Tagalog Popular Literature

Tagalog Popular Literature reviews award-winning popular novels, poetry, creative non-fiction, and plays by Filipino authors.  Since there are too many books to read and too little time to read them, this section has chosen to appreciate award-winning Filipino literature. The intention is primarily to underscore both the literary style and milieu of the writing as perceived in and through narratives of and about anything Filipino or Philippines. The awards, however, in no way influence a wordhouse reading of the text. Sometimes, other references are consulted to support the review's contentions and to validate a reading, but more often, plain and simple feelings and opinion preside in the critical appreciation of the literary piece.

The review may not always echo a general perception of the literature nor give it a positive calculation. These are highly opinionated reviews that need or need not become part of any conversation that may have been ignited, suppressed, or encouraged by this or by other reviews pertaining to the material, subject matter, theme, or purpose of the book under review. 

The following award-giving institutions have been considered in choosing books to read and review: The "Palanca Memorial Awards for Literature," The "National Book Award," and "The Catholic Mass Media Award" (other award giving bodies are also consulted but their list are not immediately available).

Tagalog Popular Literature - Essay
It's a Men's World
 Beverly Siy 

It's a Men's World by Beverly Siy, has remained popular among Filipino readers. Lumbay ng Dila by Genevieve Asenjo, won the National Book Award- Best First Novel in the Filipino Category.

Beverly Siy and Genevieve Asenjo both wrote their books in Filipino (Tagalog). Their books showcase their unique voices, with each author following her natural use of the language, and in the case of Ms. Asenjo, as she mixes Tagalog with Hiligaynon, her mother tongue.

It's a Men's World, a collection of coming-of-age-essays, is written in a kind of street-wise Filipino, one that is mostly spoken and heard among the young people belonging to the middle class.  In her essays, Ms. Siy often spells her words as she spoke it, and she focuses on the pace of oral retelling by taking the limitations of prose for granted. Her language is frank, curt, loud, humorous and brave.

 "Noong bata ako, nanaginip akong umiihi sa inidoro. Paggising ko, basang-basa ang kama. Ang inidoro lang pala ang panaginip. Ang pag-ihi, real. (When I was a child, I dreamt that I was peeing in a toilet bowl. When I woke up, the bed was wet. Only the toilet bowl was a dream, the peeing was real.)

"Tumayo agad ako at tiningnan ang extent ng damage. Geographically, malala ang damage. Ka-hugis ng Quezon City ang mantsa ng ihi ko. Ang Quezon City lang naman ang pinakamalaking City sa buong Luzon. Kaya patay. Patay ako sa nanay ko. (I stood up at once and examined the extent of the damage. Geographically, the damage was immense. The wet stain on the bed was the shape of Quezon City. By the way, Quezon City is the largest City in the whole of Luzon. I'm dead. My mother will kill me.)

"Pero dahil bata pa ay optimistic na talaga ako, lumingon ako sa brighter side. Sa bintana. Ayun naman pala, wala pang masyadong liwanag. Ibig sabihin, medyo gabi-gabi pa. Hindi ko alam ang saktong oras pero malamang ay nasa alas-kuwatro pa lang 'yon ng madaling araw. Kasagsagan ng tulog ng sanlibutan pati ng nanay at tatay kong katabi naming apat na magkakapatid sa kama. (But I was young, so I was optimistic. I looked at the bright side, that is, outside the window. Ah, light had not yet dawned. This meant that it was still night time. I did not know the exact hour but it could be about 4:00 o'clock at dawn. The whole world was fast asleep including my mom and dad who slept beside us four siblings on one bed.)

"Ibig sabihin, tulog pa lahat at ako lang ang nakakaalam ng nagawa ko. (This meant that everybody was still sleeping and I alone knew what I did.)

"Pag nalaman ng nanay  kong umihi ako sa kama namin, siguradong papaluin ako no'n ng tsinelas. E, okey lang sana kung tsinelas ko o tsinelas ng kapatid ko, o kaya sige na nga, kung tsinelas niya (kasi maliit ang nanay ko, wala pang five feet, e di anliit din ng paa noon, I therefore conclude, maliit din ang tsinelas) ang gagamitin sa di makatarungang ritwal ng pagpaparusa, e kaya lang ang ipampapalo ba naman ay tsinelas ng tatay ko? Barko sa laki at bigat ang tsinelas no'n. Alpombrang mala-Titanic." (If my mother would find out that I peed on our bed, she would surely spank me using slippers. it could turn out okey if she were to use my or my sibling's slippers, or okey, if she would use her slippers (because my mother is small, not even five feet tall, her feet are small, I therefore conclude that her slippers were small) in the unjust ritual of punishment, but unfortunately, what if she were to use my father's slippers? Those are huge and heavy. Rug-heavy of Titanic proportions.) 

