Thursday, August 6, 2009


II. The Middle Period – 1930 to 1960

Filipino writers in English began by mastering vocabulary, learning the mechanics of grammar, and imitating established Western writers. Indeed, the early period of Philippine Literature in English was a time of learning by trial and error. But by 1925 the extent and quality of writing had greatly improved. Perhaps, it is wrong to say that the early period ended in 1930. For it really faded out around the mid 20s and the middle period of Philippine Literature began somewhere in the early 30s. The transition was gradual and it overlapped.

Leopoldo Yabes has called the years 1930 to 1944 “…the most productive of distinctive work in the half century of Filipino writing in English.” There were several factors which encouraged writers at this time. Led by Francisco Arcellana and inspired by Jose Garcia Villa, a group formed “The Veronicans.” The writers chose this name because they wanted their work to bear the imprint of Christ’s face. Around the same time, some women writers formed “ The Bachelorettes.” Among their number were Teresa Arzaga, Luisa Barrera, Sally Barrera, Nelly X. Burgos, Olivia Calumpang, Corazon Juliano, Carmen Perez, and Trinidad L. Tarrosa. Both groups explored new dimensions in literary forms. Some of their work appeared in the quarterly Expression and in The Leader, which was edited by Federico Mangahas.

Another important outlet for writers in the 39s was the Graphic Weekly. With Alfredo Elfren Litiatico as literary editor, new writers such as Estrella Alfon, Nick Joaquin, and Ligaya Victorio Reyes were discovered and encouraged.

The Philippine Commonwealth Government was established on July 4, 1935. This event encouraged writers to freely search for a national identity. On October 28, 1936, the Philippine Book Guild was organized. Its early leaders included Manuel E. Arguilla, Carlos Quirino, and Arturo B. Rotor. Their purpose was to create a wider reading public for Filipino writers by printing low – cost books. Among other projects they published Rotor’s The Wound and the Scar.

In 1937 a Brief History of the Philippine Literature was published by Teofilo del Castillo. This book was of special importance since it was one of the first authoritative and objective studies of Philippine Literature.

A few years later, on February 26, 1939, the Philippine Writers League was formed. This was a highly influential organization during its brief existence. Its aims were to provide a center for the cultural activities of Filipino writers, to uplift cultural standards, to stimulate the social consciousness of the writer, to arrange for lectures and conferences, to establish friendly relations with writers for other countries, and to defend freedom of thought and expression. Its first president was Federico Mangahas, while Salvador P. Lopez, Jose A. Lansang, and I. P. Caballero served as Vice – Presidents.

At this time one of the outstanding spokesman for more social consciousness in literature was Salvador P. Lopez. He defined proletarian literature as “The interpretation of the experience of the working class in a world that has been rendered doubly dynamic by its struggles.” He stressed that the writer must champion the cause of the proletariat and interpret the experience of the working class in a world. Lopez directed the writer’s attention to the real Philippines so that he saw and described things which had never been notice or portrayed before.

In 1940 the first Commonwealth Literary Awards were granted by President Quezon. In the English division the winners were: easy - Salvador P. Lopez for Literature and Society; short story - Manuel E. Arguilla for How My Brother Leon Brought Home A Wife and Other Short Stories; poetry - R. Zulueta da Costa for Like the Molave; and the novel - Juan C. Laya for His Native Soil.

The recognition that these awards provided was an excellent stimulus for all writers. Hopes were high for further developments in Philippine literature. But these hopes were shattered on December 7, 1941, when Japan bombed Pearl Harbor and war began in the Pacific. A period of uncertainty and fear began as the Japanese entered Manila on January 3, 1942. Martial Law was immediately proclaimed. Most writers left the city and fled to the mountains. Many joined the army and fought in Bataan and Corregidor. Some died in prison camps or were executed. Among the promising writers who died during the war years were Manuel E. Arguilla, A.G. Dayrit, A.E. Litiaco, and Francisco B. Icasiano.

