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Domain 3:

Literary and Cultural Texts and Traditions

Literature is my Utopia.

Here I am not disenfranchised.

No barrier of the senses shuts me out from the sweet, gracious discourses of my book friends.

They talk to me without embarrassment”.

~ Helen Keller ~


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I. Literature - General Introduction 3

  • Literary Genres and Culture 5

  • Genres of Literature 6

  • Review Questions 12

II. Literary Forms in Philippine Literature 17

  • Pre-Colonial Times 18

  • Literature under Spanish Rule 20

  • Literature under American Colonial Rule 22

  • Contemporary Period 23

  • Review Questions 26

III. Epochal Development of Philippine Literature 31

  • Pre-colonial Times 31

  • Review Questions 42

  • Spanish Colonialism (1565-1897) 46

  • Review Questions 1 51

  • Review Questions 2 93

  • U. S. Colonialism (1898- 1945) 105

  • Review Questions 122

  • Under the Republic (1946-1985) 127

  • Review Questions 148

  • Contemporary Literature (1986 to Present) 158

  • Review Questions 170

References 177

  1. Literature – General Introduction

Literature is my Utopia. Here I am not disenfranchised. No barrier of the senses shuts me out from the sweet, gracious discourses of my book friends. They talk to me without embarrassment or awkwardness”

(Helen Keller)

Keller could not have been more correct in this insight about literature, and scarcely would anyone who has had a lifetime with the written word raise any issue about its faultlessness. Man with his complex, often unfathomable and unpredictable thoughts, feelings and actions, and many times restrained by societal norms from openly exposing what he has inside him, considers literature as a socially acceptable vehicle for unrestrained self-expression.

Literature is life. It is a mirror of man’s desires and aspirations, his ambitions and accomplishments, his fears and anxiety, his joyful and fulfilling moments. Through it, he records his experiences of triumphs and downfalls, laughter and anguish, determination and indecision—from things phenomenal to matters mundane. It is only through literature that the human mind is able to successfully transcend all material barriers to reveal its essence which constitutes the “isness” of man’s being. Literature, then, is the totality of humanity. The famous French philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre succinctly said it all in the following line: “If literature is not everything, it’s not worth a single hour of someone’s trouble” (
What is Literature?

▪ So broad and deep is the extent and scope of literature that putting up a definition for it is almost like limiting its parameters. However, for academic purposes, it will be relevant to explain what the concept encompasses.

▪ On a general perspective, anything that is written is classified as literature.

▪ On a stricter sense, however, and across cultures and ages, literature is associated with a poem, or a fiction article, or a stage play, a book or a classroom lesson.

▪ Literature, as the body of written works of a language, period or culture, and produced by scholars and researchers, reminds us of stories, epics, sacred scriptures and classical works of the ancient and modern times. Literary works are portrayals of the thinking patterns and social norms prevalent in society. Classical literary works serve as a food for thought, imagination and creativity.

▪ A literary article should interest, entertain, stimulate, broaden the imagination and experience, or ennoble the reader (Roberts 2). It springs as an idea from the need of its creator to get across a thought or feeling. The writer starts from an experience or set of experiences, real or imagined, which he thinks he needs to share with his public. Working on his creative tablet, he recreates the facts to reflect true-to-life happenings, or invents incidents, places, and characters and puts thoughts into the latter’s minds and words in their mouths. Or he may decide to compress an otherwise long factual or imagined story in a few metered or rhythmical lines. The result is an original text that satisfies its creator’s purpose-- a literary article, an imaginative literature.

▪ Kirszner & Mandell explain that the word “literature” immediately stirs in the mind the concept of “imaginative literature” (1).

Imaginative Literature is one which temporarily transports the reader to a different world, away from the physical and emotional realities of his existence, where he could be free to view the world with his own eyes and heart.

Imaginative literature is not confined to print. A substantial number of orally transmitted imaginative literatures have set the traditions in their respective genres and have remained among the most respectable pieces in the literatures of the world.
Why should we value literature?
Literature that is imaginative can have far-reaching effects on the reader (Kirzner & Mandell 2-3).

