On Native Grounds: The Significance of Regional Literature (2023)

By Resil B. Mojares

Over the past decade there has been a widening effort at revaluing the concept of a “national” literature in the Philippines. While the image of a national literature has preoccupied writers and scholars at various turns in Philippine history — during the first flush of nationalism with Rizal and the propagandists, during the Japanese Occupation with its cultivated mystique of a “Malayan” past — it can perhaps be said that at no other time has the concept been subjected to as rigorous a scrutiny as today.

In the current investigation of national literature, as well as in its formation, regional literatures have assumed importance. By regional literature is meant the literary traditions, written or oral, of the various ethno-linguistic groups in the country, communities that, despite much internal migration, can still be said to have distinct geographical settings or identities. Often, and legitimately so, the concept of regional literature is opposed to that of the literature of court and capital, the ruling literatures in English, Spanish, and, to an extent, Tagalog. This is a reflex of our literary history where regional literatures have often been consigned to the level of subliteratures. In practice, therefore, the concept of regional literature in the Philippines is often subsumed under the wider concept of vernacular literature, encompassing both creative and folk traditions. In view of the facts of Philippine literary history, particularly the imbalances caused by the colonial experience, regional analysis is necessarily involved in a study of the opposition between center and periphery, between dominant and minority literatures.

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Various critics have asserted that today we cannot as yet speak of a national literature. Constantino and Sikat, referring to our literature as fragmented (watak-watak), argue that we cannot as yet formally claim that we have a ‘national literature’ in the Philippines (Sa Pilipinas ay hindi pa rin natin pormal na masasabi na mayroon nang pambansang literature). They cite the fact that in view of the lack of sustained or systematic regional or cross-regional studies we still have to define the total body of literary traditions in the country as well as bring these traditions to the level of popular, interrogational appreciation. The need for a broadly-based, systematic investigation of vernacular and regional literatures is then high in the agenda of today’s literary scholars. Rolando S. Tinio comments: “At the moment, it is difficult to characterize the national literary sensibility because the great bulk of vernacular literature has remained uncollected. Hence, it seems imperative that massive basic research in vernacular literature be undertaken.” The importance of such a study is underscored by Bienvenido Lumbera: “Herein lies the importance of research in the history of regional literatures — as it attains thoroughness and accuracy, it is bound to assist in revising the existing literary history of the Philippines.”

Such interest derives from the recognition of the importance of regional literature as a component of national literature. In many cases in the past, the national literature has been uncritically equated with the ruling literatures, the literature of ‘court and capital,’ one largely produced and patronized by a small cultural elite and externally defined by its use of a foreign medium (Spanish and English), and, to a certain extent, the literature of the primate region of the country though this may be written in a native language (i.e., Tagalog) as well as popular in character. Because of such uncritical equations, judgments on Philippine literature have often been distorted by deducing from a limited area truths which are then made to generally apply to the total field of ‘Philippine literature.’

Such lapses are serious when we consider that the greater bulk of the population is in the outlying regions, and that the literary experience of the people of these regions largely operates within the limits of their respective traditions as expressed or transmitted in their own languages. Even readership figures, though imprecise, will tell us something of what is missed. The prestigious English-language magazine of the 1930s, Philippine Magazine, edited by A.V.H. Hartendorp, had a registered monthly circulation of 6,500. This easily pales in comparison with such locally circulated regional vernacular magazines of the same period as the Cebuano Bag-ong Kusog with a weekly circulation of 10,975 and Babaye with a weekly circulation of 8,000, or the Ilonggo Ylang-Ylang with 7,793, and Banaag with 10,560, both of weekly circulation. Yet, while Philippine Magazine is well-mined by researchers, as important as a ‘high point’ in Philippine letters memorialized, the regional vernacular magazines just mentioned have remained in the bin of literary scholarship and of the cultural consciousness of today’s writers.

Something of what is missed is also seen as we consider the tremendous volume of literary productions to be found in the books, pamphlets, and periodicals which have been published in the various regional languages. The massive work of collecting, cataloguing, and indexing these widely scattered materials has just begun. Undoubtedly the bulk of works to be recovered and studied is large. One only has to note that as against 64 Filipino novels in English produced in 1921–1966, some 1,000 Tagalog novels were published in the first quarter of the present century alone.

