On August 13, 1898, the American forces occupied Manila. A few years later, in April 1900, President William McKinley directed The Philippines Commission to make English the official medium of instruction for all public schools. The first teachers of English were members of the United States Army. In August of 1901, six hundred American teachers arrived on the transport Thomas. They replaced the soldiers as teachers. In that year, 1901, the Philippine Normal School was founded. Ots purpose was to train Filipinos in the art of teaching so that they could eventually take charge of elementary education.
The students and the people in general learned English quickly. Even in 1899 there were English newspapers such as The Courier, insular Press, and Manila Freedom. In 1900 the Daily Bulletin was founded, while The Cablenews started in 1902. The Philippines Free Press began in 19o05, edited by F. Theodore Rogers. At first it was a bilingual weekly in English and Spanish. In 1908 it published the first Filipino short stories in English.
In that same year, 1908, the University of the Philippines was founded. This school became the forerunner in the use of English for higher education. In October of 1910, the University of the Philippines’ College Folio was published. This magazine printed the works of the first promising writers in English. This early selections were mostly ghost stories or folk tales explaining natural phenomena. Often the authors taught a moral message which was evident event at first reading.
Among the famous early teachers of English might be mentioned Professors Dean S. Fansler and his wife Harriot Ely Fansler, George Pope Shannon, Tom Inglis Moore, Harold P. Scott, and C.V. Wicker. In literature classess they taught the works of Chaucer, Milton, Donne, Shakespeare, Irving, Hawthorne, Emerson, Thoreau, Poe Longfellow, Bryant, Harte, Holmes, Lowell, Shelley, Keats, Coleridge, Lamb, Joyce, Tennyson, Thackeray, Macaulay, and other famous writers.
For composition themes they encouraged the students to write about folk tales and their own experiences. In one college class of 1913 the students were asked to write speeches for these topics. The Building of a Modern Sabitary Market; A Speech at the First Banquet of the Philippine Normal School; An Appeal to the Moral Sense – Cockfighting; Primary Education in the Philippines; A Stump Speech before the People of a Certain Barrio; and The Unveiling of a Monument Dedicated to Apolinario Mabini. The student themes were carefully corrected and when a grammatical mistake was made, students were required to write the corrected form five times. At the end of each theme, the student wrote statement of originality testifying that “… this is my own original work.” The skill and dedication of the early teachers was to produce rich results in the years to come.
At the first Filipino writing in English was quite formal and initiative. Influences from the Spanish language could be seen in the use oof Spanish expressions and in an ornate style. Grammatical expressions was at times awkward and there was some difficulty in the use of prepositions and pronouns. But gradually the quality of writing improved. Between 1908 and 1914, some students at the University of the Philippines collected and retold, in English, old Filipino tales. These writings were gathered by Dean S. Fansler and published in Filipino Popular Tales in 1921. In 1921, the graduates of the Manila High School published their English writings in The Coconut. The following year 1913, the Philippine Normal School introduced its publication. The Torch.
Aside from student publications, newspaper and magazines provided an early outlet for wrioters. In 1920, the Philippines Herald began publication. It was founded by Manuel L. Quezon and its magazine section was edited by Paz Latorena, Loreto Paras, Jose Garcia Villa, Casiano T. Calalang, and others. In 1924 A V H Hartendorp becam the editor of the Philippine Education Magazine. Some four year later, he widened its content and renamed it the Philippine Magazine. The high quality of these magazine made it so popular that it became the most influential literary magazine oin the country. It published some of the best Filipino writing in English.
Fiolipino writers received further encouragement ion 1925. In that year, the Free Presso began paying for original manusctipts and offered P1,000 for the best stories. The Manila Tribune was founded and; along with Graphico, the Woman’s Outlook, the Woman’s Home Journal, and the Philippine Collegian, offered further incentioves to promising writers. Also in 192o5, the Philippine Writers Association was organized with Rizal G. Adorable as president. Among the early members were: Paz Latorena, Loreto Paras, Jose Garcia Villa, Jose Panganiban, Remedios Mijares, Mercedes Grau, Celoemencia Joven, Casiano Calalang, Jose Dayrit, Sol H. Gwekoh, Arturo B. Rotor, D.H. Soriano, and Augusto C. Catanjal.
Perhaps an even more influential group was the Writers’ Club founded in 1927 at the University of the Philippines. This group published Literary Apprentice which became the leading college literary publication in the country. The writers club stimulated and encouraged an artistic consciousness among the literary circles of the Philippines.
The first thirty years of Philippines Literature in English produced little in the fields of drama and novel. Drama was hardly written because vernacular plays and the zarzuela still dominated the stage. The fiorst Filipino novel in English was A Child of Sorrow in 1929. Another novelist of this period was Ernest Lopez who published His Awakening in 1929.
