francis Alfar, stories from The Kite of Stars.
  • Carlos Bulosan, essays, stories, poems, from On Becoming Filipino and The Laughter of My Father.
  • Jessica Hagedorn, Danger and Beauty.
  • F. Sionil Jose, “The God Stealer.”
  • Ninotchka Rosca, Sugar & Salt.
  • Merlinda Bobis, stories from The Kissing.
  • Jaime Jacinto, poems from Heaven is Just Another Country.
  • Jeff Tagami, poems from October Light.
  • Proletariat Bronze, “Anthem.”
  • Regie Cabico, “Coming Out Poem.”
  • Gizelle Gajelonia, poems from Thirteen Ways of Looking at the Bus.
  • Paolo Manalo, poems from Jolography.
  • Reine Arcache Melvin, “In Paris, a White Cockroach,” essay from Not Home But Here.
  • J. Torres, Lola.
  • Serafin Malay Syquia, essay and prose from Liwanag.
  • Emily Cachapero, poem from Liwanag.
  • Al Robles, “Hanging on to the Carabao’s Tail.” (Essay in Amerasia journal).
  • Estrella Alfon, “Magnificence.”
  • Wilfrido D. Nolledo, But for the Lovers.
  • R. Zamora Linmark, Leche.
  • Bino A. Realuyo, Gods We Worship Live Next Door.
  • Jay Ruben Dayrit, “Go-Go Boy.”
  • Lysley Tenorio, “Save the I-Hotel.”
  • Maiana Minahal, poems from Legend Sondayo.
  • Shirley Ancheta, poems from different anthologies (Without Names, Babaylan).
  • Kristin Naca, poems from Bird Eating Bird.
  • Virginia Cerenio, poem from Without Names.
  • Gayle Romasanta, “The Bridge.”
  • Jose Garcia Villa, poems and notes (essay? manifesto?) from Doveglion.
  • Marianne Villanueva, stories from both collections, Ginseng and Other Tales from Manila, and Mayor of the Roses.
  • Bienvenido Santos, stories from Scent of Apples: A Collection of Stories.
  • NVM Gonzalez, stories from Bread of Salt and Other Stories.
  • Joseph O. Legaspi, poems from Imago.
  • Michelle Cruz Skinner, story from In the Company of Strangers.
  • Jean Vengua, writings from The Commonwealth Cafe.

OK. So that’s some of it. Sorry it’s not in any order. I have typed this all up as it’s come to me. Three classes, three syllabi. I was also asked (by the same Pinay scholar) why “Filipino Literature,” instead of “Filipino American Literature.” Good question. Well, for my USF courses, I try my best to include writers in various parts of the world, which fits with the Philippine Studies focus. For the SFSU course, while most of the writers are Filipino American, I am interested still in including works with diasporic and transnational concerns. Moving towards a more comprehensive picture of our “condition” as Filipinos in the world.

I am interested in the challenge of our literature. I plan to teach Nolledo’s But for the Lovers at SFSU, knowing how intimidated I am by the text. Finally, yes, I am teaching my own work, Poeta en San Francisco and Diwata, in two different classes.

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Barbara Jane Reyes

Author of Gravities of Center, Poeta en San Francisco, and Diwata. Adjunct professor in Philippine Studies at University of San Francisco.

2 Comments

  1. Thanks for sharing this Barbara. I am slowly familiarizing myself and trying to see how I can inject these works into my own syllabi, so I really appreciate the models you provide. Love learning from you!

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