● The characters, scenes, images, powerful language, and carefully and masterfully developed plot can delight the reader and offer him an ephemeral escape from the stiffness, boredom, even cruelty of the world around him.

● It can transport the reader out of the limits of his time and space, and get him into seeing another possible phase of life. Meaningful insights can be drawn from wholesome literary texts.

● It can bring him to a level where he is able to see his life more objectively, up close and personal. This is because literature reveals truths about humanity. More than a mere description of people and what they do, literature brings the reader to a slice of virtual life in which he (the reader) consciously experiences his humanity. This is an added value of literature.

● It is an avenue for him to view and understand his own experiences and those of others. Reflecting can make him more sensitive to the needs of others and his own. Literature, then, can serve as a value guide as well as a lead to an analysis of values and meanings about the realities in life.

● Imaginative literature is founded on facts—history, pure science, psychology, sociology, anthropology, mathematics, and other branches of knowledge. The information load it carries can be another added value to the reader.

Similarly, literature that is imaginative has marked values for the writer (Krizner & Mandell 3).

● It is a creative avenue for self-expression. A writer can unravel the ill-effects of cultural patterns and norms, and can suggest ways to remedy a stinking system through the characters of his short story, novel, or play, or the persona in poetry. Also, he reveals his individuality and uniqueness as a writer in the way he manipulates the elements of his genre—character, setting, language, format, and style.

● It is an expression of common cultural values. A writer has his own mind about a problem or issue, but that “thought” is molded by the collective sentiment, aspiration, philosophy, value, even fears of the community or cultural group he belongs to. Literature provides opportunities for the transport of these ethnic or cultural thoughts, feelings, and biases to peoples across cultural borders. It is in this way that literature can stand as the conscience and consciousness of the community which created it.
Literary Genres and Culture

Traditions in literature include classifying works into literary types or genres. Genre classification can have several advantages ( 2-6).

● It can bring about an order or a system in the handling of literary texts and, in effect, facilitates choice of materials akin to one’s interests, which can result in greater understanding and appreciation. For example, a reader who has an ear for musicality and rhythm will pick up a poetic text more likely than he would a book of fiction.
● It has resulted in the writing of standards for each genre. With the aid of these writing standards, literary creators are able to craft their works more systematically. Thoughtfully going over the standards for a drama will aptly arm a novice writer to focus on what the audience will look for in a play. Conversely, a critic who is familiar with genre standards will know exactly what to look for in a literary work.
● The existence of genre classification is one avenue that can lead to the meeting of minds between the reader and the writer. When the brain has identified beforehand what it is looking for in a text (schemata-text matching through knowledge of specific genre), comprehension of the text will be less stressful, less threatening and more enjoyable.
Culture-based Literary Traditions

  1. Genre Classifications. The presence of traditional and universally recognized genres does not dictate the uniformity of genre classifications and the standards for each genre. Not all genre classifications are present in all places, and not all places observe the same standards for each classification. Every culture has its own genre, owing to the variations in the experiences and aspirations of the people in each culture.

For example

● The sonnet which is common in western traditions is not well known in China or among the Arab nations ( Kirszner & Mandell 2).

●The kabuki play of Japan has as yet no counterpart in western countries (Kirszner & Mandell 2).

● We still have to see a counterpart of the Filipino pasyon in other literary traditions.

  1. Narrative organization conventions. The standards on the presentation of events in a plot can vary from culture to culture specifically with orally transmitted literature (Kirszner & Mandell 2).

For example:

● Some native American and African stories dating to the early stage of cultural development are arranged spatially, not chronologically as is the tradition in almost all cultures. All incidents that took place in one setting are narrated, then the narration moves to focus on all the incidents in another setting, and so on until all the events are completely retold. Even character development is not given as much focus in some traditional African and Native American stories as it is in present-day fiction (Kirszner & Mandell 3).

  1. Character development. Present-day fiction puts much emphasis on the identity and the development of character. This is not so in some traditional African and Native American stories. Kirszner & Mandell state that in some of these narratives, characters are sometimes not named and can even switch roles towards the end of the story (3).

Genre Classifications and Time
Earlier literary works were grouped more generally than those in the present. Contemporary literature is lumped into four big groups—prose fiction, poetry, nonfiction prose, and drama (Roberts 3) while earlier traditions recognized three groups-- fiction, non-fiction and poetry. The drama in its traditional form used verse, which explains why it was categorized as poetry. Although not markedly divergent from the present literary groupings, the “old” genre classification reflects those which societies then considered to be what mattered most.
The Genres of Literature
Critics could not seem to agree on one best way literary writings should be grouped; however, most authorities name four categories for classifying literature (Roberts 3).

  1. Narrative fiction or prose fiction. This is the literary type which first comes to mind when the word fiction is mentioned. Narration, or retelling past events, is what makes fiction what it is.

Narrative fiction gives an account of a series of events, factual or imagined but

mostly imagined.

● One character, the protagonist, or a few characters is/are at the center of these

events, causing them to happen and or causing him to be transformed.

● He is confronted with a problem, the solution of which is his primary concern, and

the action he takes towards its resolution is the reason for his transformation. He

may or may not overcome the problem.

● Some events in fictional narratives are drawn from historical incidents but

fictionalized through change of names, places, and time, and a slight tweak in the

● Through narrative fiction, the author is able to express his thoughts about a problem

or issue, and/or is able to entertain.
Classifications of Narrative Fiction

    1. Myth. This prose fiction, which punctuates the literary beginnings of practically every cultural group, is a story centered on how the gods related to humans—how certain places, beings, and places came to be, how the gods’ biases made some people’s lives fulfilling and rendered others’ lives miserable, how conflicts among the mortals affected the gods or vice versa. Myths can also be about struggles among cultural heroes, each one representing the time-established beliefs of a particular cultural group.

    1. Parable. This is a short narrative about some ordinary experiences of a group of people and is meant to connect to the teaching of a certain moral, or the hammering home of a philosophical, social, religious, or political teaching. The Jewish tradition best exemplifies the use of parables.

    1. Romance. This refers to lengthy Spanish and French stories of the 16th and 17th centuries, especially about the adventures and ordeals of the royalty and the members of their court. It can also refer to modern formulaic stories describing the growth of an impulsive, profound and powerful love relationship.

    1. Short story. Owing to its comparative brevity, this is the most popular type of narrative fiction. The plot may revolve around one or two main characters facing a difficulty. There are high as well as low points in their lives but, almost always, each one’s life will not go back to exactly the same point where it began. Because of the little space dictated by the shortened form of the text, interactions and relationships resulting in changes in character, no matter how subtle, are described briefly.

    1. Novel. This is a short story in extended form. Length being its advantage over the short story, the novel permits the full and sometimes exhaustive development of the interactions that lead to changes in some characters’ disposition, thoughts, feelings, or aspirations (Roberts 5).

  1. Poetry. A poem is a literary form that “expresses a monologue or a conversation grounded on the most deeply felt experiences of human beings” (Kirszner & Mandell 522).

● It is acclaimed as the oldest and the most popular among the literary forms.

● It is the most variable in length, running from a few syllables, as in the Japanese haiku,

to hundreds of stanzas, as in the epic.

● The language is compressed in a few lines or verses arranged in conformity with the

principles of form, rhythm, and sometimes meter and rhyme.

