Philippine Literature during the American Period DR. LILIA QUINDOZA-SANTIAGO| | | Philippine literary production during the American Period in the Philippines was spurred by two significant developments in education and culture. One is the introduction of free public instruction for all children of school age and two, the use of English as medium of instruction in all levels of education in public schools.
or any similar topic only for you
Free public education made knowledge and information accessible to a greater number of Filipinos.
Those who availed of this education through college were able to improve their social status and joined a good number of educated masses who became part of the country’s middle class. The use of English as medium of instruction introduced Filipinos to Anglo-American modes of thought, culture and life ways that would be embedded not only in the literature produced but also in the psyche of the country’s educated class. It was this educated class that would be the wellspring of a vibrant Philippine Literature in English.
Philippine literature in English, as a direct result of American colonization of the country, could not escape being imitative of American models of writing especially during its period of apprenticeship. The poetry written by early poets manifested studied attempts at versification as in the following poem which is proof of the poet’s rather elementary exercise in the English language: The poem was anthologized in the first collection of poetry in English, Filipino Poetry, edited by Rodolfo Dato (1909 – 1924).
Among the poets featured in this anthology were Proceso Sebastian Maximo Kalaw, Fernando Maramag, Leopoldo Uichanco, Jose Ledesma, Vicente Callao, Santiago Sevilla, Bernardo Garcia, Francisco Africa, Pablo Anzures, Carlos P. Romulo, Francisco Tonogbanua, Juan Pastrana, Maria Agoncillo, Paz Marquez Benitez, Luis Dato and many others. Another anthology, The English German Anthology of Poetsedited by Pablo Laslo was published and covered poets published from 1924-1934 among whom were Teofilo D. Agcaoili, Aurelio Alvero, Horacio de la Costa, Amador T. Daguio, Salvador P. Lopez, Angela Manalang Gloria, Trinidad Tarrosa, Abelardo Subido and Jose Garcia Villa, among others. A third pre-war collection of poetry was edited by Carlos Bulosan, Chorus for America: Six Philippine Poets. The six poets in this collection were Jose Garcia Villa, Rafael Zulueta da Costa, Rodrigo T. Feria, C. B. Rigor, Cecilio Baroga and Carlos Bulosan. In fiction, the period of apprenticeship in literary writing in English is marked by imitation of the style of storytelling and strict adherence to the craft of the short story as practiced by popular American fictionists.
Read more about Dramatic Criticism
Early short story writers in English were often dubbed as the Andersons or Saroyans or the Hemingways of Philippine letters. Leopoldo Yabes in his study of the Philippine short story in English from 1925 to 1955 points to these models of American fiction exerting profound influence on the early writings of story writers like Francisco Arcellana, A. E. Litiatco, Paz Latorena. . When the University of the Philippines was founded in 1908, an elite group of writers in English began to exert influence among the culturati. The U. P.
Writers Club founded in 1926, had stated that one of its aims was to enhance and propagate the “language of Shakespeare. ” In 1925, Paz Marquez Benitez short story, “Dead Stars” was published and was made the landmark of the maturity of the Filipino writer in English. Soon after Benitez, short story writers began publishing stories no longer imitative of American models. Thus, story writers like Icasiano Calalang, A. E. Litiatco, Arturo Rotor, Lydia Villanueva, Paz Latorena , Manuel Arguilla began publishing stories manifesting both skilled use of the language and a keen Filipino sensibility.
This combination of writing in a borrowed tongue while dwelling on Filipino customs and traditions earmarked the literary output of major Filipino fictionists in English during the American period. Thus, the major novels of the period, such as the Filipino Rebel, by Maximo Kalaw, and His Native Soil by Juan C. Laya, are discourses on cultural identity, nationhood and being Filipino done in the English language. Stories such as “How My Brother Leon Brought Home a Wife” by Manuel Arguilla scanned the scenery as well as the folkways of Ilocandia while N. V. M.
Gonzales’s novels and stories such as “Children of the Ash Covered Loam,” present the panorama of Mindoro, in all its customs and traditions while configuring its characters in the human dilemma of nostalgia and poverty. Apart from Arguilla and Gonzales, noted fictionists during the period included Francisco Arcellana, whom Jose Garcia Villa lauded as a “genius” storyteller, Consorcio Borje, Aida Rivera, Conrado Pedroche, Amador Daguio, Sinai Hamada, Hernando Ocampo, Fernando Maria Guerrero. Jose Garcia Villa himself wrote several short stories but devoted most of his time to poetry.
In 1936, when the Philippine Writers League was organized, Filipino writers in English began discussing the value of literature in society. Initiated and led by Salvador P. Lopez, whose essays on Literature and Societyprovoked debates, the discussion centered on proletarian literature, i. e. , engaged or committed literature versus the art for art’s sake literary orientation. But this discussion curiously left out the issue of colonialism and colonial literature and the whole place of literary writing in English under a colonial set-up that was the Philippines then.
With Salvador P. Lopez, the essay in English gained the upper hand in day to day discourse on politics and governance. Polemicists who used to write in Spanish like Claro M. Recto, slowly started using English in the discussion of current events even as newspaper dailies moved away from Spanish reporting into English. Among the essayists, Federico Mangahas had an easy facility with the language and the essay as genre. Other noted essayists during the period were Fernando Maramag, Carlos P. Romulo , Conrado Ramirez.
On the other hand, the flowering of a vibrant literary tradition due to historical events did not altogether hamper literary production in the native or indigenous languages. In fact, the early period of the 20th century was remarkable for the significant literary output of all major languages in the various literary genre.It was during the early American period that seditious plays, using the form of the zarsuwela, were mounted. Zarsuwelistas Juan Abad, Aurelio Tolentino ,Juan Matapang Cruz.
Juan Crisostomo Sotto mounted the classics like Tanikalang Ginto, Kahapon, Ngayon at Bukas and Hindi Ako Patay, all directed against the American imperialists. Patricio Mariano’s Anak ng Dagat and Severino Reyes’s Walang Sugat are equally remarkable zarsuwelas staged during the period. On the eve of World War II, Wilfredo Maria Guerrero would gain dominance in theatre through his one-act plays which he toured through his “mobile theatre”. Thus, Wanted a Chaperone and The Forsaken Housebecame very popular in campuses throughout the archipelago.
The novel in Tagalog, Iloko, Hiligaynon and Sugbuanon also developed during the period aided largely by the steady publication of weekly magazines like the Liwayway, Bannawag and Bisaya which serialized the novels. Among the early Tagalog novelists of the 20th century were Ishmael Amado, Valeriano Hernandez Pena, Faustino Aguilar, Lope K. Santos and Lazaro Francisco. Ishmael Amado’s Bulalakaw ng Pag-asa published in 1909 was one of the earliest novels that dealt with the theme of American imperialism in the Philippines.
