31 October 2016

Notes on Bibliography of Filipino Novels: 1901-2000

Bibliography of Filipino Novels: 1901-2000 by Patricia May B. Jurilla (The University of the Philippines Press, 2010)

Patricia May B. Jurilla does a great service to readers and students of Philippine novel in her well researched Bibliography of Filipino Novels: 1901-2000, published by the University of the Philippines Press in 2010. She collated a century's worth of Philippine novel writing and production in three separate lists: (i) English language novels, (ii) Tagalog (Filipino) language novels, and (iii) translations of foreign novels into Tagalog (Filipino) language.

She excluded novels written during the Spanish period (pre-20th century novels) and books with less than 49 pages, the UNESCO standard definition of a book. According to her, she omitted "quite a number of early Tagalog novels" because of this page constraint, with these books "looking more like booklets, chapbooks, or pamphlets really—almost resembling novenas." The page constraint was not followed strictly though as I noticed a book with 48 pages included in the list.

The 1910s was considered the Golden Age of the Tagalog novel, the decade that produced a total of 93 Tagalog titles. Her introduction to the bibliography discussed significant trends and factors that contributed to the production of novels in the Philippines.

After the Americans introduced English language in the country in 1900, it took 21 years before a first novel in the language appeared: A Child of Sorrow by Zoilo M. Galang, which he self-published and later translated into Tagalog as Anak ng Dalita (1960). Self-publication was a common practice during the first half of the century.

According to Jurilla, novels in English generally did not cater to popular taste. Compared to Tagalog novel reading, the Philippine novel in English appealed only to a small readership: those in the upper-middle and upper classes who had command of the English language and who had access to education.

The most prolific Filipino novelist in English was F. Sionil José (10 titles during the period covered), followed by Linda Ty-Casper (9 titles). The most common words included in the titles of novels in Filipino and in Filipino translation were: pag-ibig (love), buhay (life), puso (heart), luha (tears), and bulaklak (flower).

Unfortunately, translations of novels from a Philippine language into English were excluded from the list. Based on my limited search, only two titles appeared in English translation in the period covered by the bibliography—(i) The Lady in the Market by Magdalena G. Jalandoni in 1976; and (ii) Margosatubig: The Story of Salagunting by Ramon L. Muzones in 1979. Both titles were translated by Edward D. Defensor from Hiligaynon language, and both were published by University of the Philippines in the Visayas (Iloilo).

The two books of Don Quixote appeared in Tagalog translation by four translators in 1940. However, according to Virgilio S. Almario, in "Sulyap sa Kasaysayan ng Pagsasalin sa Filipinas" (A Glimpse into the History of Translation in Filipinas), one of the essays in Introduksiyon sa Pagsasalin: Mga Panimulang Babásahín Hinggil sa Teorya at Praktika ng Pagsasalin (Introduction to Translation: Introductory Readings on the Theory and Practice of Translation) (2015), these books were translated based on the English translation.

The only book that appeared in bilingual translation was The Birthing of Hannibal Valdez (1984), originally in English by Alfrredo Navarro Salanga, with an accompanying "Pilipino" translation by Romulo A. Sandoval. I read this book—the author calls it a "novella"—earlier this year.

Needless to say, the bibliography needs to be updated to cover new novels published in the new century. It also needs to be expanded to cover novel output from other vernacular languages with novel tradition such as Hiligaynon, Cebuano, Kapampangan, etc. Several Tagalog (Filipino) titles in the list already appeared in English translation only in the last decade. Annotations on reprinted books need to be updated (e.g., Surveyors of the Liguasan Marsh (1991) by Antonio Enriquez was published under a new title, Green Sanctuary, in 2003; Eric Gamalinda's Empire of Memory (1992) recently appeared in a new edition).

Certain lacunae in the entries needed to be filled (e.g., Carlos Bulosan's novel America Is in the Heart: A Personal Journey was undated. Jurilla made a conjecture that this was likely published in the country in the 1970s. According to Bienvenido Lumbera, in a foreword to Bulosan: An Introduction With Selections, edited by E. San Juan Jr., the Philippine edition was published in 1980.) Perhaps an "online edition" of the lists can serve to validate or update the bibliographical entries.

Although the bibliographer did not mention it, war, disasters, and tragedies were not kind to the preservation of Philippine books and manuscripts. The destruction and looting of libraries during the Battle of Manila in 1945 consigned a lot of the collections to the dustbin.

Jurilla's book is quite handy for anybody interested in reading Filipino novels or, for that matter, investigating novel production and output in colonial, post-war, and post-colonial settings, and pre- and post-martial law regime.

From the list, I only read a measly 7 out of the 365 titles in Tagalog (Filipino), none from the titles in Tagalog (Filipino) translation, and 20 out of 177 novels in English.

This bibliography has already given me an idea on which novels to read next.

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