● It has a rich imagery and suggestive forms of expression, making it the most puzzling

and, therefore, the most open to multiple interpretations. These qualities make poetry

“unique” (Roberts 5).
● Among earlier cultures, for example, Greek and Roman, poetry served as a vehicle for the expression of the spiritual and the philosophical. With the passing of time, poetry has gained an added value—that of expressing the most profound ideas and the deepest emotions of humanity. Across the cultures of the present, poetry remains to inspire, to delight, and to serve as a vehicle for the concerns of the heart (Kirszner & Mandell 522).
Classifications of Poetry

    1. Narrative poetry. This is a story in verse, of which there are two familiar forms:

      1. Epic. Apparently the more familiar of the two, an epic is a narrative account in verse of the accomplishments of a heroic figure, a folk hero who exhibits extraordinary physical powers and superhuman dispositions, of gods, and other supernatural entities. The account covers a wide expanse of time and place, and reflects the cultural characteristics of the people who wrote it. Although some epics are credited to particular authors, others are ascribed to their countries or cultures of origin. This is because epics of old were handed down orally, in plain verse or in song, and, as a result, grew and developed as they passed from one generation to the next, eventually mirroring the evolution of the people’s traditions and norms. Of worldwide renown are The Iliad of Homer, The Aeneid of Virgil, Beowulf of the Anglo-Saxons, and Mahabharata of the Hindus.

      1. Ballad. Like the epic, the ballad traces its origin to oral tradition. Originally intended to be sung, this narrative poem carries one outstanding characteristic--its use of repetition of words and phrases, including a refrain.

    1. Lyric Poetry. This poem does not attempt to tell a story. Possessing a very personal and subjective nature, it conveys the speaker’s feelings, biases and aspirations, state of mind, and perceptions in a melodious mood. Lyric poetry sub-types include the following (Kirzsner & Mandell 525-526):

      1. Ode. This is a long lyric poem which is, generally, on a serious subject, such as an important concept (for example, freedom), person, or any other entity in nature (for example, the sun) and with a formal poetic diction and meditative mood. The poem centers on the speaker’s observations about the subject and usually winds up with an effort towards shedding light on an emotional problem. Owing to its Greek origin, it is often intended to be recited or sung by two choruses.

      1. Elegy. This lyric sub-type is meant to mourn the passing of a specific person. As such, it is characterized by a melancholy and plaintive mood and an ending that offers consolation. It may also reflect what the author considers to be mysterious, uncertain, or strange.

      1. Pastoral. In contrast to the elegy, the pastoral has a light, happy, even romantic mood as it celebrates the simplicity and idyll of country life.

      1. Occasional poem. This poem is meant for a particular event, for example, a wedding, the installation of a prominent church leader, the putting up of a landmark, or a president’s inaugural.

      1. Poems on everyday activities. Poems are sometimes written to express the writer’s feelings or describe his experiences about day-to-day events, for example, going about the daily chores, herding the animals back to their corral, or riding the trolley.

      1. Aubade. This poetic form is specifically written to celebrate or lament the coming of a new day, specifically the arrival of morning. Dawn is often welcomed with joy and hope, but it can also bring despair to a persona who sees it as a signal to leave his lover.

      1. Meditation. An ordinary object can be used as a vehicle to consider important, more serious issues. A poem that is focused on this is called meditation. Kriszner and Mandell cite Edmund Waller’s Go, Lovely Rose as an example (526) in which the speaker tells the rose meant to be delivered to his lady love his message for the lady. Far more important than his words of adoration is his advice for the lady not to waste the charm and time bestowed upon her since time flies and beauty fades in no time.

      1. Dramatic monologue. In this poem, the speaker addresses one or more listeners who is/are absent. In the process, the speaker unravels the dramatic aspect of the situation and reveals his psychological and emotional side of the issue at hand, which is usually less interesting than how he (the speaker) treats it. Some authors use the term dramatic lyric.

      1. Some authors classify the epigram, a verse in two to four lines with characteristic wit and sarcasm, under lyric poetry Cited as a classic example is Alexander Pope’s On the Collar of a Dog ( which runs in two lines. In most cases, however, an epigram is not a stand-alone piece but forms part of a longer poetic composition.

      1. Other cultures have their own types of lyric poems, e.g., ghazal in Urdu, and rondeau in French.

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