300-Level Philippine Literature in English


In her UH Mānoa Philippine Literature class, Professor Ruth Mabanglo believes student writing should complete the cycle of creativity. "Writing should beget writing," she says. Because literature gives expression to a writer’s impressions, student-readers should similarly be expected to write their own impressions.

Mabanglo assigns a variety of writing activities, including journals, essays, book reviews and formal responses to the work of other students. (More about these separate assignments can be found in Mabanglo’s syllabus, presented below.) Students collaborate with Mabanglo and other students in the class as they conceive and prepare their individual essay drafts. Mabanglo’s emphasis on collaboration reflects her commitment to creating a classroom with an "atmosphere conducive to openness, mutual respect, friendliness and joy in the learning process."

Several of the methods Mabanglo uses to encourage fruitful collaborations will likely be helpful to instructors teaching in other disciplines. Three of these methods are described below.

Like many UH Mānoa instructors, Mabanglo makes frequent use of student journal writing to encourage student learning. (See Teaching with Journals for more information about using journals and examples of their use in other classes at UH Manoa.) Though she often requires students to continue writing outside of class, Mabanglo asks students to begin most of their journal entries during class. Mabanglo provides a variety of prompts for writing, depending on the assigned texts and the preceding discussions. Students are sometimes asked to express reactions and feelings, sometimes to develop ideas and analysis, and sometimes to compose one or a series of questions.

Mabanglo usually requires each student to prepare an individual response. However, because of her emphasis on creating a powerful learning classroom community, Mabanglo sometimes places students in pairs or groups and asks them to compose a joint journal entry reflecting their collaboration

Once journal responses are written, Mabanglo may:

  • Ask volunteers to read their responses aloud to the class

  • Ask volunteers to explain or reflect on their response

  • Put students into pairs to read and discuss their separate responses

  • Ask students to turn in their journals for instructor review

  • Ask students to exchange journals and to write responses to each other; these may then be shared in any of the ways mentioned above.

Each of these strategies encourages students to view their learning as a part of a dialog with other students, the instructor and the authors being read.

Insights developed in journal responses often become the impetus for other written assignments students must complete.

Formal Peer Responses

Students write three essays about literature during the semester, each a minimum of seven pages in length. Mabanglo provides a choice of topics for each of these (see below) and students are encouraged to develop the insights they have in their journals.

Students bring completed essays to class. Mabanglo then gives each essay to another student who must study it and compose a formal critical response of at least two type-written pages. Mabanglo instructs respondents to examine mechanics, but emphasizes that they analyze the essay’s organization and ideas. She encourages respondents to make use of what they have learned from writing their own journals and essays and to engage the student essay with the same seriousness that they would a published work.

Student responses are returned to the essay’s author who, in turn, composes a written reaction to the response. Essay, student response and the essayist’s reaction are then submitted to Mabanglo. She too writes a response, including comments on the first response and on the essayist’s reaction to this response.

Mabanglo assigns a grade or, in some cases, marks the essay unsatisfactory and returns it to the essayist with the stipulation that it be rewritten. Authors of the stronger essays are asked to read their work aloud to the class.

Using student respondents provides authors with a wider audience than they would have if Mabanglo served as the only reader. Having students share essays and write formal responses also supports Mabanglo’s emphasis on community, for this sharing provides a further occasion in which students can learn from one another.

Group Book Reviews

Groups of two to three students read a Filipino novel of their choice or from a list (see below) provided by Mabanglo. Each group must collaborate to produce both a written book review and an oral presentation. The oral presentation is designed to convince the rest of the class why they should or should not read the novel.

These group book reviews serve as the culminating activity in the class and, once again, underscore the importance of a learning community. Students work together to compose these collaborative final projects and then share their work with the class to help guide everyone’s future reading in Filipino literature.


FALL 1996


The literature of the Philippines is multi-faceted. It is written in many languages(in the indigenous languages of the Filipinos such as Ilokano, Tagalog, Cebnano, Pampango, Bikol, etc.; in the languages of her conquerors (Spanish and English) and covers a lot of themes. This course will sample only the literature written by Filipinos in English.

The literary works were chosen to provide the reader a general background knowledge on how the Filipino writers view themselves (and the other Filipinos) in various context (in different times and space) -- in their family life, in the community, at work, in war and in love. One important aspect of the course deals with the subject of diaspora or migration. Short stories, poems and essays discussing views or sentiments about this topic were written by Filipinos in America, and more recently, by Filipinos who migrated for work in the other Southeast Asian countries, in Europe or the Middle East.

Through the literature, it is hoped that the readers would be able to reclaim their heritage (if they are Filipino Americans) or understand where the Filipinos are coming from (if they are Americans), to identify themselves in the characters they read, and to be inspired in writing their thoughts, sharing their feelings or simply, to appreciate what others have written, said or done.


Each student is expected to:

  1. Participate actively in the building of learning atmosphere conducive to openness, mutual respect, friendliness -and joy in the learning process.

  2. Be responsible in terms of preparedness for discussion, tests, projects and activities.

  3. Conduct independent study and research in background and relevant information which can enrich knowledge and understanding of the subject-matter.

  4. Share findings of independent study in written reports and group discussions.

  5. Complete and submit all requirements on time.


  • IP 363 Course pack -- Readings in Contemporary Philippine Literature in English compiled by Dr. Ruth Elynia S. Mabanglo (available at Professional Image, King St. across Pucks Alley)

  • Handouts

  • Filipino novels in English (as chosen by students), vailable at the Asia Collection, Hamilton Library


Writing requirements* 30%
Quizzes and Examinations 20%
Group Presentation 20%
Participation/Attendance 30%

1. Writing requirements include* (30%)


a. 3 papers and 3 comments/responses

Papers should be typewritten and at least 7 pages each A guideline will be provided before the writing of each paper. Before submission to the teacher, this paper will be commented upon by a classmate. The comments should at least be 2 pages, typewritten.

b. classroom writing activities

c. 1 book review/critique (a Filipino novel)

Regarding the book review, students will be provided by a listing of Filipino novels in English. They may choose a title from the list or may submit their own title, subject to teacher's approval. Two or three students will be assigned to read one novel and do a presentation of the same. The presentation will be graded as presentation and the review will be graded as writing.

2. Quizzes and Examination (20%)

Quizzes, announced or unannounced will be given, These could take the form of objective or essay type. The final will be a a take-home exam and should be submitted in typewritten form.

3. Presentation (20%)

Each group (maximum of three students) will do a presentation of a Filipino novel. The presentation should be made interesting to encourage other students to read the novel that was presented to them.

4. Attendance and Participation (30%)

Presence in the classroom entail active participation in the discussion. If there are groupwork, in-class writing activities, games, roleplays, etc., students are expected to cooperate/join.

5. Extra Credit

To make up for absences, failing quizzes and examinations, or poor grades in the writing activities, students may earn extra credit by participating in any Philippine-related cultural and literary activities at UH and the community; or by submitting additional written work (movie reviews; book reviews, etc.) about Philippine-related topics.

* If you are a student with a disability and have a disability related needs or concerns, please contact the Kōkua Program at 956-7511 or drop into Room 13 in the new Student Services Center.


1. NICK JOAQUIN The Woman With Two Navels (1961)

2. BIENVENIDO SANTOS Villa Magdalena (1965, 1986); The Man Who (Thought He) Looked Like Robert Taylor (1983); What The Hell For You Left Your Heart in San Francisco (1987); Villa Magdalena (1965); The Volcano (1965); Memory's Fiction (1994)

3. F. SIONIL JOSE Three Filipino Women (1982, 1992); Ermita(1990); My Brother, My Executioner (1979); The Pretenders (1962); Tree (1978); Vinjero, 1994; The Rosales Paper; Sins (1995)

4. NINOTCHKA ROSCA State of War (1989); Twice Blessed (1992)

5. EDILBERTO TIEMPO Cracked Mirror (1984); Finalities (1982)

6. ALFRREDO NAVARRO SALANGA The Birthing of Hannibal Valdez (1980)

7. NVM GONZALES A Season of Grace (1956); The Bamboo Dancers (1962); Children of the Ash-Covered Loam (1954)

8. CECILIA MANGUERRA BRAINARD When the Rainbow Goddess Wept, 1994

9. ALFRED YUSON Great Philippine Jungle Energy Cafe (1987)

10. CARLOS BULOSAN America is in the Heart (1943)

11. JESSICA HAGEDORN Dogeaters (1990)

12. PETER BACHO Cebu (1992)

13. WILFREDO NOLLEDO But for the Lovers (1970)

Suggested Essay Topics

First Paper: From any of the following topics (or you may suggest your own)

  1. Tradition and Change in Filipino Families/Communities

  2. Displacement and Marginality in Three Short Stories ("Tanabata's Wife", "Wedding Dance" and "Harvest")

  3. The Silencing of Women in "How my Brother Leon Brought Home a Wife" and "Tanabata's Wife"

  4. Displacement and Dehumanization in "The Grave Diggers", "Death in a Sawmill" and "People in the War".

Second paper: Choose from any of the following topics:

  1. Images of Violence in Three Stories: "Pig Pen", "Rice Wine" and "Dada"

  2. Cultures as Source of Conflicts

  3. Love From Eyes Darkly: Love as Viewed in Time (from Different Generations)

  4. Desire and Colonialism in "The Romance of Magno Rubio", "Dada" and "Tong"

Third paper: Choose from any of the following topics:

  1. Culture and Religion (from across short stories/plays read)

  2. Images of Poverty in Filipino Literary Works

  3. Deviancy and Morality

  4. Filipino Courtship and Marriage (as gleaned in works read)