The novel, however, was not released from the printing press until 1916, at which time, the author, by his own admission and after having been sent as a pensionado to the U. S. , had other ideas apart from those he wrote in the novel. Valeriano Hernandez Pena’s Nena at Neneng narrates the story of two women who happened to be best of friends as they cope with their relationships with the men in their lives. Nena succeeds in her married life while Neneng suffers from a stormy marriage because of her jealous husband.
Faustino Aguilar published Pinaglahuan, a love triangle set in the early years of the century when the worker’s movement was being formed. The novel’s hero, Luis Gatbuhay, is a worker in a printery who isimprisoned for a false accusation and loses his love, Danding, to his rival Rojalde, son of a wealthy capitalist. Lope K. Santos, Banaag at Sikat has almost the same theme and motif as the hero of the novel, Delfin, also falls in love with a rich woman, daughter of a wealthy landlord.
The love story of course is set also within the background of development of the worker’s trade union movement and throughout the novel, Santos engages the readers in lengthy treatises and discourses on socialism and capitalism. Many other Tagalog novelists wrote on variations of the same theme, i. e. , the interplay of fate, love and social justice. Among these writers are Inigo Ed Regalado, Roman Reyes, Fausto J. Galauran, Susana de Guzman, Rosario de Guzman-Lingat, Lazaro Francisco, Hilaria Labog, Rosalia Aguinaldo, Amado V. Hernandez.
Many of these writers were able to produce three or more novels as Soledad Reyes would bear out in her book which is the result of her dissertation, Ang Nobelang Tagalog (1979). Among the Iloko writers, noted novelists were Leon Pichay, who was also the region’s poet laureate then, Hermogenes Belen, and Mena Pecson Crisologo whose Mining wenno Ayat ti Kararwa is considered to be the Iloko version of a Noli me Tangere. In the Visayas, Magdalena Jalandoni and Ramon Muzones would lead most writers in writing the novels that dwelt on the themes of love, courtship, life in the farmlands, and other social upheavals of the period.
Marcel Navarra wrote stories and novels in Sugbuhanon. Poetry in all languages continued to flourish in all regions of the country during the American period. The Tagalogs, hailing Francisco F. Balagtas as the nation’s foremost poet invented the balagtasan in his honor. Thebalagtasan is a debate in verse, a poetical joust done almost spontaneously between protagonists who debate over the pros and cons of an issue. The first balagtasan was held in March 1924 at the Instituto de Mujeres, with Jose Corazon de Jesus and Florentino Collantes as rivals, bubuyog (bee) and paru-paro (butterfly) aiming for the love of kampupot (jasmine).
It was during this balagtasan that Jose Corazon de Jesus, known as Huseng Batute, emerged triumphant to become the first king of the Balagtasan. Jose Corazon de Jesus was the finest master of the genre. He was later followed by balagtasistas, Emilio Mar Antonio and Crescenciano Marquez, who also became King of the Balagtasan in their own time. As Huseng Batute, de Jesus also produced the finest poems and lyrics during the period. His debates with Amado V. Hernandez on the political issue of independence from America and nationhood were mostly done in verse and are testament to the vitality of Tagalog poetry during the era. Lope K.
Santos, epic poem, Ang Panggingera is also proof of how poets of the period have come to master the language to be able to translate it into effective poetry. The balagtasan would be echoed as a poetical fiesta and would be duplicated in the Ilocos as thebukanegan, in honor of Pedro Bukaneg, the supposed transcriber of the epic, Biag ni Lam-ang; and theCrissottan, in Pampanga, in honor of the esteemed poet of the Pampango, Juan Crisostomo Sotto. In 1932, Alejandro G. Abadilla , armed with new criticism and an orientation on modernist poetry would taunt traditional Tagalog poetics with the publication of his poem, “Ako ang Daigdig. Abadilla’s poetry began the era of modernism in Tagalog poetry, a departure from the traditional rhymed, measured and orally recited poems. Modernist poetry which utilized free or blank verses was intended more for silent reading than oral delivery. Noted poets in Tagalog during the American period were Julian Cruz Balmaceda, Florentino Collantes, Pedro Gatmaitan, Jose Corazon de Jesus, Benigno Ramos, Inigo Ed. Regalado, Ildefonso Santos, Lope K. Santos, Aniceto Silvestre, Emilio Mar. Antonio , Alejandro Abadilla and Teodoro Agoncillo.
Like the writers in English who formed themselves into organizations, Tagalog writers also formed the Ilaw at Panitik, and held discussions and workshops on the value of literature in society. Benigno Ramos, was one of the most politicized poets of the period as he aligned himself with the peasants of the Sakdal Movement. Fiction in Tagalog as well as in the other languages of the regions developed alongside the novel. Most fictionists are also novelists. Brigido Batungbakal , Macario Pineda and other writers chose to dwell on the vicissitudes of life in a changing rural landscape.
Deogracias Del Rosario on the other hand, chose the city and the emerging social elite as subjects of his stories. He is considered the father of the modern short story in Tagalog Among the more popular fictionists who emerged during the period are two women writers, Liwayway Arceo and Genoveva Edroza Matute, considered forerunners in the use of “light” fiction, a kind of story telling that uses language through poignant rendition. Genoveva Edroza Matute’s “Ako’y Isang Tinig” and Liwayway Arceo’s “Uhaw ang Tigang na Lupa” have been used as models of fine writing in Filipino by teachers of composition throughout the school system.
Teodoro Agoncillo’s anthology 25 Pinakamahusay na Maiikling Kuwento (1945) included the foremost writers of fiction in the pre-war era. The separate, yet parallel developments of Philippine literature in English and those in Tagalog and other languages of the archipelago during the American period only prove that literature and writing in whatever language and in whatever climate are able to survive mainly through the active imagination of writers.
Apparently, what was lacking during the period was for the writers in the various languages to come together, share experiences and come to a conclusion on the elements that constitute good writing in the Philippines. | Philippine Literature in the Post-War and Contemporary Period FRANCIS C. MACANSANTOS PRISCILLA S. MACANSANTOS| view / post comments for this article| | Published in 1946, Ginto Sa Makiling – a novel by Macario Pineda, is the first work of note that appeared after the second world war. In plot, it hews close to the mode of romantic fantasy traceable to the awits, koridos nd komedyas of the Balagtas tradition. But it is a symbolical narrative of social, moral and political import. In this, it resembles not only Balagtas but also Rizal, but in style and plot it is closer to Balagtas in not allowing the realistic mode to restrict the element of fantasy. Two novels by writers in English dealt with the war experience: (Medina, p. 194) Stevan Javellana’s Without Seeing the Dawn (1947), and Edilberto Tiempo’s Watch in the Night. Both novels hew closely to the realist tradition.
