1. Philippine Literature takes us to the domain of the gods and goddesses, to the throne of the Great Maker of Malakas at Maganda, in respect and thanksgiving, to submit to their power over mortals, and know their wishes and caprices for which man submits himself through devotion in the name of Bathala.
Dark clouds and red sunset – sign of coming typhoon, San Vicente IS.
Children’s playground under a kalumpang tree, QC
3. Philippine Literature unveils the world of the minutiae – honeybees converting nectar into the sweetest substance on earth – pukyutan (honey), worms weaving the purest fabric – silk (sutla or seda Ilk), bubod (natural yeast) brewing the best wine in buried burnay (earthen jar) – basi, tuba, tapoy, bahalina, layaw, lambanog, and mead (honey wine), the drink of the gods – all these bring Bacchus into the midst of our ancestors. Sober they listened to a sage recount Biag ni Lam-ang (The Life of Lam-ang, a legenary hero), in like manner Homer told of the Iliad and Odyssey to the Greeks hundreds of years ago.
Honeybee at work. Honey is the sweetest natural substance on earth.
4. Philippine Literature has never been dull and prosaic as it moved on with the times to post-Romanticism, among the subjects the glitter and glamor of the Philippine Jeepney in post-war era, revolutioned some concept of beauty and order, although overbearing and frivolous; the Bahay Kubo (Nipa Hut) remodelled as satellite of modern homes and business establishments, yet retaining its coziness and quaintness in the midst of a postmodern environment.
The Jeepney – Filipino art on the road
5. Philippine Literature, on the other side of midnight, so to speak, portrays the dark, the painful and sorrowful events and conditions of life, yet gives a sense repentance and hope usually ending up with redemption and renaissance – the foundation of our ancestors’ religions and later, Christianity. Man can do so little without the intercession of the gods and godesses – Anianihan (God of Harvest), Cabuyaran (Goddess of Healing) of the Cordilleras, and other deities like Maria Makiling (Legend of Mt Makiling) and Daragang Magayon (Legend of Mt Mayon) that guard our forests and fields.
Joy and innocence of childhood Calatagan Batangas
6. Philippine literature succeeded in toppling the pedestal of fundamental classicism and romanticism of Renaissance Europe in the 16th century with the discovery and subsequent colonization of the Philippines by Spain for almost 400 years. It was a downshift from aristocracy to proletarian and agrarian life – the drama of everyday life of the people. It took several pathways to the grassroots – komiks (comics), popular magazines like Liwayway and Bannawag (Dawn, in Ilocano and Tagalog), and stage play, the Zarzuela, and Comedia finding their way into today’s multimedia. Telenovela (TV drama) draws millions of viewers into tears and laughter, keeping them in suspense every day, reminiscent of the 1001 Arabian Nights when Scheherazade held the Sultan captive with her stories so as to escape her execution, ultimately ending up with the two “living happily ever after.”
The Filipina today, a melange of races with the gift of beauty and brains.
7. Philippine Literature exults beauty often envisioned in the Filipina, now a melange of Oriental and Occidental lineages, the subjects of stories, poems and songs, and while the Maria Clara image has mingled with contemporary culture, still captures the true essence of womanhood and the role of women in present society. Decada 70, referring to the tumultuous 70s, Tinimbang Ka Ngunit Kulang pictures still the suffering Sisa except that she too, is the new Gabriela. Literature would not be replete without the Filipina at the center of the story, notwithstanding her dual role in the workplace and the home. Carmen Guerrero Nakpil tells more in The Filipino Woman, so with Paz Mendez, The Principal Role of the Home in Making a Filipino.
Legends and folklores abound everywhere in the country. Tikbalang - half man, half horse.
Rondalla- ensemble of stringinstruments, players in native costumes
10. Philippine Literature has a holistic nature, encompassing both lyrics and songs like Bakya Mo Neneng (girl’s wooden clog), Bahay Kubo (nipa hut); music like in the Rondalla (string ensemble), dallot (skirt dance), prayers and adoration like pasyon (Passion of Christ), dung-aw (dirge). These have been instrumental in the preservation of culture and values like bayanihan (cooperation), lamayan (wake), and the annual fiesta in commemoration of a significant event or feastday of a patron saint. And if the incantations of the herbolario, (quack doctor), and the spiritista (faith healer), together with the Lullaby (Ugoy ng Duyan, a cradle song), as well as other rituals to bring man closer to his creator; if these were to be retrieved as deep as in the sitio or purok (unit of barangay), from the twelve regions of the country - certainly these will further enrich the diversity of our literature, so with the richness of our culture.
11. Philippine Literature needs to advance, over and above traditonal measures, and to “come down to earth” as well, in order to become relevant to the issues and concerns of the times,thus distancing from tear jerker emotion, blind faith and devotion, and close-door scholarship. “Get out of the house” cried the late national poetess Ophelia Dimalanta, “bond with the people, bond with Nature,” a call for a responsive change. Literature must make use of the modern tools of communication - photography, the Internet and multimedia, because, literature is communication, it has the power of the pen - now the electronic pen with cyberspace to write on - so to speak.
12. Philippine literature challenges both young and old, Quo vadis? (Where are you going?), to set the direction of change to be relevant, to move out of fraternal comfort and arrogance, to tap hidden talents and catalyze their expression, to create a literary approach compatible with technical writing and journalism – and vernacular language. (KMD and AVR)
Children playing under a kalumpang tree.