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The American Colonial Period

A new set of colonizers brought about new changes in Philippine literature. New
literary forms such as free verse [in poetry], the modern short story and the critical
essay were introduced. American influence was deeply entrenched with the firm
establishment of English as the medium of instruction in all schools and with literary
modernism that highlighted the writer's individuality and cultivated consciousness of
craft, sometimes at the expense of social consciousness.

The poet, and later, National Artist for Literature, Jose Garcia Villa used free
verse and espoused the dictum, "Art for art's sake" to the chagrin of other writers more
concerned with the utilitarian aspect of literature. Another maverick in poetry who
used free verse and talked about illicit love in her poetry was Angela Manalang
Gloria, a woman poet described as ahead of her time. Despite the threat of censorship
by the new dispensation, more writers turned up "seditious works" and popular
writing in the native languages bloomed through the weekly outlets like Liwayway
and Bisaya.

The Balagtas tradition persisted until the poet Alejandro G. Abadilla advocated
modernism in poetry. Abadilla later influenced young poets who wrote modern verses
in the 1960s such as Virgilio S. Almario, Pedro I. Ricarte and Rolando S. Tinio.

While the early Filipino poets grappled with the verities of the new language,
Filipinos seemed to have taken easily to the modern short story as published in
thePhilippines Free Press, the College Folio and Philippines Herald. Paz Marquez
Benitez's "Dead Stars" published in 1925 was the first successful short story in
English written by a Filipino. Later on, Arturo B. Rotor and Manuel E. Arguilla
showed exceptional skills with the short story.

Alongside this development, writers in the vernaculars continued to write in the


provinces. Others like Lope K. Santos, Valeriano Hernandez Pea and Patricio
Mariano were writing minimal narratives similar to the early Tagalog short fiction
called dali or pasingaw (sketch).

The romantic tradition was fused with American pop culture or European
influences in the adaptations of Edgar Rice Burroughs' Tarzan by F. P. Boquecosa
who also penned Ang Palad ni Pepe after Charles Dicken's David Copperfield even as
the realist tradition was kept alive in the novels by Lope K. Santos and Faustino
Aguilar, among others.
It should be noted that if there was a dearth of the Filipino novel in English, the
novel in the vernaculars continued to be written and serialized in weekly magazines
likeLiwayway, Bisaya, Hiligaynon and Bannawag.

The essay in English became a potent medium from the 1920's to the present.
Some leading essayists were journalists like Carlos P. Romulo, Jorge Bocobo, Pura
Santillan Castrence, etc. who wrote formal to humorous to informal essays for the
delectation by Filipinos.

Among those who wrote criticism developed during the American period were
Ignacio Manlapaz, Leopoldo Yabes and I.V. Mallari. But it was Salvador P. Lopez's
criticism that grabbed attention when he won the Commonwealth Literay Award for
the essay in 1940 with his "Literature and Society." This essay posited that art must
have substance and that Villa's adherence to "Art for Art's Sake" is decadent.

The last throes of American colonialism saw the flourishing of Philippine


literature in English at the same time, with the introduction of the New Critical
aesthetics, made writers pay close attention to craft and "indirectly engendered a
disparaging attitude" towards vernacular writings -- a tension that would recur in the
contemporary period.

The Contemporary Period

The flowering of Philippine literature in the various languages continue especially


with the appearance of new publications after the Martial Law years and the
resurgence of committed literature in the 1960s and the 1970s.

Filipino writers continue to write poetry, short stories, novellas, novels and essays
whether these are socially committed, gender/ethnic related or are personal in
intention or not.

Of course the Filipino writer has become more conscious of his art with the
proliferation of writers workshops here and abroad and the bulk of literature available
to him via the mass media including the internet. The various literary awards such as
the Don Carlos Palanca Memorial Awards for Literature, the Philippines Free Press,
Philippine Graphic, Home Life and Panorama literary awards encourage him to
compete with his peers and hope that his creative efforts will be rewarded in the long
run.
With the new requirement by the Commission on Higher Education of teaching of
Philippine Literature in all tertiary schools in the country emphasizing the teaching of
the vernacular literature or literatures of the regions, the audience for Filipino writers
is virtually assured. And, perhaps, a national literature finding its niche among the
literatures of the world will not be far behind.

Historical Background of Philippine


Literature During the Modern Period
Literature and history are closely related. In discovering the history of a race, the feelings,
aspirations, customs and traditions of a people are sure to be included. These mans feelings,
aspirations, customs and traditions that are written is literature . History that records mans life- his
experiences, feelings, thoughts. It is also literature. Then we can say that literature is history and
history is literature.

Martial Law repressed and curtailed human rights, including freedom of the press
Writers used symbolism and allegories to drive home their message, at the face of heavy
censorship. Theater was used as a vehicle for protest, such as the PETA (Phil.
Educational Theater Association) and UP Theater.4.From the eighties onwards, writers continue
to show dynamism and innovation
The flowering of Philippine literature in the various languages continue especially with the
appearance of new publications after the Martial Law years and the resurgence of committed
literature in the 1960s and the 1970s.
Filipino writers continue to write poetry, short stories, novellas, novels and essays whether these
are socially committed, gender/ethnic related or are personal in intention or not.
Of course the Filipino writer has become more conscious of his art with the proliferation
of writers workshops here and abroad and the bulk of literature available to him via the mass
media including the internet. The various literary awards such as the Don Carlos Palanca
Memorial Awards for Literature, the Philippines Free Press, Philippine Graphic, Home Life and
Panorama literary awards encourage him to compete with his peers and hope that his creative
efforts will be rewarded in the long run. With the new requirement by the Commission on Higher
Education of teaching of Philippine Literature in all tertiary schools in the country emphasizing
the teaching of the vernacular literature or literature of the regions, the audience for Filipino
writers is virtually assured. And, perhaps, a national literature finding its niche among the
literature of the world will not be far behind.
With the requirement by the Commission on Higher Education to teach Philippine Literature in all
tertiary schools in the country, the teaching of the vernacular literature or literature of the regions
was emphasized.
Filipino writers started to use their writings to explore socio-political realities. The tradition of
protest has always been a potent force in the production of socially committed writings, as a
number of critics such as Bienvenido Lumbera, and Epifanio San Juan Jr. have argued. The
1970s, for example, witnessed the proliferation of poems, short stories, and novels which grappled
with the burning issues of the times. In a large number of magazines and journals, writers in both
English and Pilipino faced the problems of exploitation and injustice, and appropriated these
realities as the only relevant materials for their fiction.
Literature has started with fables and legends made by the ancient Filipinos long before the arrival
of the Spanish influence. The main themes of Philippine literature focus on the countrys pre-
colonial cultural traditions and the socio-political histories of its colonial and contemporary
traditions.
Is not a secret that many Filipinos are unfamiliar with Philippine literature especially those written
long before the Spanish arrived in our country. This is due to the fact that the stories of ancient
time were not written, but rather passed on from generation to generation through word of mouth.
Only in 1521 did the Filipinos become to be acquainted with literature due to the influence of the
Spaniards on us. But the literature that the Filipinos became acquainted with are not Filipino
made, rather, they were works of Spanish authors.
The rise of nationalistic pride in the 1960s and 1970s also helped bring about this change of
attitude among a new breed of Filipinos concerned about the Filipino identity.
The 1960s were, summarily, a period when writers seriously grappled with problems of art. The
early 1970s saw a proliferation of politically motivated or committed writing and protest
literature. Short-story writers became more conscious of the political milieu and of social issues in
the wake of the increased activism all over the world and right in their country, especially during
the troubled days of a dictatorial government. Some of the more recent fiction writers include
Paulino Lim, Alfred Yuson, Jose Dalisay, Mario Eric Gamalinda, and Cristina P. Hidalgo.
In the meantime, what about the novelists? The war provided postwar novelists with a subject.
Stevan Javellanas Without Seeing the Dawn focuses on an antiheroic protagonist hardened and
embittered by the war, but ultimately vindicating himself and becoming almost heroic in the
process. Edilberto Tiempo, the fiction writer and critic, wrote with an awareness of social history
but remained strictly formalistic in his firm grasp of craft and his handling of history. Bienvenido
Santos worked with a sense of pathos, irony, and realism, and took up the theme of personal and
sociocultural alienation, especially among Filipinos stranded in America during the war, suffering
from intense homesickness but somehow managing to endure with strength and fortitude and
loveliness of spirit.
Francisco Sionil Joses monumental Rosales saga, which is made up of five novels, has, more
than any other series of works, touched on this Filipino search for roots, as well as on struggle,
social corruption, and the fight for social justice in post colonial times. No other writer has been
more widely translated on his own country and other countries. N.V.M. Gonzalezs novels also
reflect discipline, control, and irony, best reflected in his portrayal of the harsh world of the
fisherfolk and peasants who endured and prevailed with dignity and grace in the face of pressure
and want. His novels are manifestations of reality turned art.
Recent novelists have ventured into the murky terra incognita of postmodernism, rejecting the
traditional concepts of fiction, portraying a world devoid of value and meaning, interweaving
literature with journalism, history, biography, and even criticism. The objective is merely
pleasure of the text through verbal or psychological constructs, a totality of vision. Examples of
such avant-garde Filipino fictionists are Mario Eric Gamalinda, Jessica Hagedorn, and Alfred
Yuson, to name but three of the more prominent figures.
Meanwhile, the influence of literature in the country is imperiled by the impact of modern
technology on life and culture, and the Filipino writer feels it his responsibility to put literature
back on track and in the center of life, aware of the perpetual need to upgrade and transform it
into a meaningful social yet artistically forward-moving activity, opening up to a large
interdependent world, listening to the polyphony of voices which could add to their own largeness
of spirit and understanding, aware that they cannot continue to write in isolation, that each of the
writings of all writers of the world is but a mere episode within that one general experience of the
universal person forever in the process of unfolding and evolving.