Philippine Literature: The American Regime
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The Filipino Revolutionists won against the Spaniards who colonized us for more than 300 years. Our flag was hoisted on June 12, 1898 as a symbol of our independence. Gen. Emilio Aguinaldo was elected the first President of the Philippine Republic but this was short-lived. The Fil.-American was resulted in the defeat of Gen. Miguel Malvar in 1903. The peace movements started as early as 1900. Many Filipinos started writing again and the nationalism of the people remained undaunted.
Filipino writers went into all forms of literature like news, reporting, poetry, stories, plays, essays, and novels. Their writings clearly depicted their love of country and their longings for independence. The active arousal in the field of literature started to be felt in the following newspapers.
1. EL NUEVO DIA (The New Day). Established by Sergio Osmeña in 1900. The American censors twice banned this and threatened Osmeña with banishment because of his nationalistic writings.
2. EL GRITO DEL PUEBLO (The Call of the Nation). Established by Pascual Poblete in 1900.
3. EL RENACIMIENTO (The Rebirth). Founded by Rafael Palma in 1901.
There were also plays written then but after the first and second presentations, the Americans put a stop to this because of the consistent theme of nationalism. Included here were the following:
1. KAHAPON, NGAYON AT BUKAS (Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow). Written by Aurelio Tolentino depicting the suppression done by the Americans and their plan to colonize the Philippines.
2. TANIKALANG GINTO of Juan Abad.
3. MALAYA by Tomas Remigio.
4. WALANG SUGAT by Severino Reyes. A. Characteristics of Literature during This Period Three groups of writers contributed to Philippine Literature during this period.
During the first year of the American period, the languages used in writing were Spanish and Tagalog and the dialects of the different regions, but Spanish and Tagalog predominated. In 1910, a new group started to write in English. Hence, Spanish, Tagalog, the Vernaculars and finally, English, were the mediums used in literature during these times. While the three groups were one in their ideas and spirit, they differed in their methods of reporting. The writers in Spanish were wont to write on nationalism like honoring Rizal and other heroes.
The writers in Tagalog continued in their lamentations on the conditions of the country and their attempts to arouse love for one’s native tongue. The writers in English imitated the themes and methods of the Americans.
A. Literature in Spanish
The inspiration of our Filipino writers in Spanish was Rizal not only because of his being a national leader but also because of his novels NOLI and FILI. These two novels contained the best qualities of a novel ever written, in English or in Filipino. Those who were inspired to write in praise of him were Cecilio Apostol, Fernando Ma. Guerrero, Jesus Balmori, Manuel Bernabe and Claro M. Recto.
Cecilio Apostol wrote poems dedicated to Rizal, Jacinto, Mabini and all other heroes but his poem dedicated to Rizal is considered the best poem in praise of the hero of Bagumbayan.
FERNANDO MA. GUERRERO
It is believed that Fernando Ma. Guerrero shared with Apostol the reign in the balagtasan in Spanish during their time.
He also dedicated a poem to Rizal but he collected the best of his poems in a book called CRISALIDAS, meaning, a kind of black, wooly caterpillar. Here are a few stanzas of his call to Rizal which he wrote on June 19, 1901 to commemorate Rizal’s birthday.
Jesus Balmori is well-known for his pen name of Batikuling. He and Manuel Bernabe participated in a debate on the topic – (Remembrance and Forgetfulness). He was elected Poet Laureate in Spanish besting Manuel Bernabe.
Manuel Bernabe is a lyric poet and the fierceness of his nationalistic spirit was unchanged in any topic he wrote about.
In his debate with Balmori, he was more attractive to the public because of the modious words he used. He defended OLVIDO (Forgetfulness).
CLARO M. RECTO
In nobility of speech and theme, Claro M. Recto can compare with the other writers of Spanish. He collected his poems in a book entitled BAJO LOS COCOTEROS (Under The Coconut Trees).
Other Writers in Spanish
1. Adelina Guerrea was the first woman poet in the Philippines who was good in Spanish. She obtained the Zobel prize in her song El Nido . (The Nest).
2. Isidro Marpori became famous for his four books entitled Aromas de Ensueño (Scents of Dreams).
3. Macario Adriatico wrote of a legend of Mindoro entitle La Punta de Salto (The Place of Origin).
4. Epifanio de los Santos (known as Don PAnyong). He was a good leader and biographer during the whole period of Spanish literature.
5. Pedro Aunario wrote the Decalogo del Proteccionismo.
B. Filipino Literature
FLORANTE AT LAURA of Francisco Balagtas and URBANA AT FELISA of Modesto de Castro became the inspiration of the Tagalog writers.
Julian Cruz Balmaceda classified three kinds of Tagalog poets: They were:
1. Poet of the Heart (Makata ng Puso). These included Lope K. Santos, Iñigo Ed. Regalado, Carlos Gatmaitan, Pedro Deogracias del Rosario, Ildefonso Santos, Amado V. Hernandez, Nemecio Carabana, and Mar Antonio.
