In February 1926, the book “Filipino Poetry”, compiled and edited by Rodolfo Dato, the first anthology of Filipino poets in English, was featured in “The Philippine Republic”, a monthly magazine based in Washington, D. C.
Filipinos As Poets In English
When Filipinos speak, write and sing in English, they are using a tongue that was wholly unknown to their fathers, and that, generally speaking, is still- unknown to their elders.
Americans may conceive of what such a handicap means by imagining themselves as mastering the forbidding intricacies of one of the Philippine dialects, and then in attempting their application to the exacting requirements of fitting them to the short story, drama and poetry.
The stories and poems that will be found in this and succeeding issues of The Republic are reproduced from leading Philippine journals for the purpose of indicating to Americans some idea of the progress Filipino writers and singers of poetry are making with their new language. The material reprinted is not submitted as the best work of the Filipinos in English, but merely as types of the work that the younger generation has been producing for several years now.
For the collection of poems we are-indebted to “Filipino Poetry,” a copyrighted volume of poems in English by Filipinos, collected and published from the files of the Philippines Free Press and other Philippine journals, by Rodolfo Dato, Ph. B. “Filipino poetry,” comments Mr. Dato, “seems to be deeply saturated with the fragrance of the jasmines and the sampaguitas, vibrant with the mellifluous songs of the mayas and the kuliawans.”
The published volume, he warns, is by no means regarded as a “treasury of imperishable literary gems, each ’round and perfect as a star,'” but that rather “it is a collection of the maiden songs of our native bards warbling in borrowed language, an humble contribution to that sublime art which Wordsworth calls ‘the breath and finer spirit of all knowledge.'” “For,” he says, “the full flowering of our poetic art has not yet come, but the fertile field smiles abundant growth and gives promise of a rich and plentiful harvest in a day not far distant.”