Lazaro Francisco, the eminent Tagalog novelist of the pre-war years, was to continue to produce significant work. He revised his Bayaning Nagpatiwakal (1932), refashioning its plot and in sum honing his work as a weapon against the policies that tended to perpetuate American economic dominance over the Philippines. The updated novel was titled Ilaw Sa Hilaga (1948) (Lumbera, p. 67). He was to produce three more novels. Sugat Sa Alaala (1950) reflects the horrors of the war experience as well as the human capacity for nobility, endurance and love under the most extreme circumstances.
Maganda Pa Ang Daigdig (1956) deals with the agrarian issue, and Daluyong (1962) deals with the corruption bred by the American-style and American-educated pseudo-reformers. Lazaro Francisco is a realist with social and moral ideals. The Rizal influence on his work is profound. The poet Amado Hernandez, who was also union leader and social activist, also wrote novels advocating social change. Luha ng Buwaya (1963) (Lumbera) deals with the struggle between the oppressed peasantry and the class of politically powerful landlords. Mga Ibong Mandaragit (1969) deals with the domination of Filipinos by American industry (Lumbera, p. 9). Unfortunately, the Rizalian path taken by Lazaro Francisco and Amado Hernandez with its social-realist world-view had the effect of alienating them from the mode of the highly magical oral-epic tradition. Imported social realism (and, in the case of Amado Hernandez, a brand of socialist empiricism), was not entirely in touch with the folk sentiment and folk belief, which is why the Tagalog romances (e. g. , Ginto Sa Makiling, serialized in the comics), were far more popular than their work. It was Philippine Literature in English which tapped the folk element in the Philippine unconscious to impressive, spectacular effect.
Nick Joaquin, through his neo-romantic, poetic and histrionic style, is reminiscent of the dramas of Balagtas and de la Cruz. His dizzying flashbacks (from an idealized romantic Spanish past to a squalid Americanized materialistic present) are cinematic in effect, ironically quite Hollywood-ish, serving always to beguile and astonish. Francisco Arcellana, his younger contemporary, was a master of minimalist fiction that is as native as anything that could be written in English, possessing the potent luminosity of a sorcerer’s rune.
Wilfrido Nolledo, fictionist-playwright growing up in the aura of such masters, was the disciple who, without conscious effort, created a school of his own. His experiments in plot and plotlessness, his creation of magical scenes, made splendorous by a highly expressive language, easily became the rage among young writers who quickly joined (each in his/her own highly original style) the Nolledo trend. Among these poetic fictionists of the 1960’s were Wilfredo Pasqua Sanchez, Erwin Castillo, Cesar Ruiz Aquino, Resil Mojares, Leopoldo Cacnio and Ninotchka Rosca.
Of them all, only the last two did not publish verse. Their non-realistic (even anti-realistic) style made them perhaps the most original group of writers to emerge in the post-war period. But such a movement that slavishly used the American colonists’ language (according to the Nationalist, Socialist Tagalog writers who were following A. V. Hernandez) were called decadent (in the manner of Lukacsian social realism). Post-war poetry and fiction was dominated by the writers in English educated and trained in writers’ workshops in the United States or England.
Among these were the novelists Edilberto and Edith Tiempo (who is also a poet), short-fictionist Francisco Arcellana, poet-critic Ricaredo Demetillo, poet-fictionist Amador Daguio, poet Carlos Angeles, fictionists N. V. M. Gonzales and Bienvenido N. Santos. Most of these writers returned to the Philippines to teach. With their credentials and solid reputations, they influenced the form and direction of the next generation mainly in accordance with the dominant tenets of the formalist New Critics of America and England.
Even literature in the Tagalog-based national language (now known as Filipino) could not avoid being influenced or even (in the critical sense) assimilated. College-bred writers in Filipino like Rogelio Sikat and Edgardo Reyes saw the need to hone their artistry according to the dominant school of literature in America of that period, despite the fact that the neo-Aristotelian formalist school went against the grain of their socialist orientation. Poet-critic Virgilio Almario (1944- ), a. k. a. Rio
Alma, in a break-away move reminiscent of Alejandro Abadilla, and in the formalist (New Critical) mode then fashionable, bravely opined that Florante at Laura, Balagtas’ acknowledged masterpiece, was an artistic failure (Reyes, p. 71-72). It was only in the early 1980’s (Reyes, p. 73) that Almario (after exposure to the anti-ethnocentrism of structuralism and Deconstruction) revised his views. The protest tradition of Rizal, Bonifacio and Amado Hernandez found expression in the works of Tagalog poets from the late 1960’s to the 1980’s, as they confronted Martial Law and repression.
Among these liberationist writers were Jose Lacaba, Epifanio San Juan, Rogelio Mangahas, Lamberto Antonio, Lilia Quindoza, and later, Jesus Manuel Santiago. The group Galian sa Arte at Tula nurtured mainly Manila writers and writing (both in their craft and social vision) during some of the darkest periods of Martial Law. Meanwhile, behind the scenes on the printed page, oral literature flourished in the outlying communities. Forms of oral poetry like the Cebuano Balak, the Ilokano Bukanegan, the Tagalog Balagtasan, and the SamalTinis-Tinis, continued to be declaimed by the rural-based bards, albeit to dwindling audiences.
In the late 1960’s, Ricaredo Demetillo had, using English (and English metrics) pioneered a linkage with the oral tradition. The result was the award-winning Barter in Panay, an epic based on the Ilonggo epic Maragtas. Inspired by the example, other younger poets wrote epics or long poems, and they were duly acclaimed by the major award-giving bodies. Among these poets were writers in English like Cirilo Bautista (The Archipelago, 1968), Artemio Tadena (Northward into Noon, 1970) and Domingo de Guzman (Moses, 1977).
However, except for Demetillo’s modern epic, these attempts fall short of establishing a linkage with the basic folk tradition. Indeed, most are more like long meditative poems, like Eliot’s or Neruda’s long pieces. Interest in the epic waned as the 1980’s approached. The 1980’s became a decade of personalistic free verse characteristic of American confessional poetry. The epic “big picture” disappeared from the scene, to be replaced by a new breed of writers nourished by global literary sources, and critical sources in the developed world.
The literary sources were third world (often nativistic) poetry such as that of Neruda, Vallejo and Octavio Paz. In fiction, the magic-realism of Borges, Garcia Marquez and Salman Rushdie, among others, influenced the fiction of Cesar Aquino, Alfred Yuson, and poet-fictionist Mario Gamalinda. On the other hand, the poets trained in American workshops continue to write in the lyrical-realist mode characteristic of American writing, spawned by imagism and neo-Aristotelianism. Among these writers (whose influence remains considerable) are the poet-critics Edith L. Tiempo, Gemino Abad, Ophelia A. Dimalanta and Emmanuel Torres.