2. Poets of Life (Makata ng Buhay). Led by Lope K Santos, Jose Corazon de Jesus, Florentino Collantes, Patricio Mariano, Carlos Garmaitan, and Amado V. Hernandez.
3. Poets of the Stage (Makata ng Tanghalan). Led by Aurelio Tolentino, Patricio Mariano, Severino Reyes, and Tomas Remigio.
In the realm of short stories that started to appear in the column Pangsandaliang Libangan (Short-time Leisure) and Dagli (Fast) we find here the names of Lope K. Santos, Patricio Mariano, and Rosauro Almario. In the Liwayway Publications, we find Deogracias Rosario, Teodoro Gener, and Cirio H. Panganiban. Noted novelists or biographers were Valeriano Hernandez Peña, Lope K. Santos, Iñigo Ed. Regalado, Faustino Aguilar, etc. Here are the autobiographies of some of the writers mentioned:
LOPE K. SANTOS Lope K. Santos, a novelist, poet and author, and grammarian covered three periods of Tagalog literature – American, Japanese and the contemporary period. If Manuel L. Quezon is called the Father of the National Language, Lope K. Santos is called the Father of the National Language Grammar. He was also called the “Apo” of the Tagalog writers. BANAAG AT SIKAT was his masterpiece.
JOSE CORAZON DE JESUS Jose Corazon de Jesus is very popularly known as Huseng Batute. He was also called the Poet of Love in his time. ANG ISANG PUNONG KAHOY (A TREE), an elegy, is believed to be his masterpiece.
AMADO V. HERNANDEZ Amado V. Hernandez was dubbed Makata ng mga Manggagawa (Poet of the Laborers) in our literature because he pictures in his poem the intense love for the poor worker or laborer. To him, a poem is a scent, bittersweet memories, and a murmur of flowing water. The pen is powerful and according to him, even a king can be bent by the pen. He contributed a lot of writings to literature like ISANG DIPANG LANGIT (A Stretch of Heaven), BAYANG MALAYA (A Free Nation), ANG PANDAY (The Blakcsmith), and MUNTING LUPA (A Small Plot), but his masterpiece is ANG PANDAY. VALERIANO HERNANDEZ PEÑA Together with Lope K. Santos he reached the summit of his novel-writing. He was known as Tandang Anong and his pen name was Kuntil Butil (Small Grain). He considers NENA AT NENENG his masterpiece.
IÑIGO ED. REGALADO Iñigo Ed. Regalado was a son of a popular writer during the Spanish time known as Odalger. He proved that he not only followed the footsteps of his father but also reached the peak of his success by the “sumpong” (whim) of his pen. He also became a popular story-teller, novelist and newspaperman. The Tagalog Drama During the advent of the American period, Severino Reyes and Hermogenes Ilagan started the movement against the moro-moro ( a play on the Spanish struggles against the Muslims) and struggled to show the people the values one can get from the zarzuela and the simple plays.
The people one should not forget in the field of writing are the following:
1. Severino Reyes. Father of the Tagalog drama and author of the immortal WALANG SUGAT.
2. Aurelio Tolentino. The dramatist in whom the Kapampangans take pride. Included in his writings were LUHANG TAGALOG, his masterpiece, and KAHAPON, NGAYONG AT BUKAS that resulted in his incarceration.
3. Hermogenes Ilagan. Founded the group Campaña Ilagan that presented many dramas in Central Luzon.
4. Patricio Mariano. Wrote the novel NINAY and ANAK NG DAGAT (Son of the Sea), his masterpiece.
5. Julian Cruz Balmaceda. Wrote BUNGANGA NG PATING (Shark’s Mouth). This gave him much honor and fame.
The Tagalog Short Story Two collections of Tagalog stories were published during the American Period.
First was the MGA KUWENTONG GINTO (Golden Stories) published in 1936 and %) KUWENTONG GINTO ng 50 BATIKANG KUWENTISTA (50 Golden Stories by 50 Noted Storytellers) in 1939. The first was written by Alejandro Abadilla and Clodualdo del Mundo that contained the 25 best stories according to them.
The second was written by Pedrito Reyes. PAROLANG GINTO (Golden Lantern) and TALAANG BUGHAW (Blue List) of Abadilla became popular during this period. Tagalog Poetry Almost all Tagalog writers during the American Period were able to compose beautiful poems which made it difficult to select the best. Even if poetry writing is as old as history, poetry still surfaces with its sweetness, beauty, and melody.
Other Forms of Literature
The following are those recognized in the field of Ilocano Literature:
1. Pedro Bukaneg. Father of Ilocano Literature. From his name was derived the word Bukanegan, which means Balagtasan (a poetic contest) in Ilocano.
