This essay turns to and through the Philippine vernacular in order to open up the possibility of a new materialist regard of literature, one that specifically stems from the Philippine tropics. It proposes that the opportunity for such a tropical materialism rests on the onomatopoeism observed in the vernacular. Onomatopoeia, as a material linguistic principle, is recognized here to be most instructive in reunderstanding Philippine folk poetry — texts which date back to the precolonial period — in terms beyond mere representation. As a counterpoint to these traditional literary texts, the essay also ruminates on the poetry of Jose Garcia Villa, a prominent Filipino modernist writer, whose works in English are intuited here as demonstrative of the similar onomatopoeism found in Philippine folk poems. Although these literary materials might initially appear to be disparate and disconnected, the reading undertaken here nevertheless seeks to coincide these texts, bringing them into relation to highlight their possible yet understated entanglements, so as to ultimately motivate an intra-activity constitutive of contingent spatiotemporalities that may allow the emergence of a groundwork for a Philippine new materialist poetics.
Benitez, C. J. (2022). Vernacular Virtual: Toward a Philippine New Materialist Poetics. ETropic: Electronic Journal of Studies in the Tropics, 21(2), 95–119. https://doi.org/10.25120/etropic.21.2.2022.3903