Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Notes on Philippine Folk Literature

Philippine folk literature refers to the traditional oral literature of the Filipino people. Thus, the scope of the field covers the ancient folk literature of the Philippines' various ethnic groups, as well as various pieces of folklore that have evolved since the Philippines became a single ethno-political unit.

Folk literature as a part of folklore
Philippine folk literature as a specific branch under the broader field of folklore. Folklore consists of legends, music, oral history, proverbs, jokes, popular beliefs, fairy tales and customs that are the traditions of that culture, subculture, or group. It is also the set of practices through which those expressive genres are shared. These expressive genres compose folk literature.

Philippine folk literature in oral and print formats

Folk literature is oral in tradition; thus, it is changeable. Its oral aspect is an important defining characteristic. Folk literature that appear in print does not mean it is dead or frozen. As long as different versions continue to exist and change through time, the printed folk literature is still part of a living folklore.

Categories of Philippine folk literature

  • Folk narratives can either be in prose - the alamat (myth), the legend, and the kuwentong bayan (folktale) - or in verse, as in the case of the folk narrative.
  • Folk speech includes the bugtong (riddle) and the salawikain (proverbs).
  • Folk songs can be sub-classified into those that tell a story (folk ballads), which are rare in Philippine folk literature, and those that do not, which form the bulk of the Philippines' rich heritage of folk songs.
Continued evolution

While folklore is often associated with ancient times, new pieces of Philippine folk Literature have arisen in modern times. Quite aside from urban legends, modern legends attributing superhuman powers to powerful and charistmatic leaders such as former presidents have been documented and accepted as full-fledged examples of Philippine folk Literature.

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