2. Claro Caluya. Prince of Ilocano Poets. Known as poet and novelist.
3. Leon Pichay. Known as the best Bukanegero (from Bukaneg). Also a poet, novelist, short story writer, dramatist and essayist.
Literature of the Kapampangans (Pampango Literature)
Two stalwarts in the literature of the Kapampangans stand out: they are:
1. Juan Crisostomo Soto. (Father of Kapampangan Literature). The word CRISOTAN (meaning Balagtasan) in Tagalog is taken from his name.
2. Aurelio Tolentino. He truly proved his being a Kaampangan in his translation of KAHAPON, NGAYON AT BUKAS into Kapampangan which he called NAPON, NGENI AT BUKAS.
The following are the top men in Visayan literature:
1. Eriberto Gumban. (Father of Visayan Literature). He wrote a zarzuela, moro-moro and a play in Visayan.
2. Magdalena Jalandoni. She devoted her talent to the novel. She wrote ANG MGA TUNUK SAN ISA CA BULACLAC.
C. Philippine Literature in English I
In a way, we can say that we can trace the beginnings of Philippine literature in English with the coming of the Americans. For this purpose, we can divide this period into three time frames, namely: 1. The Period of Re-orientation: 1898-1910
2. The Period of Imitation: 1910-1925
3. The Period of Self-Discovery: 1925-1941
(1) The Period of Re-orientation (1898-1910)
English as a literary vehicle came with the American occupation in August 13, 1898 and as they say, a choice bestowed on us by history. By 1900, English came to be used as a medium of instruction in the public schools. From the American forces were recruited the first teachers of English. By 1908, the primary and intermediate grades were using English. It was also about this time when UP, the forerunner in the use of English in higher education, was founded.
Writers of this period were still adjusting to the newfound freedom after the paralyzing effect of repression of thought and speech under the Spanish regime. They were adjusting the idea of democracy, to the new phraseology of the English language and to the standards of the English literary style Writers had to learn direct expression as conditioned by direct thinking. They had to learn that sentence constructions; sounds and speech in English were not the same as in the vernacular. They had to discard sentimentality and floridity of language for the more direct and precise English language.
Not much was produced during this period and what literature was produced was not much of literary worth. The first attempts in English were in two periodicals of this time:
(a) El Renacimiento: founded in Manila by Rafael Palma in 1901. (b) Philippines Free Press : established in Manila in 1905 by R. McCullough Dick and D. Theo Rogers. POETRY In 1907, Justo Juliano’s SURSUM CORDA which appeared in the Renacimiento was the first work to be published in English.
In 1909, Jan F. Salazar’s MY MOTHER and his AIR CASTLES were also published in this paper. It was also in 1909 when Proceso Sebastian followed with his poem TO MY LADY IN LAOAG, also in this same paper.
(2) The Period of Imitation (1910-1924)
By 1919, the UP College Folio published the literary compositions of the first Filipino writers in English. They were the pioneers in short story writing.
They were then groping their way into imitating American and British models which resulted in a stilted, artificial and unnatural style, lacking vitality and spontaneity. Their models included Longfellow and Hawthorne, Emerson and Thoreau, Wordsworth and Tennyson, Thackeray and Macaulay, Longfellow, Allan Poe, Irving and other American writers of the Romantic School. Writers of this folio included Fernando Maramag (the best editorial writer of this period) Juan F. Salazar, Jose M. Hernandez, Vicente del Fierro, and Francisco M. Africa and Victoriano Yamzon. They pioneered in English poetry.
ESSAYS The noted essayists of this time were: Carlos P. Romulo, Jorge C. Bocobo, Mauro Mendez, and Vicente Hilario. Their essays were truly scholarly characterized by sobriety, substance and structure. They excelled in the serious essay, especially the editorial type.
The next group of writers introduced the informal essay, criticism and the journalistic column. They spiced their work with humor, wit and satire. These group included Ignacio Manlapaz, Godefredo Rivera, Federico Mangahas, Francisco B. Icasiano, Salvador P. Lopez, Jose Lansang and Amando G. Dayrit.
SHORT STORIES In the field of short stories, DEAD STARS by Paz Marquez Benitez written in the early 1920’s stand out as a model of perfection in character delineation, local color, plot and message. Other short stories published during this time were but poor imitations of their foreign models.
The UP College Folio was later replaced by the Philippine Collegian. Newspapers and periodicals also saw print during this time like the Bulletin, the Philippines Herald (1920), the Philippine Review, the Independent, Rising Philippines and Citizens, and the Philippine Education Magazine 1924.
C. Period of Self-Discovery and Growth (1925-1941)
By this time, Filipino writers had acquired the mastery of English writing.
They now confidently and competently wrote on a lot of subjects although the old-time favorites of love and youth persisted. They went into all forms of writing like the novel and the drama.
