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Philippine Literature

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Philippine Literature
x1.)October 2009
Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs

Beach in Cebu Province, Philippines, April 23, 2006. [© AP Images]
Republic of the Philippines

Area: 300,000 sq. km. (117,187 sq. mi.).
Major cities (2007 estimate): Capital--Manila (pop. 11.55 million in metropolitan area); other cities--Davao City (1.36 million); Cebu City (0.80 million).
Terrain: Islands, 65% mountainous, with narrow coastal lowlands.
Climate: Tropical, astride typhoon belt.

Nationality: Noun--Filipino(s). Adjective--Philippine.
Population (2009 estimate): 92.2 million.
Annual growth rate (2007 estimate): 2.04%.
Ethnic groups: Malay, Chinese.
Religions (based on 2000 census): Roman Catholic 80.9%, Muslim 5%, Evangelical 2.8%, Iglesia ni Kristo 2.3%, Aglipayan 2%, other Christian 4.5%, other 1.8%, unspecified 0.6%, none 0.1%.
Languages: Filipino (based on Tagalog), official national language; English, language of government and instruction in education.
Education: Years compulsory--6 (note: 6 years of primary education free and compulsory; 4 years of secondary education free but not compulsory). Attendance (2008)--85% in elementary grades, 62% in secondary grades. Literacy (2003)--93.4%.
Health: Infant mortality rate (2006)--24 per 1,000. Life expectancy (2005)--67.80 yrs. for males; 72.50 yrs. for females.
Work force (2008): 36.81 million. Services (including commerce and government)--51%; agriculture--34%; industry--15%.

Type: Republic.
Independence: 1946.
Constitution: February 11, 1987.
Branches: Executive--president and vice president. Legislative--bicameral legislature. Judicial--independent.
Administrative subdivisions: 16 regions and Metro Manila (National Capital Region), 80 provinces, 120 cities.
Political parties: Lakas-Christian Muslim Democrats/KAMPI, Nationalist People's Coalition, Laban ng Demokratikong Pilipino, Liberal Party, Aksiyon Demokratiko, Partido Demokratikong Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan, and other small parties.
Suffrage: Universal, but not compulsory, at age 18.

GDP (2008): $166.9 billion.
Annual GDP growth rate (2008): 3.8% at constant prices.
GDP per capita (2008): $1,841.
Natural resources: Copper, nickel, iron, cobalt, silver, gold.
Agriculture: Products--rice, coconut products, sugar, corn, pork, bananas, pineapple products, aquaculture, mangoes, eggs.
Industry: Types--textiles and garments, pharmaceuticals, chemicals, wood products, food processing, electronics and semiconductor assembly, petroleum refining, fishing, business process outsourcing services.
Trade (2008): Exports--$49.0 billion. Imports--$56.6 billion.

The majority of Philippine people are descendants of Indonesians and Malays who migrated to the islands in successive waves over many centuries and largely displaced the aboriginal inhabitants. The largest ethnic minority now is the mainland Asians (called Chinese), who have played an important role in commerce for many centuries since they first came to the islands to trade. Arabs and Indians also traveled and traded in the Philippines in the first and early second millennium. As a result of intermarriage, many Filipinos have some Asian mainland, Spanish, American, Arab, or Indian ancestry. After the mainland Asians, Americans and Spaniards constitute the next largest minorities in the country.

More than 90% of the people are Christian as a result of the nearly 400 years of Spanish and American rule. The major non-Hispanicized groups are the Muslim population, concentrated in the Sulu Archipelago and in central and western Mindanao, and the mountain aboriginal groups of northern Luzon. Small forest tribes still live in the more remote areas of Mindanao.

About 87 languages and dialects are spoken, most belonging to the Malay-Polynesian linguistic family. Of these, eight are the first languages of more than 85% of the population. The four principal indigenous languages are Cebuano, spoken in the Visayas; Tagalog, predominant in the area around Manila; Ilocano, spoken in northern Luzon, and Maranao and related languages spoken in Mindanao. Since 1939, in an effort to develop national unity, the government has promoted the use of the national language, Pilipino, which is based on Tagalog. Pilipino is taught in all schools and is widely used across the archipelago. Many use English as a second language. Nearly all professionals, academics, and government workers are conversant or fluent in English. In January 2003, President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo ordered the Department of Education to restore English as the medium of instruction in all schools and universities. Only a few Filipino families use Spanish or Mandarin as second languages.

The Philippines has one of the highest literacy rates in the developing world. About 93% of the population 10 years of age and older are literate.

The history of the Philippines can be divided into four distinct phases: the pre-Spanish period (before 1521); the Spanish period (1521-1898); the American period (1898-1946); and the post-independence period (1946-present).

Pre-Spanish Period
The first people in the Philippines, the Negritos, are believed to have come to the islands 30,000 years ago from Borneo and Sumatra, making their way across then-existing land bridges. Subsequently, Malays came from the south in successive waves, the earliest by land bridges and later in boats by sea. The Malays settled in scattered communities, named barangays after the large outrigger boats in which they arrived, and ruled by chieftains known as datus. Chinese merchants and traders arrived and settled in the ninth century, sometimes traveling on the ships of Arab traders, introducing Islam in the south and extending some influence even into Luzon. The Malays, however, remained the dominant group until the Spanish arrived in the 16th century.

Spanish Period
Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan reached the Philippines and claimed the archipelago for Spain in 1521, but was killed shortly afterwards when he intervened in a dispute between rival tribes. Christianity was established in the Philippines only after the arrival of the succeeding Spanish expeditionary forces (the first led by Legazpi in the early 16th century) and the Spanish Jesuits, and in the 17th and 18th centuries by the conquistadores.

Until Mexico proclaimed independence from Spain in 1810, the islands were under the administrative control of Spanish North America, and there was significant migration between North America and the Philippines. This period was the era of conversion to Roman Catholicism. A Spanish colonial social system was developed with a local government centered in Manila and with considerable clerical influence. Spanish influence was strongest in Luzon and the central Philippines but less so in Mindanao, save for certain coastal cities.

The long period of Spanish rule was marked by numerous uprisings. Towards the latter half of the 19th century, European-educated Filipinos or ilustrados (such as the Chinese Filipino national hero Jose Rizal) began to criticize the excesses of Spanish rule and instilled a new sense of national identity. This movement gave inspiration to the final revolt against Spain that began in 1896 under the leadership of Emilio Aguinaldo (another Chinese Filipino) and continued until the Americans defeated the Spanish fleet in Manila Bay on May 1, 1898, during the Spanish-American War. Aguinaldo declared independence from Spain on June 12, 1898.

American Period
Following Admiral George Dewey's defeat of the Spanish fleet in Manila Bay, the U.S. occupied the Philippines. Spain ceded the islands to the United States under the terms of the Treaty of Paris (December 10, 1898) that ended the war.

A war of resistance against U.S. rule, led by revolutionary General Aguinaldo, broke out in 1899. During this conflict fighting and disease claimed the lives of tens of thousands of Filipinos and thousands of Americans. Filipinos and an increasing number of American historians refer to these hostilities as the Philippine-American War (1899-1902), and in 1999, the U.S. Library of Congress reclassified its references to use this term. In 1901, Aguinaldo was captured and swore allegiance to the United States, and resistance gradually died out until the conflict ended with a Peace Proclamation on July 4, 1902. However, armed resistance continued sporadically until 1913, especially among the Muslims in Mindanao and Sulu.

U.S. administration of the Philippines was always declared to be temporary and aimed to develop institutions that would permit and encourage the eventual establishment of a free and democratic government. Therefore, U.S. officials concentrated on the creation of such practical supports for democratic government as public education, public infrastructure, and a sound legal system.

The first legislative assembly was elected in 1907, and a bicameral legislature, largely under Filipino control, was established. A civil service was formed and was gradually taken over by the Filipinos, who had effectively gained control by the end of World War I. The Catholic Church was disestablished, and a considerable amount of church land was purchased and redistributed.

In 1935, under the terms of the Tydings-McDuffie Act, the Philippines became a self-governing commonwealth. Manuel Quezon was elected president of the new government, which was designed to prepare the country for independence after a 10-year transition period. Japan attacked, however, and in May 1942, Corregidor, the last American/Filipino stronghold, fell. U.S. forces in the Philippines surrendered to the Japanese, placing the islands under Japanese control. During the occupation, thousands of Filipinos fought a running guerilla campaign against Japanese forces.

The full-scale war to regain the Philippines began when General Douglas MacArthur landed on Leyte on October 20, 1944. Filipinos and Americans fought together until the Japanese surrendered in September 1945. Much of Manila was destroyed during the final months of the fighting. In total, an estimated one million Filipinos lost their lives in the war.

Due to the Japanese occupation, the guerrilla warfare that followed, and the battles leading to liberation, the country suffered great damage and a complete organizational breakdown. Despite the shaken state of the country, the United States and the Philippines decided to move forward with plans for independence. On July 4, 1946, the Philippine Islands became the independent Republic of the Philippines, in accordance with the terms of the Tydings-McDuffie Act. In 1962, the official Philippine Independence Day was changed from July 4 to June 12, commemorating the date independence from Spain was declared by Emilio Aguinaldo in 1898.

Post-Independence Period
The early years of independence were dominated by U.S.-assisted postwar reconstruction. The communist-inspired Huk Rebellion (1945-53) complicated recovery efforts before its successful suppression under the leadership of President Ramon Magsaysay. The succeeding administrations of Presidents Carlos P. Garcia (1957-61) and Diosdado Macapagal (1961-65) sought to expand Philippine ties to its Asian neighbors, implement domestic reform programs, and develop and diversify the economy.

In 1972, President Ferdinand E. Marcos (1965-86) declared martial law, citing growing lawlessness and open rebellion by the communist rebels as his justification. Marcos governed from 1973 until mid-1981 in accordance with the transitory provisions of a new constitution that replaced the commonwealth constitution of 1935. He suppressed democratic institutions and restricted civil liberties during the martial law period, ruling largely by decree and popular referenda. The government began a process of political normalization during 1978-81, culminating in the reelection of President Marcos to a six-year term that would have ended in 1987. The Marcos government's respect for human rights remained low despite the end of martial law on January 17, 1981. His government retained its wide arrest and detention powers, and corruption and cronyism contributed to a serious decline in economic growth and development.

The assassination of opposition leader Benigno (Ninoy) Aquino upon his return to the Philippines in 1983 after a long period of exile coalesced popular dissatisfaction with Marcos and set in motion a succession of events that culminated in a snap presidential election in February 1986. The opposition united under Aquino's widow, Corazon Aquino, and Salvador Laurel, head of the United Nationalist Democratic Organization (UNIDO). The election was marred by widespread electoral fraud on the part of Marcos and his supporters. International observers, including a U.S. delegation led by Senator Richard Lugar (R-Indiana), denounced the official results. Marcos was forced to flee the Philippines in the face of a peaceful civilian-military uprising that ousted him and installed Corazon Aquino as president on February 25, 1986.

Under Aquino's presidency, progress was made in revitalizing democratic institutions and civil liberties. However, the administration was also viewed by many as weak and fractious, and a return to full political stability and economic development was hampered by several attempted coups staged by disaffected members of the Philippine military.

Fidel Ramos was elected president in 1992. Early in his administration, Ramos declared "national reconciliation" his highest priority. He legalized the Communist Party and created the National Unification Commission (NUC) to lay the groundwork for talks with communist insurgents, Muslim separatists, and military rebels. In June 1994, President Ramos signed into law a general conditional amnesty covering all rebel groups, as well as Philippine military and police personnel accused of crimes committed while fighting the insurgents. In October 1995, the government signed an agreement bringing the military insurgency to an end. A peace agreement with one major Muslim insurgent group, the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF), was signed in 1996, using the existing Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) as a vehicle for self-government.

Popular movie actor Joseph Ejercito Estrada's election as president in May 1998 marked the Philippines' third democratic succession since the ouster of Marcos. Estrada was elected with overwhelming mass support on a platform promising poverty alleviation and an anti-crime crackdown. During his first two years in office, President Estrada was plagued with allegations of corruption, resulting in impeachment proceedings. Estrada vacated his office in 2001. In 2007, an anti-graft court convicted Estrada of plunder charges. He received a presidential pardon soon after the conviction.

Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, elected vice president in 1998, assumed the presidency in January 2001 after widespread demonstrations that followed the breakdown of Estrada's impeachment trial. The Philippine Supreme Court subsequently endorsed unanimously the constitutionality of the transfer of power. National and local elections took place in May 2004. Under the constitution, Arroyo was eligible for another six-year term as president, and she won a hard-fought campaign against her primary challenger, movie actor Fernando Poe, Jr., in elections held May 10, 2004. Noli De Castro was elected vice president.

Impeachment charges were brought against Arroyo in June 2005 for allegedly tampering with the results of the elections after purported tapes of her speaking with an electoral official during the vote count surfaced, but Congress rejected the charges in September 2005. Similar charges were discussed and dismissed by Congress in 2006, 2007, and 2008.

The Philippines has a representative democracy modeled on the U.S. system. The 1987 constitution, adopted during the Aquino administration, reestablished a presidential system of government with a bicameral legislature and an independent judiciary. The president is limited to one six-year term. Provision also was made in the constitution for autonomous regions in Muslim areas of Mindanao and in the Cordillera region of northern Luzon, where many aboriginal tribes still live.

The 24-member Philippine Senate is elected at large, and all senators serve six-year terms. Half are elected every three years. There are currently 239 members in the House of Representatives, 217 of whom represent single-member districts. The remaining 22 House seats are occupied by sectoral party representatives elected at large, called party list representatives. The Supreme Court approved the introduction of 32 additional party list seats in April 2009, in time for May 2010 national elections. All representatives serve three-year terms, with a maximum of three consecutive terms. On May 14, 2007, legislative and local elections were held. President Arroyo's coalition won the majority of the seats in the House of Representatives, gubernatorial seats, and city mayoral seats. However, the President's coalition won only three out of 12 vacant seats in the Philippine Senate. Although the election was marred by some violence and irregularities, civil society monitoring groups played a welcome and active role in ensuring a relatively fair and democratic process. The next presidential and congressional elections are scheduled for May 2010.

The government continues to face threats from terrorist groups, including four terrorist groups on the U.S. Government's Foreign Terrorist Organization list. The terrorist Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG), which gained international notoriety with its kidnappings of foreign tourists in the southern islands, remains a major problem for the government, along with members of the Indonesian-based Jemaah Islamiyah (JI). Efforts to track down and interdict ASG and JI members have met with some success, especially in Basilan and Jolo, where U.S. troops provide counterterrorism assistance and training to Philippine soldiers, along with conducting humanitarian activities. In August 2006, the Armed Forces of the Philippines began a major offensive against ASG and JI on the island of Jolo. This offensive was successful and resulted in the deaths of Abu Sayyaf leader Khadafy Janjalani and his deputy, Abu Solaiman. The U.S. Government provided rewards to Philippine citizens whose information led to these deaths in the military operations, as well as to many other operations against terrorist leaders. The broad-based efforts to weaken terrorist organizations resulted in the death or capture of over 200 terrorists in 2007 and 2008.

An international monitoring team continues to watch over a cease-fire agreement between the government and the separatist Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF). In June 2003, the MILF issued a formal renunciation of terrorism. In August 2008, during peace talks mediated by the Government of Malaysia, the Philippine Government and the MILF reached agreement in principle on a territorial agreement. However, intervention by the Philippine Supreme Court, and its subsequent October 14, 2008 ruling that the draft agreement was unconstitutional, forced both parties to seek new ways to reach a peace agreement. Fighting flared up after the agreement was struck down in court and continued sporadically in central Mindanao, until both sides agreed to a cease-fire on July 29, 2009 and resumed the peace talks.

Principal Government Officials
President--Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo
Vice President--Noli De Castro
Foreign Secretary--Alberto Romulo
Ambassador to the United States--Willie Gaa
Permanent Representative to the UN--Hilario G. Davide

The Republic of the Philippines maintains an embassy in the United States at 1600 Massachusetts Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20036 (tel. 202-467-9300). Consulates general are in New York, Chicago, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Honolulu, and Agana (Guam).

Since the end of World War II, the Philippine economy has been on an unfortunate trajectory, going from one of the richest countries in Asia (following Japan) to one of the poorest. Growth immediately after the war was rapid, but slowed over time. Years of economic mismanagement and political volatility during the Marcos regime contributed to economic stagnation and resulted in macroeconomic instability. A severe recession from 1984 through 1985 saw the economy shrink by more than 10%, and perceptions of political instability during the Aquino administration further dampened economic activity.

During the 1990s, the Philippine Government introduced a broad range of economic reforms designed to spur business growth and foreign investment. As a result, the Philippines saw a period of higher growth, although the Asian financial crisis in 1997 slowed Philippine economic development once again.

Despite occasional challenges to her presidency and resistance to pro-liberalization reforms by vested interests, President Arroyo made considerable progress in restoring macroeconomic stability with the help of a well-regarded economic team. Nonetheless, long-term economic growth remains threatened by crumbling infrastructure and education systems, and trade and investment barriers. International competitiveness rankings have slipped.

The service sector contributes more than half of overall Philippine economic output, followed by industry (about a third), and agriculture (less than 20%). Important industries include food processing; textiles and garments; electronics and automobile parts; and business process outsourcing. Most industries are concentrated in the urban areas around metropolitan Manila. Mining also has great potential in the Philippines, which possesses significant reserves of chromate, nickel, and copper. Significant natural gas finds off the islands of Palawan have added to the country's substantial geothermal, hydro, and coal energy reserves.

Today's Economy
The Philippine economy seems comparatively well-equipped to weather the global financial crisis in the short term, partly as a result of the efforts over the past few years to control the fiscal deficit, bring down debt ratios, and adopt internationally-accepted banking sector capital adequacy standards. The Philippine banking sector--which comprises 80% of total financial system resources--has limited direct exposure to distressed financial institutions overseas (i.e., $2 billion, less than 2% of aggregate banking system assets). Conservative regulatory policies, including the prohibition of investments in structured products, shielded the insurance sector from exposure to distressed financial firms. While direct financial exposure to problematic investments and financial institutions is limited, the impact of external shocks to economic growth, poverty alleviation, employment, remittances, credit availability, and overall investment prospects is a concern.

GDP grew by 7.3% in 2007, the fastest annual pace of growth in over three decades--fueled by increased government and private construction expenditures; a robust information communications technology industry; improved post-drought agricultural harvests; and strong private consumption, spurred in part by $14.4 billion in remittances from overseas workers (equivalent to about 10% of GDP). However, real year-on-year GDP growth slowed to 3.8% during 2008, reflecting the impact of high food and fuel prices and global financial uncertainties on the domestic economy. Overseas workers’ remittances--which increased 13.7% year-on-year in 2008 to a new $16.4 billion record--helped cushion the impact of external shocks on economic growth, but began to slow during 2008’s fourth quarter. Remittances are expected to grow 3%-4% in 2009 despite the global financial crisis, helping the economy avoid recession and supporting the balance of payments and international reserves. Most independent forecasts also currently see Philippine GDP growing within the government’s 0.8%-1.8% targeted range for 2009. It will take a higher, sustained economic growth path to make more appreciable progress in poverty alleviation given the Philippines' annual population growth rate of 2.04%, one of the highest in Asia. The portion of the population living below the national poverty line increased from 30% to 33% between 2003 and 2006, equivalent to an additional 3.8 million poor Filipinos. Slower economic growth here and abroad, a soft domestic labor market, and uncertainties over overseas employment opportunities threaten to push more Filipinos into poverty.

