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Wednesday, June 25, 2003

A draft of the concept paper for the Malagilion: Soniton Pangasinan.


The arrival of the Dominican Missionaries in Kaboloan or Pangasinan marked the coming of age of Pangasinan as liturgical and literary language. It did flourished for awhile in the late 19th century to the early 20th century with the productions, translations and publications of Catholic Pangasinan literature but failed to create a literary tradition even after the Spanish era when Pangasinan writers started to express themselves in their native tongue through anlong (poems), kansionan (songs), moro-moro and zarzuelas.

Publications of literary materials written in Pangasinan language declined in the 1900s when Pangasinan writers shifted to English and later to Tagalog or Filipino. Pangasinan eventually died as a literary language. Though Pangasinenses speak their language with gusto, it did not help in giving it a greater literary standing. This is due to the strange phenomenon that the Pangasinenses gave up their language in favor of Iluko and in the past years in favor of English and Filipino as these are used as mediums of instructions in educational institutions. While it is true that English and Filipino put a check on the spread of Iluko it did not really help the Pangasinan position.

Challenges and Aftermath

Until today, Pangasinan poetry is still a cult of emotion in rhymeless forms and non-stanzaed verses cocooned in the literary fashion of the poet-priests and love-lorn bards. In his essay, Rev. Fidel of Amurrio pointed out that the "Pangasinan poetry is still in the domain of popular bards that follow more their poetic instinct than the cultivated rules of courtly poetry. Anyone interested in developing this field of literature should study the popular way of Pangasinan poetry and then apply it to the rules that are valid in the poetry of any language." With the revival of Pangasinan as a literary language in mind, this author attempts to apply a new form and style based on the sonnet, a literary form which has been successful in Italian and English poetry, coupled with the re-introduction of so-called "Pangasinan Psyche" to veer away from the antiquated sensibilities of Pangasinan poetry.

The result of this attempt is a slim volume of poetry entitled Malagilion: Soniton Pangasinan, still a work in progress which now contain thirty three poems in a sonnet form which does not necessarily follow the rules used in Basic Sonnet Forms: Petrarchan, Shakespearian and/or Spenserian sonnets. The Pangasinan sonnet is a non-standard sonnet written in ten-syllable line, fourteen to sixteen lines with or without specific rhyme scheme.

Another reason why the author came out with Malagilion: Soniton Pangasinan is the paucity of published works written in the said language. This is also my response to the claims of some Pangasinenses that Pangasinan is a dying language. This could give the language a new lease of life and may lead to the revival of Pangasinan literature.

Market and Competition

While this work is targeted only to approximately 2 million people who speak the language here and abroad, it could also be useful to literature students, researchers, ethnologists and language translators. Other potential targets are schools and libraries.

There are no other Pangasinan poetry books available at this time except the one published in ANI (CCP) a few of years ago and poetry chapbooks by Leonarda Carrera Baltazar (Amor Cico) published locally in Pangasinan. It would not be too naïve to expect that there are no other books being written on this topic/genre at this time.


Pangasinan is considered as one of the eight major languages in the Philippines and yet contemporary literature is definitely lacking. Pangasinan literature has been pushed on the verge of evolution and virtually disappeared. We have no literary forms and styles to depend upon and inherit. The employment of a literary form in Pangasinan poetry could serve as pollen that will eventually produce a seedpod for our poets and writers.

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A Tao 道 Sign

Le poèt de Pangasinan

Santiago B. Villafania, a bilingual Filipino poet who writes in English and in his native language of Pangasinan, is the author of poetry collections Bonsaic Verses (2012), Pinabli and Other Poems (2012), Malagilion: Sonnets tan Villanelles (2007), and Balikas na Caboloan (Voices from Caboloan, 2005) published by the National Commission for the Culture and the Arts (NCCA) under its UBOD New Authors Series. He has been published in several countries and translated into several languages. Villafania is one of the 11 Outstanding Pangasinan conferred with the 2010 ASNA Award for the Arts and Culture (literature) during the first Agew na Pangasinan and also the 430th Foundation Day of the province on April 2010. He is a member of Philippine PEN writes a regular weekly column for the Sunday Punch.



A collection of ghazals in Pangasinan language. Order now at Amazon.com

A collection of haiku, senryu, tanka, haiga, and other poems in English and Pangasinan language. Order now at Amazon.com

“Santiago Villafania is a searcher with a seemingly insatiable curiosity and endurance. His quest has brought him to explore world poetry from points East and West. He is no stranger to sophisticated verse forms such the Sapphic strophe nor to the diverse permutations of the Japanese haiku. But he is not a formalist, he has daringly explored Asian and Western cultures in a very personal way and writes his mind with a daring, invigorating, aesthetically pleasing ease. In his poetry Villafania displays not only a breadth, but it feels very much like a breath of fresh air.” – Ute Margaret Saine, poet, critic, translator, past president of PEN Orange County and the former editor of the California Poetry Quarterly

“Villafania’s emergence as a poet is a fine moment to celebrate. Another voice from the regions augurs a richer body of writing that Filipinos can hold up as a mirror of our native culture.” – Bienvenido Lumbera, National Artist for Literature

The Beloved Idiom | A Reading of Villafania’s ‘Pinabli & other poems’ by Dennis Andrew S. Aguinaldo

LCCN.: 2010338612

Order your copy now at CreateSpace or Amazon.com :)

"The publication of Malagilion: Sonnets tan Villanelles by Santiago B. Villafania should be a source of rejoicing for readers of regional literatures. This second book by Pangasinan's leading poet today is impressive in both form and substance. Villafania has created 300 sonnets and 50 villanelles in his own language that attempt to reflect the primacy of native culture and return the poet to the central stage of social life."A Boost to Pangasinan Literature from Breaking Signs by Cirilo F. Bautista (Philippine Panorama, 16 Dec. 2007, pp.25-26)

"Villafania is not only a visionary poet, he is a linguistic philosopher who codifies the origin of language and culture, dissects the myths and the common beliefs of the people against the urban legends, juxtaposes the literary tradition against the modern influences by dialectically infusing them in his poetic revelation of truth."Poetic Revelation in Language and Culture by Danny C. Sillada (Manila Bulletin, 12 May 2008, pp. F1-F2)

Photos: Book Launching at the Pearl Manila Hotel, 5 Feb. 2008

"Santiago Villafania's Balikas ed Caboloan certainly has reinvigorated the anlong tradition of Pangasinan that for a long period of time suffered silence from the hands of writers more attuned to English writing. Characteristically anacbanua, Villafania's poetry echoes his predecessors and presages a promising era for young writers in Pangasinan." – Dr. Marot Nelmida-Flores

Thesis: Bilay ed Caboloan - Reconfiguration of Space using a New Historicist Lens by Ayesah Tecson

from Pangasinan 'Anlong': Oral tradition into the 21st century published in Manila Times / Sunday Magazine, March 13 & 20, 2011.

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