Honoring Carlos Bulosan

As a grandnephew of the late Carlos Bulosan, I was delighted and honored to meet and talk briefly with Dr. Robyn Magalit Rodriguez during the first Filipino Policy Symposium held last September 29, 2018 at the Bulosan Center for Filipino Studies (BCFS) initiative at the UC Davis in Davis, California.

Dr. Robyn Magalit Rodriguyez, BCFS Director, together with a team of PhD students, undergraduates and community organizers is working towards establishing the Bulosan Center for Filipino Studies, the first of its kind in the University of California and nationally. The center will support community-engaged research and the dissemination of knowledge about the Filipinos in the United States and the diaspora.

According to Dr. Rodriguez, the center is being named after the migrant worker, writer and activist, Carlos Bulosan who authored “America is in the Heart “ (translated in several languages and dialects like Tagalog and Ilocano), a now-classic novel that documents the early Filipino American immigrant experience in the United States. Inspired by the life’s work of Carlos Bulosan, the initiative aims to empower the Filipino community through knowledge and education, especially for advancing the rights and welfare of those most marginalized in the community.

“Filipinos are one of the oldest and largest Asian immigrant communities in the state of California yet research about our contributions as well as the urgent issues we currently face is still severely underdeveloped. The Bulosan Center for Filipino Studies aims to fill those gaps. We hope that the knowledge we produce inspires the next generation to commit to community service and civic engagement, “ says Dr. Rodriguez.

Although it’s long overdue, I’m glad that my late grandfather is finally honored and that his contribution and sacrifices are now being recognized. His contemporaries like Cesar Chavez, Larry Itliong were honored and recognized with streets, avenues and schools under their names.

In our hometown in Binalonan, Pangasinan, my late grandfather Carlos Bulosan was honored and recognized by celebrating every September 11 (his death anniversary) each year as CARLOS BULOSAN DAY in Binalonan. Through the initiative and leadership of Binalonan Mayor Ramon Guico III a Carlos Bulosan Museum was established inside the main building of the University of Eastern Pangasinan in the town along the national highway going to Baguio City. My cousin Alfred Gabot (pat president of the National Press Club of the Philippines, , author, publisher, Professor and Regent at the Pamantasan ng Lungsod Maynila) had also helped the museum. As a commissioner of the National Commission for Culture and Arts (NCAA), mu cousin Alfred, now Philippines Today editor-in-chief , also initiated the publication of the Ilocano version of “America is in the Heart” called “Adda ti Amerikati Pusok” by Manuel Diaz and its launching by then President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, whose mother Dr. Evangelina Macaraeg Macapagal, was a Binalonan native, with Cecil Guidote Alvarez at the Binalonan Airport and hangar owned by the family of Mayor Guico.

Another way to honor and recognize my late grandfather is the upcoming CARLOS BULOSAN DAY in Vallejo. On November 13, 2018 (Tuesday, 7:00 pm) at the regular Vallejo City Council Meeting, Mayor Bob Sampayan will present a special Proclamation declaring November 24, 2018 (his birth anniversary) and every year thereafter as CARLOS BULOSAN DAY in Vallejo. Projects to perpetuate the works and what Bulosan fought for will then be mapped out and follow.

The Proclamation will honor his contribution to the struggle for recognition of Filipinos, particularly the farmers and laborers and their labor union in America, which according to former Philippine President Fidel V. Ramos,in speeches before the Filipinos and Filipino Americans in the United States, helped made what the Filipinos are today.

In 2013, then U.S. President Barack Obama had a fitting tribute to Carlos Bulosan during his term when the Carlos Bulosan poem “I Want Wide American Earth” was chosen as the theme and poem for the Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders Heritage Month celebration which he covered with Presidential Proclamation. Obama thus became the second U.S. President to honor Bulosan. Part of the celebration was a rolling exhibit where Bulosan and his landmark poem was highlighted. Bulosan’s poem captures the scope and ambition of the American Dream. His words also reflect the enduring spirit of many AAPI immigrants and refugees seeking freedom and prosperity for their families.

My late grandfather Carlos Bulosan is also being honored for his outstanding achievement as an essayist (“Freedom from Want” as commissioned for by US. President Franklin D. Roosevelt); as novelist (“America is in the Heart”and others); short story writer ( “The Laughter of my Father”and others); poet ( “I Want the Wide American Earth” and others); editorial writer, journalist and labor movement propagandist.

There had been many works, books and events like plays ( The Romance of Magno Rubio), murals (Eastern Hotel in Seattle) and feature movies in the past honoring Carlos Bulosan, but the Vallejo event this coming November and the future events is very close to my heart as the celebration will also involve those who also came from his hometown of Binalonan who are now established in America.

The members of the CARLOS BULOSAN DAY Committee cordially invite our Binalonan townmates, relatives and “kababayans” to join the presentation of special Proclamation of CARLOS BULOSAN DAY in Vallejo during the regular City Council Meeting on November 13, 2018, Tuesday, 7:00 pm at the City Hall,m 555 Santa Clara Street, Vallejo , California.

For more information and reservation, please contact Angelic Bennett, Executive Assistant to the Mayor at (707)649-3479 or email:[email protected]. You can also contact BANC President Romualdo Cerezo at (415)235-4899 or contact your columnist at (650)438-3531 or email:[email protected]

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*ART GABOT MADLAING is a commissioned Notary Public and licensed Real Estate Broker (BRE #00635976) in California since 1981. He is accredited Notary Public by the Philippine Consul General in San Francisco. Art is founder of FITNESS FOR HUMANITY (aka FITNESS FOR CHRIST)and ACAPONOY. He is active Evangelist at the GOLDEN GATE CHURCH OF CHRIST in San Francisco, California.