Business process outsourcing (BPO) has been the fastest-growing segment of the Philippine economy and has been relatively resilient amid the global financial turmoil, totaling an estimated 10% of the global outsourcing market and generating more than $6 billion in revenues in 2008 (up 26% and equivalent to about 3.6% of Philippine GDP). Although revenue growth has slowed from 40% during 2006 and 2007, industry officials expect the BPO sector to post double-digit revenue growth of between 20%-30%, and to generate about 100,000 new jobs, during 2009. The balance of payments surplus--which hit a record $8.6 billion in 2007 from higher overseas worker remittances, tourism receipts, BPO-related revenues, portfolio investments, and official development assistance funds--narrowed to $18 million during 2008. Merchandise exports--which rely heavily on electronics shipments for about two-thirds of sales--declined by nearly 3% year-on-year during 2008, pulled down by a 23% year-on-year decline in fourth-quarter revenues. Although there has been some improvement over the years, the local value added of electronics exports remains relatively low at about 30%. Net foreign direct investment (FDI) inflows dropped by 48% from 2007, to $1.5 billion; and net foreign portfolio capital reversed from a $3.8 billion net inflow in 2007 to a $3.6 billion net outflow in 2008. Import growth slowed but nevertheless increased by more than 2%, mainly because of spikes in international prices of fuel, rice, and petroleum-based agricultural inputs. Foreign tourist arrivals sputtered to 1.5% growth and tourism-related revenues weakened. The United States remains the Philippines' largest trading partner with $17 billion in two-way trade during 2008, and is among the largest investors with $6 billion in total direct investments. Although showing signs of bottoming out, merchandise exports slumped further in 2009 (with January-August 2009 exports down 30.3% year-on-year). However, the merchandise import bill has also declined (31.2% as of August 2009), combining with the continued expansion in overseas remittances and BPO revenues, and improving net foreign direct and portfolio investment flows to produce a wider balance of payments surplus (estimated at $2.8 billion as of August 2009).

The Philippine stock market index--which closed 2008 down more than 48% year-on-year--closed mid-October 2009 more than 57% higher from end-2008. The Philippine peso, which closed 2008 15% weaker from end-2007, has appreciated by 2.5% since the beginning of the year. Gross international reserves ($37.6 billion as of end-2008) have risen further to a new record high of nearly $42.3 billion as of end-September 2009, adequate for close to 8 months of goods and services imports and equivalent to 3.6 times foreign debts maturing over the next 12 months.

Efforts in recent years to reduce the fiscal deficit by raising new taxes have helped reduce high debt ratios, create additional fiscal space to increase spending on vital social services and infrastructure after years of tight budgets, and improve confidence. December 2004 legislation provided for biennial adjustments to the excise tax rates for tobacco and liquor products until 2011; the government began implementing an amended value added tax (VAT) law in November 2005 that expanded VAT coverage and increased the VAT rate from 10% to 12%; and a law signed in January 2005 seeks to institute a performance-based rewards system in the government's revenue collection agencies. Although still high by regional and emerging country standards, the debt of the national government has declined to about 56% of GDP; and that of the consolidated public sector to about 64% of GDP. Major credit rating agencies raised their rating outlook from “negative” to “stable” in recognition of fiscal progress and more manageable debt ratios.

The national government worked to reduce its fiscal deficits for five consecutive years to 0.2% of GDP in 2007 and had hoped to balance the budget in 2008. The Arroyo administration no longer targets leaving office in 2010 with a balanced budget, opting instead for measured deficit spending to help stimulate the economy and temper the adverse impact of global external shocks on the already high number of Filipinos struggling with poverty. The national government ended 2008 with a deficit equivalent to 0.9% of GDP and has programmed a higher deficit for 2009 equivalent to 3.2% of GDP. Looking forward, further reforms are needed to ease fiscal pressures from large losses being sustained by a number of government-owned firms and to control and manage contingent liabilities. Despite recent improvements, challenges remain to the long-term viability of state-run pension funds. The national government's tax-to-GDP ratio increased from 13% in 2005 to 14.3% in 2006 after new tax measures went into effect; however, it declined and stagnated at 14% in 2007 and 2008, has declined further in 2009 (to 13.5% during the first semester), and remains low relative to historical performance (i.e., 1997’s 17% peak ratio) and vis-à-vis regional standards. The government has intermittently relied on heftier privatization receipts to make up for the shortfall in targeted tax collections but this is not a sustainable revenue source. Legislation passed in 2008 providing tax relief for minimum wage earners and individual taxpayers, a cut in the corporate income tax rate from 35% to 30% starting 2009, and no further adjustments to liquor and tobacco excise taxes after 2011 will erode government revenues further.

The Philippine Congress enacted an anti-money laundering law in September 2001 and followed through with amendments in March 2003 to address legal concerns posed by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) Financial Action Task Force (FATF). The FATF removed the Philippines from its list of Non-Cooperating Countries and Territories in February 2005, noting the significant progress made to remedy concerns and deficiencies identified by the FATF to improve implementation. The Egmont Group, the international network of financial intelligence units, admitted the Philippines to its membership in June 2005. The FATF Asia Pacific Group conducted a comprehensive peer review of the Philippines in September 2008. Some of the more important concerns include the exclusion of casinos from the list of covered institutions and 2008 court rulings that inhibit and complicate investigations of fraud and corruption by prohibiting ex-parte inquiries regarding suspicious accounts. The Philippines’ financial intelligence unit is pushing for amendments to the anti-money laundering law to address these concerns.

Eight years after the Arroyo administration enacted legislation to rationalize the electric power sector and privatize the government's debt-saddled National Power Corporation (NPC), significant progress was made only in 2007, with the privatization of the state-owned transmission company (Transco) and sales of 68% of total generating assets in Luzon and the Visayas. The Arroyo government is confident it will complete its privatization targets in 2009.

The U.S. Trade Representative removed the Philippines from its Special 301 Priority Watch List in 2006, reflecting improvement in its enforcement of intellectual property rights (IPR) protection. It has maintained the Philippines on the Special 301 Watch List through 2009. However, sustained effort and continuing progress on key IPR issues will be essential to maintain this status.

Despite a number of policy reforms, the Philippines continues to face important challenges and must sustain the reform momentum to achieve and sustain the strong post-crisis recovery needed to spur investments, achieve higher growth, generate employment, and alleviate poverty for a rapidly expanding population. Absent new revenue measures, sustained fiscal stability will require more aggressive tax collection efficiency to address the severe under-spending in infrastructure and social services after years of tight budgets. Continuing efforts to fast-track power sector privatization remain critical to the long-term stability of public sector finances, ensuring reliable electricity supply, and bringing down the cost of power. Climate change is an emerging threat to agriculture and overall growth, and also could further complicate fiscal consolidation efforts.

Potential foreign investors, as well as tourists, remain concerned about law and order, inadequate infrastructure, policy and regulatory instability, and governance issues. While trade liberalization presents significant opportunities, intensifying global competition and the emergence of low-wage export economies also pose challenges. Competition from other Southeast Asian countries and from China for investment underlines the need for sustained progress on structural reforms to remove bottlenecks to growth, to lower costs of doing business, and to promote good public and private sector governance. The government has been working to reinvigorate its anti-corruption drive, and the Office of the Ombudsman has reported improved conviction rates. Nevertheless, the Philippines’ efforts are lagging and more needs to be done to improve international perception of its anti-corruption campaign--an effort that will require strong political will and significantly greater financial and human resources.

Agriculture and Forestry
Arable farmland comprises more than 40% of the total land area. Although the Philippines is rich in agricultural potential, inadequate infrastructure, lack of financing, and government policies have limited productivity gains. Philippine farms produce food crops for domestic consumption and cash crops for export. The agricultural sector employs more than one-third of the work force but provides less than a fifth of GDP.

Decades of uncontrolled logging and slash-and-burn agriculture in marginal upland areas have stripped forests, with critical implications for the ecological balance. Although the government has instituted conservation programs, deforestation remains a severe problem.

With its 7,107 islands, the Philippines has a very diverse range of fishing areas. Notwithstanding good prospects for marine fisheries, the industry continues to face a difficult future due to destructive fishing methods, a lack of funds, and inadequate government support.

Agriculture generally suffers from low productivity, low economies of scale, and inadequate infrastructure support. Despite the adverse effects of successive strong typhoons in the last four months of 2006, the overall agricultural output expanded by 3.8% during that year. In 2007, the sector grew by 4.7%, led by gains in the fisheries subsector. The sector registered slower growth in 2008 at 3.9%, due mainly to negative growth in the livestock sector and lesser output in the crops and fisheries subsector, and growth is expected to slow further to under 2% in 2009 due to adverse weather conditions.

Industrial production is centered on the processing and assembly operations of the following: food, beverages, tobacco, rubber products, textiles, clothing and footwear, pharmaceuticals, paints, wood and wood products, paper and paper products, printing and publishing, furniture and fixtures, small appliances, and electronics. Heavier industries are dominated by the production of cement, glass, industrial chemicals, fertilizers, iron and steel, mineral products, and refined petroleum products. Newer industries, particularly production of semiconductors and other intermediate goods for incorporation into consumer electronics are important components of Philippine exports and are located in special export processing zones.

The industrial sector is concentrated in urban areas, especially in the metropolitan Manila region, and has only weak linkages to the rural economy. Inadequate infrastructure, transportation, and communication have so far inhibited faster industrial growth, although significant strides have been made in addressing the last of these elements.

The Philippines is one of the world's most highly mineralized countries, with untapped mineral wealth estimated at more than $840 billion. Philippine copper, gold, and chromate deposits are among the largest in the world. Other important minerals include nickel, silver, coal, gypsum, and sulfur. The Philippines also has significant deposits of clay, limestone, marble, silica, and phosphate. The discovery of natural gas reserves off Palawan has been brought on-line to generate electricity.

