a critical survey of Philippine Literatures

THE LITERARY GENRES THE FILIPINO NOVEL AND SHORT STORY

A Brief History
The novel in the Philippines was modeled after Western prototypes, but its roots lie deep in native soil.

There is a tradition of local narratives—oral epics, ballads, tales, and other folk materials—to which were later added other narrative types introduced by the Spaniards, including metrical romances (corridos), saints’ lives, fables, parables, and folk epics (pasyon).

The novel in the Philippines developed by combining elements from these different traditions, producing many noted works…

Francisco Baltazar
FLORANTE AT LAURA

Pedro Paterno
NINAY

the work of a man steeped in both his native traditional literature and the major European literatures.Jose Rizal NOLI ME TANGERE EL FILIBUSTERISMO These were the first works of realistic fiction produced by a Filipino. .

Nonetheless. . the early novels in English are not appreciably different from their predecessors in Spanish and Tagalog.By the 1920s English was firmly established as a medium of both education and literary expression.

a Tagalog novel written in English . …in essence.A Child of Sorrow (1921) by Zoilo Galang is a simplistic and melodramatic story of thwarted love.

The Filipino Rebel (1927) by Maximo Kalaw is a historical novel about the American conquest of the islands and the establishment of the new colonial regime. … very much in the tradition of Rizal. though far less successful .On the other hand.

. Foremost among the postwar novelists are Bienvenido Santos.In the 1950s and early 1960s. and Nick Joaquin.V. the intellectual milieu of the urban. university-educated English writer in the Philippines became even more sophisticated and cosmopolitan. N.M Gonzalez.

both for its dazzling use of English and for its mastery of narrative technique in rendering the search for a national identity. Joaquin’s style has been described as “tropical baroque. . Cave and Shadows (1983) is structured like a mystery thriller.” a reference as much to his choice of unusual protagonists in rather melodramatic situations as to his prose. yet it explores the same theme. drawing on a rich store of myth and legend but locating the action in the thick of contemporary events and using a middleclass intellectual as protagonist.Nick Joaquin Joaquin’s novel The Woman Who Had Two Navels (1961) is an impressive achievement.

about Philippine-American relations. brisk pace. about corruption in high places— are set in the Philippines.” Filipinos in America. about a decaying family and class differences. but his two later novels The Man Who (Thought He) Looked Like Robert Taylor (1983) and What For You Left Your Heart in San Francisco (1987) are deeply moving portraits of “wounded men. and The Praying Man (1982). . The Volcano (1965).Bienvenido Santos Santos’s earlier novels—Villa Magdalena (1965). the clipped. It is in these two novels that his distinctive use of the English language is most obvious: his choice of idioms. the consistent understatement.

drew on his earlier life in the province of Romblon and Mindoro.V. and on his expatriate years. . Gonzalez Gonzalez’s novel The Bamboo Dancers (1959) draws on the author’s urban experiences. His earlier Season of Grace (1956).N. bending English to the shape and sense of the language of the Visayan peasant with admirable simplicity and economy.M. on the other hand.

. The Hand of the Enemy (1962). but a search solidly grounded in contemporary social and political realities (including a sakdalista movement in Pangasinan). the story of a woman’s search for love. younger fiction writers who have not produced full-length novels. an elegance perhaps matched only by Gregorio Brillantes and Gilda Cordero Fernando.Kerima Polotan Perhaps the most important woman novelist of the postwar period is Kerima Polotan. has been lavishly praised for its impeccable handling of English.

miners. The Alien Corn (1991). her novels—A Blade of Fern (1979). Still. His Native Coast (1979).Edith Lopez Tiempo Edith Tiempo. small-town academics—and in that they are told in a rather quaint. . and The Builder (2004)—are interesting in that they focus on a different Philippines—the provincial towns and cities. the world of loggers. named National Artist only in 1999. where she is based. Tilting Leaves (1995). the effect perhaps of the relative isolation of Silliman University. is best studied through her poetry. almost mannerist English. One.

but enters into the motivation of the characters.The Contemporary Novel Most contemporary Philippine novels are historical novels. history does not merely provide the setting. and the real conflict is the country’s desperate struggle for survival. their conflicts are engendered by political events. We could even make the claim that the real protagonist here is the nation itself. propels the plot. In these. . The characters are political beings.

Laya HIS NATIVE SOIL THIS BARANGAY .Juan C.

Stevan Javellana WITHOUT SEEING THE DAWN .

Tiempo CRACKED MIRROR FARAH MORE THAN CONQUERORS THE STANDARD BEARER TO BE FREE WATCH IN THE NIGHT (CRY SLAUGHTER) .Edilberto K.

