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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.

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