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Furthermore, there is the matter of the rich oral traditions in the provinces, a field which literary scholars, to their loss, have largely left for the ethnologists and folklorists to mine. Interest in folkloristic studies has in recent years intensified as it has also adopted and developed more sophisticated instrument analysis. This has resulted in, among other things, the recovery of many oral texts and of such surrounding data as would be necessary for the full appreciation of such folk creations. The importance of these efforts cannot be overemphasized for we have in traditional or folk works the necessary foundation on which a national literature must stand and a source from which writers can draw sustenance in the form of subjects, insights, and styles. In the light of the fact that much contemporary Philippine literature is pallid for having been nourished on the thin surface soil of borrowed literary ideas, this digging into the depths of traditional literature should augur well for the future of Philippine writing as it situates writers more firmly in a more richly defined and better understood native cultural tradition.

The neglect of vernacular and folk literature may be due, in large part, to a critical orientation fastidiously cultivated in the academies since the end of the Pacific War which focuses interest on a historically static order of “great works” and the analyses of formal qualities, and to literature programs which accord only the most minimal share to the study of the native literatures. One consequence of the situation has been a bias against sociological studies of literature; or, where such studies are undertaken, an incapacity to probe deeply into the structure and meaning of the native literary experience.

The study of the country’s ‘subliteratures’ should result in a number of consequential readjustments in our understanding of Philippine literature. For one thing, it will uncover the importance of a great mass of work often derisively dismissed as ‘popular’ or ‘hack’ writing — the fiction, verse, and other works published in commercial vernacular periodicals. Much of this work is undoubtedly subliterary. Yet, an understanding of Philippine literature in its totality will be incomplete and flawed if due consideration is not accorded such works as have been called ‘the undergrowth of literature.’

There is another value to the study of regional and vernacular literatures. Philippine literature in English is a literature distinctly bourgeois in the character of its producers, consumers, styles, and preoccupations. Because of this, the reality it unfolds has its peculiar refractions, limitations, and biases. On the other hand, vernacular literature, associated with as it is with a different and lower social class, lies close to the soil, as it were, and provides us with insights into a different order of reality, with its own characteristic patterns of thinking and feeling and modes of expression.

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A study of regional and vernacular literature, therefore, should lead us to a fuller understanding of the Philippine cultural landscape as we cut across social classes and geographical regions. Regional analysis should lead us to an understanding of the cultural concomitants of “the areal differentiations caused by the gradual variations in the spatial interaction of physical and human elements.” At the same time, a more democratic approach to literature will enable us to see more fully not only a people’s experience as it is revealed in art but also the genesis and growth of ideas and forms in literature. What will emerge from all this is a more accurate estimation of Philippine literary tradition. What need to be pursued assiduously today are scientific regional and cross-regional literary studies. Such studies, insofar as they relate to the existing as well as emerging lineaments of Philippine literature or literary history, will be important insofar as they reveal similarities or continuities among various Philippine literary traditions, as well as variations among these traditions.

Constantino and Sikat believe that a basis for a common tradition can be found in the similarity of the linguistic structures of Philippine languages, of historical experience, literary development, motifs and conventions. “In general, it can be said that it is only in language that our literatures vary” (Sa pangkalahatan, halos sa wika nga lamang nagkakaiba-iba ang ating mga literatura). Thorough going regional and cross-regional studies should deepen our understanding of the overall continuity of the Philippine literary tradition.

On the other hand, a more dynamic kind of continuity can be appreciated if we delve into the variations that diversify our common literary experiences as a people. In this respect, one can quote Fr. H. de la Costa’s observation on an important aspect of Philippine culture:

… acculturation varied horizontally, from region to region, and vertically, from class to class, resulting in significant differences within a recognizably common culture…. The piecemeal process by which these islands were peopled, the varying patterns of our trade with neighboring lands, and the greater or lesser degree of penetration effected by the Spanish and American colonial systems — all these aspects of our history suggest that while it is possible to speak of a national culture common to the Philippines as a whole, we must expect significant horizontal and vertical variations.

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The study of regional literatures — and, more important, their entry into our shared cultural consciousness as a nation — should both define and strengthen tradition. For one, it should lead us to a juster estimation of our cultural history. In fact, a few themes in the current reevaluation of our literary history have already been offered. Tinio says: “The tradition of Philippine literature must be seen as vernacular, with writings in Spanish and English by Filipino as minor phases within the historical continuum.” In the same vein, Lumbera remarks: “English writing and Spanish writing, for that matter, ought to be treated as they should, as minor branches grafted into onto our literature by Western colonialism.” More detailed research should show the degree to which such claims can be made.