Their influence can be felt in the short lyric and the medium-length meditative poem that are still the Filipino poet’s preferred medium. Some contemporary poets in English such as Marjorie Evasco and Merlie Alunan, derive their best effects from their reverence for the ineluctable image. Ricardo de Ungria’s and Luisa Aguilar Carino’s poems, on the other hand, are a rich confluence of imagism, surrealism and confessionalism. The Philippine novel, whether written in English or any of the native languages, has remained social-realist. Edgardo Reyes’ Sa Mga Kuko ng Liwanag (1966), for instance, is a critique of urban blight, and Edilberto K.
Tiempo’s To Be Free is a historical probe of the western idea of freedom in the context of indigenous Philippine culture. Kerima Polotan Tuvera’s novel The Hand of the Enemy (1972), a penetratingly lucid critique of ruling-class psychology, is entirely realistic, if Rizalian in its moments of high satire, although unlike the Rizalian model, it falls short of a moral vision. Only a few novelists like Gamalinda, Yuson and Antonio Enriquez, can claim a measure of success in tapping creative power from folk sources in their venture to join the third world magic-realist mainstream.
But the poets of oral-folk charisma, such as Jose Corazon de Jesus, are waiting in the wings for a comeback as astonishing as Lam-ang’s legendary resurrection. Modernist and post-modernist criticism, which champions the literature of the disempowered cultures, has lately attained sufficient clout to shift the focus of academic pursuits towards native vernacular literatures (oral and written) and on the revaluation of texts previously ignored, such as those by women writers. Sa Ngalan Ng Ina (1997), by prize-winning poet-critic Lilia Quindoza Santiago, is, to date, the most comprehensive compilation of feminist writing in the Philippines. Philippine Literature in the Spanish Colonial Period FRANCIS C. MACANSANTOS PRISCILLA S. MACANSANTOS| view / post comments for this article| | The existing literature of the Philippine ethnic groups at the time of conquest and conversion into Christianity was mainly oral, consisting of epics, legends, songs, riddles, and proverbs. The conquistador, especially its ecclesiastical arm, destroyed whatever written literature he could find, and hence rendered the system of writing (e. g. , the Tagalog syllabary) inoperable.
Among the only native systems of writing that have survived are the syllabaries of the Mindoro Mangyans and the Tagbanua of Palawan. The Spanish colonial strategy was to undermine the native oral tradition by substituting for it the story of the Passion of Christ (Lumbera, p. 14). Although Christ was by no means war-like or sexually attractive as many of the heroes of the oral epic tradition, the appeal of the Jesus myth inhered in the protagonist’s superior magic: by promising eternal life for everyone, he democratized the power to rise above death.
It is to be emphasized, however, that the native tradition survived and even flourished in areas inaccessible to the colonial power. Moreover, the tardiness and the lack of assiduity of the colonial administration in making a public educational system work meant the survival of oral tradition, or what was left of it, among the conquered tribes. The church authorities adopted a policy of spreading the Church doctrines by communicating to the native (pejoratively called Indio) in his own language.
Doctrina Christiana (1593), the first book to be printed in the Philippines, was a prayerbook written in Spanish with an accompanying Tagalog translation. It was, however, for the exclusive use of the missionaries who invariably read them aloud to the unlettered Indio catechumens (Medina), who were to rely mainly on their memory. But the task of translating religious instructional materials obliged the Spanish missionaries to take a most practical step, that of employing native speakers as translators. Eventually, the native translator learned to read and write both in Spanish and his native language.
This development marked the beginning of Indio literacy and thus spurred the creation of the first written literary native text by the native. These writers, called ladinos because of their fluency in both Spanish and Tagalog (Medina, pp. 55-56), published their work, mainly devotional poetry, in the first decade of the 17th century. Among the earliest writers of note were Francisco de San Jose and Francisco Bagongbata (Medina). But by far the most gifted of these native poet-translators was Gaspar Aquino de Belen (Lumbera, p. 14). Mahal Na Pasion ni Jesu Christo, a Tagalog poem based on Christ’s passion, was published in 1704.
This long poem, original and folksy in its rendition of a humanized, indeed, a nativized Jesus, is a milestone in the history of Philippine letters. Ironically — and perhaps just because of its profound influence on the popular imagination — as artifact it marks the beginning of the end of the old mythological culture and a conversion to the new paradigm introduced by the colonial power. Until the 19th century, the printing presses were owned and managed by the religious orders (Lumbera, p. 13). Thus, religious themes dominated the culture of the Christianized majority.
But the native oral literature, whether secular or mythico-religious continued. Even among the Christianized ethnic groups, the oral tradition persisted in such forms as legends, sayings, wedding songs such as the balayan and parlor theater such as theduplo (Medina, p. 32). In the 18th century, secular literature from Spain in the form of medieval ballads inspired the native poetic-drama form called the komedya, later to be called moro-moro because these often dealt with the theme of Christians triumphing over Moslems (Lumbera, p. 15). Jose de la Cruz (1746 – 1829) was the foremost exponent of the komedya during his time.
A poet of prodigious output and urbane style, de la Cruz marks a turning point in that his elevated diction distinguishes his work from folk idiom (as for instance, that of Gaspar Aquino de Belen). Yet his appeal to the non-literate was universal. The popularity of the dramatic form, of which he was a master, was due to it being experienced as performance both by the lettered minority and the illiterate but genuinely appreciative majority. Francisco Baltazar (1788 – 1862), popularly called Balagtas, is the acknowledged master of traditional Tagalog poetry.
Of peasant origins, he left his hometown in Bigaa, Bulacan for Manila, with a strong determination to improve his lot through education. To support his studies, he worked as a domestic servant in Tondo. He steeped himself in classical studies in schools of prestige in the capital. Great social and political changes in the world worked together to make Balagtas’ career as poet possible. The industrial revolution had caused a great movement of commerce in the globe, creating wealth and the opportunity for material improvement in the life of he working classes. With these great material changes, social values were transformed, allowing greater social mobility. In short, he was a child of the global bourgeois revolution. Liberal ideas, in time, broke class — and, in the Philippines — even racial barriers (Medina). The word Filipino, which used to refer to a restricted group (i. e. , Spaniards born in the Philippines) expanded to include not only the acculturated wealthy Chinese mestizo but also the acculturated Indio (Medina). Balagtas was one of the first Indios to become a Filipino.
