12.14.2005

Is Philippine Literature Dying?

Pages from the history vanished. The past was meant to be unknown by the future generations. Etheria -- the lost kingdom.

The Philippine literature seems dying. Its pages are becoming unknown, forgotten. As a kid in school, I learned about legends (alamat), fables (pabula), parables (parabula), epics (epiko), riddles (bugtong), etc. I know at least two novels: "Noli Me Tangere" and "El Filibusterismo" by Jose Rizal; and one epic, "Florante at Laura" by Francisco Baltazar.

When I asked my nephews and nieces about Philippine "alamat", they knew not a story. Thanks to the TV program "Mahiwagang Baul". They've had, at least, a glimpse of "alamat" stories.

Together with the dying Philippine literature is the Tagalog language (and other Pilipino languages). Colonial mentality is killing the Pilipino languages. If a Filipino does not speak good English, he or she is considered uneducated or unintellectual. Fellow Filipinos measure the Filipino intellect by how good one speaks English. Speaking English has become a social status. This distorted paradigm pushed a lot of parents to speak with their children in English instead of Tagalog or their own native language. What they do not know is that children learn multiple languages easily; adults would have a hard time. Parents should be responsible in transferring their native language to their children.

For centuries, the Philippines was under the Spaniards; for decades, under the Americans. They brought their culture, but destroyed our own. Asian countries like China, Japan, Korea, Thailand, and others are very known because of their rich culture. I envy them because they have many stories to tell about their culture, ancestors, and literature that they can claim their very own.

What happened to the Philippines? What stories do we know about the sultans and datus? The early Filipinos before Magellan? The nobility of our ancestors? What about the archeology that proves our rich past and culture?

Bangon Pinoy! Huwag nating hayaang mabaun tayo sa limot katulad ng kasaysayan ng Etheria. (Rise Filipinos! Let us not allow ourselves to be forgotten like the history of Etheria.)

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