Despite its rich mineral deposits, the Philippine mining industry is just a fraction of what it was in the 1970s and 1980s when the country ranked among the ten leading gold and copper producers worldwide. Low metal prices, high production costs, and lack of investment in infrastructure have contributed to the industry's overall decline. A December 2004 Supreme Court decision upheld the constitutionality of the 1995 Mining Act, thereby allowing up to 100% foreign-owned companies to invest in large-scale exploration, development, and utilization of minerals, oil, and gas.

In its foreign policy, the Philippines cultivates constructive relations with its Asian neighbors, with whom it is linked through membership in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF), and the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum. The Philippines chaired ASEAN from 2006 to 2007, hosting the ASEAN Heads of State Summit and the ASEAN Regional Forum. The Philippines is a member of the UN and some of its specialized agencies, and served a two-year term as a member of the UN Security Council from January 2004-2006, acting as UNSC President in September 2005. Since 1992, the Philippines has been a member of the Non-Aligned Movement. The government is seeking observer status in the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC). The Philippines has played a key role in ASEAN in recent years, ratifying the ASEAN Charter in October 2008. The Philippines also values its relations with the countries of the Middle East, in no small part because hundreds of thousands of Filipinos are employed in that region. The welfare of the some four to five million overseas Filipino contract workers is considered to be a pillar of Philippine foreign policy.

The fundamental Philippine attachment to democracy and human rights is also reflected in its foreign policy. Philippine soldiers and police have participated in a number of multilateral civilian police and peacekeeping operations, and a Philippine Army general served as the first commander of the UN Peacekeeping Operation in East Timor. The Philippines presently has peacekeepers deployed in eight UN Peacekeeping Operations worldwide. The Philippines also participated in Operation Iraqi Freedom, deploying some 50 troops to Iraq in 2003. (These troops were subsequently withdrawn in 2004 after the kidnapping of a Filipino overseas worker.) The Philippine Government also has been active in efforts to reduce tensions among rival claimants to the territories and waters of the resource-rich South China Sea.

U.S.-Philippine relations are based on shared history and commitment to democratic principles, as well as on economic ties. The historical and cultural links between the Philippines and the United States remain strong. The Philippines modeled its governmental institutions on those of the United States and continues to share a commitment to democracy and human rights. At the most fundamental level of bilateral relations, human links continue to form a strong bridge between the two countries. There are an estimated four million Americans of Philippine ancestry in the United States, and more than 250,000 American citizens in the Philippines.

Until November 1992, pursuant to the 1947 Military Bases Agreement, the United States maintained and operated major facilities at Clark Air Base, Subic Bay Naval Complex, and several small subsidiary installations in the Philippines. In August 1991, negotiators from the two countries reached agreement on a draft treaty providing for use of Subic Bay Naval Base by U.S. forces for 10 years. The draft treaty did not include use of Clark Air Base, which had been so heavily damaged by the 1991 eruption of Mount Pinatubo that the United States decided to abandon it.

In September 1991, the Philippine Senate rejected the bases treaty, and despite further efforts to salvage the situation, the two sides could not reach an agreement. As a result, the Philippine Government informed the United States on December 6, 1991, that it would have one year to complete withdrawal. That withdrawal went smoothly and was completed ahead of schedule, with the last U.S. forces departing on November 24, 1992. On departure, the U.S. Government turned over assets worth more than $1.3 billion to the Philippines, including an airport and ship-repair facility. Agencies formed by the Philippine Government have converted the former military bases for civilian commercial use, with Subic Bay serving as a flagship for that effort.

The post-U.S. bases era has seen U.S.-Philippine relations improved and broadened, with a prominent focus on economic and commercial ties while maintaining the importance of the security dimension. U.S. investment continues to play an important role in the Philippine economy, while a strong security relationship rests on the 1952 U.S.-Philippines Mutual Defense Treaty (MDT). In February 1998, U.S. and Philippine negotiators concluded the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA), paving the way for increased military cooperation under the MDT. The agreement was approved by the Philippine Senate in May 1999 and entered into force on June 1, 1999. Under the VFA, the United States has conducted ship visits to Philippine ports and resumed large combined military exercises with Philippine forces.

Key events in the bilateral relationship include the July 4, 1996 declaration by President Ramos of Philippine-American Friendship Day in commemoration of the 50th anniversary of Philippine independence. Ramos visited the United States in April 1998, and then-President Estrada visited in July 2000. President Arroyo met with President George W. Bush in an official working visit in November 2001, made a state visit in Washington on May 19, 2003, and returned for additional working visits on June 24, 2008 and July 30, 2009. President Bush made a state visit to the Philippines on October 18, 2003, during which he addressed a joint session of the Philippine Congress--the first American President to do so since Dwight D. Eisenhower. There are regular U.S. cabinet-level, congressional, and military visits to the Philippines as well.

President Arroyo has repeatedly stressed the close friendship between the Philippines and the United States and her desire to expand bilateral ties further. Both governments seek to revitalize and strengthen their partnership by working toward greater security, prosperity, and service to Filipinos and Americans alike. President Arroyo has lent strong support to counterterrorism efforts. In October 2003, the United States designated the Philippines as a Major Non-NATO Ally. That same month, the Philippines joined the select group of countries to have ratified all 12 UN counterterrorism conventions.

Annual bilateral military exercises contribute directly to the Philippine armed forces' efforts to combat insurgents, defeat Abu Sayyaf and Jemaah Islamiyah terrorists, and bring development to formerly terrorist-plagued areas, most notably in the southern Philippines. They include not only combined military training but also civil-military affairs and humanitarian projects. The International Military Education and Training (IMET) program is the largest in the Pacific and the third-largest in the world, and a Mutual Logistics Support Agreement (MLSA) was signed in November 2002. Similarly, law enforcement cooperation has reached new levels: U.S. and Philippine agencies have cooperated to bring charges against numerous terrorists, to implement the countries' extradition treaty, and to train thousands of Filipino law enforcement officers. There is a Senior Law Enforcement Advisor helping the Philippine National Police with its Transformation Program.

In FY 2009, the U.S. Government--working closely with the Philippine Government, civil society, the private sector, and other donors--provided $138 million in grant funds to support a more peaceful and prosperous Philippines. About 55% of economic assistance resources are targeted for Mindanao, for programs that promote economic growth, mitigate conflict, and promote peace and security. The United States supports programs that promote good governance at the national and local levels, improve electoral systems, promote rule of law and human rights, help address constraints to trade and investment, improve revenue collection/administration and fiscal transparency, and enhance the ability of military and civilian law enforcement agencies to maintain peace and security. Many programs across other sectors--including health, education, agricultural productivity, micro-enterprise development, and natural resource management--also support improved governance, human capital development, poverty alleviation, and/or sustainable growth. Health-related assistance programs include reproductive health, maternal and child care, tuberculosis and HIV/AIDS control, and avian flu preparedness. The United States also provides humanitarian assistance to internally-displaced persons in conflict-affected areas and to victims of natural disasters (including $5 million in reconstruction assistance for the typhoon-battered Bicol region in FY 2007 and, thus far, $6 million for disaster relief and early recovery following typhoons Ketsana and Parma in FY 2009 and FY 2010). In 2006, the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) granted $21 million to the Philippines for a two-year Threshold Program targeted at addressing corruption in revenue administration and improving the capabilities of the Office of the Ombudsman. Performance under this Threshold Program contributed to the MCC awarding the Philippines Compact eligibility status in March 2008, and retention of such status in December 2008.

Nearly 400,000 Americans visit the Philippines each year. Providing government services to U.S. and other citizens, therefore, constitutes an important aspect of the bilateral relationship. Those services include veterans' affairs, social security, and consular operations. Benefits to Filipinos and U.S. citizens resident in the Philippines from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and the Social Security Administration totaled approximately $330 million in 2007. Many people-to-people programs exist between the United States and the Philippines, including Fulbright, International Visitors, and Aquino Fellowship exchange programs, as well as the U.S. Peace Corps.

Trade and Investment
Two-way U.S. merchandise trade with the Philippines amounted to $17 billion in 2008 (U.S. Department of Commerce data). According to Philippine Government data, 12.7% of the Philippines' imports in 2008 came from the United States, and about 16.7% of its exports were bound for America. The Philippines ranks as our 31st-largest export market and our 37th-largest supplier. Key exports to the United States are semiconductor devices and computer peripherals, automobile parts, electric machinery, textiles and garments, wheat and animal feeds, and coconut oil. In addition to other goods, the Philippines imports raw and semi-processed materials for the manufacture of semiconductors, electronics and electrical machinery, transport equipment, and cereals and cereal preparations.

The United States traditionally has been the Philippines' largest foreign investor, with close to $6 billion in total foreign direct investment as of end-2008.

Since the late 1980s, the Philippines has committed itself to reforms that encourage foreign investment as a basis for economic development, subject to certain guidelines and restrictions in specified areas. Under President Ramos, the Philippines expanded reforms, opening the power generation and telecommunications sectors to foreign investment, as well as securing ratification of the Uruguay Round agreement and membership in the World Trade Organization. As noted earlier, President Arroyo's administration has generally continued such reforms despite opposition from vested interests and "nationalist" blocs. A major obstacle has been and will continue to be constitutional restrictions on, among others, foreign ownership of land and public utilities, which limits maximum ownership to 40%.