Linda Ty-Casper AWAITING TRESPASS DREAD EMPIRE DREAM EDEN FORTRESS IN A PLAZA THE HAZARDS OF DISTANCE THE PENINSULARS A SMALL PARTY IN THE GARDEN THE STRANDED WHALE TEN THOUSAND SEEDS WINGS OF STONE .

MY EXECUTIONER THE PRETENDERS ERMITA GAGAMBA MASS PO-ON TREE VIAJERO . Sionil Jose THREE FILIPINO WOMEN MY BROTHER.F.

Dalisay Jr. KILLING TIME IN A WARM PLACE SOLEDAD’S SISTER .Jose Y.

Renato E. Madrid DEVIL WINGS MASS FOR THE DEATH OF AN ENEMY .

Carlos Cortes LONGITUDE .

Wilfrido Nolledo BUT FOR THE LOVERS .

WHITE SHADOW .Charlson Ong AN EMBARRASSMENT OF RICHES BANYAGA: A SONG OF WAR BLUE ANGEL.

Alfred Yuson THE GREAT PHILIPPINE JUNGLE ENERGY CAFÉ VOYEURS AND SAVAGES THE MUSIC CHILD AND THE MAHJONG QUEEN .

Cecilia Manguerra Brainard WHEN THE RAINBOW GODDESS WEPT (SONG OF YVONNE) MAGDALENA ANGELICA’S DAUGHTERS .

Antonio Enriquez THE LIVING AND THE DEAD SUBANONS SURVEYORS OF THE LIGUASAN MARSH .

Erwin Castillo THE FIREWALKERS .

Mig Alvarez Enriquez THE DEVIL FLOWER HOUSE OF IMAGES .

Azucena Grajo Uranza BAMBOO IN THE WIND FEAST OF INNOCENTS A PASSING SEASON WOMEN OF TAMMUZ .

Cristina Pantoja-Hidalgo RECUERDO A BOOK OF DREAMS .

Eric Gamalinda EMPIRE OF MEMORY MY SAD REPUBLIC PLANET WAVES CONFESSIONS OF A VOLCANO THE DESCARTES HIGHLANDS .

Mario I. Miclat SECRETS OF THE EIGHTEEN MANSIONS .

Clarissa V. Militante DIFFERENT COUNTRIES .

It should be mentioned that many of the contemporary Philippine novelists in English are expatriates. .

Carlos Bulosan AMERICA IS IN THE HEART ALL THE CONSPIRATORS .

Ninotchka Rosca STATE OF WAR TWICE BLESSED .

Jessica Hagedorn DOGEATERS THE GANGSTER OF LOVE DREAM JUNGLE TOXICOLOGY .

DRINKING WATER . Chai THE LAST TIME I SAW MOTHER EATING FIRE.Arlene J.

R. Zamora Linmark ROLLING THE R’S LECHE .

Peter Bacho CEBU NELSON’S RUN ENTRYS LEAVING YESLER .

Realuyo THE UMBRELLA COUNTRY .Bino A.

Han Ong FIXER CHAO THE DISINHERITED .

Brian Ascalon Roley AMERICAN SON .

Noel Alumit LETTERS TO MONTGOMERY CLIFT TALKING TO THE MOON .

Evelina Galang ONE TRIBE .M.

Sabina Murray A CARNIVORE’S INQUIRY FORGERY .

Donna Miscolta WHEN THE DE LA CRUZ FAMILY DANCED .

Tess Uriza Holthe WHEN THE ELEPHANTS DANCE THE FIVE-FORTY-FIVE TO CANNES .

Marisa de los Santos LOVE WALKED IN BELONG TO ME .

Samantha Sotto BEFORE EVER AFTER .

Merlinda Bobis BANANA HEART SUMMER THE SOLEMN LANTERN MAKER FISH-HAIR WOMAN .

Marivi Soliven THE MANGO BRIDE .

Our younger novelists… .

Gina Apostol BIBLIOLEPSY THE REVOLUTION ACCORDING TO RAYMUNDO MATA GUN DEALER’S DAUGHTER .

F. Batacan SMALLER AND SMALLER CIRCLES .H.

Vicente Garcia Groyon III THE SKY OVER DIMAS .

Dean Francis Alfar SALAMANCA .

Katrina Tuvera THE JUPITER EFFECT .

Miguel Syjuco ILUSTRADO .

Criselda Yabes BELOW THE CRYING MOUNTAIN .

Karl de Mesa NEWS OF THE SHAMAN .

Alex Gilvarry FROM THE MEMOIRS OF A NON-ENEMY COMBATANT .

