Vicente Sotto Lecture 2023 March

| April 1, 2024

“Motherless Tongue: To Be Bisaya in a Non-English Country”
Jona Branzuela Bering

Is it possible to write about the very people you want to write about when you are far away from them, when your everyday life is so far removed from the daily functions of the language you want to write in? —an actual diary entry

Whether it is possible to write about one’s own community while being geographically removed from it and writing in a language that may not fully capture its nuances has been a long-standing debate in literature.

Jona Branzuela Bering, an avid reader of diaspora literature, has noted the US-centric nature of much of the literature she consumes, which focuses on the experiences of Filipinos, Asians, Latinos, and immigrants in the United States.

While there are significant populations of Filipinos in various non-English speaking countries such as France, Germany, and Vietnam, Jona observes a need for more literature that examines the intersectionalities of different identities within these communities. This lack of representation reflects broader issues of underrepresentation and marginalization of diaspora communities in non-Anglophone contexts.

Through her own introspective reflections on her identity as a Bisaya, a bilingual writer, Filipino, and Asian living in Germany, Jona grapples with the complexities of navigating multiple identities and linguistic challenges. Her experiences serve as a lens to examine the broader challenges faced by writers who seek to represent their communities in literature.

Jona Branzuela Bering authors Alang sa Nasaag, a poetry collection of her earlier works in Cebuano. She won the Palanca awards for her Cebuano fiction. After four years of living and working as a teacher in Vietnam, she moved to Munich, Germany with her two cats—Miya and Zaki—in 2021.

Date: March 31, 2023

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Category: Vicente Sotto Lecture Series