Although more reforms are needed, the relatively closed Philippine economy has been opened significantly over the last two decades by foreign exchange deregulation, foreign investment and banking liberalization, tariff and market barrier reduction, and foreign entry into the retail trade sector. The Electric Power Industry Reform Act of 2001 opened opportunities for U.S. firms to participate in the power industry in the Philippines. Information and communications technologies, backroom operations such as call centers, regional facilities or shared-service centers, tourism, and mining are likewise leading investment opportunities. (2009, October). Background Note: Philippines. Retrieved March 15, 2010, from
The Republic of the Philippines consists of 7,107 tropical islands on the Western rim of the Pacific Ocean. Only 4,600 of the islands have been named and only 1,000 have been inhabited. Although the total area of the country is 300,000 square kilometers, the islands are 65 percent mountainous. The inhabited portions are densely populated.
The Philippines is the thirteenth most populated country in the world. The country's capital of Metro Manila has a population of well over ten million people. The Filipinos, are the strongest assets of the country. With the country's literacy rate at 95 percent, the Philippine manpower provides a large pool of English-speaking, well educated, and highly trainable workforce with recognized management, computer, and design skills. The Philippines came in first in a survey of Asian countries on literacy conducted by Asiaweek in 1996. In a similar survey of 46 countries, Filipino skilled workers ranked first while Filipino managers were ranked second among their counterparts. Analysts maintain that it will take other emerging countries of Southeast Asia, a generation to reach the educational advantage of the Filipinos especially for the production of high quality technological products. There are an estimated 4.5 million Filipinos working overseas. In 1997, they sent US$4.5 billion back home. These foreign remittances have helped the Philippines weather the Asian financial crisis better than other affected Asian countries.
Eleven languages and 87 dialects are spoken in the country. Of these 11 languages, 8 are derived from the Malay-Polynesian language family. No two of these are mutually comprehensible. The country has two official languages, Filipino (derived from Tagalog) and English.
As far back as 30,000 years ago, the Aetas (aboriginal people of the Philippines) arrived through land bridges that connected the archipelago to other landmasses. A 22,000-year-old fossil skullcap was discovered in the Tabon caves of Palawan by archeologist Robert Fox. A document dating back to 900 A.D. was discovered at Laguna, Philippines. Mention was made in the document of names of places that exist to the present.
Trade occurred between the tenth and the sixteenth centuries, mostly with the Chinese and Islamic people. These two groups have remained and continue to influence the Filipino culture, including the educational system.
As evidence of the high level of pre-Hispanic culture, native literature is illustrated by the Ilocano (language spoken in Northern Luzon) ballad-epic narrating the life and bravery of Lam-ang in his conquest of the various indigenous groups in the main island of Luzon. Education, of an informal type, was taught during the years prior to the arrival of the Spanish colonizers. An oral tradition was handed down from generation to generation, in the form of poetry, ballads, songs, and dances. Oral literature carried through the ages show an informal and unstructured form of education, including training. Songs, poetry, dances, whether they be religious, festive, heroic, folk, seasonal, or about harvest, love, or war, represent high aspects of a culture. Parents and tribal tutors most likely provided the oral tradition, instruction, and other vocational training.
On March 16, 1521, Ferdinand Magellan arrived and claimed the islands for Spain's king, Charles I. His claim was the forerunner of over three centuries of Spanish colonization of the Philippines.
Prior to the arrival of the Europeans, the inhabitants of the archipelago were literate and had their own system of writing that they used for communication. This writing system is often erroneously referred to as Alibata (the first three letters of the Maguindanao version of the Arabian alphabet: alif, ba, ta). It is more properly named Baybayin, which in Filipino means "to spell." Baybayin has seventeen basic symbols, three of which are vowel sounds. This writing system was used extensively by the inhabitants of the islands, as witnessed by the Spanish upon their arrival. Father Pedro Chirino, a Jesuit chronicler and historian for Miguel de Legazpi (an explorer and the first royal governor of the islands), reports in Relaciones de las Islas Filipinas that when he arrived in the islands in 1565, all the islanders, both men and women, were reading and writing. Another witness and recorder of this fact was Antonio Morga, the Senior Judge Advocate of the High Court of Justice and Commander of the galleon warship San Diego. He noted in Sucesos de las Islas Filipinas that almost all the natives, men and women alike, wrote in the Baybayin language and that there were few who did not write it excellently or correctly.
When the Spanish found that the islanders were educated and literate, the missionaries among them published several books to propagate the Catholic religion among the islanders. The Tagalog Doctrina Christiana (1593) and its Chinese version, based on the catechism teachings of Cardinal Bellarmino, were released a couple of months apart. In 1610, the first Filipino author Tomas Pinpin published a book in Baybayin entitled Librong pagaaralan nang mga Tagalog ng uicang Castila (Book for Tagalogs to Study the Castillian Language). Clearly, the title of the book indicates that education, whether formal or informal, was taking place during this period. In 1620, a fourth book was published. Father Francisco Lopez produced an Ilocano version of the Doctrina Cristiana (spelling changed from the 1593 version) using the Baybayin language. Between 1620 and 1895, this book was reprinted several times. The Baybayin language can still be observed since a form of it is still in use by two indigenous Filipino groups, the Mangyans of the island of Mindoro and the Tagbanuas in the island of Palawan.
The origins of the Baybayin language are unknown, but various theories abound. The Mainland Origin Hypothesis by Peter Belwood stipulates that the language originated from South China and Taiwan. The Island Origin Hypothesis by Wilhelm Solheim suggests that the language originated in the islands of northern Indonesia and Mindanao and then spread northwards. Another theory by David Diringer states that the language derived from Kavi or old Javanese. Fletcher Gardner suggests that the writings came directly from Indian priests who were familiar with the Brahms scripts.
During the entire period of Spanish rule, education was controlled by the Catholic Church. In the place of tribal tutors, Spanish friars and missionaries educated the natives through religion. Upon their arrival, their main goals were to govern the islands, obtain a foothold in the spice trade, and to convert indigenous populations to the Catholic faith. The early friars learned the Baybayin script to allow for better communication with the islanders, particularly in the religious aspect. Religious education then took place using this language. By royal decree the friars were required to teach the Spanish language to the natives, but this was not enforced. This suppression of literacy in the language of the administration kept the inhabitants in ignorance and in subservience for more than 300 years. From 1565 to 1863, there was no specific system of instruction. Worse still, the Baybayin script was replaced by the Roman alphabet since using this gave the indigenous people more leverage dealing with the local Spanish colonial administrators. The Baybayin script was neglected and was not used by succeeding generations.
The San Carlos University was founded in Cebu in 1595. It was initially called the Colegio de San Ildefonso. On April 28, 1611, the University of Santo Tomas was founded in Manila. These universities, along with secondary education schools, were used mainly for Spanish locals.
In 1863, some 342 years after Magellan first arrived in the Philippine islands, Spain promulgated the Education Decree, stipulating compulsory primary education in the Philippines. Education served mainly for catechism purposes. Spanish was used as the language of instruction. Toward the end of the nineteenth century, some 200,000 students (all levels) were in school.
Although secondary and higher education were made available to the local inhabitants by virtue of the 1863 Education Decree, it was only the ilustrados (wealthy locals) who could afford to send their children to study. Some of them even ventured to Europe to complete their studies. This access to higher education and exposure to the liberal trends in Europe crystallized the idea of fighting for independence in the minds of the ilustrados. The education of the ilustrados indirectly fuelled the nationalist spirit of the locals toward a reform movement, and consequently a revolution against Spain.
The Education Decree of 1863 provided for two parts: first, the establishment of at least two free primary schools, one for boys and another for girls, in each town under the control of the municipal government; and second, the creation of a normal school to train men as teachers, supervised by the Jesuits. The teaching of Spanish was compulsory. On June 12, 1898, the revolutionary movement headed by Emilio Aguinaldo declared independence from Spain. Even before the Philippine islands were ceded to the United States by the Treaty of Paris, the revolutionaries had already drafted the main principles of the Malolos Constitution written mainly by Apolinario Mabini in his Constitution Program for the Republic published in July 1898. The Malolos Constitution mandated a free and compulsory system of elementary education. Three other schools of higher learning were established by this constitution: The Burgos Institute of Malolos; the Military Academy of Malolos; and the Literary University of the Philippines. Tagalog was the language used and taught at all levels during the revolution.
On December 10, 1898, the Treaty of Paris was signed. It stipulated that the Philippines, Guam, and Puerto Rico be ceded to the United States in exchange for the sum of US$20 million. The people of the Phillipines were not consulted regarding this matter and were outraged. The brutal Philippine-American war ensued. Approximately 250,000 Filipinos died in the war in less than three years. Aguinaldo was captured by the Americans on March 23, 1901, and swore allegiance to the United States.
The first decade of American rule in the Philippines witnessed a marked improvement in education. The First Philippine Commission, also known as the Schurman Commission (created on January 20, 1899), was appointed by President McKinley of the United States. Schurman, previously the president of Cornell University, recommended a system of free public elementary schools as a major component of his report to the president. The Second Philippine Commission (the Taft Commission) on March 16, 1900, enforced this recommendation. Under the leadership of William Howard Taft, free primary education became the method by which locals were instructed of their duties as citizens. English became the language of instruction since most of the teachers were non-commissioned American military officers and military chaplains. From September 1900 to August 1902, the Taft Commission issued 499 laws, one of those being Act No. 74 which took effect on January 21, 1901. Through Act No. 74, a centralized public school system was installed under the Department of Public Instruction.
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The creation of a public school system resulted in a shortage of instructors. The Taft Commission, through the Secretary of Public Instruction authorized the importation of teachers from the United States. More than one thousand American educators arrived in the Philippines from 1901 to 1902. Most of them arrived in the ship S.S. Thomas, thus their reputation as Thomasites. This marked a blossoming of education from only about 150,000 students enrolled in 1901 to about one million in primary schools after two decades. This total raised to over two million students in all levels by 1941. The Department of Public Instruction also created the Philippine Normal School to train more teachers. In 1902, the Second Philippine Commission also established a high school system supported by provincial governments. Other institutions of learning were established: special education; marine institute; school of arts and trades; agricultural; and commerce schools.
America's democratic emphasis on public, nonreligious education of the masses was quite a contrast to the Spanish educating only the elite in a system completely under the control of the Catholic Church. Education, the American way, became instilled into the Filipinos as a chance for upward social mobility. For the Filipino, earning a diploma ensures a good job and acceptance in society with a chance for a better future. Despite the initial friction between the mostly Protestant American teachers and the Catholic Filipinos, the American system of education prevailed. All through this tumultuous period, the institutions of learning created during the Spanish period (San Carlos University and the University of Santo Tomas) continued to offer degree programs. Act No. 1870 of the Philippine Legislature in 1908 established the first baccalaureate degree granting institution, the University of the Philippines. Like the other institutions of higher education in the Philippines, the organization of this university was European in style, but the language of instruction was English.
In 1916, during the governorship of Francis Harrison, the United States Congress passed the Second Organic Law, more frequently referred to as the Jones Act. This Act replaced the 1902 First Organic Law and was a reorganization act providing for rapid Filipinization of the government. The entire cabinet, other than the Department of Public Instruction, was composed of Filipinos. The legislative branch also came under Filipino control. Nine years after the Jones Law, a committee headed by Paul Monroe surveyed the state of education and found a very problematic and disappointing scenario. The problems included inadequate textbooks, poor budgetary/finance situations, a lack of trained educators, and high dropout and failure rates. In 1934, the U.S. Congress passed legislation for the establishment of the Commonwealth of the Philippines. It took effect in 1935. The new Commonwealth was provided with a transition period of ten years before full independence was achieved.
The Commonwealth government passed the Education Act of 1940, but this did not solve much of the problems still plaguing the Department of Public Instruction. As Filipino officials practiced self-governance, World War II suddenly ensued. The Japanese launched a surprise attack on the Philippines on December 8, 1941, merely ten hours after Pearl Harbor. On June 11, 1942, the Japanese Executive Commission issued Military Order No. 2, renaming the Department of Public Instruction into the Commission of Education, Health, and Public Welfare. In 1943, the Japanese-sponsored Philippine Republic created the Ministry of Education. The Japanese emphasized dignity of labor and love for work. Philippine History, Character Education, and the Filipino language were some of the classes permitted by the Japanese regime for Filipino students. Despite efforts by the Japanese to maintain public education, the education of the young Filipinos was disrupted by this war. In 1944, close to the end of the Japanese regime, the Ministry of Education, Health, and Public Welfare was again renamed to the Department of Public Instruction.

