After ten years of military rule and some changes in the life of the Filipino which started under the New Society, Martial Rule was at last lifted on January 2, 1981.
To those in government, the lifting of military rule heralded a change. To their perceptions, the Philippines became a new nation and this; former President Marcos called “The New Republic of the Philippines.” A historian called this the Third Republic. The First Republic he claimed was during the Philippine Republic of Emilio Aguinaldo when we first got our independence form the Spaniards on June 12, 1898.
The Second was when the Americans granted us our independence on July 4, 1946. This period, January 2, 1981, was the Third Republic when we were freed from Military Rule.
During this period, it cannot be denied that many people seethed with rebellion and protest because of the continued oppression and suppression. This was further aggravated when former Senator Benigno S. Aquno Jr., the idol of the Filipino masses, whom they hoped to be the next president, was president, was brutally murdered on August 21, 1983.
This stage of the nation had its effect on our literature. After the Aquino assassinated, the people’s voices could no long be contained. Both the public and private sectors in government were chanting, and shouting; women, men and the youth became bolder and their voices were raised in dissent. We can say that Philippine literature, in spite of the many restrictions, still surreptitiously retained its luster.
THE PALANCA AWARDS
The Don Carlos Palanca Memorial Awards for literature which was launched in 1950 continued its recognition of the best in the literary fields –poetry, short story, essays, and the one and three-act plays.
First Prize: Jessie B. Garcia’s –“In Hog Heaven”
Second Prize: Luning Bonifacio –Ira’s “The Party Hopper”
Third Prize: Jesus Q. Cruz –“In These Hallowed Halls”
First Prize: “Heart Island” by Jose Dalisay Jr.
Second Prize: “Pas de Deux” by Azucena Grajo Uranza
Third Prize: “The Sky Is Always Blue” by Joe Marie A. Abueg
During those times the mood was restive. The nation was angry after the murder of opposition leader Benigno Aquino but the awards ceremonies continued after a delay. The winners are:
First Prize: “Oldtimer” by Jose Dalisay Jr.
Second Prize: “Games” by Jesus O. Cruz
Third Prize: “Perfect Sunday” by Jose Y. Ayala
First Prize in poetry (Pilipino): Jose F. Lacaba
Second Prize (English essay): Gregorio Brillantes
Third Prize (English essay): Adrian Cristobal
First Prize: “The Reprieve” by Susan S. Lara
Second Prize: “The Tangerine Gumamela” by Sylvia Mendez Ventura
Third Prize co-winner: “The Little Wars of Filemon Sayre” by Lemuel Torrevillas
Third Prize: “Stranger in an Asian City” by Gregorio Brillantes
First Prize: “The Hand of God” by Conrado de Quiros
First Prize: “A Novel Prize for Jorge” by Eli Ang Barroso
No awards for second prize
Third Prize: “Mecca of the East” by Charles Loong
The Palanca Awards started choosing the best in novel writing. This contest, held every three years, gives time for local writers to write more beautiful and quality works. The next contest on the best novel was held in 1987. La Tondeña continues to be its sponsor.
B. FILIPINO POETRY
Poems during this period of the Third Republic were romantic and revolutionary. Writers wrote openly of their criticism against the government. The supplications of the people were coached in fiery, colorful, violent, profane and insulting language.
C. FILIPINO SONGS
Many Filipino songs dealt with themes that were really true-to-life like those of grief, poverty, aspirations for freedom, love of God, of country and of fellowmen.
Many composers, grieved over Ninoy Aquino’s treacherous assassination composed songs.
Among them were Coritha, Eric and Freddie Aguilar. Coritha and Eric composed a song titles LABAN NG BAYAN KO and this was first sung by Coritha during the National Unification Conference of the Opposition in March, 1985. This was also sung during the Presidential Campaign Movement for Cory Aquino to inspire the movement against Marcos in February 1986.
Freddie Aguilar revived the song BAYAN KO which was written by Jose Corazon de Jesus and C. de Guzman during the American period.
D. PHILIPPINE FILMS DURING THE PERIOD
The yearly Festival of Filipino Films continued to be held during this period. The people’s love for sex films also was unabated.
Many producers took advantage of this at the expense of public morality.
E. POETRY IN ENGLISH DURING THE THIRD REPUBLIC
Most especially, during the wake of the tragic Benigno Aquino Jr.’s incident, people reacted with shock, appalled by the suddenness and the unexpectedness of events. Alfredo Navarro Salanga, a consistent writer of Philippines Panorama Magazine in his column “Post-Prandal Reflections” aptly said it: “darkness in the mind and soul is how some forgotten poet puts it. Its suddenness was so profound that we couldn’t but react to it in any other way.”
