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Theory and Criticism

The Future of Philippine Literary Production

As a subject matter that is being studied all over the world, I aim to particularize on the future of comparative literature and literary production in the Philippines. This is also in the context of the upsurge of the masses to achieve qualitative and quantitative changes in the Philippine society. This is in accordance to Marx’s theory of being – that social being precedes man’s consciousness. This is also in accordance to Mao Zedong’s discussion of the dialectical relationship of the economic base and the superstructure. He asserts that culture and the rest of the components of the superstructure are dictated upon by the economic base. However, in times of political crisis, the superstructure has an imperative role in molding the people’s consciousness and may be decisive on the changes of the economic base.

In order to establish literature and literary production as part of the superstructure, it is important to historicize and recognize the roots of the current mode of production in the Philippines as in the outline and as common knowledge acquired in the Kasaysayan classes.

It is also important to know the social stratification in our society in a semi-feudal and semi-colonial set-up. It is obvious that those who own the forces of production and the capital comprise only one percent of the total population and these are the same members of the citizenry who exploit the majority of the broad masses.

In the field of culture, these capitalists, bourgeois compradors, and landlords create an assemblage of ideological state apparatus to mold the minds of the broadest number of people to become meek, docile, obedient to superiors and at the same time, superstitious and the fear of authority.

In literature, Gelacio Guillermo clearly criticizes the compilation of anthologies in his pamphlet, “New Mass Art and Literature”.  He explains how the ruling class chooses texts out of mere preference without studying the historical relevance of such work of art.

The basic ills of the Philippine society may also be discussed as in the outline.  The purpose of this discussion is to give wholistic view of the roots of the oppression experienced by majority of the people and how it molds literature as of the present time. Post-modernist discourse is one that is usually used by the canon to encourage individualism and multiple subjectivity where anything can be an exception.

The future of Philippine literary production can be seen in the agenda of the struggle for genuine democracy and freedom. As the revolution gets stronger through the tactic of encirclement from the rural areas to the urban centers and through the parliamentary and armed struggle, a new kind of culture is being propagated.

Nationalist, scientific, mass-oriented – these are the characteristics of new mass art and literature.

Nationalist because it is an assertion of genuine national democracy and anti-imperialist struggle. However, Alice Guillermo warns us of how the ruling class can make use of the emotional connotation of the word nationalism in order to advance their interests. Real nationalism is the study of the different expressions of nationalism throughout our history and extracting lessons from the struggle of the broad masses.

The new mass art and literature is characterized as scientific. This kind of culture is an expression of the struggle against feudal culture and consciousness. This aims to break the superstitious beliefs and oppressive application of Church dogma upon the people. This kind of art and literature encourages people to rely on their own strengths and the strength of the collective in order to initiate change. This kind of culture encourages people to be inquisitive rather than reliant on the words of authority – the words of their masters.

New mass art and literature is mass-oriented. This encapsulates the aspirations of the broad masses. As Gelacio Guillermo asserted, it is not elitist as reflected in the literature that is tagged as canon.

Popular forms of such literary production include poetry written in free verse, short stories, testimonial narratives and novels.

Essentially, this type of art and literature becomes popular as these are used to raise the people’s political awareness and encourage them to work for justice and meaningful change in our society.


Guerrero, Amado.  Philippine Society and Revolution.

Guillermo, Alice.  Marxism-Leninism-Mao Zedong Thought as Guide. “Mao Zedong’s Revolutionary Aesthetics in the Philippine Setting.”

Guillermo, Gelacio.  Nationalist Literature:  A Centennial Forum.  “New Mass Art and Literature”.  Philippines:  University of the Philippines Press, 1995.

Mao Zedong.   Art and Literature. “Talks at the Yenan Forum”.

About Ima Kulit

restless. independent. rock music and classical music, third world poetry and literature, theory and criticism, beaches, sunsets, wide open spaces, sports and running, laughter, art, and photography sustain me. i love to travel alone. it's the best way to get lost in the labyrinth of my thoughts.


2 thoughts on “The Future of Philippine Literary Production

  1. but its not a tactic, its the strategic line 😉

    Posted by karlo mikhail | May 29, 2011, 00:03

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