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EXILE'S RETURN: On E. San Juan's BALIKBAYANG MAHAL

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EXILE’S RETURN:
ON E. SAN JUAN’s Balikbayang Mahal/Passages from Exile

by Tamara Powell
Associate Professor of English, Louisiana Tech University



E. San Juan, Jr.’s latest work is not a polysyllabic, hard-hitting work of critical analysis like those he is best known for. Instead, it is a poetry-filled work entitled Balikbayang Mahal/Passages from Exile. This work is a collection of old and new poems and also includes a long essay on exile and diaspora entitled “Sa Loob at Labas ng Bayan Kong Sawi: Emergency Signals from a Filipino Exile.” One of the most striking features of the work is the bevy of languages represented. The poems appear in their original forms in either Filipino or English. A few poems also appear with French and Chinese translations accompanying them, and there are poems in Spanish and Italian.
Most of the 35 poems are accompanied by a translation into at least one other language. Some poems, like “Mask of the Poet,” appear in English and Filipino with German an…