Japanese Period: The Japanese Occupation of the Philippines

The Japanese Period (1941 – 1945)

The Japanese occupation of the Philippines occurred between 1941 and 1945, when the Empire of Japan occupied the Commonwealth of the Philippines during World War II. The invasion of the Philippines started on December 8, 1941, ten hours after the attack on Pearl Harbor. As at Pearl Harbor, the American aircraft were severely damaged in the initial Japanese attack. Lacking air cover, the American Asiatic Fleet in the Philippines withdrew to Java on December 12, 1941. General Douglas MacArthur escaped Corregidor on the night of March 11, 1942 for Australia, 4,000 km away.

The 76,000 starving and sick American and Filipino defenders on Bataan surrendered on April 9, 1942, and were forced to endure the infamous Bataan Death March on which 7,000-10,000 died or were murdered. The 13,000 survivors on Corregidor surrendered on May 6. Japan occupied the Philippines for over three years, until the surrender of Japan. A highly effective guerilla campaign by Philippine resistance forces controlled sixty percent of the islands, mostly jungle and mountain areas. MacArthur supplied them by submarine, and sent reinforcements and officers.

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Filipinos remained loyal to the United States, partly because of the American guarantee of independence, and also because the Japanese had pressed large numbers of Filipinos into work details and even put young Filipino women into brothels. General MacArthur discharged his promise to return to the Philippines on October 20, 1944. The landings on the island of Leyte were accomplished by a force of 700 vessels and 174,000 men. Through December 1944, the islands of Leyte and Mindoro were cleared of Japanese soldiers.

The Japanese Period (1941-1945) Historical Background

Between 1941-1945, 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. 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. In other words, 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.

A. FILIPINO POETRY DURING THIS PERIOD

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. They were:

  • 1. 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.
  • 2. Tanaga –like the Haiku, is short but it had measure and rhyme. Each line had 17 syllables and it’s also allegorical in meaning.
  • 3. Karaniwang Anyo (Usual Form) –like those mentioned earlier in the beginning chapters of this book.

B. FILIPINO DRAMA DURING THE JAPANESE PERIOD

The drama experienced a lull during the Japanese period because movie houses showing American films were closed. The big movie houses were just made to show stage shows. Many of the plays were reproductions of English plays to Tagalog. The translators were Francisco Soc Rodrigo, Alberto Concio, and Narciso Pimentel. They also founded the organization of Filipino players named Dramatic Philippines. A few of playwriters were:

1. Jose Ma. Hernandez –wrote PANDAY PIRA

2. Francisco Soc Rodrigo –wrote sa PULA, SA PUTI
3. Clodualdo del Mundo –wrote BULAGA (an expression in the game Hide and Seek). 4. Julian Cruz Balmaceda –wrote SINO BA KAYO?, DAHIL SA ANAK, and HIGANTE NG PATAY.

C. THE FILIPINO SHORT STORY DURING THE JAPANESE PERIOD

The field of the short story widened during the Japanese Occupation. Many wrote short stories. Among them were: Brigido Batungbakal, Macario Pineda, Serafin Guinigindo, Liwayway Arceo, Narciso Ramos, NVM Gonzales, Alicia
Lopez Lim, Ligaya Perez, and Gloria Guzman. The best writings in 1945 were selected by a group of judges composed of Francisco Icasiano, Jose Esperanza Cruz, Antonio Rosales, Clodualdo del Mundo and Teodoro Santos. As a result of this selection, the following got the first three prizes: First Prize: Narciso Reyes with his LUPANG TINUBUAN

Second Prize: Liwayway Arceo’s UHAW ANG TIGANG NA LUPA
Third Prize: NVM Gonzales’LUNSOD NAYON AT DAGAT-DAGATAN

D. PHILIPPINE LITERATURE IN ENGLISH (1941-1945)

Because of the strict prohibitions imposed by the Japanese in the writing and publishing of works in English, Philippine literature in English experienced a dark period. The few who dared to write did so for their bread and butter or for propaganda. Writings that came out during this period were journalistic in nature. Writers felt suppressed but slowly, the spirit of nationalism started to seep into their consciousness. While some continued to write, the majority waited for a better climate to publish their works. Noteworthy writer of the period was Carlos P. Romulo who won the Pulitzer Prize for his bestsellers I SAW THE FALL OF THE PHILIPPINES, I SEE THE PHILIPPINES RISE and his MOTHER AMERICA AND MY BROTHER AMERICANS. Journalists include Salvador P. Lopez, Leon Ma. Geurrero, Raul Manglapuz and Carlos Bulosan. Nick Joaquin produced THE WOMAN WHO LOOKED LIKE LAZARUS .Fred Ruiz Castro wrote a few poems. F.B. Icasino wrote essays in The Philippine Review.