But the crucial element in Balagtas’ unique genius is that, being caught between two cultures (the native and the colonial/classical), he could switch codes (or was perceived by his compatriot audience to be switching codes), provide insight and information to his oppressed compatriots in the very style and guise of a tradition provided him by a foreign (and oppressive) culture. His narrative poem Florante at Laura written in sublime Tagalog, is about tyranny in Albanya, but it is also perceived to be about tyranny in his Filipino homeland (Lumbera).
Despite the foreign influence, however, he remained true to his native traditions. His verse plays were performed to the motley crowd. His poems were sung by the literate for the benefit of the unlettered. The metrical regularity and rhyme performed their age-old mnemonic function, despite and because of the introduction of printing. Printing overtook tradition. The printed page, by itself, became the mnemonic device, the stage set for the development of prose. The first Filipino novel was Ninay, written in Spanish by Pedro Paterno, a Philippine-bornilustrado (Medina p. 3). Following the sentimental style of his first book Sampaguitas (a collection of poems in Spanish), the novel endeavored to highlight the endearingly unique qualities of Filipinos. National Hero Jose Rizal (1861 – 1896) chose the realistic novel as his medium. Choosing Spanish over Tagalog meant challenging the oppressors on the latter’s own turf. By writing in prose, Rizal also cut his ties with the Balagtas tradition of the figurative indirection which veiled the supposed subversiveness of many writings at that time.
Rizal’s two novels, the Noli Me Tangere and its sequel El Filibusterismo, chronicle the life and ultimate death of Ibarra, a Filipino educated abroad, who attempts to reform his country through education. At the conclusion of the Noli, his efforts end in near-death and exile from his country. In the Filibusterismo, he returns after reinventing himself as Simoun, the wealthy jeweler, and hastens social decay by further corrupting the social fabric till the oppressed react violently to overthrow the system. But the insurrection is foiled and Simoun suffers a violent death.
In a sense, Rizal’s novels and patriotic poems were the inevitable conclusion to the campaign for liberal reforms known as the Propaganda Movement, waged by Graciano Lopez Jaena, and M. H. del Pilar. The two novels so vividly portrayed corruption and oppression that despite the lack of any clear advocacy, they served to instill the conviction that there could be no solution to the social ills but a violent one. Following closely on the failed reformist movement, and on Rizal’s novels, was the Philippine revolution headed by Andres Bonifacio (1863 – 1897).
His closest aide, the college-bred Emilio Jacinto (1875 – 1899), was the revolutionary organization’s ideologue. Both were admirers of Rizal, and like Rizal, both were writers and social critics profoundly influenced by the liberal ideas of the French enlightenment, about human dignity. Bonifacio’s most important work are his poems, the most well-known being Pag-Ibig Sa Tinubuang Lupa. Jacinto wrote political essays expressed in the language of the folk.
Significantly, although either writer could have written in Spanish (Bonifacio, for instance, wrote a Tagalog translation of Rizal’s Ultimo Adios), both chose to communicate to their fellowmen in their own native language. The figure of Rizal dominates Philippine literature until the present day. Liberalism led to education of the native and the ascendancy of Spanish. But Spanish was undermined by the very ideas of liberation that it helped spread, and its decline led to nativism and a renaissance of literature in the native languages.
The turn of the century witnessed not only the Philippine revolution but a quieter though no less significant outbreak. The educated women of the period produced significant poetry. Gregoria de Jesus, wife of Andres Bonifacio, wrote notable Tagalog poetry. Meanwhile, in Vigan of the Ilocano North, Leona Florentino, by her poetry, became the foremost Ilocano writer of her time. | | Early Philippine Literature DR. LILIA QUINDOZA-SANTIAGO| view / post comments for this article| | The early inhabitants of the Philippine archipelago had a native alphabet or syllabary which among the Tagalogs was called baybayin, an inscription akin to Sanskrit.
It was through the baybayin that literary forms such as songs, riddles and proverbs, lyric and short poems as well as parts of epic poems were written. The bulk of these early literature however was just passed on through oral recitation and incantation and were transcribed into the Roman alphabet only centuries later by Spanish chroniclers and other scholars. It is believed that replacement of the baybayin by the Roman alphabet must have obliterated a significant aspect of indigenous Philippine literature. Among the early forms, it is the awit or the song that has endured.
Most ethnolinguistic communities remember the native tunes and lyrics of their songs. Fathers Chirino and Colin noted that among the Tagalogs, there were some 16 song forms for various occasions. Among these are the uyayi or hele, a lullaby for putting a child to sleep; the soliranin is a song for travelers while the talindaw is the seafarers song; the kumintangis a war song; the maluway is a song for collective labor while the kundiman is a melancholic love song. Thedalit, is a song-ritual usually sung to the rhythm of dance.
The panambitan is a courtship song while thepamanhikan is a song-ritual of the would-be bridegroom to his would-be bride as he asks permission to marry her. The subli is another dance-ritual song of courtship and marriage. In the north, among the Ilocanos, the more popular song forms are the dallot and the duayya, both love songs, and the dung-aw which is a dirge or a wake song. The Bontoc of Mountain Province have the bagbagto, a song ritual for harvest, while the Ivatan up in the Batanes islands have three most popular folk song forms: the laji, the kanta and the kalusan.
The laji is a lyric rendition of a song usually sung after a day’s work when people gather together in their houses to chat and drink the native wine, palek and just find time to be merry. Dr. Florentino Hornedo’s research of the Ivatan laji yielded this following sample : Tagalog riddles are called bugtong, while the Ilocanos call these burburtia. Usually, riddles are made to rhyme and utilize the talinghaga, a form of metaphor whose signification eventually conveys the meaning of the answer to the riddle.
Riddles such as these for instance illustrate the use of the talinghaga: Sometimes, the riddles are relayed through familiar indigenous forms of poetry such as the ambahan,which is a monorhyming heptasyllabic poem attributed to the Hanunuu-Mangyan tribe in Mindoro. Apart from relaying riddles, ambahans are also used to narrate common folk experiences. Father Antoon Postma has collected a number of these ambahans, an example of which would be the following: A poetic form similar to the ambahan is the tanaga. Unlike the ambahan whose length is indefinite, thetanaga is a compact seven-syllable quatrain.
Poets test their skills at rhyme, meter and metaphor through thetanaga because not only is it rhymed and measured but also exacts skillful use of words to create a puzzle that demands some kind of an answer. Notice how this is used in the following Tagalog proverbs are called salawikain or sawikain while they are termed sarsarita in Iloko. Like most proverbs the world over, Philippine proverbs contain sayings which prescribes norms, imparts a lesson or simply reflects standard norms, traditions and beliefs in the community.
