Philippine Literature Essay Sample


FALL 1996


The literature of the Philippines is multi-faceted. It is written in many languages(in the indigenous languages of the Filipinos such as Ilokano, Tagalog, Cebnano, Pampango, Bikol, etc.; in the languages of her conquerors (Spanish and English) and covers a lot of themes. This course will sample only the literature written by Filipinos in English.

The literary works were chosen to provide the reader a general background knowledge on how the Filipino writers view themselves (and the other Filipinos) in various context (in different times and space) -- in their family life, in the community, at work, in war and in love. One important aspect of the course deals with the subject of diaspora or migration. Short stories, poems and essays discussing views or sentiments about this topic were written by Filipinos in America, and more recently, by Filipinos who migrated for work in the other Southeast Asian countries, in Europe or the Middle East.

Through the literature, it is hoped that the readers would be able to reclaim their heritage (if they are Filipino Americans) or understand where the Filipinos are coming from (if they are Americans), to identify themselves in the characters they read, and to be inspired in writing their thoughts, sharing their feelings or simply, to appreciate what others have written, said or done.


Each student is expected to:

  1. Participate actively in the building of learning atmosphere conducive to openness, mutual respect, friendliness -and joy in the learning process.

  2. Be responsible in terms of preparedness for discussion, tests, projects and activities.

  3. Conduct independent study and research in background and relevant information which can enrich knowledge and understanding of the subject-matter.

  4. Share findings of independent study in written reports and group discussions.

  5. Complete and submit all requirements on time.


  • IP 363 Course pack -- Readings in Contemporary Philippine Literature in English compiled by Dr. Ruth Elynia S. Mabanglo (available at Professional Image, King St. across Pucks Alley)

  • Handouts

  • Filipino novels in English (as chosen by students), vailable at the Asia Collection, Hamilton Library


Writing requirements* 30%
Quizzes and Examinations 20%
Group Presentation 20%
Participation/Attendance 30%

1. Writing requirements include* (30%)


a. 3 papers and 3 comments/responses

Papers should be typewritten and at least 7 pages each A guideline will be provided before the writing of each paper. Before submission to the teacher, this paper will be commented upon by a classmate. The comments should at least be 2 pages, typewritten.

b. classroom writing activities

c. 1 book review/critique (a Filipino novel)

Regarding the book review, students will be provided by a listing of Filipino novels in English. They may choose a title from the list or may submit their own title, subject to teacher's approval. Two or three students will be assigned to read one novel and do a presentation of the same. The presentation will be graded as presentation and the review will be graded as writing.

2. Quizzes and Examination (20%)

Quizzes, announced or unannounced will be given, These could take the form of objective or essay type. The final will be a a take-home exam and should be submitted in typewritten form.

3. Presentation (20%)

Each group (maximum of three students) will do a presentation of a Filipino novel. The presentation should be made interesting to encourage other students to read the novel that was presented to them.

4. Attendance and Participation (30%)

Presence in the classroom entail active participation in the discussion. If there are groupwork, in-class writing activities, games, roleplays, etc., students are expected to cooperate/join.

5. Extra Credit

To make up for absences, failing quizzes and examinations, or poor grades in the writing activities, students may earn extra credit by participating in any Philippine-related cultural and literary activities at UH and the community; or by submitting additional written work (movie reviews; book reviews, etc.) about Philippine-related topics.

* If you are a student with a disability and have a disability related needs or concerns, please contact the Kōkua Program at 956-7511 or drop into Room 13 in the new Student Services Center.

Consisted of early Filipino literature passed down orally; oral pieces have a communal authorship – it was difficult to trace the original author of the piece since oral literature did not focus on ownership or copyright, rather on the act of storytelling itself; – Many oral pieces became lost in the wave of the new literary influence brought about by the Spanish colonization; however, according to the Philippine Literature: A History & Anthology, English Edition (Lumbera, B. & Lumbera C. ), the pre-colonial period of Philippine literature is considered the longest in the country’s history;

– Literature in this period is based on tradition, reflecting daily life activities such as housework, farming, fishing, hunting, and taking care of the children as well; – Oral pieces told stories which explained heroes and their adventures; they attempted to explain certain natural phenomena, and, at the same time, served as entertainment purposes;

– Pre-colonial literature showed certain elements that linked the Filipino culture to other Southeast Asian countries (e. g. oral pieces which were performed through a tribal dance have certain similarities to the Malay dance); – This period in Philippine literature history represented the ethos of the people before the arrival of a huge cultural influence – literature as a cultural tradition, than a form of art that had a particular set of decorum. · Early Forms of Philippine Literature:

o Bugtong (riddles; a bugtong contains a metaphor called,Talinghaga), Salawikain (proverb); o Pre-colonial poetry – Tanaga (expresses a view or a value of the world), Ambahan (songs about childhood, human relationships, hospitality; sung by the Mangyan), Duplo (verbal jousts/games), Bayok (thoughts about love), Balagtasan (performed on stage); o Epic poetry – romantic heroes and heroines that are a reflection of the world as perceived by the early Filipinos. · Notable Works of the Pre-colonial Period: o Tuwaang, Lam-ang, Hinilawod, Bantugan