Carlos Bulosan’s works included THE LAUGHTER OF MY FATHER (1944), VOICE OF BATAAN, 1943, SIX FILIPINO POETS, 1942, among others. Alfredo Litiatco published With Harp and Sling and in 1943, Jose P. Laurel published Forces that Make a Nation Great. The Commonwealth Literary Awards gave prizes to meritorious writers. Those who won were:

  1. LIKE THE MOLAVE –by Rafael Zulueta da Costa (Poetry)
  2. HOW MY BROTHER LEON BROU`GTH HOME A WIFE –by Manuel E. Arguilla (Short Story)
  3. LITERATURE AND SOCIETY –by Salvador P. Lopez (Essay)
  4. HIS NATIVE SOIL –by Juan Laya (Novel)

President Manuel L. Quezon’s autobiography THE GOOD FIGHT was published
posthumously. Radio broadcasts echoed the mingled fear and doubts in the hearts of the people. Other writers of this period were Juan Collas (1944), Tomas Confesor (1945), Roman A. de la Cruz and Elisa Tabuñar. Chapter 7

The Rebirth of Freedom (1946-1970) Historical Background

The Americans returned in 1945. Filipinos rejoiced and guerillas that fled to the mountain joined the liberating American Army. On July 4, 1946, the Philippines regained its freedom and the Filipino flag waved joyously alone. The chains were broken. A. THE STATE OF

LITERATURE DURING THIS PERIOD

The early post-liberation period was marked by a kind of “struggle of mind and spirit” posed by the sudden emancipation from the enemy, and the wild desire to see print. Filipinos had, by this time, learned to express themselves more confidently but post-war problems beyond language and print-like economic stability, the threat of new ideas and mortality –had to be grappled with side by side. There was a proliferation of newspapers like the FREE PRESS, MORNING SUN, of Sergio Osmeña Sr., DAILY MIRROR of Joaquin Roces, EVENING NEWS of Ramon Lopezes and the BULLETIN of Menzi. This only proved that there were more readers in English than in any other vernaculars like Tagalog, Ilocano or Hiligaynon. Journalists had their day. They indulged in more militant attitude in their reporting which bordered on the libelous. Gradually, as normality was restored, the tones and themes of the writings turned to the less pressing problems of economic survival. Some Filipino writers who had gone abroad and had written during the interims came back to publish their works. Not all the books published during the period reflected the war year; some were compilations or second editions of what have been written before. Some of the writers and their works of the periods are:

THE VOICE OF THE VETERAN – a compilation of the best works of some Ex-USAFFE men like Amante Bigornia, Roman de la Cruz, Ramon de Jesus and J.F. Rodriguez. TWILIGHT IN TOKYO and PASSION and DEATH OF THE USAFFE by Leon Ma. Guerrero FOR FREEDOM AND DEMOCRACY–by S.P. Lopez

BETRAYAL IN THE PHILIPPINES–by Hernando Abaya
SEVEN HILLS AWAY–by NVM Gonzales
POETRY IN ENGLISH DURING THIS PERIOD
For the first twenty years, many books were published…both in Filipino and in English. Among the writers during this time were: Fred Ruiz Castro, Dominador I. Ilio, and C.B. Rigor. Some notable works of the period include the following:

  1. 1. HEART OF THE ISLANDS (1947) –a collection of poems by Manuel Viray
  2. 2. PHILIPPINES CROSS SECTION (1950) –a collection of prose and poetry by Maximo Ramos and Florentino Valeros
  3. 3. PROSE AND POEMS (1952) –by Nick Joaquin
  4. 4. PHILIPPINE WRITING (1953) –by T.D. Agcaoili
  5. 5. PHILIPPINE HAVEST –by Amador Daguio
  6. 6. HORIZONS LEAST (1967) –a collection of works by the professors of UE, mostly in English (short stories, essays, research papers, poem and drama) by Artemio Patacsil and Silverio Baltazar The themes of most poems dealt with the usual love of nature, and of social and political problems. Toribia Maño’s poems showed deep emotional intensity.
  7. 7. WHO SPOKE OF COURAGE IN HIS SLEEP –by NVM Gonzales
  8. 8. SPEAK NOT, SPEAK ALSO –by Conrado V. Pedroche
  9. 9. Other poets were Toribia Maño and Edith L. Tiempo
    Jose Garcia Villa’s HAVE COME AM HERE won acclaim both here and abroad.