Professor Damiana Eugenio classifies Philippine proverbs into six groups according to subject matter. These are (1) proverbs expressing a general attitude towards life and the laws that govern life; (2) ethical proverbs recommending certain virtues and condemning certain vices; (3) proverbs expressing a system of values; (4) proverbs expressing general truths and observations about life and human nature; (5) humorous proverbs and (6) miscellaneous proverbs. From her study, Eugenio observes that it is possible to formulate a fairly comprehensive philosophy of life of the Filipino.
The following proverb for instance, which is one of the most popular, signifies the importance of looking back at one’s roots and origins. In a way, this proverb also echoes the Filipino value of “utang na loob” or one’s debt of gratitude to those who have contributed to his or her success. The most exciting poetic as well as narrative forms of early Philippine literature however are the Philippine epics or ethno-epics as critics and anthropologists call them. Almost all the major ethnic groups in the country have an epic that is chanted in a variety of rituals.
Because chanting is the mode by which these epics have been produced, many of them still remain unwritten. The ASEAN-sponsored study of Filipino epics asserts that there are about one hundred (100) extant epics in the Philippines that have been discovered, most of these from the island of Palawan. The ASEAN anthology features only translations into English and Filipino on Aliguyon(Hudhud) of the Ifugao, translated by Amador Daguio, and edited by Josefina Mariano, Biag ni Lam-ang of the Ilocano, composite text by Leopoldo Yabes and translated by Jovita Ventura Castro, Labaw Donggon, the Sulod epic, the text by Dr.
F. Landa Jocano and translated by Rosella Jean Makasian-Puno; Agyu or Olahing orUlahingan of the Manobos, composite text by Patricia Melendres Cruz from transcriptions of E. Arsenio Manuel, Elena Maquiso, Carmen Ching Unabia, and Corazon Manuel and Sandayo of the Subanun, text and translation by Virgilio Resma. The editor/translators of these epics cite five common characteristics of these Filipino epics. One, most of these epics are designated by names which means song, or chant, like the Ifugao hudhud, the Manobo olagingor the Subanon’s guman.
Two, the epics are episodic and proceed through constructions that are en palier. There are repetitions of scenes at every episode the more familiar among these would be the chewing of the betel nut, battle chants, getting dressed for marriage, etc. Three, the epics abound with supernatural characters – the diwatas, anitos, and other benign spirits who come to the aid of the hero. Four, these epics are also reflective of the society where they originate . They portray tribal society before the coming of the Muslims (1380) and the Christians (1521) and serve as vehicles for the transmission of tribal customs and wisdom.
Five, there are always several versions of these epics, as well as a proliferation of episodes, phenomenon that is explained by orality of the genre and its transmission through the ages to among the generations of the group. Aliguyon or the Hudhud of the Ifugaos tells of the exploits of Aliguyon as he battles his arch enemy, Pambukhayon among rice fields and terraces and instructs his people to be steadfast and learn the wisdom of warfare and of peacemaking during harvest seasons. Biag ni Lam-ang (Life of Lamang) tells of the adventures of the prodigious epic hero, Lam-ang who exhibits extraordinary powers at a very early age.
At nine months he is able to go to war to look for his father’s killers. Then while in search of lady love, Ines Kannoyan, he is swallowed by a big fish, but his rooster and his friends bring him back to life. Labaw Donggon is about the amorous exploits of the son of a goddess Alunsina, by a mortal, Datu Paubari. The polygamous hero battles the huge monster Manaluntad for the hand of Abyang Ginbitinan; then he fights Sikay Padalogdog, the giant with a hundred arms to win Abyang Doronoon and confronts the lord of darkness, Saragnayan, to win Nagmalitong Yawa Sinagmaling Diwata.
The Agyu or Olahing is a three part epic that starts with the pahmara (invocation) then the kepu’unpuun ( a narration of the past) and the sengedurog (an episode complete in itself). All three parts narrate the exploits of the hero as he leads his people who have been driven out of their land to Nalandangan, a land of utopia where there are no landgrabbers and oppressors. Sandayo, tells of the story of the hero with the same name, who is born through extraordinary circumstances as he fell out of the hair of his mother while she was combing it on the ninth stroke.
Thence he leads his people in the fight against invaders of their land and waterways. Other known epics are Bantugan of the Maranao, the Darangan which is a Muslim epic, the Kudaman of Palawan which was transcribed by Dr. Nicole McDonald, the Alim of the Ifugao, the Hinilawod of Panay, theIbalon of Bikol and Tuwaang of the Manobo, which was transcribed by anthropologist E. Arsenio Manuel.. The Tagalog have no known epic but it is generally believed that the story of Bernardo Carpio, the man who has been detained by the huge mountains of Montalban is their epic. gt; Dr. Resil Mojares, literary scholar, asserts that the generic origins of the Filipino novel are found in the epic narratives . As for shorter narratives, there are stories that tell of the origins of the people, of the stars, the sky and the seas. A common story of the origin of man and woman is that of Sicalac (man) and Sicavay (woman) who came out of a bamboo after being pecked by a bird. This, and other stories of equal birthing of man and woman throughout the archipelago could actually assert woman’s equality with man among indigenous settings.
The eminent scholar and critic, Don Isabelo de los Reyes, had collected a good number of folk tales, legends and myths which he had exhibited in Madrid in 1887 and won a distinguished award of merit for it. These are now anthologized in a book El Folklore Filipino (1996). | Books and Bookmaking in the Philippines ROSA M. VALLEJO| view / post comments for this article| | The Filipinos were found to be a literate people by the Spanish colonizers when they reached the islands in 1521. They found the natives with systems of writing, with language of their own in many dialects, and with education and law to wit.
Father Chirino wrote that the “islanders are much given to reading and writing and there is hardly a man, much less a woman, who does not read and write in letters proper to the island of Manila, very different from those of China, Japan and India” (1969, p. 280). The early Filipinos wrote on bamboos, barks of trees, leaves of plants which are perishable materials, hence no extant specimens exist today. The Spaniards brought the Roman alphabet which eventually superseded the old Tagalog syllabary.
The Spaniards brought also the first printing press and the first books were called the Doctrina Christiana en Lengua Espanola y Tagala(Tagalog edition) and the Doctrina Christian en letra y lengua china (Chinese edition) by Keng Yong. Writing The pre-Spanish Filipino had a syllabary derived from the south Indian development of the Brahmi scripts used in the Asoka Inscriptions about 300 years before Christ. According to J. R. Francisco, there are at least six theories in the introduction of the Tagalog syllabary (the sixth theory is the author’s).
The first theory is credited to Isaac Taylor which states that the system of writing, particularly the Tagalog was introduced from the coast of Bengal sometime before the 8th century A. D. The second theory was advanced by Fletcher Gardner who said that the Philippine scripts came from India during Asoka’s reign. He said that Hindu missionaries visited the islands and established Manila as the center of Vedic learning. He based his theory on the fact that many words in the Philippine languages are Sanskrit in origin and deal with religious and philosophical concepts.
