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.

Amado V. Hernandez versus F4
By Mar-Vic Cagurangan
Sub-editor, Today
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–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.

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  1. gandang hapon po…Im looking for the exact poem entitled “KUNG”. it was the direct cebuano translation of “KUN”…. was able to make a melody for it way back 2003 and am needing it so I can play it again….if anyone can help me please….daghang salamat!–Tapati email: [email protected]

  2. Marianas Variety( Saipan)

    Not to worry
    By Zaldy Dandan

    SOME commentators in Manila noted recently the contrast between the public and the media?s reaction toward the centennial of one of the greatest Filipino writers in history, the journalist-playwright-novelist-poet Amado V. Hernandez, and the upcoming concert of this pop group called F-ER, something. The fashionably left-leaning Philippine intelligentsia slash culturati are disappointed because Filipino literary luminaries are not as ?famous? as their counterparts in, say, the then Soviet Union. They, of course, blame our former colonial masters. Now Spain and the U.S. brought us the language of Lope de Vega and Miguel de Unamuno, and of Thomas Macaulay and Ernest Hemingway, but we clearly prefer Julio Iglesias and Barry Manilow so, yes, let?s blame the imperialists.
    Still, I understand the concern of the literati. They believe that poetry and other literary forms of art are in danger of extinction; and hence, they have to be preserved and promoted.
    I don?t think so. Now don?t get me wrong. I agree that literature is worth preserving, but I also believe that it will live on whether we ?save? it or not. As long as language exists there will be people who will love language and these are the men and women who make literature possible.
    Take note: ?love of language.?
    There is this notion that literature, particularly poetry, is a vehicle for ?saying something.? This is true to a certain extent, but if you just want to ?say something? then I suggest that you make a placard or a poster, write a speech or a letter to the editor or even an op-ed. Literature, excellent literature, is not just about ?saying something.? It is about saying something but brilliantly, profoundly, movingly, beautifully. This is why its best practitioners are those who love language, who are willing to study it and explore its sweep and ability both to contain our humanity and to transcend it.
    There is also this belief that literature, particularly poetry, is not as popular now as it was in the past because modern verses are ?too deep,? ?too intellectual.?
    I don?t think so. Spenser, Shakespeare, Donne, Vaughan, Milton, Pope, Shelley, Hopkins, etc. etc. certainly did not dumb down their poetry. In fact, their poems are as ?difficult? as modern poets if not more technically demanding and more exquisite. But what they had then that the modern masters don?t was a captive audience. In the past there were no TV, movies, VCR, DVD player and the Internet. The most accessible form of entertainment was the written word. Those were the days when people had, more or less, no choice but to read. Boswell in his ?Life of Johnson? tells of a man who picked up one of Dr. Johnson?s books and ?began to read it while he was standing with his arm leaning against a chimney piece. It seized his attention so strongly, that, not being able to lay down the book till he had finished it, when he attempted to move, he found his arm totally benumbed.? Or about the shepherd who, when asked by an earl what he thought about ?Paradise Lost,? said: ?An?t please your lordship; this is a very odd sort of an author: he would fain rhyme, but cannot get at it.?
    Nowadays, not even Stephen King or Tom Clancy can compete with PlayStation or MTV.
    Happily, life goes on, and literature continues to be written and read. Literature will survive as long as there are people who savor language, and they will always exist as long as language exists.
    In case of poetry, there is really no need to dumb it down. You do that and the result is what the American poet Richard Howard described a few years ago as ?what people believe to be poetry.? In other words, bad, bad verse. No sense of craft or form, no precision of language, just prosy ?expressions? of ?feelings? which are, to be sure, ?sincere.? But as Oscar Wilde once said, all bad poetry springs from genuine feeling.
    Great works of literature, in any case, will endure because they are among humanity?s finest and noblest creations. The Filipino public and the media may be going ape over these F-U whatever pop idols NOW, but history will only remember the likes of Amado V. Hernandez.

  3. Nakikiisa ako sa pananaw ni Bb. Mar-Vic, masyado na kasing humihina ang pundasyon ng ating kaalaman tungkol sa ating makulay na kultura at kasaysayan. Hindi ko na rin maintindihan ang gustong patunguhan ng ating lipunan, walang-wala sa sinabi ni Simon sa nobelang “El Filibusterismo”: na tayong mga Pilipino ay wala ng pagkakakilanlan, dahil ang lahat ng tungkol sa atin ay puro –hiram.

    Masayado ng madilim ang kinahaharap na bukas ng ating kultura, naway magising tayo sa katotohanan na tayo ay mga Filipino at hindi ibang lahi.

  4. masakit isiping kumakagat pa rin ang ilan nating kababayan sa ganitong panloloko. sa kabila ng napakataas na presyo ng tiket ng concert, 4 sure, marami pa rin ang magkakandarapa para mapanood yung concert kahit di nila maintindihan pinagsasasabi ng mga pinapanood nila. ang masaklap nito, halos iilan lang ang nakakaalam ng tungkol sa centennial celebration.

  5. I still remember Kung Tuyo na ang Luha Mo (BTW, the Chicago Manual of Style says titles of poems are set off in quotes, while book titles are italicized) from my childhood. I’m not so fluent in Tagalog, but it was something that made me proud. Knowing that a man who comes from my race could produce such a stirring piece.

    Di ko alam sino bf ni Sancai. Am sure my son knows, though.

  6. It’s all about commercialism I guess… like ‘show me the money.’ Nakakalungkot nga. Actually, nakakainis. Kelan kaya tayo magkakaroon ng sense of ‘national pride?’

    Kung magkakaroon ng pagkakataon yang mga F4 fans na makapunta at mamuhay sa ibang bansa, at makaramdam sila ng kahit ga-kurot lang na prejudice against Filipinos, just because… mabuhay kaya ang ‘national pride’ sa puso nila?