Victoria Abelardo has described Filipino writing during the Japanese occupation as being pessimistic and bitter. There were some efforts at escapist literature, but in general the literary output was minor and insignificant. Because of strict censorship, few literary works were printed during the war years. However, some publications were allowed such as The Tribune, Philippine Review, Pillars, Free Philippines, and Filipina.

On February 28, 1945, the long-exiled Commonwealth Government was reestablished in MalacaƱang. As the country recovered from the war, its writers turned first to journalistic efforts and then to creative works. The Filipino writer observed a country that was devastated by war, shattered economically, and struggling politically. Many journalists freely described what they saw and commented on necessary changes. It was a time of reevaluation and rebuilding. There was a sudden growth of periodicals such as The Manila Posts, The Evening News, The Philippine-American, The Manila Times, and The Manila Chronicle. At the same time Philippines Free Press and the Philippines Herald resumed publication. Once again various college journals appeared such as Literary Apprentice (University of the Philippines), Varsitarian (University of Santo Tomas), National (National University), and Advocate (Far Eastern University). Among te new journals were Crossroads (Far Eastern University), Sands and Coral (Silliman University), Standard (Arellano University), and Dawn (University of the East).

With the proclamation of philippine Independence on July 4, 1946, most writers felt a new sense of responsibility and freedom. The writers seemed more perceptive of their country and the world around them. At first, a number of guerilla and liberation stories appeared. Stevan Javellana's Without Seeing the Dawn was the first postwar Filipino novel published in the United States. In 1946 the Barangay Writers Project was organized to publish books by Filipino writers in English. N.V.M. Gonzalez served as first president. Within a few years, they published Heart of the Island (1947) by Manuel A. Viray, Philippine Cross Section (1950) by Maximo Ramos and Florentino B. Valeros, and Philippine Poetry Annual (1950) by Manuel A. Viray.

At this time literary awards provided further encouragement for creative writing. Delfin Fresnosa and Manuel A. Viray began in 1947 to publish annual honor roles for the best short stories and poems. The Free Press in 1949, resumed its annual short story awards with first place going to Nick Joaquin for his "Guardia de Honor." In 1950 the Carlos Palanca Memorial Awards for Literature were created. Juan T. Gatbonton's "Clay" won first prize in the English Short Story division.

The early 1950's were a time of political unrest and even warfare as the government struggled with the Hukbalahap guerillas. The writers read each others works as well as the works of Ameriacan and European models. Their study of techniques and thematic treatments resulted in a literature that was varied in form and content. N.V.M. Gonzalez explored his Mindoro land, while Nick Joaquin wrote old Manila legends in modern form.

Signatures, the first Philippine poetry magazine in English, bgan publishing in 1955. It was founded by Clemente Cancio, poet and neurosurgeon. The first editors were A.G. Hufana and R.V. Diaz. In that same year, a new Philippine Writers Association was organized with N.V.M. Gonzalez as its first president.

Monday, August 3, 2009

comments? rush lng kaya..

Monday, July 6, 2009

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Personal Reaction

Dead Stars – things we remember occasionally because of who we were at the time. Just like Alfredo, a lot of us see them in our thoughts. We feel as if the feeling is still there, then in one moment during our present, we recall this emotions enough to make us feel the joy or pain in a short while. The story reflects a lot of things that occur in our life. One of it is that though we have the freewill, sometimes we really have to follow or consider the demands of our society. Because of the time setting of the story, people care a lot of their social status and their reputation as members of the society. Just like Alfredo did, he married Esperanza because it is what he MUST do, not because he wants it to. Though he may have no regrets about it, actually it was said that he wasn’t unhappy with his marriage, but it wasn’t said that he was happy either. Then after eight years, when he had the time to be with Julia, he realized that he was seeing the light of dead stars and that he's not really in love with Julia, after all. The only thing is that, no matter how much love we get lost at, there would always be redemption for everything...

