Sunday, June 19, 2011

Notes on The Literary Forms in Philippine Literature

The diversity and richness of Philippine literature evolved together with the country's history.

Pre-Colonial Times
Pre-colonial inhabitants of the Philippines have a rich oral tradition of literature, which composed of folk speeches, folk songs, folk narratives and indigenous rituals, and mimetic dances.

The most common of these folk speeches is the riddle, which is tigmo in Cebuano, bugtong in Tagalog,
pakatakon in Ilongo, and patototdon in Bicol. These riddles used the talinghaga or metaphor to reveal subtle resemblances between two unlike objects and a person's power of observation and wit. While some riddles are ingenious, others can be obscene or sex-related.


Gongonan nu usin amam,
Maggirawa pay sila y inam.


If you pull your father's penis,
Your mother's vagina, too, screams.

Answer: Bell

Another popular form of pre-colonial literature is the proverb—basahanon (Bukidnon), and daraida and daragilon (Panay). Its extended form, the tanaga, a mono-rhyming, heptasyllabic quatrain expresses insights and lessons on life.

Folk songs express the hopes and aspirations, the lifestyle, the traditions of courtship of a tribe. The following of are the different forms:

1. Children's songs
                - Ida-ida (Maguindanao)
                - Tulang pambata (Tagalog)
                - Cansiones para abbing (Ibanag)
2. Lullabies
                - Ili-ili (Ilongo)
3. Work songs
                - Kalusan (Ivatan)
                - Soliranin (Tagalog Rowing Song)
                - Mambayu (Kalinga Rice-Pounding Song)
4. Love songs
                - Panawagon and Balitao (Ilongo)
                - Harana (Cebuano)
                - Bayok (Maranao)
5. Drinking Songs
                - Tagay (Cebuano and Waray)
6. Songs extolling the deeds of the dead
                - Kanogon (Cebuano)
                - Annako (Bontoc)
7. Ambahan is a seven-syllable per line poem of the Mangyans about human relationships and is also
used to teach the young about tribe traditions and values.
8. Kissa is a narrative song of the Tausugs.
                -  Parag Sabil is about a Muslim hero who seeks death at the hands of non-Muslims.

Folk narratives such as epics and folk tales often deal with the exploits of supernatural beings or are about super natural events. The epic is considered as the most important form of pre-colonial literature among the pre-colonial inhabitants of the Philippines. They are sung or chanted accompanied with indigenous musical instruments and dancing during important tribal events. The epic chanters are considered treasures and are repositories of wisdom in their communities.

The Spanish Colonial Tradition
Literature in this period may be classified as religious and secular.

The Spaniards introduced theater, creating localized versions such as the komedya, sinakulo, and the sarswela.

Religous lyrics written by ladino poets versed in both Spanish and Tagalog were included in early catechism. Another form is the dalit, which are meditative verses appended to novenas or catechism.

Pasyon is another religious poetic form composed of octosyllabic quatrians and is chanted during the Lenten season. The earliest known pasyon that was put out in 1704 is Gaspar Aquino de Belen's Ang Mahal na Passion ni Jesu Christong Panginoon natin na Tola (Holy Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ in Verse).

Aside from religious poetry, there were various kinds of prose narratives written to prescribe proper decorum.

Awit and Korido are popular secular poetry is the metrical romance in Tagalog. The awit is set in dodecasyllabic quatrains while the Korido is in octosyllabic quatrains.

In the 19the century, Filipino intellectuals educated in Europe called the ilustrados began to write about the downside of colonization. This led to the formation of the Propaganda Movement.

The American Colonial Period
The Americans brought new literary forms such as free verse, the modern short story, and the critical essay. American influences were 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.

The Balagtas tradition persisted until the poet Alejandro G. Abadilla advocated modernism in poetry.

While the early Filipino poets grappled with the verities of the new language, Filipinos seemed to have taken easily to the modern short story.

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

The essay in English became a potent medium form the 1920s to the present.

The Contemporary Period
The flowering of Philippine literature in the various languages continues with the appearance of new publications after the Martial Law years.

Filipino writers continue to write poetry, short stories, novellas, novels, and essays whether they are socially committed, gender/ethnic related or are personal in intention. 

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