No Country for Strangers is an excellent, amazing post that started off as a continuing conversation over the Charles Tan's Racefail post, but illuminates so much more, and touches on many social stratospheres that make up the relationship between the Phillipines and the United States, the colonized and colonizers. I recommend everyone to read through it slowly and carefully, but I'm going to quote some of the passages that touch on literature and/or writing, specifically on the one that touches on cultural appropriation in literature. (Actually, I kind of just want to quote the whole post - because it's brilliant, especially the part about migration - but I'm restraining myself. So many good passages to choose from~)
I will not say: no foreigners allowed. That is a rather horrible thing to say considering an overwhelming tendency here to welcome foreigners with open arms and bend over backwards for them, at the cost of discriminating against our fellow Filipinos. It is a statement that assumes we have the power to say such a thing and enforce such a rule when we, well, don't. "No foreigners allowed" is a fantasy -- a short-sighted, narrow-minded, twisted fantasy, but a fantasy nonetheless.
Instead I will say: this is no country for strangers. This is not a people that can be known by observation alone, without the risk of actual engagement. This is no land where you can set yourself apart and then delude yourself with claims that comprehension naturally comes with high-minded goals and noble intentions to enlighten a system whose only fundamental flaw is ignorance of your ways. This is not a place that needs more foreigners coming in to visit, then taking away with them their misconceptions and their privileged judgments -- because we have been misrepresented enough, not just in the international community but also amongst ourselves, and false categorizations and claims about who we are and where we came from and where we should go are unneeded and shouldn't be welcomed.
This is a place where one must know rage to know sight. I wrote, somewhat recently: "[S]ometimes rage is useful. Sometimes anger is necessary. Sometimes you need a great and brutal force to drive ugly and hidden secrets into the light; sometimes self-satisfaction and complacency cannot be worn down gradually, but must be wrenched apart. Sometimes fear is the only edge that will compel you to walk a difficult and unfamiliar path. Sometimes you can't just politely ask rotting structures to make way for the construction of new ones. You have to knock them down. Burn them to the ground." I believe this is as true of the writing of fiction as it is of development policy, or economic research, or the study of Philippine institutions.
Today is the FIRST DAY OF MAY. MY FOUR MONTH LONG SUMMER IS HEREEEEEEEEE.
Lastly, don't forget to check out my Crossing Book Giveaway!