The Literary Forms in Philippine Literature
by: Christine F. Godinez-Ortega
The diversity and richness of Philippine literature evolved side by side with the country’s history. This can best be appreciated in the context of the country’s pre-colonial cultural traditions and the socio-political histories of its colonial and contemporary traditions.
The average Filipino’s unfamiliarity with his indigenous literature was largely due to what has been impressed upon him: that his country was “discovered” and, hence, Philippine “history” started only in 1521.
So successful were the efforts of colonialists to blot out the memory of the country’s largely oral past that present-day Filipino writers, artists and journalists are trying to correct this inequity by recognizing the country’s wealth of ethnic traditions and disseminating them in schools and in the mass media.
The rousings of nationalistic pride in the 1960s and 1970s also helped bring about this change of attitude among a new breed of Filipinos concerned about the “Filipino identity.”
Owing to the works of our own archaeologists, ethnologists and anthropologists, we are able to know more and better judge information about our pre-colonial times set against a bulk of material about early Filipinos as recorded by Spanish, Chinese, Arabic and other chroniclers of the past.
Pre-colonial inhabitants of our islands showcase a rich past through their folk speeches, folk songs, folk narratives and indigenous rituals and mimetic dances that affirm our ties with our Southeast Asian neighbors.
The most seminal of these folk speeches is the riddle which is tigmo in Cebuano, bugtong in Tagalog, paktakon in Ilongo and patototdon in Bicol. Central to the riddle is the talinghaga or metaphor because it “reveals subtle resemblances between two unlike objects” and one’s power of observation and wit are put to the test. While some riddles are.