History took another twist. Once more, the Filipino people regained their independence which they lost twenty years ago.
In the span of four days form February 21-25, 1986, the so-called People Power (Lakas ng Bayan) prevailed. Together, the people barricaded the streets petitioning the government for changes and reforms.
Freedom became a reality –won through a peaceful, bloodless and God-blessed revolution.
Philippine society was in turmoil for a few weeks but the rejoicing after the Pres. Marcos was toppled down from power was sheer euphoria. Singing, dancing and shouting’s were the order of the day. The events created overnight heroes. In this historical event, the role played by two big figures in history cannot be doubted. To Defense Minister Juan Ponce Enrile and Armed Forces Chief of Staff Fidel V. Ramos, as well as to the cause of freedom do the Filipinos owe their gratitude for the blessing of Independence?
To the Filipino people, this is the true Philippine Republic, the true Republic of the Philippines.
A. THE STATE OF LITERATURE DURING THIS PERIOD:
In the short span of the existence of the true Republic of the Philippines, several changes already became evident. This in noticed in the new Filipino songs, in the newspapers, in the speeches, and even in the television programs.
1. On Newspapers and other publications:
Newspapers which were once branded crony newspapers became instant opposition papers overnight. This was true of BULLETIN TODAY which became the opposition paper. The now crony newspapers that enjoyed an overnight increase in circulation were THE INQUIRER, MALAYA, and the PEOPLE’S JOURNAL. Newspapers felt that the shackles that muzzled their voices during the repressive years had been broken and, like a bird “trying its wings after a long time of bondage,” the desire to write about this “miracle of change” was electric.
Columnists became vocal and unrestricted in there are and a bumper crop of young journalists emerged. The old stalwarts of the former dispensation like Maximo Soliven, Louie Beltran, Hilarion Henares, and Francisco Soc Rodrigo came back with a vengeance.
By June 12, 1986, a total of 19 local dailies both in English and Filipino were in circulation.
Nowhere since the 1950’s had there been such a big number of newspapers in circulation (excluding tabloids).
These newspapers include: BULLETIN, TEMPO, BALITA, MALAY, MIDDAY, MASA, MANILA TIMES, NEWS HERALD, TRIBUNE, NGAYON, INQUIRER, EXPRESS TONIGHT, EVENING POST, PEOPLE’S, DAILY MIRROR, BUSINESS DAY, and MANILA CHRONICLE.
2. On Books: Philippine literature is still in the making…we are just beginning a new era.
The Phillippine revolution of 1986 and the fire of its spirit that will carry the Filipinos through another epoch in Philippine history is still being documented just as they have been in the countless millions who participated in body and spirit in its realization.
Two books were conceived during the period.
PEOPLE POWER was produced under a grant by the PCI Bank Human Resources Development Foundation, edited by Monina Allarey Mercado and published by the James B. Reuter, S.J. Foundation. Another one BAYAN KO was published by Project 28 Days LTD. in June, 1986 in Kowloon, Hong Kong and co-published in the Philippines by Veritas Publications and Communications Foundation.
In March 19, 1987 the Seventh National Book Awards cited several best books published in 1987 according to the choices made by the Manila Critics Circle. Among those awarded were: Dreamweavers Selected Poems (1976-1986) by Marjorie Pernia and Awit at Corrido: Philippine Metrical Romances by Damiana L. Eugenio.
Bookfair Manila ’88 organized by the Philippine Exhibit Company was held on February 20-28, 1988. It was held with the belief that “requisition of knowledge not only enhances individual skills and capabilities but more importantly, makes positive contributions to the nation’s development program.”
B. FILIPINO SONGS DURING THIS PERIOD
Here are a few Filipino songs that were often heard. They were often aired in radio and television and often accompanied the historical events that transpired in the Philippines and gained for the Filipinos world-wide acclaim.
An album named HANDOG NG PILIPINO SA MUNDO carried a compilation of some of these.
The song that continued to be sung throughout the trying period of the Revolution, almost like a second national anthem and which gave fire to the Filipino spirit was BAYAN KO. Its lyrics were written by Jose Corazon de Jesus way back in 1928.