1. POETRY Noteworthy names in this field include Marcelo de Gracia Concepcion, Jose Garcia Villa, Angela Manalang Gloria, Abelardo Subido, Trinidad Tarrosa Subido and Rafael Zulueta da Costa. They turned our not only love poems but patriotic, religious, descriptive and reflective poems as well. They wrote in free verse, in odes and sonnets and in other types. Poetry was original, spontaneous, competently written and later, incorporated social consciousness.
2. THE SHORT STORY (1925-1941) Probably because of the incentives provided by publications like the Philippine Free Press, The Graphic, The Philippine Magazine and college publications like the UP Literary Apprentice, poetry and the short story flourished during these times.
Other writers during this time include Osmundo Sta. Romana, Arturo Rotor, Paz Latorena’s Sunset, and Jose Garcia Villa’s Mir-in-isa. From 1930 to 1940, the Golden Era of Filipino writing in English saw the short story writers “who have arrived,” like Jose Lansang’s The Broken Parasol, Sinai C. Hamada’s Talanata’s Wife, Fausto Dugenio’s Wanderlust, Amando G. Dayrit’s His Gift and Yesterday, Amador T. Daugio’s The Woman Who Looked Out of the Window. Characteristics of the short stories during these times: There were still remnants of Spanish influence in the use of expressions that were florid, sentimental, exaggerated and bombastic. The influence of the Western culture also was already evident.
ESSAYS AND OTHER PROSE STYLES (1925-1941)
Essays during this period improved with the years in quality and quantity, in content, subject and style. Essayists like Carlos P. Romulo became even more eminent editorial writers. The notable writers of essays during this period were:
a. Political, social reflective essays: Through their newspaper columns the following became very popular: Federico Mangahas, Salvador P. Lopez, Pura S. Castrence, Vicente Albano Pacis, Ariston Estrada and Jose A. Lansang.
b. Critical essays were espoused by Salvador P. Lopez, I.V. Mallari, Ignacio Manlapaz, Jose Garcia Villa, Arturo B. Rotor, and Leopoldo Y. Yabes. An example of this is Maximo V. Soliven’s THEY CALLED IT BROTHERHOOD. c. Personal or Familiar essays were written by F.B. Icasiano (Mang Kiko), Alfredo E. Litiatco, Solomon V. Arnaldo, Amando G. Dayrit and Consuelo Gar (Catuca).
Some of the notable works during this time were: 1940: Salvador P. Lopez’ LITERATURE AND SOCIETY which is a collection of critical reflections and serious essays and which won first prize in the Commonwealth Literary Contest of 1940.
1940: Camilo Osias published THE FILIPINO WAY OF LIFE, a series of essays on the Filipino way of life as drawn from history, folkways, philosophy and psychology of the Philippines.
1941: F.B. Icasiano (Mang Kiko) was reprints of the best of Icasiano’s essays in the Sunday Times Magazine under the column From My Nipa Hut. It is an essay of the common “tao” and is written with humor and sympathy. August 16, 1941: Carlos P. Romulo had an editorial printed in the Philippines Herald . Entitled I AM A FILIPINO, it was reprinted in his book MY BORTHER AMERICANS in 1945 in New York by Doubleday & Co.
OTHER ESSAYISTS INCLUDE: Ignacio Manlapaz, Vicente Albano Pacis, I.V. Mallari, Jose M. Fernandez, Leopoldo Y. Yabes, Isidro L. Ritizos, Pura Santillan.
The Philippine Writer’s League put out a collection of essays called Literature Under the Commonwealth. Amando G. Dayrit with his column Good Morning Judge led others like Leon Ma. Guerrero, Salvador P. Lopez, Vicente Albano Pacis, Jose A. Lansang and Federico Mangahas.
4. BIOGRAPHY 1925-1941 In 1935, I.P. Caballero and Marcelo de Gracia Concepcion wrote about QUEZON. In 1938, THE GREAT MALAYAN won a prize in the national contest sponsored by the Commonwealth of the Philippines. This was written by Carlos Quirino, the most famous biographer of the period. He also wrote Quezon, the Man of Destiny.
In 1940, I.V. Mallari’s The Birth of Discontent revealed the sensitive touch of a writer who in simple language was able to reveal his profound thoughts and feelings.
5. HISTORY Not much about history has been written by Filipino writers. In 1937, with regard to literary history, we can cite Teofilo del Castillo’s The Brief History of the Philippine Islands.
6. PUBLICATIONS The Philippine Free Press provided the first incentives to Filipino writers in English by offering prizes to worthwhile contributions. Other publications followed suit.
7. THE DRAMA (1925-1941) Drama during this period did not reach the heights attained by the novel or the short story. The UP provided the incentives when they introduced playwriting as a course and established the UP Little Theater.