The ancient people had a sophisticated way of predicting weather. They had flourishing boat building and jewelry industries… In the 1800s, the men were shy and since courtship customs were a bit difficult to follow, they expressed their feelings through love songs that revealed their sad plight. In the 1920s, the poems reported that people began to copy the manner of dressing of the Americans. In Calbayog, for instance, there was a time when women wore bathrobes when they went to market as they thought this was the fashion.
In the 1930s and 40s, during the American occupation, the writers assailed the people’s changing mores. The Waray began speaking English. Their women now spent more time preening before the mirror, wearing sleeveless dresses to the annoyance of the men… In the ’50s, after World War II, writers riled against women who started to wear make-up, dress like Westerners, speak English to create snob appeal, and marry American soldiers instead of the local men.
Journey to One’s Own Culture, by Victor Sugbo
Published in Leap+ magazine of Asia Pacific Writers and Translators
A few days in Manila, Philippines, October 2015.