For another, by enlarging and enriching tradition, the study of regional literature should enhance the value of tradition for us today. In this respect, one can paraphrase T.S. Eliot on the nature and value of tradition for the contemporary writer.

What we know of our literature today forms an ideal order which shall be modified with the introduction into our consciousness of the works of our dimly explored regional literatures. What will happen as a consequence is the alteration of the existing order, the adjustment and readjustment of the relations, proportions, and values of each idea and each work to the whole. We shall, in the process, define the frontiers of tradition, the limits of this order, more accurately. On this basis we shall then know the points beyond which we should go.


What is the significance of regional literature? ›

Regional literature plays a significant role in building student character, especially in today's digital era, because the rapid development of technology can affect culture and the existence of regional literature that has developed in previous societies.

What is the importance of regional literature Brainly? ›

It is more effective if we, the natives of our regions are the ones who will value our language and understand our culture. By learning & reading literary pieces from the regions, you feel proud because of the power of the native tongue that intensifies the words and creates impact to the soul...

What is the significance of authors in the development of regional literature? ›

Authors writing about their own communities help bring a specific neighborhood, city, or area to a larger stage in an authentic way. These authors have lived experiences in their communities and deeply understand the culture, challenges, joys, and stories that make them unique.

What are the significant features of the literatures of the Visayas? ›

Themes derived from these literatures were: thanksgiving, courtship and marriage, occupation and way of life, social problems, calamities, heroism, environmental consciousness, praises to muses and to the Virgin Mary, passion of Christ, plants and animals, places, foods and many others.

What is the significance of literature? ›

Literature allows a person to step back in time and learn about life on Earth from the ones who walked before us. We can gather a better understanding of culture and have a greater appreciation of them. We learn through the ways history is recorded, in the forms of manuscripts and through speech itself.

What is the significance of regional history? ›

It strengthens the bonds between varied regions, by doing comparative and statistical analysis. Moreover it also helps in understanding the modes of administration and urbanization. Hence the scope and significance of Regional history is ever extending and broadening the horizons of historical knowledge.

How are regional texts an important source of history? ›

Regional literature is a good source of history becaue it helps us to understandthe regional reforms ,monuments ,inscriptions and the administration of that time.

What is the importance of literature and how did it help you as a student? ›

Literature provides a language model for those who hear and read it. By using literary texts, students learn new words, syntax and discourse functions and they learn correct sentence patterns, standard story structures. They develop their writing skills.

What is the significance of regionalism to international relations? ›

Regionalism presents fewer problems in defining it because it aligns to the political level and refers to the tendency of organising the world in different regions. Its political content resides in states' authority to fulfil national interests.

What is world literature gives its importance and significance in essay? ›

World Literature Gives Us Context for Other Studies:

World literature brings studies in history, geography, and foreign language to life. Stories are memorable because they take us into specific characters' lives and their experiences in time, allowing us to live through them.

Why is literature important & what is its significance in understanding law? ›

Literature becomes the medium of conveying not only good aspects of law but also (in fact more often) exposing the loopholes and weaknesses of law. It also becomes the narrative of justice as well as injustice by the courts in particular cases.

What is the significance of writing in the development of the society? ›

Why is writing important? It's the fuel that drives communication, and communication serves as a framework for society. Clear communication—and hence, good writing—is critical because it facilitates coworker collaborations, business transactions and interpersonal interactions.

What are the significant features of the nature of literature? ›

 Literature can be defined as an expression of human feelings, thoughts, and ideas whose medium is language, oral and written.  It is not only about human ideas, thoughts, and feelings but also about experiences of the authors.

What are the significant literary periods in the Philippines? ›

What are the six literary periods in the Philippines? The six literary periods in the Philippines are Pre-colonial period, Spanish Colonization period, Propaganda and Revolutionary period, American colonial period, Japanese occupation and contemporary or modern period.

What is the significant role of Philippine literature to the lives of present generation Filipinos? ›

They serve as bridges to explore our own cultural identity. Understanding your own culture means understanding yourself as well. We all have the rights to know who we are and Philippine literatures are tools for us to enjoy this right.

What is the most significant element of world literature? ›

Language. This is the most important element of literature. Language is a system of communicating ideas and feelings through speech, writing, and signs/gestures.

