Wendy’s Subway: Featured Shelf
from the introduction by Emmy Catedral, Co-Librarian
“The Luzon Indios were brought to Morro Bay, California in 1587 by the Spanish Galleon trade. The Louisiana Manilamen had a settlement in 1763 and fought in the Battle of New Orleans. In 1904 our people were displayed in the human zoos of the St. Louis World’s Fair. In the 1930s, the first Filipino-American novel—written by Carlos Bulosan during the Great Depression— was published and remains in print to this day. We can’t say where the stories begin. PAL’s library includes works written in English by Filipinos who haven’t lived in America and Filipinos of the diaspora living elsewhere and taken elsewhere, because we have been writing in English since the United States’ imposition of English. PAL is an insistence on these works as part of American history. With each iteration, pop-up, reading, walk, hang, and merienda session, PAL’s primary aim is to create the conditions for intimate encounters with the specificities of the Pilipinx experience rooted in colonialism, continuing up to the racist present. Within these specificities are narratives not without joy, music-making, invention, indulgence, hubris, ignorance, and lostness. Within these insistences there is empowerment through the revelation of shared experiences, of the continued impact of Empire across cultures. In the early 2000s, the poet Patrick Rosal named a series of readings and performances by Fil-Am writers and artists
The Lovely Nowhere. Here is a shelf of works weaving in and out of there. Many were included as part of our residency at Wendy’s Subway in the summer of 2018. Sige. In my parents’ swardspeak English-twisting tadbalik, “go let’s!” Stray Cats. Towards a Stateless Cinema. ESL or You Weren’t Here.”

Open Borders Books
Filipinx American Lit: a list by The Pilipinx American Library

Art21: Reading at the Edge of the World: The Horizon Toward Which We Move

One of the ways we are able to assert our presence and history [in this country] is through books and literature. We were surprised to hear people within an educated art circle say, “I’ve never read work by a Filipino author before.” That was shocking for me, coming from San Francisco, so Emmy and I put our book collections together to create PAL. Since then we’ve been in exhibitions and residencies, at Wendy’s Subway in Brooklyn and the Asian Art Museum in San Francisco, with rigorous public-programming components. At the Asian Art Museum, our guiding words, “We dreamt of a place to gather,” came from the poet, oral historian, International Hotel activist, and San Francisco native Al Robles (1930–2009). With the San Francisco Public Library and Public Knowledge, a project of the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, we hosted readings by Castillo, Janice Sapigao, Melissa Sipin, Malaka Gharib, Grace Talusan, and most recently Gina Apostol. With PAL, we want to amplify these voices and bring them to as wide an audience as possible. We are interested in creating nuance in countering historical erasure and invisibility: We are here. We’ve been here.

Pilipinx American Library pops up at SF Asian Art Museum

PAL was founded during the fall of the election year of 2016, “When the rhetoric was really violent against immigrants or those deemed as not from here; so it’s coupled with that idea—that we have been here, our history—Filipino history—is directly linked to American history, American stories. So, our stories, in fact, are American stories as well.”

Pilipinx American Library: Telling the Stories of Filipinos in the Bay Area

For Filipino authors — like Barbara Jane Reyes — she hopes the Pilipinx library can serve as an inspiration to young Filipino writers. “It means everything for them to be able to put the book in their hands and look at an author who is somebody who looks very much like them. When I was 19 and looking for mentors, I turned to books and found a community here.” In an age of the internet — curators say that an actual library serves as a way for people to actively and physically search for information. “I’m hoping that by putting it all together and bringing here, in a place like a museum, that it could spark some new encounters and some new ways of reading, and seeing, and experiencing.”

AAWW: The Margins
A Filipino Pop-Up Library in Queens: From Bulosan to Hagedorn, this mobile library celebrates Filipinx American literature
By Yasmin Adele Majeed

When Filipino American artists Emmy Catedral and PJ Gubatina Policarpio were planning one of the first pop-ups of the Pilipinx American Library (PAL for short), their mobile library of Filipino American literature, they knew they had to begin with Bulosan. For their booth at the Blonde Art Book Fair at the Knockdown Center, they printed up postcards and put up posters of an image taken in Stockton, California in the 1930s, around the time that America is in the Heart takes place.

It shows a doorway, unremarkable except for a small sign that could have been placed by one of the white landladies that Bulosan wrote about. It reads: POSITIVELY NO FILIPINOS ALLOWED. Catedral described the relationship between the posters and their collection of Filipino diasporic texts as kind of a “face off.” “That’s how we’ve been printed and here’s how we’re printing ourselves,” she said. “[PAL] is the clapback to this image.”

September 15, 1934

Qns, New York, NY
San Francisco, CA