Notes on the Emergent Period (1935-1945)

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The years 1935 to 1945 saw the emergence of a significant trend in Philippine literature in English. Jose M. Hernandez describes this period as a time of self-discovery and of rapid growth. Hernandez proceeds by the enumerating the qualities of the period:

The writers consciously and purposefully to create a national literature. The writers had gained full control of the English language and could successfully manipulate it as a literary medium. Experimentation with different literary forms and techniques and moods was the fashion. Three groups of writers emerged:

Those who were concerned with social consciousness
Those whose main concern was craftsmanship
Those who were determined to explore local color. Some of the writers of this group formed the Veronicans.

There were many factors which lead to the flowering of creative energy in Filipino writing. Nevertheless, Herbert Schneider, S. J. points to the following:

In 1937 the Philippine Book Guild was founded. Its purpose was to produce literature and create a reading public. In 1939 the Philippine Writer’s Guild was established. The creed of members was to develop a common cultural consciousness among Filipinos. The Free Press, The Graphic, and the Philippine Magazine followed a policy of providing ample space for literary work in English. The Commonwealth Literary Awards, established in 1940, gave the first substantial prices to meritorious writers. The policy adopted by newspapers to issue weekly supplements when literary works were published. The Japanese occupation of 1941-1945 brought this flowering of Philippine literature in English to an abrupt close. The literary works that were produced were published abroad. Although the Japanese occupation years produced little literary work of significance, the period was to become a rich source of subject matter in the succeeding period.

The period of emergence saw a shift from romantic idealism to romantic realism. This realism reached a climax...
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