WEB AND WEAVE: Why Few Writers of Iluko Literature? (Part I)

MOST likely, this column will draw a lot of feedbacks after it is published. Why?

Because most readers of magazines and newspapers are the writers themselves.

Definitely, my column will provide them the insight that the findings of this research may have its own limitations.

Well, we welcome critics. Because we believe that jewels are made polished through constant friction.

Why the heck in its title? I know it will slight many Ilokano writers. It might be  a refreshing move, but it’s sad to note, many of our writers only act when they are attacked.

Start reading. Observe how Prof. Maribel Ibanez and this author highlighted some overlooked genre of the Iluko Literature by its crop of writers.



The Ilocano or Ilokano people are the third largest Filipino ethnic group. Aside from being referred to as Ilocanos, from “i”-from, and “looc”-bay, they also refer to themselves as Samtoy, from the Ilocano phrase “sao mi ditoy”, meaning ‘from our language’. The word “Ilocano” came from the word “Iloco” by the natives of the Upper part of the land known as “Cordillera.”

Just like the other great ethno-linguistic groups, the Ilokanos have a rich literary history. The Epic “Biag ni Lam-ang” narrates the solid struggles and the psyche of the sturdy Ilokanos, their dreams, aspirations and visions. Contrary to the long-held impressions of other ethnic groups toward the Ilokanos as kuripot (read: frugal), in 1934 marked the glowing beginning of the Iluko literature with the founding of Bannawag, side by side with its sister magazines – Liwayway and Hiligaynon.

This opportunity which never sprung among other regional languages emboldened more the Ilokanos to chronicle their conviction to life, cherish their struggles and narratives for the benefit of the young. Different writing genres found their way in the weekly “Bible of the North.”  

The Ilokanos firmly believe that literature embodies the culture of people. It mirrors the customs and traditions of the different races. Old practices are preserved in the multitude of literary manuscripts of the past. Hence, literature is an indispensable tool in the preservation of ones cultural heritage. The present generation can have a glimpse of the past through reading novels, short stories and other literary genres. Through these mediums they will come to know their roots, their ancestors. Knowing their origin will make them understand themselves and in turn will help them identify themselves from other groups of people. The children, then, need to be exposed to their own literature for the preservation and growth of their own culture.

The Ilokanos, unique as they are, possess a distinct and very rich culture. It is saddening to note, however, that the young generation is becoming less aware of this culture that the Iluko has. This may be attributed to the fact that only a few Iluko literary pieces are made available for children. Writers become less interested to come up with short stories catering to the tastes of the young. This is also aggravated by the intervening effect of technology. Children nowadays are more interested in spending their leisure time with gadgets rather than with books. Gone were the days when children spend their play time at somebody else’s backyard, playing hide and seek or “patintero” under the bright moon.. Gone were the days when children roam around by the meadow digging or uprooting “buslig” or climbing the tamarind tree and scamper away as fast as they can when the owner finds them. Indeed, so many things of the past have been buried with time. But literature can bring back and relive the past.

A more disappointing truth is the fact that children’s Iluko literature is on the verge of death. It is practically dying. Taking a look at the Iluko publications, how many of them publish short stories for the young, or poems for children. Only a few may be. What could be the implications of this dearth of Iluko children’s literature? What could be done to prevent its imminent extinction?

 Statement of the Problem

This study sought to present the implications of the dearth of Iluko children’s literature.

Specifically, it tried to determine 1) the profile of the writer-respondents 2) the assessments and views of the Ilokano respondents on their seemingly passive attitude toward children’s literature, and 3) the implications of this deficiency among the Ilokano folks especially the children.

Scope and Delimitation

This study is delimited to the personal assessments and beliefs of the Ilokano writer-respondents on their nonchalant attitude towards children’s literature. The respondents of this study involved 63 seasoned Ilokano writers coming from various local chapters of the GUMIL Filipinas.

(To be continued)