Read more: Philippines - History Background

Copyright © 2010 Net Industries and its Licensors – All Rights Reserved – Terms of Use PHILIPPINE ENGLISHAlso Filipino English. The English language as used in the Philippines, a state of South-East Asia consisting of more than 7,000 islands. The 1980 census counted the number of Filipinos with some competence in English as around 65%: some 35m people. Ability ranges from a smattering of words and phrases through passive comprehension to near-native mastery.
Filipino experience of Western colonialism and its linguistic effects has been unique, in that there have been two colonizers in succession: Spain from the 16c and the US from 1898, when English arrived in the islands. It spread rapidly, to the detriment of SPANISH, because it was the new language of government, preferment, and education. Incentives to learn English, included recruitment into the civil service and study in the US. In 1935, US-educated pensionados (scholars) became leaders of the Senate and the House of Representatives as well as members of the cabinet. English was used universally in the elementary-school system set up by the colonial government, which brought in American teachers. Education was the last government department to be indigenized, with US superintendents still functioning under the Commonwealth government before the outbreak of World War II. In the Philippines there are some 85 mutually unintelligible though genetically related languages of the Malayo-Polynesian family, such as TAGALOG, Cebuano, Ilocano, Hiligaynon, Waray, and Bicol. These languages of the home serve as SUBSTRATES whose features have variously influenced the development of Philippine English.
(1) Philippine English is RHOTIC, but the local /r/ is an alveolar flap, not an AmE retroflex. (2) It is syllabletimed, following the rhythm of the local languages; full value is therefore given to unstressed syllables and SCHWA is usually realized as a full vowel. (3) Certain polysyllables have distinctive stress patterns, as with elígible, establísh, cerémony. (4) Intonation is widely characterized as ‘singsong’. (5) Educated Filipinos aim at an AmE accent, but have varying success with the vowel contrasts in sheep/ship, full/fool, and boat/bought. (6) Few Filipinos have the /æ/ in AmE mask; instead, they use /ɑ/ as in AmE father. (7) The distinction between /s, z/ and /ʃ, ʒ/ is not made: azure is ‘ayshure’, pleasure ‘pleshure’, seize ‘sees’, cars ‘karss’. (8) Interdental /ɵ, ð/ are often rendered as /t, d/, so that three of these is spoken as ‘tree of dese’.
The following features occur at all social levels: (1) Loss of the singular inflection of verbs: The family home rest on the bluff of a hill; One of the boys give a report to the teacher every morning. (2) Use of present perfect for simple past (I have seen her yesterday I saw her yesterday) and past perfect for present perfect (He had already gone home He has already gone home). (3) Use of the continuous tenses for habitual aspect: He is going to school regularly He goes to school regularly. (4) Use of the present forms of auxiliary verbs in subordinate noun clauses rather than past forms, and vice versa: He said he has already seen you He said he had already seen you; She hoped that she can visit you tomorrow She hoped that she could visit you tomorrow; He says that he could visit you tomorrow He says that he can visit you tomorrow. (5) An apparent reversal of the norms for the use of the definite article: He is studying at the Manuel Quezon University; I am going to visit United States. (6) Verbs that are generally transitive used intransitively: Did you enjoy?; I cannot afford; I don't like.
Vocabulary and idioms
(1) Loans from Spanish: asalto a surprise party, bienvenida a welcome party, despedida a farewell party, Don/Doña title for a prominent man/woman, estafa a fraud, scandal, merienda mid-afternoon tea, plantilla faculty assignments and deployment in an academic department, querida a mistress, viand (from vianda provisions for a journey) a dish served to accompany rice in a Filipino meal. (2) LOAN-WORDS from Tagalog: boondock (from bundok) mountain (compare the AmE extension: the boondocks), carabao (from kalabaw) a water buffalo, kundiman a love song, sampaloc (from sampalok) the fruit of the tamarind, tao man (as in the common tao). (3) LOAN TRANSLATIONS from local usages: open the light/radio turn on the light/radio (also found in IndE), since before yet for a long time, joke only I'm teasing you, you don't only know you just don't realize, he is playing and playing he keeps on playing, making foolishness (of children) misbehaving, I am ashamed to you I am embarrassed because I have been asking you so many favours. (4) Local NEOLOGISMS: agrupation (from Spanish agrupación) a group, captain-ball team captain in basketball, carnap to steal (kidnap) a car, cope up to keep up and cope with (something), hold-upper someone who engages in armed holdups, jeepney (blending jeep and jitney, AmE a small bus) a jeep converted into a passenger vehicle.
Written models
Because of the influence of reading and writing and the academic context in which English is learned, local speech tends to be based on written models. Filipinos generally speak the way they write, in a formal style based on Victorian prose models. Because of this, spelling pronunciations are common, such as ‘lee-o-pard’ for leopard, ‘subtill’ for subtle, and ‘worsester-shire sauce’ for Worcestershire sauce. Style is not differentiated and the formal style in general use has been called the classroom compositional style. When style differentiation is attempted there may be effects that are comical from the point of view of a native speaker of English: ‘The commissioners are all horse owners, who at the same time will appoint the racing stewards who will adjudicate disputes involving horses. Neat no?’ (from a newspaper column).
A register has developed for rapport and intimacy that depends on CODE-MIXING AND CODE-SWITCHING between Filipino and English. It is largely confined to Metro Manila and other urban centres and used extensively in motion pictures and on television and radio as well as in certain types of informal writing in daily newspapers and weekly magazines. Examples:(1) ‘Peks man,’ she swears, ‘Wala pang nangyayari sa amin ni Marlon. We want to surprise each other on our honeymoon.’ [‘Cross my heart,’ she swears. ‘Nothing yet has happened between Marlon and me …’] (from a movie gossip column).(2) Donna reveals that since she turned producer in 1986, her dream was to produce a movie for children: ‘Kaya, nang mabasa ko ang Tuklaw sa Aliwan Komiks, sabi ko, this is it. And I had the festival in mind when finally I decided to produce it. Pambata talaga kasi ang Pasko,’ Donna says. [‘That is why when I read the story “Snake-Bite” in the Aliwan Comic Book, I told myself, this is it …. Because Christmas is really for children’] (from a movie gossip column).
Social issues
Philippine English is currently competing in certain domains with the rapidly spreading and developing Filipino, which is in a process of register-building sometimes called intellectualization. Filipino is not fully developed for academic discourse, especially in the sciences, and there is an ongoing debate on the use of Filipino instead of English for school work and official purposes. There is also conflict between the learning of Filipino for symbolic purposes and the learning of English for utilitarian, largely economic, purposes. The two official languages are propagated through a bilingual education scheme begun in 1974: mathematics and science continue to be taught in English although it is envisaged that when possible the teaching of these subjects at certain grade levels shall be in Filipino. The print media are dominated by English, but television, radio, and local movies are dominated by Filipino.

