Looking for reading recommendations for Asian American and Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander Heritage Month? Consider Alon: The Journal for Filipinx American and Diasporic Studies. Alon is the new flagship academic journal for the Bulosan Center for Filipino Studies, based at the Department of Asian American Studies. The free, open-access journal published its first issue on the University of California’s eScholarship platform this spring, and strives to provide a publication outlet for the Filipinx community in academia, the arts, humanities, and activist circles.
Alon goes beyond the typical academic journal by showcasing research papers, book reviews, poetry, artistic pieces, monograph appraisals, and visual art productions that “productively and critically engage with Filipinx American and Filipinx Diasporic Studies.” The journal will be published three times per year.
Fluid like a wave, expanding past academic boundaries
The word alon translates to waves in the Tagalog language, representing the journal’s fluid, multi-disciplinary approach. Rick Bonus, Alon’s Editor-in-Chief, remarked on the long-time need for a Filipinx-centric journal with contributors from diverse backgrounds and disciplines.
“We wanted something of our own, a journal that we could run together, and one that would be expansive and flexible across boundaries, hence our reference to Alon as a signifier of the undulating waves of our pasts and presents, our dwellings here and elsewhere, and our experiences of coming and going,” remarked Bonus. The transformative nature of the journal highlights the works of various sectors of the Filipinx experience, from the perspective of professors, graduate students, research professionals, activists, and artists.
Filipinx migrant labor and diasporic identities
The inaugural issue covers various topics, including health care worker exploitation, the solidarity politics of anti-imperialist movements, gendered colonial ideologies, and kulintang music styles. By coincidence, the contributing essays heavily focus on labor, especially issues affecting Filipinx migrant labor. The art pieces expand on the labor-central focus, as seen with Sherwin Rio’s Gloves, a textile sculpture reconfigured from Barong Tagalog shirts. Boxing has strong ties to Philippine/Filipinx diasporic history, not only for recreation and sport but also as a vehicle for social and economic mobility. Through Gloves, Rio metaphorically examines the “Filipinx American fight for post-colonial visibility and agency, and the West Coast struggle against orchestrated violence/oppression, while contending with tropes of Filipinx nationalism and masculinity.”
The Forum section closes out the journal, showcasing the written and visual works of poets, visual artists, and performers. This issue’s Forum is titled Ang ka’ tandaan mo duman (dually meaning “Do you know?” and “Do you remember?” in the Tina dialect of the Sambal language), which exemplifies how each artist questions, interprets and expresses their diasporic identities through different mediums.
Alon’s next two issues will focus on two pivotal moments in the Philippine/Filipinx diasporic histories. The July 2021 issue will feature artwork from Leese Street Studio by Marigold Santos as well as a Forum entitled Pinagsulti, or “conversation” in Cebuano, which places the poems of Luisa A. Igloria and Craig Santos Perez in conversation with an excerpt from Luis H. Francia’s play entitled “Notes on Black Henry” to explore the consequences of Spanish colonialism. The November 2021 issue will focus on martial law in the Philippines during the Ferdinand Marcos dictatorship.
About the Bulosan Center & partnership with the UC Davis Library
The Bulosan Center for Filipino Studies continues Carlos Bulosan’s legacy of uplifting the most marginalized in the Filipino community in the United States and the diaspora. This is being done through community-engaged research that broadly disseminates knowledge about Filipinos for the purpose of advancing our rights and welfare.
The Bulosan Center was founded in 2018, as Dr. Robyn Rodriguez of the Asian American Studies Department consolidated her various Filipinx-centric research focuses into one umbrella center. In 2019, the state of California granted the Bulosan Center $1,000,000 to facilitate its continued growth. With that money, the Center hired staff and has been able to fully fund the research of several graduate students whose work will have a direct impact on the Filipinx American community.
The Bulosan Center and the UC Davis Library entered a partnership in 2020, with the goals of connecting Filipinx-related resources to the greater campus community and supporting the long-term preservation efforts of the Bulosan Center’s Welga Digital Archive. Through this partnership, the library improves access to a deeper and more diverse cultural record, and fulfills its mission to increase the global availability of UC Davis scholarship.