-Michael S. Salvador


(by: Jessica Mae C. Eva BSA - 2b)

When I first heard of the title Dead Star, I thought it was all about something in connection with the field or study of Astronomy. But, I was wrong. Instead, it was all about "LOVE". According to some, it is a short story only so I was very eager to really read it because I thought it was only short but when I saw how many pages it occupies on the book, plus the very small font size of the texts, the short story turned to into a long one. But, nevertheless, I read it still. In my first reading, I was not able to really understand it very well because of some words used by Paz Marquez - Benitez which are unfamiliar to me like filigrees, prosaicalness, capitulation and sober. But when I read it again for the second time, I was able to understand it already with the aid of the dictionary. The "short story" Dead Star is all about the forbidden love between an engaged, groom - to - be man which I can say belong to the upper class of the society and a lady who was just in town for a vacation. I liked the story because it was all about love, forbidden love specifically which I could relate, not with my personal experience but with those that I oftenly watched on television or I can say even in reality. Both the lovers, even if they did not turn to be real lovers, have experienced love at first sight. I said did not turn into real lovers because they were not able to let each one feel and show what really their feelings for each other. I really like things like this, love at first sight, direct to the point. The guy really pursue to show and express his love for the girl he had only meet 6 weeks ago even if he knew that he is hurting another woman in the name of Esperanza.In the case of the character, I do not like the character of Julia in the sense that she even do not have the courage to express her feeling, her love for Alfredo. She did not have the perseverance to return the love that Alfredo give to her. But in some way, I like her because she did not become a destroyer of the relationship already binded even only by agreement. She chose not to create a mistake of destroying another woman by deciding to just live the town and go back and live with her parents. Alfredo, in some way, is correct and in the other way is wrong. Correct, for me ,because he only followed what his heart is saying and that is love Julia because he found a different happiness with her especially when he is besides Julia. Wrong, because he was untruthful with another woman who believed that he do not have any other woman except for her. If I were Alfredo, I will just tell Esperanza what I really feel for her, that he already love another woman and he did not want to hurt her and why they will just be friend. But he did not have the courage to really confess to Esperanza because he was worried of what the society might said. When I came to the part of my reading where Alfredo was already doing "neighboring" with another woman, I felt sad for Esperanza because she was living in the untruthfulness of the man she love, the man she believed still love her. Esperanza tried to remember the regenerative virtue of institution, that Alfredo who belongs to a high - class family of the society would not do it to her. In the end, they two chose to cross different paths of life. Julia returned with her parents and Alfredo got married with Esperanza. Also after years of being married with Esperanza, he was still thinking of Julia and when they faced each other again, Alfredo realized that the Julia he met in the past was already vanished and that the "Magical Love" he felt during those happy moments with Julia were no longer there. So he just let Julia and realized that they were not destined for each other, that there love for each other was already dead.The setting of the story was beautiful. It was during the American period because the story was wrote during the year 1920. It featured what is the setting of the Philippine society during that period when the Americans were still here.Paz Marquez - Benitez was really a great writer. She deserved to be a Carlos Palanca Memorial Awardee for this great writing. Philippine Literature in English should be made known to every Filipino because it really features our culture, values and traditions.


In the overall view of the short story entitled "Dead Star" by Paz Marquez-Benitez, for me, it could really be considered as one of the best literary compositions particularly short stories written by Filipinos. It was written during the early times of the Filipinos with formal education, but it was already that good. I was mesmerized by the way it was written and constructed because at that early the author used a lot of deep English words which I did not know yet until I read the story, and now I'm thankful because I have widened my vocabulary. I liked the way the story started, the beginning was really the middle of the entire story where the wedding was already approaching. Then, there were flashback of events, where it really made me think if my understanding was right. After I read it, I felt that it lacked twists, may be because I was used to stories made by the present generation where there are plenty of story twists and revelation.

-- Cyril S. Macaraig --