How to Contribute to the Development of Local Literature

Do you know of any literary writer who came from your city, hometown, or province? This personage may have been born or relocated there near where you live. Literary writers have enriched our Filipino culture and their works introduce something vital in exploring our humanity. As readers, it is our turn to discover the writers our places produced, for in so doing we preserve the heritage of our country’s literary arts.

Are you this generation’s top writer?

If you are passionate about writing, especially about the Philippines, her customs, and her traditions, then you are what we are looking for. Send us your short story, play, or poems.

Before we proceed with our activities aligned to discovering our writers and their works, it is good to remember that not all literature is written down. That is to say, literature may, of course, follow the oral tradition that dates back to the precolonial period. Peoples of the Cordillera, the Mangyan, and the Tagbanwa of Palawan are some of the ethnic groups of the Philip-pines that have a long storytelling tradition. If you come from a place where oral literature is practiced or performed, you should grab the opportunity to learn more about it and help preserve your local culture.

With the domination of the printed word that came with the age of modernity, Filipino storytellers and poets began to write down their works following the modes that the West introduced. Filipinos have grown adept in writing novels, short stories, dramatic scripts, and poetry. From the Spanish colonial age to the present, there are written works by Filipinos that have gained national prominence and have joined the canon of Philippine literature. Can you name some of them? Then, there are works written by lesser-known writers, perhaps these were ignored during the writer’s lifespan, but who knows, these works may provide necessary information to us living in this period. Therefore, in this lesson, we need to keep an open mind and a desire to discover as we go on a literary tour of our community in search of some literary gem. This lesson’s goal is to write a research paper about one literary figure, literary work, or place of literary significance from our local community.

In order for us to find out who the key literary figures are or what literary works came from our community within the period of time allotted to us for this lesson, we must be systematic in our search. Below are suggested steps we can take:

A. Select a general topic.

If you have a general idea of a literary work or personage from your community that you want to write about, then you can start searching for information on your topic immediately and with a little less effort. If you have zero knowledge on a possible topic, do not fret, a topic is still obtainable. You may do the same steps below, but as you do these, be conscious of extract-ing a workable topic that may be addressed within the time frame allowed.

B. Gather Data.

The tips below may guide you especially in the early part of the research as you search for a topic and as you narrow it down.

  1. Do an online search of literary figures or literary works from your community. Through the use of online search engines, you can search online for writers and literary works, libraries, and specialists of local literature that can help you find materials. Use the Internet to find possible resources. You can also search You-Tube for some performances of literary works and perhaps some interviews. You may consult these articles on how to maximize online search: “How to Do Internet Research”  and “5 Steps to More Accurate and Efficient Google Search.”
  2. Do a more specific search by searching in your school library. If your school library has some online resources, you may search these first. More and more libraries are investing in electronic resources (for example: e-books, e-joumals, etc.). There is also now a conscious effort by libraries to convert printed (or paper) resources to digitized or electronic content. If your library’s holdings cannot be accessed online, then you would have to personally visit your library. Knowing the physical layout of your library and being able to ask your librarians for information can reduce your search time significantly. Check out the online or card catalog, the microfilm section (for back issues of journals, magazines, and newspapers), CDs, etc. that are available. Do not forget to talk to your school librarian who may help you immensely in gathering information.
  3. Go to other research libraries in your community. Make sure to ask for a referral from your school librarian and/or subject teacher in order for your off-campus search to be official. Moreover, librarians and other resource persons will see it as an act of courtesy if you bring with you a letter of referral. Before you go to the library, make sure that you are familiar with their schedule of operations and if there is a modest payment to be made to utilize the resources of the library.

C. Find more specialized data.

If online and library researches do not yield enough information, or if you think you will benefit from more information, then do the following:

  1. Find specialists that you can interview. Locate people who are knowledgeable about the topic you would like to write about. Possible resource persons may be a hometown elder, a story-teller, a curator, a teacher, a writer, a person from a publishing house, a literary critic, etc. If your resource person is agreeable, then you may conduct an interview with the specialist either by sending your questions by e-mail or by visiting the resource person during acceptable hours. Always be courteous and prompt when interviewing someone. Your interviewee is giving you the valuable resources of time and knowledge, and it is but to show your appreciation by not abusing his kindness.
  2. Visit museums, local government offices, or other landmarks of literary significance. Are there artifacts mentioned by your author in a literary work that are available for viewing? These material artifacts may be architecture, articles of clothing, books, paint-ings, sculpture, photographs, etc. If you think that your un-derstanding of your author or chosen literary work will benefit from an exposure to such artifacts, then schedule a visit. You must be selective about what to visit because you may end up using so much time locating the material artifacts that you are unable to write about your topic. 

D. Form a Research Question.

After gathering some initial data, you need to form a research question that will guide the writing of your paper. Make sure that the data you have gathered will be enough to address this question. If you still have some missing information, you may have to go back to the earlier steps.

E. Brainstorm your topic.

After deciding on a topic, forming your research question, and gathering preliminary data on your topic, you may sit down in a small group of 3 to 5 students to discuss each other’s research questions and find information. At this point you must be clear about what your goal is for the research. You must also be familiar with your audience’s needs (that is, your classmates and teachers) and know what the proper tone or writer’s voice to adopt in the paper.

F. Evaluate your sources.

Before you write down your research paper, make sure that you evaluate the accuracy and factuality of the data you have gathered.

A. Write a thesis statement.

This is the main idea of your paper. This is the answer to your research question.

B. Develop an informal outline.

Guided by your thesis statement and the data you have gathered, you may now organize your ideas about your topic. Your outline serves as the organization of your paper’s ideas. Your outline may follow this general flow of discussion which you can make your own by adding your unique experiences to the data gathered:

  1. The story of your search
  2. The results of your search
  3. In the end: reflections on your search

C. Document your sources.

Give credit where credit is due. Take note of what printed, online, or interview source provided you with information for your paper. Follow the format for MLA citation and the Works Cited list, and include these in your paper. MLA Formatting and Style Guides are available in print and online, like this one from the Purdue Online Writing Lab.

D. Write your research paper.

The research paper may be an essay of 500-750 words (excluding the List of Works. Cited). Make sure that your thesis statement is clear, the ideas are well-organized, and the writing is clear and well-informed by your data.