Tara FT Sering AMAZING GRACE ALMOST MARRIED BETWEEN DINNER AND THE MORNING AFTER .

The Summit Books .

isang katangian na nag-uugat sa tradisyong didaktiko. A common characteristic of the Filipino novel in English is DIDACTICISM (which can be found in the Tagalog novel as well).” —Soledad Reyes . Ang nobela bilang salamin ng buhay na maaaring mapagkunan ng mga pang-araw-araw na panuntunan ang kaisipang paulit-ulit na binibigyangdiin ng mga nobelista. which means that “it sets out to instruct” “… taglay ng nobela ang layuning magbigay ng mga aral.The Aesthetics of the Filipino Novel 1.

stories set against crucial events in Philippine history. symbolic names of characters Salvador de la Raza in Jose’s Viajero Sisa in Yuson’s The Great Philippine Jungle Energy Café 2. where the historical events are not mere backdrops of the story but in fact shape the lives of the characters .Didacticism in the Filipino novel occurs either as (a) moralistic didacticism (b) nationalistic didacticism 1.

from people of a strange land . as exiles.2. ALIENATION This can occur in three ways: (a) alienation.

It had been such a long time. a. . Santos’s The Man Who (Thought He) Looked Like Robert Taylor.k. Solomon King. without a cent in his pocket and forced to take dangerous and filthy jobs. Sol. It was the painful truth: he was truly alone. And nobody need remind him that he was practically alone in the world. the main character of Robert Taylor. as an American citizen.a. but also because he lives. is a soltero and a Filipino oldtimer in the United States. He feels alone.From Bienvenido N. not just because he is single. He had no more friends and relatives in the Philippines. among strangers in a land that remains foreign to him: He had known what it meant to be hungry. He knew.

from people of a strange land (b) alienation from other Filipinos . as exiles.(a) alienation.

friends and foes. tell her about home.From Eric Gamalinda’s Confessions of a Volcano: Daniel. or. he gets involved with Filipino overseas workers. he spots a Filipina on a train. et cetera. looking for the first stranger who could speak her language. because that was how she struck him: proverbial lonely alien in a cold. . including Japayukis. and their Japanese lovers. a journalist. it was unusual that a stranger on the train should choose him to effect an easy escape from—what? Her own loneliness. where he feels like a stranger in his own land. On his first week in Tokyo. But in Japan. antiseptic city. and realizes his own longing for home: But somehow he felt drawn to this unusual encounter. more to the point. grabs a grant to write in Japan to escape post-EDSA 1986 Manila.

from people of a strange land (b) alienation from other Filipinos (c) alienation from the Philippines itself . as exiles.(a) alienation.

a Manileño born and bred. he was in no position for nostalgia [sic] who should have been in the mood for it. all still in place. to help figure out a mysterious death. (continued…) . aside from the cinemas. could recognize only the hotel towers of the Great Eastern and the Avenue. He glanced around for landmarks but. He feels like a stranger as he walks the streets of Manila again: Carried along in the crush. treading the ground of his city for the first time in twenty years (he was forty-two). two years before Marcos declares martial rule. He wondered if round the corner on Ronquillo the Palace was still across the street from the old noodle joint where you went for Chinese snacks after vaudeville at the Palace.From Nick Joaquin’s Caves and Shadows: Jack Henson comes from Davao to Manila. for here he was.

culturing pearls. the 1950s had started.(continued…) When he left here on the honeymoon he had never come back from. Now he turned away from the smell of coffee. repelled from the cafe he had paused at by the a-go-go howling of its jukebox. the cumbanchero era was peaking. raising rubber. . There had since been rock and twist and discotheque while he blackened on an island off Davao.

Ninotchka Rosca’s State of War Jessica Hagedorn’s Dogeaters Bino A. AFFIRMS A SENSE OF COMMUNITY—or being one with one’s countrymen and with one’s Philippines—and suggests that the bond is all the more strengthened by speaking.3. or writing. Realuyo’s The Umbrella Country . about it or about the old country.

Sionil Jose: “Art does not develop in a vacuum. it should depict the Filipino way of life.” .Speculations Why are our novels didactic? F. However. the theme is open and free. or aspiration….” We have no choice but to face our didactic tradition in literature Balagtas and Rizal in curricula and in popular culture The rules of the Don Carlos Palanca Memorial Awards for Literature state: “In the Novel category. the artist’s first responsibility is not just to his art. culture. but to his society as well.

