C. S. Bulosan
c/o Philippine Commonwealth Times
Los Angeles, CA
March 31, 1943
I read your essay in the Saturday Evening Post the other day; as per usual, I stand in awe of your talent; you, an Ilocano migrante farmer, saying what Roosevelt says better than he could imagine, speaking up for the poor and darker-skinned.
It’s a good revision of the poem you did; I know they probably wouldn’t have taken it if you’d dared to say revolution- and Lord knows we are marching, no?. Freedom from want guarantees the rest; hungry mouths tremble in fear, hungry lips profane the holy in their need, hungry bellies drown debate however free.
You cut to the heart of things in ways I can only envy; perhaps schooling obscures – but of course that is its purpose. Schooling hides want from the small and shame from the great and has nothing to do with books; a bookish convalescence does wonders. Ray Bradbury would say the same about libraries. But you don’t know him, of course.
I hope this letter finds you relatively well; I hope the dryness down south has eased your cough; I heard you’d been in and out of the hospital, please write soon so I know you’re fine.
My brother sent me a letter from camp; he sends his greetings and is looking forward to fighting in the Pacific.
His letter makes me think as I write this. What, exactly, are we doing here? Granted, there’s no way in hell we can go home, and the money’s better here, but what can we do anyway? Get hounded out of town like rats? Break our backs like horses, only to get shot at and beaten because we looked at a pretty girl? But you said it true; we were promised something else when we came, and I suppose all we can do is make that promise come true on our own. Work helps, I suppose. But there’s more to be done. Perhaps this war – and men like my brother – will fix things. But for now, there’s work.
That reminds me, will you be joining us in the canneries this year? The boys have been reading your work and we’re all so glad that a brother is telling the country about us and about the war. For what use is war if we stay hungry?
Enclosed are a few dollars for you; big shots need new suits, after all. I’d send more but school’s got me in a bind. See you in three months?