From 1900 to 1930 there was some significant writing of essays, shory stories, and poems. In the following paragraphs the development of these forms will be treated in more detail.
Essays. The essay was a popular form of expression for the early writers. As early as 1926 essayist expressed the need for literature that was native and national. Many essays first appeared as newspaper columns and later they were published in anthologies. In 1921 Zoilo M. Galang published Life and Success, the first volume of essays in Ebglish. In that year Zoilo M. Galang also published anoher book of essays, Master of Destiny. Among the early essay writers might be mentioned F.M. Africa, Francisco Benitez, Jorge Bacobo, Amador Daguio, Leandro Fernandez, M.M. Kalaw, Pedro de la Llana, I.V. Mallari, Ignacio Manlapaz, Fernando Maramag, Camilo Osias, Claro M. Recto, Carlos P. Romulo, and Eulogioo B. Rodriguez.
Short Stories, Virginia R. Moreno has described the literary years 1910 – 19o24 as “ … a period of novices with their experiences both infiction-making and the use of the new language. 1925 – 1931 was the periood of phenomenal growth among the practitioners in the art.” It is true that the early short stories were the work of novices. The tales were often romantic and the adventures, thems, and plots were sometiomes imitated. There were difficulties in grammar and at times there waws a tendency toward sentimentalism. But gradually, certain writers appeared who showed that the novitiate periods was ending. Jorge Bacobo’s “Horrible Adventure” in the Philippine Revioew for May 1916, and Paz Marquez Benitez’s “The Siren of 34 Real” in the Philippine Review for July 1917 were praised by critics for their high literary quality. On september 20, 1925 The Philippines Herald published “Dead Stars” by Paz Marquez Benitez. This story was quickly recognized as one of the best short stories yet written by a Filipino.
In 19o25 Zoilo M. Galang published the first collection of short stories in book form under the title Box of Ashes and Other Stories. Beginning with 19o26, Jose Garcia Villa encouraged writers with his yearly selection of the best Filipino short stories. In 1927 the first Anthology of Filipino short stories was edited by Paz Marquez Benitez. It was entitled Filipino Love Stories. Oin that same year, Jose Villa Panganiban published The Stealer of Hearts and Other Stories. In 1928 the best short stories were compiled by Jose Garcia Villa in Philippine Short Stories: The Best 25 Stories of 1928.
By 1930, original and significant stories were being written. “Zita,” written by Arturo B. Rotor around 1930, has been called “…one of the finest love stories in Filipino literature in English.” Among the early short story writers were: Paz Marquez Benitez, Jorge Bacobo, Amador T. Daguio, Pilar Hidalgo Lim, Paz Latorena, Tarcila Malabanan Jose Villa Panganiban, Arturo B. Rotor, Loreto Paras Sulit, L.B. Uichangco and Jose Garcia Villa.
Poems. The first known Filipino poem in English is “Sursum Corda” by Justo Juliano. It appeared in the Philippines Free Press in 1907. This poem, along with others of that period, has been criticized as being too artificial and overwritten in order to achieve intensity. The early poems in book often borrowed images and similies from English or American poets. The first collection of poems in book form was Reminisces, by Lorenzo Paredes, in 1921. In 1922, Procopio Solidum publioshed Never Mind, a collection of Filipino poetry in English. Rodolfo Dato edited an anthology of Filipino poems in 1924 under the title Filipino Poetry. In 1926 he published his own poems in Manila.
Most critics agree that Marcelo de Garcia Concepcion was a leading poet of the early period. His Azucena was published in New York in 1925. His poems reveal simple images with deep sensitivity and original thought. Some poets who belonged to the early period ooof Philioppine Literature were: Aurelio S. Alvero, Marcelo de Gracia Concepcion, Rafael Zulueta da Costa, Luis Dato, Vicente L. del Fierro, Virgilio Floresca, Angela Manalang Gloria, Jose M. Hernandez, A.E. Litiatco, Fernando M. maramag, Natividad Marquez, Conrado B. Rigor, Juan F. Salazar, Abelardo Subido, Trinidad Tarrosa Suboido, Francisco G. Tonogbanua, L.B. Uichangco, and Jose Garcia Villa.
Philippine literature in English has its roots in the efforts of the United States, then engaged in a war with Filipino nationalist forces at the end of the 19th century. By 1901, public education was institutionalized in the Philippines, with English serving as the medium of instruction. That year, around 600 educators in the S.S. Thomas (the "Thomasites") were tasked to replace the soldiers who had been serving as the first teachers. Outside the academe, the wide availability of reading materials, such as books and newspapers in English, helped Filipinos assimilate the language quickly. Today, 78.53% of the population can understand or speak English (see List of countries by English-speaking population).