II. Spanish Colonial Period (Mid-16th – late 19th century) – The Spanish culture, as reflected in the works of this literature period, showed a clash with the pre-colonial Filipino literature in the beginning. However, due to the length of stay of the colonizers, the Spanish culture was eventually imbued in the Filipino literature of the period; – Religion became an important theme that had influenced the early Filipino writings which had the presence of paganism – “Christian Folk-Tale”;

– In addition, the influence of religion, besides on the daily life of the natives, was lead by the friar/missionary/parish priest who were appointed by the Spanish government; – Despite the goal of the Spanish government to turn the country into a full-fledged European colony, the Spanish influence ironically inspired a reformation from the natives, which eventually turned into a revolution; – Yet regardless of the conflicts that plagued the relationship between the Spaniards and the Filipinos, a sense of nationalism was formed among the oppressed, and had caused them to rise up to a nationalistic cause;

– The essay genre was recognized amidst the scene of editorial protest – Jose Rizal and Plaridel (Marcelo H. Del Pilar) were among those who opt in using the pen in voicing out the people’s cry instead of the sword; – Introduction of the roman alphabet that gradually replaced the ‘alibata’; – The Filipino literature of this period became the predecessor of many more literary works to come in the ages, wherein the theme of nationalism and freedom of speech would be evident. · Philippine Literature and Art during the Spanish Period:

o Pasyon and Sinakulo (religious dramas performed during the Holy Week); o Narrative Poems – Awit; Corrido; o Komedya – a theatrical performance which captured the ideal European lifestyle as portrayed by medieval characters · Notable Works of the Spanish Period: o Doctrina Christiana (1593) – the first book ever published in the Philippines; printed by the Dominican Press; o May Bagyo Mat’ May Rilim – according to literary historian, Bienvenido Lumbera, is the first printed literary work in Tagalog; o Ang Mahal na Passion ni Jesu Christong P.

Natin na Tola (1704) – eventually referred to as “Pasyon,” was written by Gaspar Aquino de Belen; an example of Christian folk epic in which the passion of Jesus Christ was written in relation with the plight of the Filipino people who were oppressed by the colonizers, as well as the values of a Filipino; o Ninay (1885) – first Filipino novel written; Pedro Paterno; o Florante at Laura – Francisco “Balagtas” Baltazar; though there are symbols and themes which dictate the protest of the Filipino against the Spanish regime, it is uncertain as to whether or not Balagtas had intended the issue – which was subtly derived from his work – since he left no notes or additional pieces that may affirm the conclusion; o Noli Me Tangere (1887) and El Filibusterismo (1891) – Jose Rizal; works which created an impact on the national consciousness and love for one’s country against the abusive government of the Spaniards; o La Solidaridad – Propagandist newspaper.

III. American Colonial Period (Late 19th – Mid-20th century) – The gradual decline of the Philippine literature written in Spanish; – The English language eventually became the medium of writing and instruction in schools; – As the Spanish colonizers left the country in accordance with the Treaty of Paris, the spirit of nationalism and the desire to be acknowledged of independence did not disappear just yet. Instead, these uniting forces geared into revolting against the new colonizers; – During the American colonization period, Philippine literature reflected the ethos of its people under a new role.

However, these day-to-day experiences under a new foreign influence, as well as sentiments, were expressed through the English language; – The Spanish ‘sarsuwela’ was eventually replaced by the ‘drama’; – One major influence of the American occupation on the Filipino literature is its refining in the context of the content and the form. Furthermore, because of this broadened knowledge on the field of literature through the education provided by the American government, Philippine literature has become more than a tradition formed by culture.

It has become an art which succeeding poets, fictionists, and playwrights continue to build upon and enrich in every generation; – Beginning with Rizal’s use of social realism as one of the major themes for his two major novels, the literature during the American colonization also became an involvement, not just reflecting the Filipino experience – a strengthened sense of nationalism deeply rooted in the Filipino pride and culture; – Unlike in the Spanish colonization period wherein female writers (e. g. Gregoria de Jesus) were overshadowed by their more dominant, male contemporaries – as a result of the education only being provided to a selected and privileged few – during the American occupation, women have had their opportunity to enhance their talent by being educated on the craft. In addition, the growing popularity of works written by Filipina writers is the result of the growing audience appreciating literature by females.

· Philippine Literature and Art during the American Period: o Short Story o Poetry in English o Free Verse in Poetry o Drama · Notable Works of the American Period: o Mga Agos sa Disyerto (1964) – Efren R. Abueg, Edgardo M. Reyes, Eduardo Bautista Reyes, Rogelio L. Ordonez and Rogelio R. Sikat; this short story anthology brought fiction into the age of modernism; o Ako ang Daigdig (1940) – Alejandro G. Abadilla; free verse poem; o Sa Dakong Silangan – Jose Corazon de Jesus; a poem written in the vernacular http://lourdesbraceros. weebly. com/a-brief-history-of-philippine-literature-in-english. html

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