Representative Compositions through the Years:
1.AMERICAN PERIOD (1898-1941)
A. Period of Re-Orientation 1898-1910
Air Castles (Poetry) by Juan F. Salazar (1909-1910)
B. Period of Imitation 1911-1925 (American Period)
The Sea by Natividad Marquez (Poetry)
C. Period of Self Discovery (1925-1941)
1896 by Aurelio Alvero
To a Lost One by Angela ManalangGloria
Prayer of a Student by Trinidad L. TarrosaSubido
Dead Stars by Paz Marquez-Benitez
The Making of A Writer by Salvador P. Lopez
Shadow and Solitude (A translation of Solo Entre Las Sombras) by Claro M. Recto translated by Nick Joaquin
2. THE JAPANESE PERIOD (1941-1945)
To My Native Land by TarrosaSubido
My Father’s Tragedy by Carlos Bulosan
Shall We Walk? by PuraSantillanCastrence
3. THE REBIRTH OF FREEDOM (1946-1970)
When I see a Barong-Barong by MaximoRamos (1946)
Plighted Word by Narciso G. Reyes
Scent of Apples by Bienvenido Santos
Cadaver by Alberto S. Florentino
They Called It “BROTHERHOOD”by MaximoV. Soliven
4. PERIOD OF ACTIVISM (1970-1972)
Valedictorian sa Hillcrest niRolando Tinio
Beggar Children by Emmanuel Torres
5. PERIOD OF THE NEW SOCIETY (1972-1980)
Philosopher’s Love Song by TitaLacambra-Ayala
The Tomato Game by N.V.M. Gonzales
I Married a Newspaperman by Maria Luna-Lopez
6. PERIOD OF THE THIRD REPUBLIC (1981-85)
Death Like Stone for BenignoS. Aquino Jr. from PHILIPPINPANORAMA
The Emperor’s New Underwear by MynardoA. Macaraig
The Crown Jewels of Heezenhurstby Sylvia Mendez Ventura
The King’s Cold by BabethLolarga
Hunger by Gilda Cordero-Fernando
SepangLocaby Amelia Lapeña-Bonifacio
Aquino’s Speech in Singapore
President Aquino’s Speech before the U.S. Congress
Cory Bats for the Rights of the World’s Oppressed
Literary Compositions from 1986-1999:
Life goes on and the world continues in its process of undergoing a real historical transition with altering social, political, moral and aesthetic values inevitably leaving its imprint in literature.
And, as Salvador Lopez aptly said in his Literature and Society: “Absolute divorcement from the world by writers is impossible, for literature is, in some way, rooted in the earth of human experience.”
The writer must, therefore, be a man of historic propensities reacting to the social-political currents of his time and striving earnestly to change the world, knowing that society has a claim on his attention.
The years 1986-1999 –a span of 14 years, cover the careers of three presidents: Corazon C. Aquino, Fidel V. Ramos and Joseph Ejercito Estrada.
Spates of literary enthusiasm continue unabated, unhampered by compelling handicaps, hard times and the transient problems of the period. Thus, as we present some of the credible works of our writers during these periods which had been judged as “contest winner”and may therefore, in the words of Edith Tiempo, be acknowledged as “pretested literature,”we leave the learners to their own particular definition of literary trends and qualities based on the social attitudes and the moral commitments of a nation as revealed through the works of its writers.
These pieces, though randomly selected, are part of what we may term, the undaunted expression of the Filipino propensities revealing the Filipino psyche.
It is also notable that The Cultural Center of the Philippines, with the Philippine Centennial Commission, has chosen 100 outstanding awardees that have “helped build the nation through their achievements in arts and culture from 1898 to 1998.”The list excludes those in film, broadcast arts and theater.
Briefly, we mention those chosen for recognition in literature:
Jose Corazon de Jesus
Isabelode los Reyes
Claro M. Recto
EpifanioSan Juan, Jr.
Lope K. Santos
As an incentive, the Centennial Literary Prize would be doubled for that millennium for all categories (novel, poetry, essay, drama and screenplay) according to President Estrada so that the first prize would be P 2 million; second, P 1.5 million and third, P 1 million.
There are only three living National Artist for Literature today: Nick Joaquin, Francisco Arcellana, (RIP), Levi Celerio and Carlos Quirino; Amado V. Hernandez got a posthumous award.
