Jose Garcia Villa - Philippine Writing in English

• Presentation 2/13
– April, Daniel, Stephani, Isaac Hong, & Sith
– 1pg description of contribution by 6pm
Tuesday night (2/12)
– BRIEF summary, emphasis on analysis and
The Queer Trans-Nationalism
of Jose Garcia Villa
colonialist and/or critic
National Fictions
• “Such a notion of Filipinoness, of a Filipino
culture that was fixed, yet flexible,
historical yet history-making, had the
advantage of being attuned to social and
historical processes, to development and culture
change. Yet the very distinctiveness of this
malleable national character served only
to render its instability as a concept more
apparent” (2)
– State paradoxically must intervene to shape
national spirit
• Commonwealth period  supposed
cultural/spiritual development of nation
obfuscates state’s material subordination
to US
“What is and what should be
the basis of political action
that aims at transforming
society? How does culture
(and literature) formulate an
account of political action
and help to actualize it?” (8)
1940 Literary Awards
• Mandated by Quezon, administered by League
of Filipino Writers
• Short story, novel, essay and poetry categories in
Spanish, Tagalog and English
• Poetry in English:
– R. Zulueta da Costa – first place
– Jose Garcia Villa – honorable mention
– Angela Manalang Gloria – first Filipina poet in
English; entry censured for being overly erotic
Like the Molave
• Celebration of Rizal
– 1901 – Taft renames District of Morong into
Rizal Province and erects national monument
– Rizal versus Bonifacio
• Paradox of Commonwealth Philippine
– “Philippines – (Spain + America) = Molave”
National Excess
• “…these excesses [heterogenous elements]
are not just engendered by the ‘productive
violence’ of the nationalist project in the
sense that they are necessary by-products of
different nationalist projects of imagining and
making community. Instead, these excesses
are a constitutive feature of nation making,
an irreducible component of the nationalist
project of making community” (7)
Poetic Excess
• Criteria for judgment
of literary awards:
– “aesthetic test”
– “social significance”
• Gloria’s poetry
determined to be:
– Socially insignificant
– Overly romantic and
Revolt from Hymen
O to be free at last, to sleep at last
As infants sleep within the womb of rest!
To stir and stirring find no blackness vast
With passion weighted down upon the breast,
To turn the face this way and that and feel
No kisses festering on it like sores,
To be alone at last, broken the seal
That marks the flesh no better than a whore’s!
1940 Literary Awards re-enforces false dichotomy
between public and private, political and personal
Jose Garcia Villa
• 1908 - Born in Manila
– Father was physician to Aguinaldo
– Mother was from wealthy land-owning family
• 1929 – immigrated to US after suspension at
University of Philippines
• Epitomizes the Filipino pensionado – upper class
Filipino sent to US to pursue higher study
– Bachelor’s degree at University of Mexico
– Graduate training at Columbia University
Colonialist or Critic?
• What are Chua’s arguments? What makes
Villa a colonialist? What makes him a critic?
– P. 182  neutrality as compliance
– P.183  mastering the master’s tools
– P.184  fucking with English
Divine Play with God
• McKinley’s “Address to a Methodist
• Divine Poem 76
• Divine Poem 77