Thursday, August 23, 2012
(Novel) Juanita Cruz by: Magdalena Gonzaga Jalandoni(Reaction) A Capacity to Love by: Ms. Pickles
Magdalena Gonzaga Jalandoni, as a poet and a novelist, was deeply steeped in the Romantic literary ethos that started in the West during the first half of the 19th century. Romantic principles are sharply embodied in her novel Juanita Cruz, in which the subjects of oppression, loyalty, romantic and filial love, and patriotism are framed by the Romantic foregrounding of human emotion, passion, and individual vision. Most, if not all, of the characters in the novel give utmost importance to their emotions and passions as the means through which they can improve their lives. And of course, there is nobody else but the novel's heroine, Juanita Cruz herself, who really embodies the ideals of a truly Romantic character-highly misunderstood, maligned, and marginalized at varying points in her difficult but ultimately redeeming life.
Juanita's rationality and intellect are not the fulcrums that enable her story to move-it is her unwavering love for Elias Navarro, her parents, God, country, and everybody dear to her that gives her problems and resolutions. Juanita's love, in its most unadulterated form, is what ultimately shapes the novel. It is that singular factor that gives the novel its unmistakably Romantic literariness. Of course, it is the manifestations and implications of Juanita's love that give the novel its complexity, and it is particularly her love for Ely that is the core upon which the development of the novel's fictive elements hinge.
The complexity of Juanita and Ely's relationship provides the ground in which Jalandoni structures her novel. From the development of the novel's primary and secondary characters, the plot, the theme of the power of love and perseverance in battling oppression, to the elements of irony, suspense, and tension, all of the novel's fictive elements revolve around Juanita and Ely's gripping and complicated love story. The intricacy of their relationship is significant because the entire premise of the novel is dependent upon it; without the forbidding conflict between the two lovers, their families, and their milieu, Juanita's story would undoubtedly be less interesting. Without her forbidden love, Juanita would have simply been the beautiful, rich, spoiled girl who would have been contented with her family's decision to marry her off to the most eligible bachelor, instead of the rounded, humbled woman who has had to endure multiple tragedies to honor her words to her beloved. Without Juanita and Ely's relationship, the novel would have been completely different-the plot presumably less suspenseful and less enthralling. The novel would lose its riveting power if not for the irony, suspense, and tension provided by the love affair. Without the forbidden love, the theme of the novel would not have been completely realized because it is ultimately the triumph of the couple's oppressed love that wholly exhibits the primacy of emotions and passions in living a fulfilling life.
The delay in Ely's recognition of Celia de Asis as Juanita and the latter's late divulgence of her real identity adds to the complexity of their relationship. Ely's delay in recognition of Celia's true identity provides a situation wherein Juanita could ascertain his fidelity to his beloved. Hence, it is a willful decision for Juanita to keep secret from Ely the real identity of Celia de Asis:
Although my heart is afire with love for him, I still want to keep my true identity from him that I may find out exactly how much he truly loves the memory of that Nita who suffered because of him and who even offered her life for love of him.Juanita, as Celia, keeps her identity hidden from Ely because she wants to test his loyalty and love for her (Juanita) as his first beloved. She muses, as Celia, at one point, "Yes, it took me a long time accepting him because I waited to fathom the depth of his love for me." She wants to determine if Ely is indeed capable of loving another woman despite already having given his word to her. Juanita has her reservations at first, thinking that Ely "has a fickle and iron heart capable of forgetting his first love and replacing her with another whom he now fancies," but the fact that Ely decides to stop seeing her proves that he is indeed loyal and still very much in love with his "dead" beloved.
