In late 2019, Michael Beltran found himself in the city of Utrecht, The Netherlands, deep in conversation with Filipino revolutionary leaders Jose Maria Sison and Julie de Lima. What was planned to be a feature article ended up as a collection of observations on what it means to live in exile. The Singing Detainee and the Librarian with One Book shares lesser known tales about the lives of the political exiles and the people around them.
The essays track the couple’s prolonged stay as refugees, how the Philippine liberation movement found a home in Europe, and how migrants and activists alike gravitated toward each other while adrift from their homeland. “Exile,” Beltran says, “is imprisonment by displacement . . . when people are condemned to leave their lands dressed in invisible chains.”
Published in 2023.