David Diringer advanced the theory that the Indonesian script had its origin in India and that this constituted the earliest type of Philippine syllabic writing which was brought to the Philippines by the intervention of Buginese scripts about the 5th century A. D. Of interest is the theory of Constantino Lendayno who noted that the Philippine script was the invention of the Filipino people without any foreign influences. The fourth theory is called the Dravidian theory by V. A. Makarenko which states that Tagalog, both language and script originated from Tamil, an Indian language.
This was further enhanced by H. Otley Beyer who said that these scripts reached the Philippines from the Asian continent about 200 B. C. The sixth theory, expounded by J. R. Francisco himself, states that the Sumatran scripts are similar to the Philippine scripts, particularly the Palawan Tagbanua and the Mindoro Mangyan and considering the movement of culture from one region to another or in reverse, this was quite possible. The ancient Filipino syllabary was non-pictographic, and resembled closely the scripts of Buginese, Java, Batak, etc. There were sixteen scripts used by regional groups, i. e. Tagalog, Bisayan, Pampangan, etc. The scripts show certain similarities in their origin and tradition. The Tagalog character was probably the most important script of the period. It consisted of seventeen letters – 14 consonants and 3 vowels. These vowels acquire a modified pronunciation when the vowel mark is placed either above or below the consonant. The consonants are Ba, Ka, Da, Ga, Ha, La, Ma, Pa, Ra, Sa, Ta, Wa, Ya. The vowels are a, e or i, o or u (depending on the vowel mark). The direction of writing was sometimes from top to bottom or right to left or left to right then top to bottom horizontally.
This is a problem in reading the ancient Philippine script as no one knows which direction the writers wrote. Authorities differ in their opinion on the direction of writing. Father Colin believed that the direction is from bottom upwards and from left to right; Fr. Morgan thought the direction was from right to left, while T. H. Pardo de Tavera and Fr. Marcilla believed that the ancient Filipino wrote horizontally from left to right like the present day Filipino. Fr. Chirino thought they wrote vertically from top to bottom and from left to right. PrintingThe Spaniards brought the art of printing to the Philippines.
The first products of this art were books printed from woodblocks. The first products of the xylographic press were dated 1593, antedating printing in North America by over four decades. Based on the letter of then Governor Perez Dasmarinas to the King of Spain dated 20 June 1593, informing him that because of great need he has granted a license for the printing of two Doctrinas – one in the Tagalog language which is the “native and best of these islands, and the other in Chinese – from which I hope great benefits will result in the conversion and instruction of the people of both nations…” Based on the Dasmarinas letter (Quirino, p. 22) and up to 1948, bibliographers and scholars have been citing the two Doctrinas – Doctrina Christiana en lengua espanola y tagala, dated 1593 and printed by Juan de Vera, a Chinese, and the Doctrina Christiana en letra y lengua China… printed by Keng Yong but undated. The Tagalog Doctrina was found in Italy and purchased in 1946 by American millionaire-bibliophile Lessing J. Rosenwald who donated it to the U. S. Library of Congress, while the Chinese Doctrina was found in 1948 in the Vatican Library by Fray Jose Ma. Gonzales of the Dominican Order in Manila. However, in 1952, a chinese scholar, the Rev.
Maurus Fang-Hao of the University of Taiwan discovered another Chinese doctrina in the Bibliotica Nacional in Madrid. This discovery created quite a stir in the bibliographic world for there are now three Doctrinas printed xylographically in the Philippines in 1593. The third Docrtrina has the title Hsin-k’o seng shih Kao-mu Hsien chuan Wu-chi t’ien-chu cheng-chiao chen-chuan shih-lu or the Tratado de la Doctrina de la Santa Iglesia y de Ciencias Naturales which was dated 1593 and carried the signature of the secretary Juan de Cuellar and priced at four reales as was evident in the Tagalog Doctrina, but lacking in the Keng Yong Doctrina.
Scholars have since accepted the third doctrina dubbed the Tratado to be the Chinese doctrina referred to in the Dasmarinas letter of 1593. Scholars have agreed that the Keng Yong Doctrina must have been printed around 1590 because of the need to christianize the Chinese community in Manila, but since it did not have the license to be printed, it was left undated. The origin of the first printing press brought to the islands is not known. Historians can only guess that it could have come from Mexico, Japan or India. The first printers were Chinese.
It is believed that Juan de Vera whom Fray Francisco Blancas de San Jose taught and encouraged to print was Keng Yong. It was the practice then to baptize the heathens using Christian names. Juan de Vera became a very skilled printer. From 1602 to 1640, there were around twenty-seven books printed by typography (UPILS handout in the course LS 103). The first book printed by movable type is the Libro de Nuestra Senora del Rosario en lengua y letra de Filipinas, by Fr. Francisco Blancas de San Jose in Binondo in 1602.
No extant copy is in existence and scholars doubt whether this was printed by movable types or by xylographic method. Through bibliographic sleuthing which brought Filipino scholars to the Vatican Library and the Newberry Library in Chicago, U. S. A. , it was established that the first typographic book is the Libro de los Cuatro Postrimerias del Hombre by Fr. Francisco Blancas de San Jose, printed by Juan de Vera in Binondo in 1604. Most of the books printed during the period were on the teachings of the church, while some were vocabularies, and some were historical.
The languages of the first products of the printing press were Spanish, Chinese, Tagalog, Latin, and Bisaya, Pampangan, Ilokano and Japanese. The first printers were Chinese – Juan de Vera, Pedro de Vera and one Luis Beltran who printed the doctrinas and many other books thereafter. Tomas Pinpin is regarded as the first Filipino printer and Patriarch of Filipino Printers. He was born in Abucay, Bataan but there are no records about his birth as the records of the town were destroyed by the Dutch in 1646.
He learned the art of printing from the Chinese artisans when he worked in the shop of Luis Beltran. By 1610, he already knew how to compose and set type in the printing press managed by Father Blancas de San Jose. His works were Arte y Reglas de la Lengua Tagala (1610) and theLibrong Pagaaralan nang mga Tagalog nang Uicang Castila (1610) printed in Bataan. Tomas Pinpin printed also in Pila, Laguna (1613) and at Binondo, Manila (1623-1627). The early printing press was travelling from place to place to bring the art of printing to these places.