The language used in this collection of essays often shows a type of general Pinoy humor - ironic, sarcastic, and satirical, but nonchalant in spite of and especially during suffering.

 "Kinuha ni Ate Elvie ang gunting. Parang ipinako sa krus ang mukha ni Auntie, uka-uka sa paghihirap       ng loob. (Ate Elvie took hold of the scissors. She looked as if she was being crucified, her face had   craters due to the heaviness of her heart)."

Unfortunately, similar to other languages when it comes to translating funny things, it's almost not possible to sound funny after translating Ms Siy's language.

Tagalog Popular Literature - Novel 
Lumbay ng Dila Genevieve Asenjo, PHD.

Lumbay ng Dila uses English as it naturally blends with Filipino. Dr. Asenjo is a professor of literature, a keen observer of popular culture, and a writer who is technologically savvy. Her use of the language demonstrates all these inclinations, and helps the reader become less encumbered with the theme of the book. 

"Matagal siyang nakatulog nang gabing iyon. Nagpadala siya sa 2381 ng HSBC CC para i-tsek ang kanyang outstanding balance. Naisip niyang i-shopping ito. Blusa kaya o sandal tulad ng nasa wishlist ni Nene. Kumbaga bonding nila. Pagkatapos kakain sila at magkukuwentuhan. Naisip niya rin na bigyan ito ng cash. Limang libo. Ilalagay niya ito sa sobre saka i-aabot sa kanilang paghihiwalay. Totoo iyon sa loob niya. Hindi bilang pangungunsiyensiya. (She slept long that night. She sent a message to 2381 HSBC CC to check her outstanding balance. She thought about using it for shopping, to buy a blouse or sandals as listed in Nene's wishlist. This could serve as their bonding time together. After that, they would eat out and talk. She thought about giving Nene some cash. Five thousand pesos. She would place this in an envelope and she would give it to her when they leave. She was sincere about this. She was not doing this to make her feel bad).

"Nahihiya sa sarili. Natatalo ang kanyang dungan ang kanyang animo. Papalapit pa lamang siya, kampante nang nakaupo si Teresa sa sulok na ito ng Jollibee at pinagmamasdan siya. May pagkamangha sa mga mata-isang pagmamalaki. Pakiramdam niya tuloy, nagka-catwalk siya sa runway ng Bench. Nasisiguro ng babae, sa nag-aabang nitong ngiti at palad, na siya nga si Sadyah, ang kanyang anak. (She was ashamed of herself. Her spirit was not strong. She was approaching, Teresa had been calmly sitting in that corner of Jollibee and she was looking at her. Her eyes revealed awe and pride. Thus, she felt that she was on a catwalk on a Bench runway. The woman was confident, as her eager smile and handshake showed, that indeed, she, Sadyah, was her child.)

"Hindi siya dapat patalo. Hindi bagay ang 'emo face' sa kanyang platform sandal, skinny jeans, MANGO top at ethnic-inspired bling-bling. Nakalimutan na niya ang huling serye ng telenobela na napanood niya kasama ang pamilya ni Nene. Ayaw niyang alalahanin si Claudine Barretto sa "Anak" nila ni Vilma Santos. Si Angel Locsin ngayon ang laman ng tabloids at Entertainment pages ng mga diyaryo at hindi ito sumikat sa pag-iyak kundi sa kanyang kaseksihan sa pagsigaw ng "Darna". (She should not let herself be defeated. An emo face did not match her platform sandals, skinny jeans, MANGO top and ethnic-inspired bling. She had forgotten the last episode in the television soap series she watched with Nene's family. She did not like to remember Claudine Barretto who was Vilma Santos' daughter  in "Anak". It's Angel Locsin's turn in the tabloids and Entertainment pages of newspapers and Angel did not become famous by crying, but by shouting "Darna" in a sexy manner.)

Ms. Asenjo's way with the language and her allusions and references to fads and trends and icons of Filipino entertainment are common in most so-called "chick-lit" novels in Filipino. But her theme is more than the usual Romance or girl- meets-boy story. Frequent switch-coding is a natural trend in Manila Tagalog. And being Hiligaynon, Ms. Asenjo's language is naturally an ensemble of these two Filipino languages - Tagalog and Hiligaynon. 

This novel and Ms. Sy's essay collection are fast paced and reader friendly because the authors wrote in popular Tagalog or Filipino spoken by a great many people in the National Capital Region, Metro Manila.