What are the five importance of literature? ›

Consider these five:
  • Literature improves communication skills. The easiest way to improve vocabulary, writing, and speaking skills is to study literature. ...
  • Literature teaches you about yourself. ...
  • Literature teaches about the past. ...
  • Literature cultivates wisdom and a worldview. ...
  • Literature entertains.

What is the significance for you of studying literature and how will this affect you and your future career? ›

You will learn how to be concise in your message and present ideas and arguments in a meaningful way. These skills help to strengthen your communication skills, both written and verbal for all future job prospects.

What is the significance of history answer? ›

Studying history helps us understand how events in the past made things the way they are today. With lessons from the past, we not only learn about ourselves and how we came to be, but also develop the ability to avoid mistakes and create better paths for our societies.

What is historical significance and why is it important? ›

Historical significance is a decision that modern people make about what is important from our past. In assigning historical significance, we can choose specific events, people, locations and ideas as being particularly important to us.

Why is it important to study regional history present your views? ›

Regional historiography can be used to identify the social & economic reasons for the change. A historian working on the regional history of India should not allow his study to become an instrument of regional chauvinism rather, it should help in building up an integrated picture of the total Indian scene.

What is the focus of regional writing? ›

Regionalism indicates that a writer has chosen to focus on one of the areas outside the centers of power, and to organize the work around that region. In American literature, regionalism has been associated with the sketch or short story, although the category can accommodate poetry and the novel.

What is regional history? ›

Regional history is historiography devoted to a geographically limited area below the level of the Empire or the nation state, especially in Germany; the area can be defined by the government of a territory but also by cultural, dialectal, economic, or other factors.

How can you explain the importance of literary sources to understand history? ›

Answer: Literary sources are more useful than archaeological sources because they provide detailed information on the objects and events of the past. b. People used it to write holy texts, chronicles of rulers, letters and teachings of saints, petitions and judicial records, and for registers of accounts and taxes.

What is the impact of literature in your life as a student? ›

Literature is an excellent way for students to learn how to think critically. To fully understand what's going on in the book, readers must pay attention to details, form relationships, and develop their individual ideas. Textbooks are frequently used by teachers to help expand students' vital thinking skills.

What is the best reasons why we need to study literature? ›

Here are five big reasons why you should choose to study English Literature at university and for choosing LJMU in particular:
  • It teaches you to think critically about complex topics from different perspectives. ...
  • It broadens your horizons. ...
  • It enables you to develop transferable skills.

What is the greatest impact of literature to you as a student? ›

Literature rapidly increases our learning. We learn through experiences, either our own or those of other people. Literature amplifies our exposure to a range of situations and events that would otherwise take decades for us to experience ourselves.

What is the meaning of regionalism in simple words? ›

Regionalism is a political ideology that seeks to increase the political power, influence, and/or self-determination of the people of one or more subnational regions.

What is the most important factor contributing to regionalism? ›

Some of the most important the causes of regionalism in India are as follows: (i) Geographical Factor (ii) Historical and Cultural Factors (iii) Caste and Region (iv) Economic Factors (v) Political-Administrative Factors.

What is the best example of regionalism? ›

Regionalism is a political focus on one specific area of a country. In the U.S., the perceived difference between Southerners and New Englanders is one example of regionalism.

What do you understand from world literature explain your own understanding about world literature? ›

World literature is used to refer to the total of the world's national literature and the circulation of works into the wider world beyond their country of origin.

What is the importance of review of related literature in the interpretation or discussion of the results? ›

The literature review is important because: • It describes how the proposed research is related to prior research in statistics. It shows the originality and relevance of your research problem. Specifically, your research is different from other statisticians. It justifies your proposed methodology.

What is the importance of knowing literature through history do you think their relationship is significant? ›

The study of Literature lends to an understanding of our history, our society and sometimes ourselves. With Literature, we see the Countries and People as they were. We experience the different climates,language and tone. Literature also gives us glimpses of much earlier ages.

What is the importance of writing significance of the study in the research write at least 10 sentences? ›

The significance of the study is a written statement that explains why your research was needed. It's a justification of the importance of your work and impact it has on your research field, it's contribution to new knowledge and how others will benefit from it.

What are the significance of better writing skills? ›

Writing is the primary basis upon which one's learning and intellect will be judged. Writing skill equips us with communication and thinking skill --- It also fosters our ability to explain and refine our ideas to others and ourselves. Writing skills are an important part of communication.

