Anyhow, Kester is Filipino like me (full disclosure: I’m only half Filipino, and for those keeping track – half Filipino/half white characters are even rarer in books) and mentioned he doesn’t come across many books that feature Filipinos. I don’t either.
One of the reasons I made Ronnie, Thompson’s best friend in my YA novel One Night, Filipino was because of the lack of Filipino representation in fiction. According to census reports Filipinos are the second largest Asian group in the United States. There are over 100 million Filipinos in the Philippines and an estimated 10 million throughout the rest of the world. To which I say, why aren’t there more Filipino characters in books?
Looking at Goodreads’ list of Filipino writers there are twenty-one books listed. There are twelve listings for YA novels set in the Philippines. That’s one reason I set my project, The Other Side of the World, there. A Guardian article from 2015 features Filipino author Candy Gourlay. Her books are great by the way, check them out. The headline of the article is: Growing up I thought Filipinos weren’t allowed to be in books. I would argue that some kids today probably share that sentiment. For the amount of Filipinos in the world they don’t pop up in U.S. literature that often.
What’s the solution? Publishers need to give more Filipino authors a chance and readers need to spread the word about books with Filipino characters by leaving reviews online and telling their friends and others who like to read.
What about you? Any suggestions for getting more Filipino characters into books? What books have you read that feature Filipino characters? Share your thoughts in the comments below.
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