Hispanic-Philippine literature, doomed to the tragedy of losing its readers, is, despite its interest, an unfortunate literary corpus that has long been ignored among Spanish speaking countries. The Spanish works by Filipino authors, which are the fruit of a nearly extinct culture, are very hard to find both in the Philippines and abroad.
Biblioteca de Clásicos Hispanofilipinos opens its project with Cuentos de Juana (Adelina Gurrea) and Los Pajaros de Fuego (Jesús Balmori) and aims to publish eight works in editions that will be annotated and detailed by expert philologists. This collection expects to revive the literary works of the PhilHispanic writers from the beginning of the 20th century, works that are, for the most part, either sold out or unpublished. The aim of this initiative is to protect and maintain the legacy of those last writers who expressed their ideas in Spanish, and to be able to share them with the general public.
The current situation of the Spanish language in the Philippines is considerably different from what it was some decades ago. If by the 1940’s there were around six million Spanish speakers, just five decades later, according to the 1990’s census, there were only a few thousand native Spanish speakers left in the islands. Unfortunately, literature was not impervious to the decline of the Spanish language.
Philippine literature was born in Spanish. There had been a rich literary tradition in the islands before the Spaniards arrived but it was the Spanish who started to publish those tales and stories. The works of Rizal, the best known Filipino writer and national hero, are a result of this inter-cultural process.
However, not only did the Spanish writing era not finish at the end of the Spanish colonial time in the Philippines, but it also began its Golden Age, at the very same time that the American occupation started.
It was during those times that a large number of newspapers and publications were created as a symbol of resistance against the American occupation and the best and most popular Filipino writers, such as T.M. Kalaw, Jesús Balmori or Antonio Abad amongst others, emerged.
Throughout the first decades of the 20th century there was a rate of 27 newspapers written in Spanish, and in 1940 the Editions Bureau had a registration of about 40 mastheads in Spanish. However, the impositions on the language during the American occupation and the consequences of the war had a very negative effect on Spanish culture after 1945.
Once the war was over and the Spanish language nearly disappeared from public life and education, the few publications that remained in this language was sheltered by university scholars and philologists.
Luckily, that enormous recession of the Spanish language in the Philippines has been recently detained thanks to a new trend that comes from the United States and which tries to make up for lost time and reintroduce Spanish in schools. This initiative became a fact when in 2008 Spanish was established as a part of the National education system in the islands, thus becoming an excellent opportunity that should be taken advantage of.
The objectives of Clásicos Hispanofilipinos are:
To retrieve the works of some Hispanic-Philippine writers from the first half of the 20th century that are, either not available to the general public, or very hard to find.
• To show the Hispanic Philippine literature to the Spanish speaking world; to prove its relevance within Philippine culture and Hispanic studies curricula.
• To promote philological and Hispanic studies within the universities in the Philippines.
The collection aims to interest the following group of potential readers:
In The Philippines:
*Filipino Spanish speakers or advanced students of Spanish.
*Spanish and Latin-American communities in the Philippines.
In Spain and other Spanish speaking countries:
*Spanish language and literature Departments.
*Philologists, historians and other professionals interested in Filipino culture.
* Filipino residents.
* The general public.
The collection would not like to hide its academic character; it is, nonetheless, expected to interest a Spanish speaking public, either from the Philippines, Spain or Latin America, as well as Spanish speakers and students of Spanish from all over the world.
In its first edition Clásicos hipanofilipinos will publish eight works, between 2010 and 2013, two works a year . The following works will launch the collection:
Adelina GURREA Cuentos de Juana
Jesús BALMORI Los pájaros de fuego
The selection of works and experts will be made by the project coordinator, assisted by an advice council which will be configured by prestigious hispanists specialised in research on classics and Hispanic-Philippine literature.
In order to devise the critical edition of each and every work, a group of philologists specialized in Philhispanic literature will be created. The work of the philologists will consist of choosing and editing the texts (or their variants). They will also add critical notes that will enhance the readings and create an introduction to the book that will follow this pattern:
• Biographic introduction.
• Historic and literary context.
• Comprehensive meaning of the works of the chosen author.
• Assessment and evaluation of the published work.
• Philological criteria supervised by the edition coordinator.
• The writer’s bibliography.
• Further and extensive bibliography.
The coordination of the project will be carried out by the collection coordinator who will make the selection of works and specialists, always collaborating with an advice council.
Apart from the editor, who will write the introduction and the notes, there will be an edition supervisor in charge of evaluating, through a written report, the critical edition made by the editor.
Quality control, follow up and evaluation.
In order to ensure the quality of this editorial project, the collection CLÁSICOS HISPANOFILIPINOS will be subjected to an external quality control by a well-known publishing company or by a university.
We foresee to have a reader’s questionnaire on our website where the readers can share their opinions about the quality of the collection and of each and every one of its titles, suggestions for new works, contents, etc. Our aim with this is to create an open space where the readers have a say about the collection and can take part in the improvement of the collection.
In the collection, as much as in each one of the books, great attention has been paid to detail: the graphic design and the lay out. The concept for the graphic design in the collection is based on simplicity and generous spaces, always bearing in mind that design will be subject to the readings.
The books featured in this collection are designed, laid out and printed in Manila. The possibility of publishing in Spain could also be considered, depending on the number of partners taking part in the project.
We foresee a print run of a thousand copies of every title in the collection, printed on quality paper (matt bone-white 100grs thick paper). The cover will also be printed on quality paper with jacket. As regards to the format, the books will be 14cm x 20,5cm.
The distribution in the Philippines will be carried out in collaboration with university press and library chains in the country. We also expect to distribute the collection in strategic centres, especially those related to the cultural world. Circulation in Spain will be carried out by public libraries, universities, cultural institutions and other branches of the cultural world which could guarantee the distribution of the collection.
The different titles in the collection can be purchased and delivered through the postal service and courier companies. Each issue will cost 10 $ plus 6 $ as management fee plus the delivery cost according to the country from where it is requested.
Among the institutional sponsors of the project are:
• Instituto Cervantes de Manila.
• The Spanish Embassy.
• AECID-OTC Manila
• The Spanish Ministry of Culture (through its cultural-cooperation programme with the Philippines and the Pacific Islands)
In the interest of this project´s sustainability, the collection needs support from institutions, enterprises or individuals, who, either here in the Philippines or abroad, are interested in the preservation and spread of the Filipino cultural heritage in Spanish.
Sponsors will see their contribution embodied this way:
• Their logo or name on the technical description of the publication and on the CLÁSICOS HISPANOFILIPINOS website, in order and according to their contribution.
• Mention of their name in the letter attached to every book; letter that will be sent to all the institutions and subscribers.
• A certain number of free copies, according to their contribution to the project.
• Presence of the sponsor at the official launch of the collection.
People or institutions willing to take part on this project may contact firstname.lastname@example.org for further information