English in the Philippines shares patterns of development and constriction with English in Malaysia. From a situation similar to that of Singapore, where a premium is placed on learning English and using it extensively, the Philippines has now moved on to a stage at which English is used only in such domains as academic discourse and international relations. Philippine English has developed a vigorous literature. It is in the process of standardization, with a variety no longer marked by regional accents associated with regional languages, but a converging variety that originates in Manila. This form is propagated largely through the school system, the mass media, and tourism. Because of code-switching, it seems unlikely that a colloquial variety of English alone will develop. The future is open, without clear trends. On the one hand, code-switching may end up in code-mixing, resulting in a local creole. On the other hand, the need for international relations, the dominance of the print media, and the continued use of English in education may exercise a standardizing role, making it possible for the Philippine variety to be mutually intelligible with other varieties of English. It is also possible that the present system of bilingual education will be converted into a purely monolingual Filipino scheme in which English is taught as a foreign language and becomes available only to an élite. See FILIPINISM, SOUTH-EAST ASIAN ENGLISH, TAGLISH.
TOM McARTHUR. "PHILIPPINE ENGLISH." Concise Oxford Companion to the English Language. 1998. Retrieved March 18, 2010 from
The Literary Forms in Philippine Literature by: Christine F. Godinez-Ortega The diversity and richness of Philippine literature evolved side by side with the country's history. This can best be appreciated in the context of the country's pre-colonial cultural traditions and the socio-political histories of its colonial and contemporary traditions. The average Filipino's unfamiliarity with his indigenous literature was largely due to what has been impressed upon him: that his country was "discovered" and, hence, Philippine "history" started only in 1521. So successful were the efforts of colonialists to blot out the memory of the country's largely oral past that present-day Filipino writers, artists and journalists are trying to correct this inequity by recognizing the country's wealth of ethnic traditions and disseminating them in schools and in the mass media. The rousings of nationalistic pride in the 1960s and 1970s also helped bring about this change of attitude among a new breed of Filipinos concerned about the "Filipino identity." Pre-Colonial Times Owing to the works of our own archaeologists, ethnologists and anthropologists, we are able to know more and better judge information about our pre-colonial times set against a bulk of material about early Filipinos as recorded by Spanish, Chinese, Arabic and other chroniclers of the past. Pre-colonial inhabitants of our islands showcase a rich past through their folk speeches, folk songs, folk narratives and indigenous rituals and mimetic dances that affirm our ties with our Southeast Asian neighbors. The most seminal of these folk speeches is the riddle which is tigmo in Cebuano, bugtong in Tagalog, paktakon in Ilongo and patototdon in Bicol. Central to the riddle is the talinghaga or metaphor because it "reveals subtle resemblances between two unlike objects" and one's power of observation and wit are put to the test. While some riddles are ingenious, others verge on the obscene or are sex-related:
Gongonan nu usin y amam If you pull your daddy's penis Maggirawa pay sila y inam. Your mommy's vagina, too,
(Campana) screams. (Bell) The proverbs or aphorisms express norms or codes of behavior, community beliefs or they instill values by offering nuggets of wisdom in short, rhyming verse. The extended form, tanaga, a mono-riming heptasyllabic quatrain expressing insights and lessons on life is "more emotionally charged than the terse proverb and thus has affinities with the folk lyric." Some examples are the basahanon or extended didactic sayings from Bukidnon and the daraida and daragilon from Panay. The folk song, a form of folk lyric which expresses the hopes and aspirations, the people's lifestyles as well as their loves. These are often repetitive and sonorous, didactic and naive as in the children's songs or Ida-ida (Maguindanao), tulang pambata (Tagalog) or cansiones para abbing (Ibanag). A few examples are the lullabyes or Ili-ili (Ilongo); love songs like the panawagon and balitao (Ilongo); harana or serenade (Cebuano); the bayok (Maranao); the seven-syllable per line poem, ambahan of the Mangyans that are about human relationships, social entertainment and also serve as a tool for teaching the young; work songs that depict the livelihood of the people often sung to go with the movement of workers such as the kalusan (Ivatan), soliranin (Tagalog rowing song) or the mambayu, a Kalinga rice-pounding song; the verbal jousts/games like the duplo popular during wakes. Other folk songs are the drinking songs sung during carousals like the tagay (Cebuano and Waray); dirges and lamentations extolling the deeds of the dead like the kanogon (Cebuano) or the Annako (Bontoc). A type of narrative song or kissa among the Tausug of Mindanao, the parang sabil, uses for its subject matter the exploits of historical and legendary heroes. It tells of a Muslim hero who seeks death at the hands of non-Muslims. The folk narratives, i.e. epics and folk tales are varied, exotic and magical. They explain how the world was created, how certain animals possess certain characteristics, why some places have waterfalls, volcanoes, mountains, flora or fauna and, in the case of legends, an explanation of the origins of things. Fables are about animals and these teach moral lessons. Our country's epics are considered ethno-epics because unlike, say, Germany's Niebelunginlied, our epics are not national for they are "histories" of varied groups that consider themselves "nations." The epics come in various names: Guman (Subanon); Darangen (Maranao); Hudhud (Ifugao); and Ulahingan (Manobo). These epics revolve around supernatural events or heroic deeds and they embody or validate the beliefs and customs and ideals of a community. These are sung or chanted to the accompaniment of indigenous musical instruments and dancing performed during harvests, weddings or funerals by chanters. The chanters who were taught by their ancestors are considered "treasures" and/or repositories of wisdom in their communities. Examples of these epics are the Lam-ang (Ilocano); Hinilawod (Sulod); Kudaman (Palawan); Darangen (Maranao); Ulahingan (Livunganen-Arumanen Manobo); Mangovayt Buhong na Langit (The Maiden of the Buhong Sky from Tuwaang--Manobo); Ag Tobig neg Keboklagan (Subanon); and Tudbulol (T'boli). The Spanish Colonial Tradition While it is true that Spain subjugated the Philippines for more mundane reasons, this former European power contributed much in the shaping and recording of our literature. Religion and institutions that represented European civilization enriched the languages in the lowlands, introduced theater which we would come to know as komedya, the sinakulo, the sarswela, the playlets and the drama. Spain also brought to the country, though at a much later time, liberal ideas and an internationalism that influenced our own Filipino intellectuals and writers for them to understand the meanings of "liberty and freedom." Literature in this period may be classified as religious prose and poetry and secular prose and poetry. Religious lyrics written by ladino poets or those versed in both Spanish and Tagalog were included in early catechism and were used to teach Filipinos the Spanish language. Fernando Bagonbanta's "Salamat nang walang hanga/gracias de sin sempiternas" (Unending thanks) is a fine example that is found in the Memorial de la vida cristiana en lengua tagala (Guidelines for the Christian life in the Tagalog language) published in 1605. Another form of religious lyrics are the meditative verses like the dalit appended to novenas and catechisms. It has no fixed meter nor rime scheme although a number are written in octosyllabic quatrains and have a solemn tone and spiritual subject matter. But among the religious poetry of the day, it is the pasyon in octosyllabic quintillas that became entrenched in the Filipino's commemoration of Christ's agony and resurrection at Calvary. Gaspar Aquino de Belen's "Ang Mahal na Passion ni Jesu Christong Panginoon natin na tola" (Holy Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ in Verse) put out in 1704 is the country's earliest known pasyon. Other known pasyons chanted during the Lenten season are in Ilocano, Pangasinan, Ibanag, Cebuano, Bicol, Ilongo and Waray. Aside from religious poetry, there were various kinds of prose narratives written to prescribe proper decorum. Like the pasyon, these prose narratives were also used for proselitization. Some forms are: dialogo (dialogue), Manual de Urbanidad (conduct book); ejemplo (exemplum) and tratado (tratado). The most well-known are Modesto de Castro's "Pagsusulatan ng Dalawang Binibini na si Urbana at si Feliza" (Correspondence between the Two Maidens Urbana and Feliza) in 1864 and Joaquin Tuason's "Ang Bagong Robinson" (The New Robinson) in 1879, an adaptation of Daniel Defoe's novel. Secular works appeared alongside historical and economic changes, the emergence of an opulent class and the middle class who could avail of a European education. This Filipino elite could now read printed works that used to be the exclusive domain of the missionaries. The most notable of the secular lyrics followed the conventions of a romantic tradition: the languishing but loyal lover, the elusive, often heartless beloved, the rival. The leading poets were Jose Corazon de Jesus (Huseng Sisiw) and Francisco Balagtas. Some secular poets who wrote in this same tradition were Leona Florentino, Jacinto Kawili, Isabelo de los Reyes and Rafael Gandioco. Another popular secular poetry is the metrical romance, the awit and korido in Tagalog. The awit is set in dodecasyllabic quatrains while the korido is in octosyllabic quatrains. These are colorful tales of chivalry from European sources made for singing and chanting such as Gonzalo de Cordoba (Gonzalo of Cordoba) and Ibong Adarna (Adarna Bird). There are numerous metrical romances in Tagalog, Bicol, Ilongo, Pampango, Ilocano and in Pangasinan. The awit as a popular poetic genre reached new heights in Balagtas' "Florante at Laura" (ca. 1838-1861), the most famous of the country's metrical romances. Again, the winds of change began to blow in 19th century Philippines. Filipino intellectuals educated in Europe called ilustrados began to write about the downside of colonization. This, coupled with the simmering calls for reforms by the masses gathered a formidable force of writers like Jose Rizal, Marcelo H. del Pilar, Mariano Ponce, Emilio Jacinto and Andres Bonifacio. This led to the formation of the Propaganda Movement where prose works such as the political essays and Rizal's two political novels, Noli Me Tangere and the El filibusterismo helped usher in the Philippine revolution resulting in the downfall of the Spanish regime, and, at the same time planted the seeds of a national consciousness among Filipinos. But if Rizal's novels are political, the novel Ninay (1885) by Pedro Paterno is largely cultural and is considered the first Filipino novel. Although Paterno's Ninay gave impetus to other novelists like Jesus Balmori and Antonio M. Abad to continue writing in Spanish, this did not flourish. Other Filipino writers published the essay and short fiction in Spanish in La Vanguardia, El Debate, Renacimiento Filipino, and Nueva Era. The more notable essayists and fictionists were Claro M. Recto, Teodoro M. Kalaw, Epifanio de los Reyes, Vicente Sotto, Trinidad Pardo de Tavera, Rafael Palma, Enrique Laygo (Caretas or Masks, 1925) and Balmori who mastered the prosa romantica or romantic prose. But the introduction of English as medium of instruction in the Philippines hastened the demise of Spanish so that by the 1930s, English writing had overtaken Spanish writing. During the language's death throes, however, writing in the romantic tradition, from the awit and korido, would continue in the novels of Magdalena Jalandoni. But patriotic writing continued under the new colonialists. These appeared in the vernacular poems and modern adaptations of works during the Spanish period and which further maintained the Spanish tradition. The American Colonial Period A new set of colonizers brought about new changes in Philippine literature. New literary forms such as free verse [in poetry], the modern short story and the critical essay were introduced. American influence was deeply entrenched with the firm establishment of English as the medium of instruction in all schools and with literary modernism that highlighted the writer's individuality and cultivated consciousness of craft, sometimes at the expense of social consciousness. The poet, and later, National Artist for Literature, Jose Garcia Villa used free verse and espoused the dictum, "Art for art's sake" to the chagrin of other writers more concerned with the utilitarian aspect of literature. Another maverick in poetry who used free verse and talked about illicit love in her poetry was Angela Manalang Gloria, a woman poet described as ahead of her time. Despite the threat of censorship by the new dispensation, more writers turned up "seditious works" and popular writing in the native languages bloomed through the weekly outlets like Liwayway and Bisaya. The Balagtas tradition persisted until the poet Alejandro G. Abadilla advocated modernism in poetry. Abadilla later influenced young poets who wrote modern verses in the 1960s such as Virgilio S. Almario, Pedro I. Ricarte and Rolando S. Tinio. While the early Filipino poets grappled with the verities of the new language, Filipinos seemed to have taken easily to the modern short story as published in the Philippines Free Press, the College Folio and Philippines Herald. Paz Marquez Benitez's "Dead Stars" published in 1925 was the first successful short story in English written by a Filipino. Later on, Arturo B. Rotor and Manuel E. Arguilla showed exceptional skills with the short story. Alongside this development, writers in the vernaculars continued to write in the provinces. Others like Lope K. Santos, Valeriano Hernandez Peña and Patricio Mariano were writing minimal narratives similar to the early Tagalog short fiction called dali or pasingaw (sketch). The romantic tradition was fused with American pop culture or European influences in the adaptations of Edgar Rice Burroughs' Tarzan by F. P. Boquecosa who also penned Ang Palad ni Pepe after Charles Dicken's David Copperfield even as the realist tradition was kept alive in the novels by Lope K. Santos and Faustino Aguilar, among others. It should be noted that if there was a dearth of the Filipino novel in English, the novel in the vernaculars continued to be written and serialized in weekly magazines like Liwayway, Bisaya, Hiligaynon and Bannawag. The essay in English became a potent medium from the 1920's to the present. Some leading essayists were journalists like Carlos P. Romulo, Jorge Bocobo, Pura Santillan Castrence, etc. who wrote formal to humorous to informal essays for the delectation by Filipinos. Among those who wrote criticism developed during the American period were Ignacio Manlapaz, Leopoldo Yabes and I.V. Mallari. But it was Salvador P. Lopez's criticism that grabbed attention when he won the Commonwealth Literay Award for the essay in 1940 with his "Literature and Society." This essay posited that art must have substance and that Villa's adherence to "Art for Art's Sake" is decadent. The last throes of American colonialism saw the flourishing of Philippine literature in English at the same time, with the introduction of the New Critical aesthetics, made writers pay close attention to craft and "indirectly engendered a disparaging attitude" towards vernacular writings -- a tension that would recur in the contemporary period. The Contemporary Period The flowering of Philippine literature in the various languages continue especially with the appearance of new publications after the Martial Law years and the resurgence of committed literature in the 1960s and the 1970s. Filipino writers continue to write poetry, short stories, novellas, novels and essays whether these are socially committed, gender/ethnic related or are personal in intention or not. Of course the Filipino writer has become more conscious of his art with the proliferation of writers workshops here and abroad and the bulk of literature available to him via the mass media including the internet. The various literary awards such as the Don Carlos Palanca Memorial Awards for Literature, the Philippines Free Press, Philippine Graphic, Home Life and Panorama literary awards encourage him to compete with his peers and hope that his creative efforts will be rewarded in the long run. With the new requirement by the Commission on Higher Education of teaching of Philippine Literature in all tertiary schools in the country emphasizing the teaching of the vernacular literature or literatures of the regions, the audience for Filipino writers is virtually assured. And, perhaps, a national literature finding its niche among the literatures of the world will not be far behind.
Godinez-Ortega, C. F. (2010, March 3). The Literary Forms in Philippine Literature. Retrieved March 18, 2010, from SE Asian Languages and Culture:

