Sobrang sang-ayon ako sa isinulat ni Mar-Vic Cagurangan ng Today sa kanilang opinion page ngayong araw na ito. Nakakalungkot na samantalang halos kahit saan ka tumingin sa kalunsuran ngayon ay mukha ng F4 ng Meteor Garden ang makikita mo, ni hindi na magunita si Amado Hernandez, isang dakilang Pilipino.
Nasa ibaba ang buong teksto ng kanyang artikulo. Ang link sa mga aklat ni Ka Amado sa Amazon ay ako ang naglagay.
By Mar-Vic Cagurangan
September 2, 2003
Organizers of the Amado V. Hernandez Centennial Celebration called a press conference last week to announce the preparations for the commemoration of the National Artist’s 100th birthday on September 13. They did not exactly expect an overflow media crowd. But they did not expect a pathetically poor attendance either.
Of the 15 media outfits that confirmed atendance, only three–Today, Manila Standard and Bulatlat.com–showed up.
Where were the rest?
The disappointed press conference organizers were told that the rest must be busy preparing for the coverage of a supposedly bigger event of September 13–the F4 concert. How can the celebration of Philippine literature compete with imported culture?
Ask every person on the street who among the F4 boys Sancai had dated first. You sure can get a quick, accurate answer.
But mention Amado V. Hernandez and you’ll get a blank stare: “Amado who?”
Hernandez was a novelist, poet and journalist, whose poignant but searing prose has touched generations. He was posthumously recognized in 1973, becoming the first to be accorded the title National Artist. He also got an award from the National Press Club for his 25 years of service in journalism.
A pioneer in social realism, Hernandez–also known as Ka Amado–wrote timeless poems and stories that portrayed the working class’ struggle and occasional triumph against the caprices of the elite and tyranny of the Establishment. Among his best works are Langaw sa Isang Basong Gatas, Panata ng Isang Lider, Luha ng Buwaya and Kung Tuyo na ang Luha Mo.
He was also an advocate of workers’ rights, for which he paid a heavy price. He was jailed for rebellion from 1951 to 1956, but was eventually exonarated by the Supreme Court in 1964.
That 98 percent of the Philippine population are riveted to the Taiwanese pop group but clueless about who Amado Hernandez was reveals the rueful state of Philippine culture. The Philippine media’s apparent indifference to national literary art threatens to even accelerate the cultural collapse.
“In other countries such as the Latin Americas, remarked Rep. Satur Ocampo, who is a big fan of Hernandez, “literary writers are treated as heroes. But here…”
Looking back, Filipinos have not always been literary ignoramuses. The Philippines once had an oral literary tradition called Balagtasan. Francisco Balagtas was a household name. The advent of outside forces pushed this cultural component into oblivion.
Theater director Boni Ilagan blames the colonizers. “When the Spaniards came they banned the reading of literature. Then the Americans came, introduced the English language and promoted their own literature. As a result, the Filipinos have become alienated from literary works written by our own authors.”
Then came the electronic revolution, which, in later years would introduce soap operas, idiotic movies, absurd reality TV, stupid noontime shows with sleazy belly-dancers, and even silly contests for children who are better off reading their books. All these have perpetrated the mediocrity of national taste.
“Literature is no match to performing arts,” says the actor Nanding Josef. “People prefer to watch dancing and singing.” (And crying and slapping, if I may add.)
“Maybe it’s the fault of our present education system, which doesn’t teach literature as a form of expression,” Josef adds. “Unfortunately, even the media have no intention of promoting literature.”
You can’t agree more with that. Consider one television station’s zest in giving the public an overdose of Meteor Garden and F4 in its 6 o’clock daily news program.
“Amado V. Hernandez vs F4” bares a clash of cultures, in which, unfortunately, the one that defines the Filipino identity seems to have little chance of winning.