It’s been interesting, blogging and posting about teaching Pinay Lit, what materials we’re reading and discussing, what difficult subject matter we’re discussing.
What is interesting is the interest out there, many people vocalizing their admiration for the existence of such a course in the first place. Not sure where else in this country such a class is taught. As I’d stated in my first Poetry Foundation blog post this month, “I’m still in disbelief. All Pinay Literature. I always think, wow, where was this class when I was young, and when I needed it most. It seems a lot of people have been asking this question too, as I have been asked by more people than I can count, for my syllabus and reading lists.”
I have been asked by a couple of editors for a manifesto or aesthetic statement about my work. I was at a loss, odd given that interviews on my poetics have been recently abundant.
Many years ago, in Cristina Pantoja Hidalgo’s Comparative Lit course at UP Diliman, I read the short story, “Magnificence,” by Philippine author Estrella Alfon (1917-1983). Her collection of short stories, also entitled Magnificence, was published in 1960. I give you these dates, so that you have an idea of the time period in which she was writing.
I was always struck my two things in this story: First, the quietness of the Alfon’s prose, these proper, lovely, delicate passages, every precise detail necessary for us to visualize the scene and its players.
[Note: you should read the story now, so that nothing I write here is a giveaway; I mean, it's been around since at least 1960 so nothing I write here really is a giveaway.]