NOVELS AND SHORT STORIES IN ENGLISH

Longer and longer pieces were being written by writers of the period. Stevan Javellana’s WITHOUT SEEING THE DAWN tells of the grim experiences of war during the Japanese Occupation. In 1946, the Barangay Writer’s Project whose aim was to publish works in English by Filipinos was established. In 1958, the PEN Center of the Philippines (Poets, essayists, novelists) was inaugurated. In the same year, Francisco Arcellana published his PEN ANTHOLOGY OF SHORT STORIES. In 1961, Kerima Polotan’s novel THE HAND OF THE ENEMY won the Stonehill Award for the Filipino novel in English. In 1968, Luis V. Teodoro Jr.’s short story THE ADVERSARY won the Philippines Free Press short story award; in 1969, his story THE TRAIL OF PROFESSOR RIEGO won second prize in the Palanca Memorial Awards for Literature and in 1970, his short story THE DISTANT CITY won the GRAPHIC short story award. THE NEW FILIPINO LITERATURE DURING THIS PERIOD

Philippines literature in Tagalog was revived during this period. Most themes in the writings dealt with Japanese brutalities, of the poverty of life under the Japanese government and the brave guerilla exploits. Newspapers and magazine publications were re-opened like the Bulaklak, Liwayway, Ilang Ilangand Sinag Tala. Tagalog poetry acquired not only rhyme but substance and meaning. Short stories had better characters and events based on facts and realities and themes were more meaningful. Novels became common but were still read by the people for recreation. The people’s love for listening to poetic jousts increased more than before and people started to flock to places to hear poetic debates. Many books were published during this time, among which were: 1. Mga Piling Katha (1947-48) by Alejandro Abadilla

2. Ang Maikling Kuwentong Tagalog (1886-1948) by Teodoro Agoncillo 3. Ako’y Isang Tinig (1952) collection of poems and stories by Genoveva Edroza Matute 4. Mga Piling Sanaysay (1952) by Alejandro Abadilla

5. Maikling Katha ng Dalawampung Pangunahing Autor (1962) by A.G. Abadilla and Ponciano E.P. Pineda 6. Parnasong Tagalog (1964) collection of selected poems by Huseng Sisiw and Balagtas, collected by A.G. Abadilla 7. Sining at Pamamaraan ng Pag-aaral ng Panitikan (1965) by Rufino Alejandro. He prepared this book for teaching in reading and appreciation of poems, dramas, short stories and novels 8. Manlilikha, Mga Piling Tula (1961-1967) by Rogelio G. Mangahas 9. Mga Piling Akda ng Kadipan (Kapisanang Aklat ng Diwa at Panitik) 1965 by Efren Abueg 10. Makata (1967) first cooperative effort to publish the poems of 16 poets in Pilipino 11. Pitong Dula (1968) by Dionisio Salazar

12. Manunulat: Mga Piling Akdang Pilipino (1970) by Efren Abueg. In this book, Abueg proved that it is possible to have a national integration of ethnic culture in our country. 13. Mga Aklat ni Rizal: Many books about Rizal came out during this period. The law ordering the additional study of the life of Rizal helped a lot in activating our writers to write books about Rizal. PALANCA AWARDS

Another inspiration for writers in Filipino was the launching of the Palanca Memorial Awards for literature headed by Carlos Palanca Sr. in 1950. (Until now, the awards are still being given although the man who founded it has passed away). The awards were given to writers of short stories, plays and poetry. The first awardees in its first year, 1950-51 in the field of the short story were the following: First Prize: KUWENTO NI MABUTI by Genoveva Edroza

Second Prize: MABANGIS NA KAMAY…MAAMONG KAMAY by Pedro S. Dandan Third Prize: PLANETA, BUWAN AT MGA BITUIN by Elpidio P. Kapulong

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