From the highly passionate and lyrical forms of poetry in the early 50’s, contemporary poetry manifests a skillful manipulation of symbolic representations and is more insightful and abstract.
Various literary organizations conduct live reading sessions in public places to make poetry accessible to the masses.
The UMPIL (Unyongng mga Manunulatsa Pilipinas) and the LIRA (Linangansa Imahen, Retorikaat Anyo) hold such sessions at OraCafé, Kamias, Quezon City (PDI Dec. 12, 1998). The Creative Writing Foundation and the Philippine Literary Arts Council also conduct such sessions, even inviting guest poets and writers.
Poetry reading sessions are also being held in public libraries in Metro Manila, Cebu, Naga and Tacloban.
The head of the NCCA (National Commission for Culture and the Arts) Committee on Literature is Prof. Ricde Ungria.
Filipino essays address societal issues, are more free and daring, manifesting a more liberated atmosphere, however pointing out moral degradation, indicating injustice, suggesting alternatives, and directing thought.
Essays were given incentives by newspaper daily in columns “Young Blood/High Blood”where entries were compiled in book forms and prizes awarded to writers of outstanding pieces.
Popular topics were on personal (happy or tragic) experiences –abortion, separation, alternative routes in life and new-found happiness.
The Carlos PalancaMemoriralAwards for Literature have started from 1998 a new category –the KabataangEssay for high school students both in Filipino and in English.
In this connection, Conradode Quiroz, in his column “Deterioration”at the Philippine Daily Inquirer, deplores the apparent decline in writing ability among the youth after standing judge over many high school essay contests attributing this to the tremendous decline in reading. “It’s not that few people are using English or Filipino; it is that few people are reading. With few people reading, few people are writing, or writing well.
In this country, he added, everyone who has written a letter calls himself a writer…showing in what low esteem the art or craft is held.”
He attributes the culprits to TV and the computer.
“The enemy of education isn’t English or Filipino or bilingualism,”he continues, “but the TV. Along with TV, computers are creating a visual culture antithetical to reading and writing.”
C. SHORT STORIES
Obviously, the short story is still the more popular venue of writers up to this period.
The new breed of writers seem to excel in the skillful handling of techniques and in coming out with original forms.
Short romantic fiction in the vernacular has caught the fancy of many readers who perhaps find these less time-consuming, as well as less expensive, giving more time for remunerative work and earning a living.
In 1997, the Carlos PalancaMemorial Awards opened three new divisions in the short story: Ilocano, Cebuano and Hiligaynon.
Short story first prize winners in the Carlos PalancaMemorial Awards in English in 1996 and 1997 were Carlos Ojeda Aureus(Martillo) for his “The Latecomer”and “The Amulet”by David C. Martinez (Michaela Sanchez), respectively.
In the MaiklingKuwentocategory, we had “Pag-uugat, Pagpapakpak”by Levy Balgosde la Cruz (Lea Victoria) and Nang GabingMamatayang Nana Soling by Alvin B. Yapan (Jose Agustin) in 1996 and 1997.
Scriptwriting, a popular and developing literature form is probably
due to the growing interest in TV and the visual arts.
The following can be attributed to this trend:
1. TV and stage patronage
2. Theater groups like Dramatis Personae, PETA (Philippine Educational Theater Association), DulaangUP, CCPDramaticArts Division TeatroTelesine, GantimpalaTheater Foundation, Mobile or Touring Children’s theater groups
3. Substantial awards in film-making
4. Expansion to cater to childrens’needs (TV’s Channel 5’s Batibot, and TanghalangPambata)
5. The popularity of Taglishwhich pepper today’s yuppylingo and which reach out to the masses
6. The notion of seeking popularity and ratings through exposure
7. Creative writing workshops From its original Short Stories category, the Carlos PalancaMemorial Awards have expanded its prizes to One-act Plays and Full-length plays both in English and in Filipino.
Many of our writers have turned to the more remunerative and shorter literary forms than the longer novels which are indicative of more practical considerations.
Out better novel writers have settled in their twilight years, some to foreign lands or may have perhaps lost the feel of the Filipino psyche.