Rappin' With Ten Thousand Carabaos in the Dark (2019)

Many Bridges

UCLA Asian American Studies Center 50th Anniversary Commemorative Expanded Edition

By Al Robles, with a foreword by Tony Robles

Paperback: $16.95

ISBN-13: 978-0-934052-53-5

Products Details: Paperback, 158 pp, 9in x 6 in x .8in

Categories: Poetry; Asian American Literature; Art & Culture; Pilipinos; Pilipino Americans



Originally published in 1996, Rappin' With Ten Thousand Carabaos in the Dark is a collection of poetry by the late Al Robles, the quintessential Pilipino American poet, storyteller, and co-founder of the Kearny Street Workshop in San Francisco. In this new expanded edition that also commemorates UCLA AASC's 50th anniversary, the book includes a forward by Tony Robles, as well as a classic essay by Al Robles from Amerasia Journal. Described by Ishmael Reed as "a journey into the heart of Pilipino soul," Robles's poetry reflected his power as a storyteller and his own activism. It includes glimpses into the lives of the elderly Pilipino Manongs, whose stories and lives he documented.



Preface to 1996 Edition by Russell Leong

One moist morning in Watsonville, California, Al Robles, Luis Syquia and I were walking alongside the strawberry fields. The air smelled of fruit waiting to be picked. After picking a few strawberries off the vine to eat, Al told us this story: "Some Pilipinos asked me what part of the Philippines I came from. And I told them Jackson and Kearny Streets. And they said, 'Where's that?' And I said, 'Close to Ifugao Mountain.' They turned away, still puzzled."

And so the mystery and history, the struggle and promise of becoming a Pilipino in America can be found in the poetry of Al Robles—oral historian, artist and community poet. Perhaps no one has listened as closely to the voices of the Pilipino American community during the last thirty years, painstakingly recording the stories of first-generation Pilipino manongs who immigrated to Hawaii and to the Western United States. In his creative work, Al has reclaimed a community history for us all—Pilipino, Chinese, Japanese, and new immigrant alike. His community, though mainly Pilipino American, is inclusive. His poetry is inhabited by farm laborers, factory workers, Zen monks, pool hustlers, cooks, children, lovers, gamblers, preachers, warriors, pimps, prostitutes, young bloods, musicians, tricksters, barbers, stray Buddhas and goddesses. To each, he has given a blue note, a lyric refrain and a promise to remember.

Table of Contents:

Foreword - "Still Hanging onto the Carabao's Tail" by Tony Robles

"As a Poet" by Al Robles


Tagatac in Ifugao Mountain

A Thousand Pilipino Songs: Ako Ay Pilipino

Agbayani Village

International Hotel Night Watch

Manong Federico Delos Reyes and His Golden Banjo

Manong Jacinto Santo Tomas

Manong Camara

Benito Milliano, the Rice Cake Manong

Uncle Victor, the Forgotten Manong

Manong Felix

The Hawaiian Sugarcane Wild Boar Manong

The Wandering Manong

Taxi Dance

Manong O'Campo

Bataan Bar in Delano

Jurimentado Blues in Reno

Guadalupe: "Come To Me My Melancholy Baby"

Carlos Bulosan: Pilipino Poet


Back to the Land

Hidden Forest Sanctuary

Jedediah Smith Redwoods

Traveled North to the Woods Humboldt to Oregon—Washington Pacific Northwest Cascades

Boyang the Wandering Recluse

Kenji Miyazawa, the Sad Poet

Sakurai Takamine, the Wandering Kyushu Mountain-Sake Hobo

Ryōkan—The Crazy Snow Poet

A Mountain-Toilet Thief

Hunting for Bamboo

Sushi-Okashi and Green Tea with Mitsu Yashima

Meeting the Poet Luis Syquia on the Fourth Month Thirteenth Day One Thousand


Mary Tall Mountain

Wandering North to Alaska

Winter Rain Yum Cha with Gin San

Cheuk Heuk Returns to Hong Kong One More Time

Over Etang's House for Talong

Hop Jok Fair

Poor Man's Bridge/Portsmouth Square


Chinatown Blues for Blues Poets

Jazz of My Youth

Fillmore Black Ghetto

Rebirth of Wounded Knee

It Was A Warm Summer Day


Tiao-yu Tai Islands

Rappin' with Ten Thousand Carabaos in the Dark

Asian Center

Yukio Mishima 48 Ronin

Visiting the Grave of Edwardo Bedajos

From the Poet's Place

Ode to Bill Sorro

IV. "Hanging on to the Carabao's Tale" by Al Robles from Amerasia Journal

Note on the Expanded Edition by Karen Umemoto

Donor Acknowledgements

Related Center Press Publications:

Amerasia Journal 24:2 Essays into American Empire into the Philippines: Part I. Legacies, Heroes, and Identity (1998)

Amerasia Journal 24:3 Essays into American Empire into the Philippines: Part II. Culture, Community, and Capital (1998).

Baluyut, P., de la Cruz, E., & Reyes, R. (1998). Confrontations, Crossings, and Convergence: Photographs of the Philippines and the United States (1898-1998).

Quinsaat, Jesse (1976). Letters in Exile: An Introductory Reader on the History of Pilipinos in America.

Robles, Al (1996). Rappin' With Ten Thousand Carabaos in the Dark: Poems by Al Robles

Scharlin, Craig & Villanueva, Lilia (1992). Philip Vera Cruz: A Personal History of Filipino Immigrants and the Farmworkers Movement