Cebuano Literature refers to the oral and written literary works of the speakers of Cebuano, the mother tongue of the people in Cebu, Bohol, Siquijor, Negros, and parts of Leyte and Mindanao.
Cebuanos are rich in oral traditions replete with legends, folklores and fables. The best known ghost stories to children are the "Paring Walay Ulo", "White Lady", "Tikbalang" and "Santilmo"; legends associated with specific locales, like the Maria Cacao legends of southern Cebu and those of Lapulapu and his father Datu Manggal of Mactan; and folktales like the fable "Haring Gangis ug Haring Leon", which warn of abusive behavior by the dominant group. Many of the tales carry lessons, but just as many suggest the value of humor, keeping of one’s wit and resourcefulness, as in the Juan Pusong trickster tales.
The written literature became significant only in the late 19th century. The first written Cebuano literature is Maming, by Vicente Sotto, The Father of Cebuano Literature.
Major Forms of Cebuano Literature
It is characterized by the presence of enigma or metaphor called balaybay or sambingay. It is written in verse (garay). Most of the poems are sung, like the occupational songs and lullabies. The balitaw is an extemporaneous poetic debate between man and woman that is sung and danced simultaneously. Spontaneous versifying is highly valued, also illustrated in a dramatic form called kulilising hari, a variant of the Tagalog duplo, that is usually performed at funeral wakes.
The first poem written in Cebuano is the "Soneto sa Pagdayeg can Santa Maria Gihapon Virgen" by Tomas de San Geronimo, a Spanish friar. The longest poetic form is the " pasyon", a verse rendering of the life and suffering of Jesus Christ that is read during Lent. Secular narratives or corridos were composed in Cebuano, but only the prose versions survive, like "Doce Pares sa Pransiya" and "Sa Pagmando ni Hari Arturo." Another important influence of the Spanish period is found in the plays called linambay (known also as moromoro because of its anti-Muslim theme), a regular fare at town fiestas that involved parti- cipation of the whole rural community and attracted audiences from the neighboring towns. [top]
Sugilanun (Short Story)
A work of fiction that is usually written in prose, often in narrative format, shorter than a novel. A short story focuses on one incident; has a single plot, a single setting, and a small number of characters; and covers a short period of time.The first example of short story in Cebuano is "Maming" by Vicente Sotto. The story was published in the first issue (July 16, 1900) of his " Ang Suga". [top]
The prose narratives developed into the sugilanon or short story and later into a novel or Sugilambong. It is a book of long narrative in literary prose.
During the American period, Ang Suga became the medium for publication of Cebuano writers. A community of writers slowly grow, to include the names of Florentino Rallos, Filomeno Veloso, Marcial Velez, Timoteo Castro, Segundo Cinco, Vicente Ranudo, Dionisio Jakosalem, Selestino Rodríguez, Filomeno Roble, Juan Villagonzalo, Leoncio Avila and Filemon Sotto. (Most of these people were recognized for their achievements by the generation right after them, as evidenced by the use of their names for major streets in Cebu City, but their role in the furtherance of Cebuano culture is lost to subsequent generations.) Juan Villagonzalo was the first to write a Cebuano novel.
Four typical novels on the love theme written by popular writers during the American period would represent the pre-war writers' subconscious but collective efforts in creating a common core of meanings and values in the face of new American culture. These are "Felicitas" by Uldarico Alviola in 1912, "Mahinuklugong Paglubong Kang Alicia" ("The Sad Burial of Alicia") by Vicente Garces in 1924, "Apdo sa Kagul-anan" ("Bitterness of Sorrow") by Angel Enemecio in 1928-29, and "Ang Tinagoan" ("The Secret") by Vicente Rama in 1933-34. While Felicitas and Paglubong assert the value of marital fidelity and Apdo that of feminine chastity, Tinagoan challenges the emergent value that tolerates divorce. Such novels were seen as fictionalized renditions of their writers' stand or traditions and practices which were subjected to debate in the school stage and within the pages of periodicals.
The generally considered first feminist Cebuano novel, Lourdes by Gardeopatra G. Quijano was serialized in the period May 26 to September 23, 1939 in Bag-ong Kusog (literary "New Force"), the most popular pre-war periodical. [top]
It i s a form of literature written by a playwright, usually consisting of scripted dialogue between characters, intended for theatrical performance rather than just reading.
Cebuano theater refers to the theater arts of the Cebuano people and those conducted in the Cebuano language. It also refers to contemporary productions and adaptations produced in Cebu City.
Vicente Sotto wrote, directed, and produced the first Cebuano play, Elena.It was first performed at the Teatro Junquera (in what is now Cebu City) on May 18, 1902. The play established Sotto's reputation as a writer. The dedication of the play by the playwright reads, "To My Motherland, that you may have remembrance of the glorious Revolution that redeemed you from enslavement. I dedicate this humble play to you."
Vicente Sotto attacked the decadent forms of linambay in his newspaper Ang Suga. He was challenged by a friend to write his own play as he was always attacking the linambay form. Sotto wrote the Cebuano "Ang Paghigugma sa Yutang Natawhan" (Love of the Native Land) as a response. The play was successful; Sotto organized the Compania de Aficionados Filipinos. Within the year, two more plays were written by Sotto: "Elena", which deals of a girl's love for an insurrecto; and "Aurora", which deals with a scandal involving the priests and nuns of the Colegio de la Inmaculada Concepcion. Realism in Cebuano theater was stretched too much however; even Sotto himself was a victim of the movement he started, when prior to his running for mayor in 1907, a play entitled "Ang Taban" (1906, by Teodulfo V. Ylaya) was released. The play dealt with a kidnap allegation involving Sotto. [top]