From 1609 to 1639, Pinpin printed more than a dozen titles. It is not known when he died, but he devoted all his life to the propagation of printing in the country. The other Filipino printers were Manuel Gomez, (Tagalog), who printed in Manila in 1610, Domingo Laog, (Tagalog), (Pila, Laguna, 1613), Antonio Damba, (Pampangan), (Bacolor, Pampanga, 1618), Diego Talaghay, (Tagalo), (Abucay, Bataan, 1610), Jacinto Magarulao, (Tagalog), (Santo Tomas, Manila, 1629-1633) and Raimundo Magisa, (Tagalog), (Santos Tomas, Manila).
The xylographic press was located either in Binondo or at the Dominican Convent of San Gabriel in Manila. Scholars are not agreed as to the location of the press, but it is presumed to have been at the Dominican Convent in San Gabriel which is adjoining the Parian on the south bank of the Pasig River as shown by the imprint of the Tagalog Doctrina. The typographic press is the one evolved by Father Francisco Blancas de San Jose with the help of Juan de Vera who printed Juan de Castro’s Ordinationes Generales of 1604.
From Binondo where the press was first located, it was brought to Abucay, Bataan where Tomas Pinpin printed in 1610, then to Pila, Laguna where Tomas Pinpin and Domingo Laog printed in 1613, then to Bacolor, Pampanga in 1618 where Antonio Damba and a Japanese, Miguel Saixo printed and from 1621 onwards it was located at Binondo, then at Santo Tomas, at the Colegio de la Compania de Jesus, all in Manila. From 1593 to 1640, the period of Philippine incunabula, some 100 books had been published (Guide to the Exhibits at the International Book Fair, Manila, November 23-30, 1969).
From the 17th century up to the American period 1890-1946, exciting events happened in the printing and publishing industries. Five religious orders consisting of the Franciscans, Jesuits, Dominicans, Augustinians and the Recollects came to the country, and each one established printing presses for their own use. The Augustinians bought a press from Japan in 1565, the Jesuits bought from the Augustinians a printing press in 1623 and the Franciscans established one in 1702.
There was a rapid growth of religious publications during this period and it is estimated that around 541 titles were printed (Buhain, 1998, p. 13). There are now over a thousand printers and publishers in the country, but two names stand out as having a long and distinguished history and impact on Philippine printing. These are Cacho Hermanos which started as Chofre y Cia in 1880 and printed religious and political materials. From a series of management changes, it became the Cacho Hermanos when it was purchased by Jesus Cacho in 1927.
It is still in operation today. Salvador Chofre was the first lithographic printer in the country. The other one is the Carmelo and Bauermann set up by two distinguished Europeans, Don Eulalio Carmelo y Lakandula, artist-engraver and William Bauermann, German lithographer and cartographer working with the Bureau of Forestry at the time. It is the biggest and oldest commercial printing press in the country. The government is also into printing of government publications through its Government Printing Office (formerly Bureau of Printing).
However, individual government agencies also print their own publication such as the National Economic Development Authority (NEDA), the Department of Education, Culture, and Sports (DECS) and the Department of Foreign Affairs, to name a few. It is estimated that from 1593-1900 around 6000 titles had been printed. Publishing in the Philippines rapidly developed. Almost all types of literature are produced, from belles lettres to history, political science, economics, science and technology, etc. Newspapers and magazines are also being produced.
There are no statistics to show how many titles have been printed since 1593, but if the country is printing/publishing from 1000 to 1500 titles a year, then there would be over a hundred thousand titles from 1593 to date. But the Philippines lags in the production of books. It is only number 8 among 10 countries in Asia. (NBDB, National Book Policy, Nov. 1997, p. 25). Among the titles cited in the references used in this articles, the latest and most interesting title is the book by Dominador D.
Buhain, A History of Publishing in the Philippines (Manila, 1998). It is a folio book of 145 pages, arranged chronologically, with many interesting and colored reproductions of titles of books and kindred materials for each period, from the pre-colonial Philippines to contemporary publishing. It is a very beautiful and informative book. | Seditious and Subversive: Theater of War DOREEN G. FERNANDEZ| view / post comments for this article| | War against Spain and the United States The events of the late nineteenth century in the Philippines are fairly well known.
The revolutionary secret society called the Katipunan was founded, then discovered in August 1896. By the end of the year revolution had spread throughout the country. Between August 29, 1896, when Filipino revolutionaries first attacked Spanish soldiers, and the declaration of Philippine Independence on June 12, 1898 by General Emilio Aguinaldo, Filipinos waged war for the first time in their history. It was a hit-and-run, faction-troubled war, but eventually led to the first revolution in Asia against a colonial power, and the proclamation of the Philippine Republic at Malolos, Bulacan.
That ending was neither glorious nor permanent, however, for while the Filipinos carried on their war against Spain, Admiral George Dewey destroyed the Spanish fleet in Manila Bay, Spanish authorities secretly negotiated the bloodless surrender of Manila, and in December the Treaty of Paris was signed, ceding the Philippines to the United States for a few thousand dollars. The Philippine-American War, identified in American documents of the time as the Philippine Insurrection, broke out on February 4, 1899.
From then until April 6, 1902, when Miguel Malvar, the last Filipino general in the field, surrendered, there was continued guerrilla warfare. In two years, therefore, the Filipinos fought both the Spaniards and the Americans, and here began the theater born of war. In the period between 1902 (when Theodore Roosevelt declared general amnesty and officially ended the war) and 1906 (when Macario Sakay surrendered, and armed resistance officially ended), the “seditious” plays came to be.
Playwrights spoke up on stage, disguising their anti-Spanish and anti-American sentiments in the costumes, manners and scenography of traditional theater, and when discovered, were arrested—sometimes along with cast and crew, and in one case, reportedly with the entire audience. These plays constituted a form of guerrilla warfare directly contrary to Act No. 292, the “Sedition Act” passed on November 4,1901, which made advocacy of Philippine independence a crime since such advocacy fanned the embers of resistance to American rule.
Section 10 which provides that[u]ntil it has been officially proclaimed that a state of war or insurrection against the authority or sovereignty of the United States no longer exists in the Philippine Islands, it shall be unlawful for any person to advance orally or by writing or printing or like methods, the independence of the Philippine Islands or their separation from the United States, whether by peaceable or forcible means, or to print, publish or circulate any handbill, newspaper or publication, advocating such independence or separation was later to be invoked in the arrest of the anti-American dramatists.
Juan Abad’s Tanikalang Guinto (Golden Chain) is about Ligaya (light; the spirit of independence), daughter of Dalita (extreme poverty and suffering; the Mother Country), who is forbidden to see Kaulayaw (sweetheart; Filipino hero) by her uncle Maimbot (greedy; the American insular government). Ligaya receives a golden bracelet from Maimbot that becomes a chain to bind her to his control. The play was first staged at the Teatro Libertad on July 7, 1902, and subsequently in other theaters in Manila, Laguna and Cavite, where it was enthusiastically applauded and obviously understood.