Elemental to us (poets or writers) was how to grasp to some meaning –in a symbol, a phrase or word –in the language of heart and tongue, the poet’s only candles. So we tried to reach out in the next and perhaps the only way we could: by putting pen to paper and speaking out –as partisans in a human drama.
Poets, surprisingly, by common consent, found themselves writing on a common subject.
Reproduction of some of them is reprinted here. We aptly call them Protest Poetry of the ‘80’s. The themes of most during this time dealt with courage, shock and grief over the “treachery inflicted upon Aquino.”
F. MEDIA OF 1983
Sheila S. Coronel, a PANORAMA staff stalwart, reporting on the state of the media during these times said: it was a year of ferment, and change, of old problems made more oppressive by the new throbbing beat of the times.”
For journalists, it was a year loaded with libel charges, lawsuits and seditious trials which they gallantly bore as harassment suits. JAJA (Justice for Aquino, Justice for All) Movement called for a boycott of government –controlled newspapers in protest of media suppression. People picketed newspapers offices with coffins to symbolize the death of press freedom.
In campuses, newspapers were set afire to protest lack of free expression. Journalists suffered physically and otherwise.
Journalists of 3 major dailies demanded a dialogue with their publishers to “restore credibility and respectability” to newspapers. Opposition tabloids flourished. They sold our papers with the red news to the starved public; hence, smut magazines like the TIKTIK, PLAYBOY SCENE, and SAKDAL also played the sidewalks.
Radio led by RADIO VERITAS started reporting coverage of demonstrations. Information Minister Gregorio Cendaña called the tabloids the “mosquito press” and called their new “political pornography.”
However, there was a perceptible liberalization of editorial policies in the major newspapers.
G. CHILDREN’S BOOKS
Among the well-loved forms of writing which abounded during this period were those of children’s stories. The Children’s Communication Center (CCC) directed by poet and writer Virgilio S. Almario already has built up an impressive collection of these kinds of books. The following are some of the books of the period.
1982: PLAYS FOR CHILDREN by Jame B. Reuter S.J. (New Day Pub.)
1983: STORY TELLING FOR YOUNG CHILDREN
1983: JOSE AND CARDO by Peggy Corr Manuel
1983: Joaquinesquerie: MYTH A LA MOD (Cacho Hermanos)
1983: LAHI: 5 FILIPINO FOLK TALES (of 5 English books and 1 cassette tape)
1984: RIZALIANA FOR CHILDREN: ILLUSTRATIONS and FOLKTALES by: Jose P. Rizal, Intoduced and annotated by Alfredo Navarro Salanga
1984: GATAN AND TALAW by Jaime Alipit Montero
H. (PROSE) FABLES
The people’s cry of protest found outlets not only in poetry but also in veiled prose fables which transparently satirized the occupants of Malacañang. Among those that saw prints were:
1. The Crown Jewels of Heezenhurst by Sylvia Mendez Ventura
2. The Emperor’s New Underwear by MeynardoA. Macaraig
3. The King’s Cold by Babeth Lolarga
4. The Case of the Missing Charisma (unfinished) by Sylvia L. Mayuga.
In all the fables, the king, differently referred to as TotusMarkus or the king or Haring Matinikwas meant to poke fun at the ruler at Malacañang; similarly, Reyna Maganda or the Queen, was a veiled thrust at his queen.
They were both drunk with power and were punished in the end for their misdeeds.
1. THE STATE OF PHILIPPINE LITERATURE IN ENGLISH AT THIS TIME
Isagani Cruz, writing about Philippine literature in the “Age of Ninoy,”makes the following observations:
“Philippines literature is definitely changing,” and he summarizes these as follows:
1. Change in the direction of greater consciousness in content and form.
2. Change in the number of readers and the number of writers and the kind of class of writers. Writers who joined the ranks came not only from the established or professional groups but from all ranks –clerks, secretaries, drivers, housewives, students; in short, the masses.
3. The resurgence of Balagtasismo and the continued dominance of Modernismo. While Balagtasismo turned its back on the American challenge to Philippine literature its conservative conventions, Modernismo adapted Americanization for its own ends.
4. The birth of a new poetic movement still dims in outline.
5. The apparent merging of the erstwhile separate streams of oral and written literature.
J. SOME WRITERES DURING THIS PERIOD
1981: PHILIPPINE FOLK LITERATURE by Damiana Eugenio
1981: ADVENTURES OF MARIAN by Carissa Orosa Uy
1982: SOMEWHERE BETWEEN YOUR SMILE AND YOUR FROWN AND OTHER POEMS by Bienvenido M. NoeigaJr.
1983: PARES-PARES by Bienvenido M. Noriega Jr.
1983: AGON: POEMS, 1983 by Edgar B. Maranan
1984: THE FARMER by Alfredo Navarro Salanga
1984: THE ROAD TO MOWAB AND OTHER STORIES by Leoncio P. Deriada