América is in the Archipelago: Mariano De la Rosa’s "Fíame" and the Filipino (American) Novel in Spanish of World War II
Via analysis of the World War II novel Fíame (Filipinas-América) [Trust in Me (Philippines-America)] by Mariano L. De la Rosa, this essay argues that Filipino literature in Spanish written during the United States colonial period undermines any normative definitions of both American and Filipino literature. Fíame, a hitherto unknown text, challenges
the marginality of its oblivion by revamping putative national boundaries through a symbolic plot in which two couples, each composed of a Filipino and an American, develop subtly subversive relationships before, during, and immediately after the War. The novel thereby can be connected to questions of Filipino American identity implicitly raised in texts as diverse as the National World War II Memorial in Washington, D.C., and the testimonial narrative America Is in the Heart by Carlos Bulosan. The conceptual diversification of “Filipino American” to include texts
written in the islands and in an older imperial language makes the term not an ethnic designation of immigrants and their descendants but a heuristic device of potentially global usage and implications. Meanwhile, Fíame also forces a reappraisal of the twentieth century tradition of Filipino fiction in Spanish because scholars have supposed unanimously that Los pájaros de fuego [The Birds of Fire] by Jesús Balmori was the lone archipelagic novel in that language to be written during and about World War II. This essay is a companion piece to an analysis of Balmori’s novel that was published in Kritika Kultura 17.