What is the significance of improving own writing skills as a student? ›

Improving your writing helps you to become a better communicator overall and it also improves your reading, which is another essential job skill. And your ability to write a well-crafted application, resume, and cover letter is the first step to getting a job.

What is the significance of the elements of literature? ›

One of the benefits of knowing the literary elements and then calling attention to them with your kids is that these elements help writers become intentional about how they craft their thoughts into words. Too often, mothers and educators focus on improving writing through better punctuation, grammar or format.

What is the significance of literary elements? ›

Literary elements include plot, conflict, character, setting, point of view, and theme. They are essential because they provide a framework for the writer to tell their story. They give the reader a way to follow the story and understand what is happening.

Who are the most significant authors in Philippine literature? ›

Notable Philippine literary authors
  • Nicanor Abelardo (1893–1934)
  • Estrella Alfon (1917–1983)
  • Francisco Arcellana (1916–2002)
  • Liwayway A. Arceo (1920–1999)
  • Francisco Balagtas (1788–1862)
  • Lualhati Bautista (b. 1945)
  • Cecilia Manguerra Brainard (b. 1947)
  • Resil Mojares (b. 1943)

Why is it important to know the literature and authors of the different regions in the Philippines? ›

Writers of literary works from different regions have enriched our Filipino culture and these help in introducing and exploring our humanity as Filipino.

What are the different periods in English literature and the significant events in each of the period? ›

History of English Literature
Old English (Anglo-Saxon Period)450–1066
Middle English Period1066-1500
The Renaissance1500-1600
The Neoclassical Period1600-1785
The Romantic Period1785-1832
5 more rows

What is the significance of Philippine literature to culture and traditions? ›

This oral literary tradition plays a crucial role in reproducing the structure of native society. It serves to teach the young members of the tribe about the values, history, worldview, as well as the legitimations for the authority of their rulers.

What is the significance of Philippine literature? ›

It gives nostalgic feelings and enjoyment to re-examine the comedies, tragedies and inspiration of the beautiful Filipino poems, stories, essays and plays.

Why is it important to understand the role that literature played in the lives of children and adolescent? ›

Children's Literature is extremely vital as it provides the child with the chance of responding to literature and developing personal opinions. Moreover, it encourages deeper thoughts and emotional intelligence and imagination; it cultivates growth and development of personality and social skills.

Why is it important to know the literature of the different regions in the Philippines? ›

Writers of literary works from different regions have enriched our Filipino culture and these help in introducing and exploring our humanity as Filipino.

What is the concept of regionalism literature? ›

Regionalism indicates that a writer has chosen to focus on one of the areas outside the centers of power, and to organize the work around that region. In American literature, regionalism has been associated with the sketch or short story, although the category can accommodate poetry and the novel.

What are the main important factors for creating regionalism? ›

Several reasons including geographical factors, historical factors, linguistic factors and even political factors have led to the growth of regionalism in India. There are various forms of regionalism such as secessionism, state disputes, and demands for autonomy.

What are the main characteristics of regionalism? ›

Regionalism refers to three distinct elements: a) movements demanding territorial autonomy within unitary states; b) the organization of the central state on a regional basis for the delivery of its policies including regional development policies; c) political decentralization and regional autonomy.

Do you think there's a significance to know the literature of other countries? ›

World literature is critical to understanding our neighbor, to growing in compassion and wisdom, and to thinking critically about our world today. As we find ourselves in an increasingly globalized society, we must have knowledge that includes nations, cultures, and worldviews beyond our own borders.

What is the importance of learning the literature of other regions and not just our own? ›

Writing from other nations can expand your world view. You can explore commentary on foreign politics, society and stereotypes. Additionally, you can learn about new historical events and cultures.

What is the significance of literature in the Philippine society? ›

It gives awareness for the Filipino of what to resolve and how to resolve our own local issues. It's a very effective way as what was proven by our national hero. A beautifully written piece has the power to change a person's perspective and make changes for the betterment of his life or even his own country.

When did regionalism in literature start? ›

American literary regionalism or local color is a style or genre of writing in the United States that gained popularity in the mid to late 19th century into the early 20th century.

What are the different types of regionalism? ›

The different types of regionalism include supra-state, inter-state, and intra-state regionalism. Each of these has different foci, effects, and consequences in the greater state.


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