Themes and Meanings

(Comprehensive Guide to Short Stories, Critical Edition)

Bienvenido N. Santos once commented on his increased interest in the comic-tragic predicaments of the exiled Filipino: He is not truly at peace with himself, but resigned somewhat to a fate he has to accept to spend the rest of his life with as much grace as he can summon. This is found in his portrayal of the protagonist in “Immigration Blues.” In this sad but heartwarming story, Santos portrays a Filipino “blues singer,” Alipio Palma, whose bittersweet songs are the praisesong of the indomitable human spirit.

Alipio’s strong faith in God is the source of his strength day in and day out, especially in his old age. When Seniang is taken away by God, he accepts it as best he can by dwelling on the happy years they spent together. When a terrible car accident threatens to render him unable to walk, God makes it a miracle that he is able to walk again in a year’s time. In spite of all of his sufferings, he welcomes Antonieta and Monica as friends and relatives, without a trace of doubt as to the real intention of their visit. Even after they have disclosed their objective to him, he receives them with a warm heart and open arms.

Santos’s characterization of Alipio belies the argument that Filipinos and other Asian immigrants in the United States cling tenaciously to their own customs, traditions, and way of living because they cannot assimilate into the mainstream culture. He portrays Alipio’s nostalgia for his home country and...

(The entire section is 430 words.)

Immigration Blues Themes

Exile
Even though he has lived in the United States since he was a young man and is now a U.S. citizen, Alipio still thinks of...

(The entire section is 643 words.)