My photo
ALBERT B. CASUGA, a Philippine-born writer, lives in Mississauga, Ontario, Canada, where he continues to write poetry, fiction, and criticism after his retirement from teaching and serving as an elected member of his region's school board. He was nominated to the Mississauga Arts Council Literary Awards in 2007. A graduate of the Royal and Pontifical University of St. Thomas (now University of Santo Tomas, Manila. Literature and English, magna cum laude), he taught English and Literature (Criticism, Theory, and Creative Writing) at the Philippines' De La Salle University and San Beda College. He has authored books of poetry, short stories, literary theory and criticism. He has won awards for his works in Canada, the U.S.A., and the Philippines. His latest work, A Theory of Echoes and Other Poems was published February 2009 by the University of Santo Tomas Publishing House. His fiction and poetry were published by online literary journals Asia Writes and Coastal Poems recently. He was a Fellow at the 1972 Silliman University Writers Workshop, Philippines. As a journalist, he worked with the United Press International and wrote an art column for the defunct Philippines Herald.

Friday, January 18, 2013




Authentic National Literature an Illusion?

Is the marginalization of languages a necessary effect of creating a national language at the expense of the less-spoken dialects/languages?

Is the creation of a national language as a tool for education and commerce stifling the regional languages at the expense of its literary output?

If the political purpose of a linguistic hegemony is achieved to the detriment of ancillary languages that have developed literature, should not a Government Commission be responsible for preserving disparate ethnic culture and languages?

How vibrant would a country's culture be with the withering of subservient cultures that find their expression in their peculiar literatures?

In the Philippines, this function of preserving all facets of culture should not only  be assumed by the National Commission of Culture and the Arts, but should also be the responsibility of the entire Government which is sworn to protect all the people and their political, social, and cultural aspirations.

Certainly, the writer is the primary guardian of culture and language development. Without this orientation, the writer simply cries in the wilderness.

Could this be the reason why Philippine Literature is "perpetually inchoate"?

If English (Filipino English included) is not the "language of the blood" of Filipino writers, could there truly be authentic Philippine Literature in English?

The plurilingual fact of culture in this archipelago appears to prevent the full bloom of a "national language" let alone a "national literature" that distinguishes the disparate literary expressions of the regions that up to this day are still finding it difficult to settle on a stable political and cultural unity.

Is this linguistic complexity necessarily inimical to Philippine culture? Is it counter-productive in the effort of amalgamating the indigenous dialects/languages under a legislated "lingua franca" based on the Tagalog dialect?

Is the Manila-centered Pilipino (Filipino) language the true literary language of Philippine literature? Has English not done a better job of crystallizing the literary vision of the island republic?

There appears to be a tug-of-war between preserving regional literatures and a "national literature" in Filipino (Pilipino) or Filipino English.

Will the economic and geo-political demands on the Philippines determine its uni-lingual aspirations to the detriment of its erstwhile vibrant regional literatures?

Where is the literary criticism that will re-direct the energies of writers to the one, true expression of the Philippine literary soul?

I thought this was an issue long settled before the declaration of Philippine Independence in 1898 and 1946. Judging from the number of questions that still demand answers, there must be a revisiting of the issue of literary inchoateness. It must be resolved once and for all.

Philippine literature or any world literature for that matter cannot depend on translations to speak for its people.


No comments: