Saturday, August 15, 2009

II. The Middle Period - 1930-1960

In Baguio, in 1958, an important national writers conference was held to discuss the role of the Filipino writer in society. Also in 1958, a chapter of International Pen was inaugurated in the Philippines with Alfredo T. Morales as its first president.

During the years 1930 to 1960 Philippine literature in English rapidly improved, especially in the areas of the essay, the short story, and poetry.
Essays: During the middle period of the Philippine literature in English, the essayists tried to capture Filipino life and culture. In the 1930s Salvador P. Lopez led the school of writers who stressed social consciousness. Others, following the view of Jose Garcia Villa wrote on art and literature. In 1940, Salvador P. Lopez expressed his views Literature and Society.

Under the pseudonym "Mang Kiko," Francisco B. Icasiano wrote, in 1941, Horizons from My Nipa Hut. This book included humorous essays which revealed a deep sympathy for the common tao. During the war years the essays improved in literary style but their content was severely limited by the Japanese censors. After 1945 the essayists again turned to themes of nationalism, politics, and literary criticism. For the next ten years or so these themes were treated with an ever growing proficiency. Among the important essayists of the Middle Period might be included: F. M. Africa, Francisco Arcellana, Solomon V. Arnaldo, Jorge Bocobo, Marcelo de Gracia Concepcion, Pura Santillan-Castrence, E. Aguilar Cruz, A. T. Daguio, Amando G. Dayrit, Eugenio Ealdama, Antonio Estrada, Ariston Estrada, Josefa Gonzalez-Estrada, Antonio S. Gabila, Alfredo Q. Gonzalez, Leon Ma. Guerrero, Jr. , J. M. Hernandez, V. M. Hilario, F. B. Icasinao, Maria Kalaw-Katigbak, J. A. Lansang, Jose P. Laurel, A. E. Litiatco, T. M. Locsin, Salvador P. Lopez, Maria Luna-Lopez, A. J. Malay, I. V. Mallari, Federico Mangahas, Ignacio Manlapaz, Camilo Osias, Vicente Albano Pacis, Carlos Quirino, Godofredo Rivera, Eulogio B. Rodriguez, Carlos P. Romulo, A. B. Rotor, Leon O. Ty, Jose Garcia Villa, Manuel A. Viray, and Leopoldo Y. Yabes.

Short Stories: The form of Philippine literature which showed the most rapid development seemed to be the short story. The early didactic stories and romantic tales quickly gave way to stories about farm life and city life, the problems of society, and human hardships. Local color was well used. Jose Garcia Villa was among the first Filipino writers to receive international recognition. In 1932 Villa's "Untitled Story" was selected by Edward J. O'Brien in New York for inclusion in the Best Short Stories of 1932. In 1933, Scribner's published Villa's Footnote to Youth and Other Tales. "The Fence," also by Villa, was included in O'Brien's Best Short Stories of 1933.

After Villa came several significant writers. Manuel E. Arguilla wrote excellent stories about the people of Nagrebcan in How My Brother Leon Brought a Wife and Other Stories. Delfin Fresnosa vividly depicted the hardships of the poor. In his short stories Nick Joaquin included allegories of cultural and moral situations in Philippine history. He frequently recreated the past to show its relevance and value for the present. Joaquin's book Prose and Poems (1952) was voted by a panel of critics led by Leonard Casper as the most distinguished book in fifty years of Philippine Literature in English.

In the 1950s another important writer was Nestor Vidali Mendoza Gonzalez. In Children of the Ash-Covered Loam and Other Stories (1954) and A Season of Grace (1956), Gonzalez dealt with such basic themes as loneliness, self-discovery, and hope amidst suffering.

The quality and depth of short story writing developed rapidly during the Middle Period. Among the writers who contributed to this growth are: T. D. Agcaoili, Manuel F. Arguilla, Estrella D. Alfon, Francisco Arcellana, Amante E. Bigornia, Consorcio Borje, Carlos Bulosan, Casiano T. Calalang, Fidel de Castro, Augusto C. Catanjal, Mario P. Chanco, Amador T. Daguio, Amando G. Dayrit, Morli Dharam, Delfin Fresnosa, Ligaya Victorio-Fruto, Antonio S. Gabila, Claro C. Gloria, N. V. M. Gonzalez, Sinai C. Hamada, Jose M. Hernandez, Francisco B. Icasiano, Nick Joaquin, F. Sonil Jose, Jose A. Lansang, Paz Latorena, A. E. Litiatco, Alvaro L. Martinez, A. G. Ner, Jose Villa Panganiban, Benjamin M. Pascual, Mariano C. Pascual, C. V. Pedroche, Isidro L. Retizos, Narciso G. Reyes, Vicente Rivera, Jr., Alejandro R. Roces, Arturo B. Rotor, Clemente M. Roxas, Bienvenido N. Santos, G. D. Sicam, Loreto Paras-Sulit, Silvestre L. Tagarao, Edilberto K. Tiempo, Edith L. Tiempo, Arturo M. Tolentino, J. Capiendo Tuvera, Kerima Polotan Tuvera, Nita H. Umali, Jose Garcia Villa, and Manuel Viray.

Poems: The poetry of the Middle Period developed slowly. In the 1930s most poetry was still romantic in character. Under the influence of Salvador P. Lopez, some poets like R. Zulueta da Costa became more conscious of their environment and dealt with themes of injustice and oppression. Jose Garcia Villa continued to lead the way for all poets with his creative innovations. In the late 1930s Angela Manalang Gloria emerged as a promising poet. She published her works in Poems just before World War II.

From 1942 to 1945, few poems were written because of the war conditions and censorship. However, a few poets living in the mountains managed to write verses. These poems were later published in 1946 by Juan L. Raso in Guerilla Flower.

The experiences of war seemed to add wider vision and greater depth to Filipino poetry in English. Several new poets published their works. In 1951 Jose Del Castillo's Antiphonal Earth: Coins of Song was published in London. Dominidor I. Ilio published in 1955. Ricaredo Demetillo published Diplomat and Other PoemsNo Certain Weather in 1956 and La Via in 1959. Among the poets who contributed to the Middle Period of Philippine Literature in English are: T. D. Agcaoili, Aurelio Alvero, Carlos A. Angeles, R. Vinzons Asis, Jorge Bocobo, G. Burce Bunao, Reuben R. Canoy, Guillermo Castillo, Jose del Castillo, Fidel de Castro, Rafael Zulueta da Costa, Amador T. Daguio, Luis Dato, Ricaredo Demetillo, Ramon Echevarria, Gregorio Estonanto, Cornelio C. Faigao, Rodrigo T. Feria, Virgilio Floresca, Vicente L. del Fiero, Angela Manalang-Gloria, N. V. M. Gonzalez, J. M. Hernandez, Alejandrino G. Hufana, Dominador I. Ilio, Nick Joaquin, A. E. Litiatco, Toribia Mano, Felizardo Martelino, Hernando R. Ocampo, Conrado V. Pedroche, Maximo D. Ramos, N. G. Reyes, Conrado B. Rigor, Alfonso P. Santos, Bienvenido N. Santos, Guillermo V. Sison, Abelardo Subido, Trinidad L. Tarrosa, Edith L. Tiempo, Francisco G. Tonogbanua, Amado L. Unite, Celestino M. Vega, H. C. Veloso, Jose Garcia Villa, Manuel L Viray, Amado Yuson, and Oscar de Zuniga.