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Literary Period U. S. Colonialism
1898 - 1945 Philippine literature during the American rule was influenced by two factors, first of which is, education. With the Americans providing free education, many were given the chance to study and English was used as the language of instruction. Unlike the Spanish, the foreigners were willing to teach their language to the Filipinos. Free education served as the stepping stone for others to improve their social status.

Early literary works in English showed styles of which is American. It can also be seen that writers who just started learning English cannot fully showcase their talent because of the lack of mastery of the language.
The downfall of the Spanish colonialism freed the printing industry from religious censorship. With the printing industry in the hands of patriotic investors, the printing press was used to block the American culture from entering the Philippine lifestyle. Newspapers in our different dialects flourished all over the archipelago. With some newspapers having a space for literary pieces, writers were given the chance to show and prove the true talent of the Filipinos. Some of these newspapers were Muling Pagsilang (1903, Tagalog), Ang Kaluwasan (1902, Cebuano), Makinaugalingon (1913, Ilonggo), and Nueva Era (1908, Ilokano). The best known magazines that capitalized on short stories and poems were Liwayway (1922, Tagalog), Bisaya (1930, Cebuano), Hiligaynon (1934, Ilonggo), and Bannawag (1934, Ilokano).
Writers during the American Period drew ideas from the Propaganda Movement and the Revolutionary Movement to encourage the Filipinos to continue to fight against the U.S. Colonialism. The demand for independence was supported by a campaign to make the Americans aware of the Filipino culture. Some writers who use the Spanish language began to shift to the American language for the fact that a larger population can now comprehend the said language. It is a fact that Filipinos during the Spanish period were not given the chance to learn the language, resulting in a very small population of people capable of understanding the literary works.
The literary genres that flourished during the American Period were poetry, sarswela, short story, and the novel. Poetry was written in the three languages - Filipino, Spanish, English, and in the different dialects. Some of the known poets during the American period were Maximo Kalaw, Carlos P. Romulo, Maria Agoncillo, Paz Marquez Benitez, Salvador P. Lopez, Jose Garcia Villa, Carlos Bulosan, and many others. There were three collection of poems printed namely Filipino Poetry edited by Rodolfo Dato, The English German Anthology of Poets edited by Pablo Laslo, and a pre-war collection by Carlos Bulosan. The balagtasan, named after Francisco F. Balagtas, is a debate in verse, a poetical joust done almost spontaneously between protagonists who debate over the pros and the cons of a certain issue. The first ever balagtasan was held in March 1924 at the Insituto de Mujeres, with Corazon de Jesus and Florentino Collantes as rivals. Jose Corazon de Jesus, known also as Huseng Batute, became the first ever king of the Balagtasan.
Short stories in English of early Filipino fictionists are marked with American style. This all changed with the founding of the U. P. Writers Club in 1926 whose aim was to enhance and propagate the "language of Shakespeare." With the publication of Paz Marquez Benitez' "Dead Stars," it was made the landmark of the maturity of the Filipino writer in English. Many writers followed Benitez like Icasiano Calalang, Arturo Rotor, A. E. Litiatco, Paz Latorena, and Manuel Arguilla started publishing stories manifesting skills in the use of the foreign language and a keen Filipino sensibility.
The combination of the foreign language and the culture of a Filipino enabled fictionists to produce great literary works. The public can now relate to the story because the public also experiences what the story has to say and they can now understand the language being used by the writer. Works like "His Native Soil" by Juan C. Laya, "How My Brother Leon Brought Home a Wife" by Manuel Arguilla, and many others depicted the Filipino life in English. The other novelists of this period are Jose Garcia Villa, Francisco Arellana, Fernando Maria Guerrero, Amador Daguio, and Sinai Hamada.
With the founding of the Philippine Writers League in 1936, Filipino writers began discussing the value of literature in the society they live in. This move was led by Salvador P. Lopez whose works centered on proletarian literature.
It was during the early American period that the sarswela gained popularity. Most of the sarwelas if not all are directed against the American imperialists. The works of Severino Reyes ("Walang Sugat") and Patricio Mariano ("Anak ng Dagat") are equally remarkable sarwelas during the period. Here are the other noted sarswelistas: Aurelio Tolentino, Juan Abad, Juan Matapang Cruz, and Juan Crisostomo Sotto.
Among the Ilokano writers, noted novelists were Leon Pichay, Hermogenes Belen, and Mena Pecson Crisologo whose Mining wenno Ayat ti Kararwa is considered to be the Ilokano version of Noli Me Tangere. Magdalena Jalandoni and Ramon Muzones are the most prominent writers in the Visayas region. Their works depicted love, farm life, and the social life the region is having.
The latter stages of the American period continued to produce great poets like Julian Cruz Blamaceda, Florentino Collantes, Pedro Gatmaitan, Jose Corazon de Jesus, Lope K. Santos, Alejandro Abadilla, Teodoro Agoncillo, and Inigo Ed. Regalado. They used a modern style of poetry that is made up of free verse.
Liwayway Arceo and Genoveva Edroza Matute are two fictionist writers that became popular during the American rule. Their works "Uhaw ang Tigang na Lupa" and "Ako'y Isang Tinig" respectively are used as models for fine writing. Both writers use a style of storytelling that uses language through poignant rendition. Teodoro Agoncillo's "25 Pinakamahusay na Maikling Kuwento" included the foremost writers of fiction before World War II.

angelfire. (2010). Literery Period. Retrieved March 14, 2010, from Free website hosting:
Godinez-Ortega, C. F. (2010, March 3). The Literary Forms in Philippine Literature. Retrieved March 18, 2010, from SE Asian Languages and Culture: (2009, October). Background Note: Philippines. Retrieved March 15, 2010, from

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