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Philippine Literature during the Japanese Occupation Era

Background
Japanese period has been called one of the darkest days in the history and literary tradition of the
Philippines. The wartime experiences and events of the troubled times left indelible imprints to the lives
of the Filipino nation. However, there are still few and remaining bright spots in this generally dark and
gloomy days.
Between 1941 and 1945, Philippine Literature was interrupted in its development when the Philippines
was again conquered by another foreign country, Japan. Philippine literature in English came to a halt.
Except for the tribune and the Philippine review, almost all newspapers in English were stopped by the
Japanese.
Tagalog was favored by the Japanese military authority, writing in English was consigned to limbo. It
picked up after the war, however, with a fervor and drive for excellence that continue to this day. Stevan
Javellana's "Without Seeing the Dawn" (1947), the first postwar novel in English, was published in the
United States. In 1946, the Barangay Writers Project was founded to help publish books in English.
Against a background marked by political unrest and government battles with Hukbalahap guerrillas,
writers in English in the postwar period honed their sense of craft and techniques. Among the writers who
came into their own during this time were: Nick Joaquin, NVM Gonzalez, Francisco Arcellana, Carlos
Bulosan, F. Sionil Jose, Ricaredo Demetillo, Kerima Polotan Tuvera, Carlos Angeles, Edilberto K.
Tiempo, Amador Daguio, Estrella Alfon, Alejandrino Hufana, Gregorio Brillantes, Bienvenido Santos,
Dominador Ilio, T.D. Agcaoili, Alejandro R. Roces, Sinai C. Hamada, Linda Ty-Casper, Virginia
Moreno, Luis Dato, Gilda Cordero-Fernando, Abelardo and Tarrosa Subido, Manuel A. Viray, Vicente
Rivera Jr., and Oscar de Zuiga, among many others.
Fresh from studies in American universities, usually as Fulbright or Rockefeller scholars, a number of
these writers introduced New Criticism to the country and applied its tenets in literature classes and
writing workshops. In this way were born the Silliman Writers Summer Workshop (started in 1962 by
Edilberto K. Tiempo and Edith L. Tiempo) and the U.P. Writers Summer Workshop (started in 1965 by
the Department of English at the U.P.). To this day, these workshops help discover writing talents and
develop them in their craft.
This had an advantageous effect on Filipino Literature, which experienced renewed attention because
writers in English turned to writing in Filipino. Juan Laya, who use to write in English turned to Filipino
because of the strict prohibitions of the Japanese regarding any writing in English. The
weekly LIWAYWAY was placed under strict surveillance until it was managed by Japanese
named Ishiwara.
Filipino literature was given a break during this period. Many wrote plays, poems, short stories, etc.
Topics and themes were often about life in the provinces.
The arrival of the Japanese caused tremendous fear, hardships and suffering among the Filipinos. The
Filipino way of life was greatly affected during the Japanese period. The Filipinos lost their freedom of
speech and expression. The development of art was also stopped. Filipinos greatly expression. The
development of art was also stopped. Filipinos greatly feared the "zoning". There were Filipinos spies
hired by the Japanese to point those who were suspected of being part of the guerilla movement. The
Japanese made some changes in the system of education.

Literary Outputs
Poems
The common theme of most poems during the Japanese occupation was nationalism, country, love, and
life in the barrios, faith, religion and the arts. Three types of poems emerged during this period Haiku
a poem of free verse that the Japanese like. It was made up of 17 syllables divided into three lines. The
first line had 5 syllables, the second, 7 syllables, and the third, five. The Haiku is allegorical in meaning,
is short and covers a wide scope in meaning. Tanaga like the Haiku, is short but it had measure and
rhyme. Each line had 17 syllables and its also allegorical in meaning.