ACADEMICS and observers of the country’s literary landscape, which has several major languages apart from Filipino, are agreed there should be a pool of good and efficient translators of the literature outside of the national capital.
And they should also take note of the fact that much of the marginalized literature—most often folk—has been purely oral, suggesting the time was ripe to catch and preserve them on tape.
For instance, before the arrival of the Spaniards in the 16th century, West Visayan literature was purely oral and was in Kinaray-a, suggesting, in the view of scholars, that this must have been the language of the region in folk literature of the 10 Bornean datus.
Folk literature ranges from brief riddles, proverbs, ditties, ritual chants to expansive love songs, tales, and extensive epics.
It also has poetry called binalaybay and the tale is the asoy or sugilanon.
The asoy may be a legend or a tale about a folk hero or a local happening. Among the Panay epics are the Labaw Donggon and the Hinilawod.
Ritual chants are delivered by the babaylan or healer to please the diwata or supernatural beings or spirits in exchange for good health and luck in the home and the fields during planting and harvest climes.
The arrival of the Spaniards and the eventual conversion of the inhabitants to Christianity produced new forms of folk literature and saw the beginning of written literature, initially with translation of Spanish texts of prayers and lives of the Catholic saints.
With the arrival of the Americans before the turn of the 19th century came the locally described Golden Age of Hiligaynon literature.
But the orientation was still heavily Spanish—didactic and Roman Catholic despite strong nationalistic orientation.
Tagalog literature, nurtured and nourished in the provinces of Southern Luzon, parts of Central Luzon, and Metro Manila, is considered by some scholars as the birthplace of a rich tradition of Filipino culture in language, politics, economy and literature.
Other scholars, while not openly disagreeing with such commentary, argue that other regions can lay as much claim to such a rich tradition.
They note the wealth in chests of other literary zones— the Ilocanos, the Pampangos, the Bikolnon, the Visayan languages down to the locales in Mindanao, and others.
Particularly outstanding oral literature in Tagalog-speaking provinces are the bugtong (riddle), proverbs and native songs.
This discipline is always in poetic forms, usually seven-syllabic rhymes which, according to some scholars, is truly Asian in form and perspective.
Poet and fictionist Domingo Landicho, commenting on the history and tradition of Tagalog literature, observes that the tradition of Tagalog literature “has been bequeathed upon the national consciousness of the Filipinos all over the Philippines.”
Landicho notes the existence of a rich and envigorating cultural matrix in the Tagalog region, which produced historic men in politics, culture, and literature.
Considering the undeniable literary affluence in the other regions, and the urgent need to compile all and translate the same for the appreciation of other Filipinos, the government, which has the logistics at its disposal, should help private and individual agencies in gathering all such materials that point to the culture of this Malay race, according to scholars.
This does not suggest that nothing has been done and is being done. For the government has done much in fact in compiling such cultural stones in the various regions of the country.