The first two reasons are essentially self-explanatory: the fateful reunion of the two lovers in Barcelona generates suspense, where the reader is left to ask whether Ely will recognize Celia as his Juanita, his first love, and if they will finally be together as the free couple they have always wanted to be. Moreover, Ely's non-recognition of Celia provides another problematic dimension to their story, one that is almost painful in its irony. There the two besotted characters were, free to finally carry out their romantic wishes, and yet a case of hidden identity further stalls their union. Juanita muses:
I know him as I know the sun that lights the world, but he, because of the change in my name and appearance, does not know me although he is trying to penetrate the mystery through the sound of my voice and laughter.As a literary technique, this delay as a suspenseful situational irony is indeed very effective as a means to sustain the interest of the mid-20th century readers of Juanita Cruz. It is imperative to know that the novel was serially published in the Hiligaynon from 1967 to 1968. Therefore, the need to keep the readers on their toes was doubtlessly crucial, as is the case with many Romantic novels that were initially serialized, such as Alexandre Dumas's The Count of Monte Cristo (serialized in Le Siecle in mid-1840s).
The last reason, however, ties inextricably both to the fictive form of the novel (because of character development), and the poetics of Magdalena Gonzaga Jalandoni (as a female writer who seeks to empower). Through Ely's initial non-recognition and intentional detachment from Celia de Asis, Juanita realizes the depth of his loyalty and love for her and is reassured that Ely is still indeed as noble as the young man she fell in love with. The character development for Ely is not so much a change in personality traits, but only an affirmation of his initial positive characterization. Juanita recounts:
As we talked, he too recalled Nita who looked and spoke so much like me and who died because of love for him. He remarked that he cannot do anything because Nita was dead and if fate would allow it he will replace her with another who looked exactly like his dead sweetheart if this other one will love him with as much tenderness as his former beloved. Secretly I felt happy listening to his revelation but I never betrayed my true identity as that lost Nita.Juanita is happy because she discovers just how faithful Ely is to his first love and perhaps because she, as Celia, finally has the opportunity to relive their mutual affections. Nevertheless, why prolong the agony and refuse to reveal that she is indeed Juanita Cruz? Perhaps her refusal transcends its significance as a means through which she could gauge his fidelity. Juanita's delayed relinquishing of her real identity may be a way for her way to prevent regressing into her troubled past. Celia de Asis might have already been a symbol for her-a symbol of her "better future" and freedom, for as Celia she is "[f]ree to escape, . . . and free to start a new life and identity." Juanita's adherence to her new identity perhaps is her way of abandoning her oppressed past, since the desire to progress well in life and ultimately achieve their aspirations is intrinsic in her personality as well as in most of the novel's characters. Also, her delayed disclosure gives further texture to her character-she is revealed as a woman who, despite being completely faithful, virtuous, strong, and courageous, is also vulnerable to insecurity, what with having gone through the many tragedies that beset her in her young life.
Juanita Cruz as a Philippine literary masterpiece resonates on so many levels-from the level of leisure (as a text that is meant to entertain and engage the attention of its readers), to the critical ranks of social, cultural, and political significance. It is socially, culturally, and politically significant because it embodies, in Romantic-realist fictive discourse, "nationalist and feminist intent, values, and meaning." Never mind that the author is a woman who was writing in vernacular; the novel could stand on its own as a truly Romantic "verbal icon" that could be touched only due to the need of translation because of its literary relevance as a far-reaching, multilayered love story. The novel begins and ends with images of Juanita and Ely's involvement in the Philippine Revolution of 1898, and this framing underscores the nationalist verve not only of the novel's protagonists, but also of the author herself.
Patriotism, then, is the macrocosmic manifestation of the characters' desire to escape oppression, improve their lives, and achieve independence. Juanita and Ely join the Katipunan in order to fight their country's colonizers, and it is their conscious way of fighting oppression together-a joint battle made sweeter by its contrast to their previous helplessness in the face of subjugation by Juanita's overbearing family. Notably, Juanita's sense of patriotism is so intense that she "sacrificed the peace of her love and marriage, status, and ultimately her loved one for the Revolution." She surrenders everything she has suffered for thus far just so she could participate in the only struggle that would eventually give her and those around her that ultimate freedom they have been wishing for.
The characters' basic desire to be free undoubtedly replicates the situation of the Filipino populace in the temporal reality mirrored by the novel. Hosillos says, "there is an existential dimension in Jalandoni's characters struggling to be free, awakening to their realities and their desire to improve their lives." That very same "existential dimension" gripped Filipinos during Spanish colonization, and in fact, this dimension seems to grip Filipinos to this very day and age.
In Juanita Cruz there is no radical departure from the norm, no earth-shattering subversion of what is set in reality, only a realistic portrayal of what could happen if a situation such as Juanita and Ely's were to exist. Ultimately, it is Magdalena Gonzaga Jalandoni's skill in her Romantic-realist interweaving of patriotism and feminism into Juanita and Ely's complicated love story that gives Juanita Cruz its value as a Philippine literary masterpiece.
First Woman Writer and PoetAccording to Pampango historian Zoilo Galang, the first Filipino poetess was Leona Florentino of Ilocos while the first Filipino woman writer was Rosario de Leon of Pampanga. The first Filipino woman novelist, Galang added, was Magalena Jalandoni from Visayas while the first Filipino woman who wrote an English novel was Felicidad Ocampo.
Posted by Mukilicious Thursday, June 12, 2008 at 4:40 AM
Visitors to Iloilo City should not miss the Magdalena Jalandoni house. Jalandoni (1891-1978) is regarded as the “Grande Dame of Hiligaynon Literature,” and was the first to receive the Republic Cultural Heritage Award for Literature in 1969. The University of San Agustin, in celebration of its 50th year, also recently published her book titled Labi sa Bulawan, a three-act play written in 1932 that was toured in the various schools in the province of Iloilo. Interestingly, she wrote her first corrido when she was ten and her first novel Ang mga Tunok sang Isa ka Bulak when she was 16, an age when most girls were just waiting to charm their princes.
The house, which looks like a castle, is heavily protected with barb wires. But one needs to notify the keeper of the house, Jalandoni’s niece, days in advance, to get a visit clearance. Jalandoni’s contemporaries include novelist Angel Magahum, poet Delfin Gumban, poet Serapion Torre, poet-translator (from Spanish) Flavio Zaragoza Cano, essayist-journalist Rosendo Mejica, zarzuela masters Jose Ma. Ingalla and Jose Ma. Nava, playwright Miguela Montelibano, essayists Augurio Abeto and Abe Gonzales, the young novelist Ramon L. Musones, and the poet Santiago Alv. Mulato. The triumvirate of Gumban, Torre and Zaragoza Cano also ruled it out for years in poetry, their rivalry often magnified by the public balagtasan or poetic joust.
Thanks to EDSA Revolution of 1986, there is now an emergence of Kinaray-a writing along with Aklanon writing, and multilingual writing in the West Visayas region. The prestigious Palanca Awards has, in 1997, also included Hiligaynon short story, alongside that of Cebuano and Iluko, among its categories.
Important young writers in West Visayas today include (Hiligaynon) Alicia Tan-Gonzales, Peter Solis Nery, Edgar Siscar, Resurreccion Hidalgo, Alfredo Siva, Alain Russ Dimzon; (Kinaray-a) Ma. Milagros C. Geremia Lanchica, Alex C. de los Santos, John Iremil E. Teodoro, Jose Edison C. Tondares, Maragtas S. V. Amante, Ma. Felicia Flores; (Aklanon) Melchor F. Cichon, Alexander C. de Juan, and John E. Barrios.
Visitors can set out next to the nearby Biscocho Haus, located along Lopez-Jaena street. The store offers kinihad, banana marble, angel toast, paborita, ugoy-ugoy, pulceras, pacencia. It is interesting how specialty stores in the country become “hauses” as attested to by the store across from it—Squid Hauz.
Visitors to the nearby Graciano Lopez-Jaena house could be in for a disappointment. There is just the historical marker and a vacant lot behind the wall. One could not help but wonder how one of the country’s hero, or for that matter, his descendants, could not have left any decent house. It is ironic that across it stood the much-preserved building of The Convention of Philippine Baptist Churches.
Building the National
Posted in Lifestyle, Syndicated Posts, Technology on February 19, 2010Penman for Monday, February 15, 2010
I’M IN Cebu as I write this, attending the second edition of Taboan, the Philippine International Writers Festival which was first held in Manila at about this same time last year, February being National Arts Month. Taboan will be making the rounds of the regions from year to year before returning to Manila, so this moveable feast (poet and NCCA commissioner Ricky de Ungria beat me to the metaphor) will see many places yet. The Arts Council of Cebu under the very gracious festival director Mayen Tan and presidenta Petite Garcia is in charge of Taboan ’10, a project of the Committee on Literary Arts of the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA).
The festival got off to a lively start with a keynote speech by Cebu’s own Dr. Resil Mojares—a formidable, internationally recognized scholar of Philippine literature, history, and society—who chose a deliberately provocative subject and title for his talk: “Will Magdalena Jalandoni Ever Be a National Artist?”
For those who don’t know Jalandoni (and—perhaps to prove Resil’s point—99.99 percent of us don’t), the Iloilo-born Jalandoni (1891-1978) was a prolific writer in Hiligaynon of fiction, poems, and plays, her novels alone totaling an astounding 36.
Resil made it clear that he wasn’t making a brief for Jalandoni’s selection as a National Artist; with typical scholarly modesty, he said that he simply didn’t know her work well enough to make that judgment. Rather, he was using Jalandoni’s case to draw attention to the gross disadvantage at which Filipino writers working in languages other than English and Filipino lie, particularly when it comes to recognition on a national or international level.
While they may have achieved much in their own literature in, say, Cebuano, Bikol, or Hiligaynon, they remain obscure elsewhere, because their work has been little translated, little critically reviewed, and therefore little seriously considered for national or international awards. Jalandoni is hardly alone in this predicament; the Philippine literary landscape is littered with the skeletons of mute inglorious Miltons whom most Filipinos will have never heard of, much less read.
Critiquing the NA selection process—of which he himself was occasionally a part, one of the expert “peers” who sift through the nominees at the first level—Mojares noted that “In the discussion of the nominees of Jalandoni last year, all the 10 or 12 members of the ‘Council of Experts’ (except perhaps for one or two) had not read Jalandoni’s works, either due to language, unavailability of texts or translations, or simply because Jalandoni did not fall within their area of expertise. This has been the problem in the three or four times in which she was nominated.
“This is abetted by a procedural constraint. Because of confidentiality rules, members of the Council of Experts know who the candidates are only on the day of deliberation itself. Hence, they have no time to prepare for the deliberations by way of reading, research, or consultations with those knowledgeable about particular candidates. Although brief research reports are prepared by the Secretariat for reference by Council members, these reports are made available only on the day of the deliberation and are not of much help.”
Again, Resil was really much less concerned about awards than by the inequality (and, therefore, the injustice) of popular perceptions. “The politics of national recognition” he went on to say, “is such that it matters where you are read, in what language, and by whom. Someone who publishes in Hiligaynon (or Cebuano, Waray, or Iluko) in a periodical with a circulation of 50,000 is a ‘regional writer.’ A writer in Manila who publishes a 500-copy of English poems is a ‘national writer.’” (Interestingly enough, we’re holding our sessions at the Casino Español de Cebu, a social and architectural tribute to a language we’ve almost entirely lost, literarily.)
The marginalization of writing from the regions has been a long-festering sore in the body of Philippine cultural politics, and Taboan’s discussions following Resil’s speech revived some of those familiar issues. To the Antique-born poet and playwright John Iremil Teodoro, the common practice of denoting any writing outside Manila as “regional” literature merely reinforced “Manila-centrism,” according, by implication, a superior quality to products coming out of the capital. However, to Carlo Arejola from Bicol, the regional badge was a challenge rather than a hindrance. “You don’t need to look to Manila for approval or affirmation,” Carlo said. “You can create a readership among yourselves. We created our own awards, our own workshop.” Indeed, as other delegates and Resil himself echoed, the question to ask was “What can the regions do for themselves?”
I offered the opinion that, while some form of affirmative action or intervention may be required to level the playing field, there’s a point at which the national/regional or national/local dichotomy becomes patronizing and ultimately more destructive than constructive. It’s not as if a Cebuano writer can or will only think of Cebuano, and not national or global, ideas; one’s local roots and experiences may provide strong, unique material, but that’s still only raw material, yet to be refined. And the world out there couldn’t care less: it doesn’t see us as Tagalog, Iluko, or Bikol writers—we’re just all Filipino writers, period, and perhaps we should think as such.
Resil Mojares’ conclusion put it succinctly: “The greater challenge lies outside the awards. We need to address inequalities in conditions of literary and cultural production by investing more heavily (by the regions themselves ad not just Manila) in more effective and strategic initiatives in scholarship, literary education, translation, publishing, dissemination, and promotion. We need to build the national in the National [Artist] Awards.”
I’ve always suspected that a great work will manifest that greatness in whatever language it’s written in or translated into. (Of course, you need to have that translation first.) Apparently, I’m not the only one who thinks so.
Clearly, before we can begin recognizing good and great Filipino writers from all parts of the country, we should lay the critical groundwork and first develop and support translators and critics who can give literary judges a fairer basis for their evaluations.
Curious about how the Nobel Prize committee in charge of literature managed to choose a laureate from hundreds of nominees writing in a dozen languages, I Googled the subject and discovered the following exchange at nobelprize.org between Professor Horace Engdahl, Permanent Secretary of the Swedish Academy, and a reader who sent in the same question I had in mind.
Question: Are Nobel Prizes in literature based on the assessment of the writings in its original language, translations, or both? If assessed in the original language, how does one remove nationalistic interests, if any, from the nomination process? Unlike physics, chemistry, etc., where the symbolism/equations/conventions are clearly agreed upon globally, I would imagine that language and its interpretation would pose an additional challenge.
Answer: Whenever possible, the Nobel committee and the Academy will read the works of the candidates in the original language. Obviously, we often have to rely on translations, but in those cases, we make an effort to read several versions of the same book, e.g. one French and one German translation. It is true that literature, unlike science, is rooted in a cultural code with language as its most important expression, but a great work of literature should have the power to reveal the universal meaning of local symbols and conventions.
MAGDALENA JALANDONI: Her Legacy – Truly Ilonggo, Truly Pavianhon
Magdalena Gonzaga Jalandoni (1891 in Jaro, Iloilo - 1978 in Jaro) was a Filipino feminist writer. She is now remembered as one of the most prolific Filipino writers in the Hiligaynon language. Hailing from Western Visayas, her works are said to have left permanent and significant milestones in Philippine literature.
In her childhood autobiography Ang Matam-is Kong Pagkabata (My Sweet Childhood), she cites: "I will be forced to write when I feel that my nose is being assaulted by the scent of flowers, when my sight is filled with the promises of the sun and when my soul is lifted by winged dreams to the blue heavens."
Her famous poem Ang Guitara (The Guitar) is read in classrooms all over the country today. Literary critics and historians claim that she has mastered a special talent for poetry and description as well as dramatic evocations of landscapes and events in her novels and short stories. Her works span from the coming of Malay settlers in the Middle Ages up to the Spanish and American colonial era as well as the Japanese occupation of World War II, all portraying the history of Panay and the evolution of the Ilonggo culture. According to Riitta Varitti of the Finnish-Philippine Society in Helsinki, "Jalandoni was the most productive Philippine writer of all time."
Other famous works include Anabella, Sa Kapaang Sang Inaway (In the Heat of War), Ang Dalaga sa Tindahan (The Young Woman in the Market) and Ang Kahapon ng Panay (The Past of Panay). Throughout her turbulent and displaced life, she still managed to publish 36 novels, 122 short stories, 7 novelettes, 7 long plays, 24 short plays and dialogos in verse complied in two volumes, seven volumes of personally compiled essays including some translations from Spanish and two autobiographies. She has been displaced from her hometown twice and has survived the Philippine Revolution, the Filipino-American War and the Japanese Occupation. In 1977, she received the prestigious Republic Cultural Heritage Award for her literary achievements from the government, about one year before her death. She is now survived by a few nieces as well as several other close relatives. Despite all this, she still remains relatively unknown up to this day. Her family's ancestral house still stands as a historical landmark and museum not far from the cathedral of Jaro.
A street at the Cultural Center of the Philippines complex in Pasay City, Philippines is named in her honor.