The Commonwealth Period
The founding of Silliman University by Presbyterian missionaries and the Philippine Normal School (PNS) in 1901 and the University of the Philippines (U.P.) in 1908, as well as of English newspapers like the Daily Bulletin 1900, The Cablenews 1902, and the Philippines Free Press 1905, helped boost English usage. The first ten years of the century witnessed the first verse and prose efforts of Filipinos in student publications such as The Filipino Students’ Magazine first issue, 1905, a short-lived quarterly published in Berkeley, California, by Filipino pensionados (or government scholars); the U.P. College Folio (first issue, 1910); The Coconut of the Manila High School (first issue, 1912); and The Torch of the PNS (first issue, 1913).
However, the beginnings of anything resembling a professional market for writing in English would not be realized until the 1920s with the founding of other newspapers and magazines like the Philippines Herald in 1920, the Philippine Education Magazine in 1924 (renamed Philippine Magazine in 1928), and later the Manila Tribune, the Graphic, Woman's Outlook, and Woman's Home Journal. The publications helped introduce the reading public to the works of Paz Marquez Benitez, Jose Garcia Villa, Loreto Paras, and Casiano Calalang, among others. Cash incentives were given to writers in 1921 when the Free Press started to pay for published contributions and awarded P1,000 for the best stories. The organization in 1925 of the Philippine Writers Association and in 1927 of the University of the Philippines National Writers Workshop, which put out the Literary Apprentice, also helped encourage literary production. In 1939, the Philippine Writers League was put up by politically conscious writers, intensifying their debate with those in the "art for art's sake" school of Villa.
Among the significant publications of this fertile period were:
- Filipino Poetry (1924) by Rodolfo Dato;
- English-German Anthology of Filipino Poets (1934) by Pablo Laslo;
- Jose Garcia Villa's Many Voices (1939) and Poems of Doveglion (1941);
- Poems (1940) by Angela Manalang-Gloria;
- Chorus for America: Six Philippine Poets (1942) by Carlos Bulosan;
- Zoilo Galang's A Child of Sorrow (1921), the first Filipino novel in English, and Box of Ashes and Other Stories (1925), the first collection of stories in book form;
- Villa’s Footnote to Youth: Tales of the Philippines and Others (1933);
- "The Wound and the Scar" (1937) by Arturo Rotor, a collection of stories;
- "Winds of April" (1940) by N. V. M. Gonzalez;
- "His Native Soil" (1941) by Juan C. Laya;
- Manuel Arguilla's "How My Brother Leon Brought Home a Wife and Other Stories" (1941);
- Galang's "Life and Success" (1921), the first volume of essays in English; and
- the influential "Literature and Society" (1940) by Salvador P. López.
Dramatic writing took a backseat due to the popularity of Filipino vaudeville (bodabil) and Tagalog movies, although it was kept alive by the playwright Wilfredo Ma. Guerrero.
The post-war period
During the Japanese occupation, when Tagalog was favored by the Japanese military authority, writing in English was consigned to limbo, since most of the English writers were forced to write in Tagalog or joined in the underground and wrote English stories based on the battles to serve as propaganda pieces in boosting the morale of the guerrillas. It picked up after the war, however, with a fervor and drive for excellence that continue to this day. Stevan Javellana's "Without Seeing the Dawn" (1947), the first postwar novel in English, was published in the United States. In 1946, the Barangay Writers Project was founded to help publish books in English..
Against a background marked by political unrest and government battles with Hukbalahap guerrillas, writers in English in the postwar period honed their sense of craft and techniques. Among the writers who came into their own during this time were, among many others:
Fresh from studies in American universities, usually as Fulbright or Rockefeller scholars, a number of these writers introduced New Criticism to the country and applied its tenets in literature classes and writing workshops. In this way were born the Silliman National Writers Workshop.
Literary awards and competitions
In 1940, the first Commonwealth Literary Awards were given by President Manuel L. lopez to Salvador P. Lopez for "Literature and Society" (essay), Manuel Arguilla for "How My Brother Leon Brought Home a Wife and Other Stories" (short story), R. Zulueta da Costa for "Like the Molave" (poetry), and Juan C. Laya for "His Native Soil" (novel).
Government recognition of literary merit came in the form of the Republic Cultural Heritage Awards (1960), the Pro Patria Awards for Literature (1961), and the National Artist Awards (1973). Only the last of these three awards survives today. Writers in English who have received the National Artist award include: Jose Garcia Villa (1973), Nick Joaquin (1976), Carlos P. Romulo (1982), Francisco Arcellana (1990), N. V. M. Gonzalez, Rolando Tinio (1997), Edith L. Tiempo, (2000), F. Sionil José (2003), and Bienvenido Lumbera (2006).
A select group of local writers have also received the international Magsaysay Award, namely, F. Sionil José, Nick Joaquin and Bienvenido Lumbera.
Despite the lack of a professional writer's market, poetry and fiction in English continue to thrive and be written with sophistication and insight. Among the fictionists of recent years are: