It’s the last day of August, also known as Buwan ng Wika in the Philippines. I just want to share a bit of insight and appreciation of the Philippine literature.
I usually find Philippine literature or stories about the Philippines a bit dark or gloomy or tragic. Reading such books feels so real even though it is fiction, maybe because as a Filipino, it’s close to home. Narratives that seem constantly screaming “revolution” despite of the war that ended decades ago. But most of them believe that these “wars” will never cease. They will be forever part of our existence, of our survival as humanity which is sad I think, but those stories were simply a reflection of the reality that the country perennially facing.
Maybe it is where the authors find their creative energies flowing, in melancholy. One of the best works in the Philippine literature is Noli Me Tangere that were written during the Spanish occupation in the country. It was one of the worst times in the Philippine history where Filipinos were incessantly abused and when nationalism has not been “invented” yet. Though, the novel was brilliantly written that it enlightened the Filipinos and helped sparked the revolution towards freedom.
Embarrassingly, I have not yet read that many books written by Filipino authors, so I think I’m not very much qualified to write this insight. I’ve only read few and some were even obligatory as a part of school’s curriculum, like Ibong Adarna, Florante at Laura, Noli Me Tangere, El Filibusterismo, and The Last Time I Saw Mother. And some were spontaneous, such as Smaller and Smaller Circles, Dekada ’70, Banaag at Sikat. and Patron Saints of Nothing. They are all unforgettable stories that will let the reader see reality in a different perspective.
Perhaps the most notable thing about these books is how powerful the messages are. The authors were able to convey their words in a strong and passionate manner but in a artistic and perceptive way. Whenever I finished reading these books, it feels like I was punched in the gut and honestly, I feel scared. Nothing frightens me more than reality, because I know that the story I’ve read is just a fraction of the society I’m living in.
But that’s the thing. These rational fears are only temporary. They open your eyes in a much deeper sense and make you a little bit wiser than you were. Becoming aware of the happenings around you and discovering something more within you. Putting yourself into someone else’s shoes and seeing the world quite clearer with an objective mind. And feel more connected with your fellow countrymen.
This might be a biased opinion given that I’m a Filipino, quite as well promote local, as they say. I’m planning to read more books written by Filipino authors because I know that there are more genres that the Philippine literature has to offer other than political genre which was what I have mostly read. As much as possible, I’m also trying to read some that are culturally diverse such as the books in this list thus, my TBR list just got longer (😣too many books, so little time!). Regardless, I know that learning and discovering different cultures, especially the Filipino culture, is still a long way to go but something tells me that this journey will be worthwhile.
Thank you for reading!
Do you have a favorite book written by a Filipino author? What local (or anywhere in the world you’re from!) reads you’ve read this month?