” —Joseph Galdon . or something else. The novel has not been allowed to be what it must essentially and primarily be— a story. or nationalistic.Where does this tendency for didacticism lead to? “ Literary criticism has often demanded that the Philippine novel in English be proletarian.

legends.Even if Philippine novels in English are written in a foreign language. how do authors seek to provide a distinct Filipino tone and sensibility? 1. incorporation of myths.  contain words either in Tagalog or other local languages. and folktales 2. and much use of “Filipino English” .

“It’s a corny love story. the nose she is so proud of because it’s so pointy and straight. She wrinkles her mestiza nose.” Pucha snorts. “AY! Que corny! I dunno what Rock sees in her—“ she wails. “I don’t like her face. “I hate when Rock starts kissing her!” “What’s wrong with it?” I want to know. sipping our TruColas under the watchful gaze of the taciturn servant Lorenza. “It’s a love story. when you think about it.” Pucha complains about Jane Wyman. … .From Jessica Hagedorn’s Dogeaters: We compare notes after the movie. irritated by my blond cousin’s constant criticisms. “ I say in my driest tone of voice. Although I’m four years younger than Pucha. Being corny is the worst sin you can commit in her eyes. I always feel older.

as usual. . I avoid Lorenza’s eyes. if you ask me.. aw-right. prima. “Pobre Rock! Every time he had to kiss her—“ Pucha shudders at the thought. Kim Novak should’ve been in this movie instead of Jane Wyman. you have weird taste! She’s really cara de achay.. fair-skinned. giving a thought to Lorenza’s presence. Gloria Talbot looks like a trapo. hating my cousin for being four years older than me. singsong accent. comparing the starlet to an ugly servant without. for being so blond. And what’s more. which are already an overdeveloped 36B and still growing.” Pucha rolls her eyes. Her breasts. with her thick. “But if you ask me.” I go on.“What about Gloria Talbot? You liked her. Jane’s too old.” Pucha sighs. “AY! Puwede ba. “She looks like a cat—that’s why she’s so strange and interesting. jiggle under her ruffled blouse. “She looks like a cat.” she says.” She purses her lips to emphasize her distaste.”—I search frantically through my limited vocabulary for just the right adjective to describe my feline heroine—“interesting. didn’t you? She’s so. Pucha laughs in disdain. and cruel.

From Bienvenido Santos’s The Man Who (Thought He) Looked Like Robert Taylor:

- Philippine Consulate... - Hello. We got problem. - Beg pardon. Who’s calling please? - I’m a Filipino. Like my friend here— - Whom did you want to talk to? - We have a argument, see? About Philippine independence... - Hold on, please. I’ll give you the Cultural Attaché… - Quiet! She’s giving us something. - Office of the Cultural Attaché... - Hello. Like I say, we got problem. My friend here says Philippine independence is July fourth. I says it’s June 19, Rizal’s birthday. We got a bet, see? - Sorry. You lose, both of you. It’s June 12. - We lose, both of us. Draw. Hey, how come June 12? - It’s a long story.

Either this is just (a) incompetence in grammar and syntax…

“If you plan to write in English, master the language. No amount of insight will excuse atrocious grammar and graceless usage. We don’t have to be embarrassed by this to begin with, because whatever we say, it isn’t our language, especially in the literary mode. But if you write professionally in it, then you’ll have to learn it as well as doctors or carpenters know their trades….” —Jose Y. Dalisay Jr.

… or (b) an act of political will—responding to a post-colonial call

The Patriot By Nissim Ezekiel I am standing for peace and non-violence. Why world is fighting fighting, Why all people of world Are not following Mahatma Gandhi I am simply not understanding. Ancient Indian wisdom is 100% correct. I should say even 200% correct. But Modern generation is neglecting— Too much going for fashion and foreign thing. …

Everything is coming— Regeneration. brothers and sisters. You want one glass lassi? Very good for digestion.Other day I’m reading in newspaper (Every day I’m reading Times of India To improve my English Language) How one goonda fellow Throw stone at Indirabehn. Friends. Romans. Remuneration. completely total. … . countrymen. But I say Wine is for drunkards only. Must be student unrest fellow. I am thinking. I am saying (to myself) Lend me the ears. Be patiently. Better than wine. Not that I am ever tasting the wine. With little salt lovely drink. I’m the total teetotaller. Contraception.

All men are brothers. You are going? But you will visit me again Any time.What you think of prospects of world peace? Pakistan behaving like this. Really most harassing me. Still. Always I am enjoying your company. China behaving like that. Hindiwallahs All brothers— Though some are having funny habits. Maharashtrians. you tolerate me. . I am not believing in ceremony. any day. no? In India also— Gujaraties. I tolerate you. One day Ram Rajya is surely coming. It is making me very sad. I am telling you.

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