First, a poem must be magical,
Then musical as a seagull.
It must be a brightness moving
And hold secret a bird’s flowering
It must be slender as a bell,
And it must hold fire as well.
It must have the wisdom of bows
And it must kneel like a rose.
It must be able to hear
The luminance of dove and deer.
It must be able to hide
What it seeks, like a bride.
And over all I would like to hover
God, smiling from the poem’s cover.

– Jose Garcia Villa, First, A Poem Must Be Magical

“Perhaps what [Villa] suggests is that throughout his poetry, he can only speak through a highly constrained set of discourses, discourses not of his own making.”

– Timothy Yu, “‘The Hand of a Chinese Master’: José Garcia Villa and Modernist Orientalism”

In 1887, the ‘Father of Filipino Nationalism,’ Jose Rizal wrote the novel Noli Me Tangere, which today is regarded as the greatest achievement of modern Filipino literature.  It was also almost the first novel written by an ‘Indio’ . . . . It should suffice to note that right from the start the image (wholly new to Filipino writing) of a dinner-party being discussed by hundreds of unnamed people, who do not know each other, in quite different parts of Manila, in a particular month of a particular decade, immediately conjures up the imagined community . . . While Rizal has not the faintest idea of his readers’ individual identities, he writes to them with an ironical intimacy, as though their relationships with each other are not in the smallest degree problematic.

– Benedict Anderson, Imagined Communities, 26-28

As Palestinian intellectual Edward Said demonstrated in his path-breaking study, Orientalism (1978), the material process of Western colonization of the non-West has commonly been accompanied, justified, and reinforced by various textual representations which have position colonized peoples as politically and culturally ‘inferior’ or ‘other’ to the West.

– Michelle Keown, Pacific Island Writings, 7


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