Magdalena Jalandoni was known as Western Visayas first woman writer. She is now remembered as one of the most prolific Filipino writer in the Hiligaynon language. She was the first recipient of the Republic Culture Heritage Award for Literature in 1969 by President Ferdinand Marcos. She also wrote poems and novels in Filipino and English language. She did 36 novels, 122 short stories, 231 short lyrics, 8 narrative poems, 7 novelettes, 5 corridos, 7 long plays, a number of sculptures and hundreds of paintings throughout her lifetime. Her works are said to have left permanent and significant milestones in Philippine literature.
Birth and Early Years
She was born on May 27, 1891 in Calle Alvarez in the old city of Salog (now Jaro, a district of Iloilo City) to the pious, devout Catholic couple Gregorio Jalandoni y Jopson from Jaro and Francisca Gonzaga who hails from the town of Pavia. Magdalena had an only younger brother Luis who later married Amelia Benedicto Ledesma , also of Jaro.
Her formal schooling started in the school of Clemente Gonzales and his wife Donata. In June 1902 she studied at the Colegio de San Jose where she was a day boarder, and in 1904 she entered the same school as an enterna. She wrote her fist corrido “Padre Juan and Beata Maria’ at the age of ten, and “Don Juan Gonzaga” also a corrido at the age of twelve. Later on she wrote “Lucibar and Portivillar”, “Principe Recaredo” and Heneral Manfredo.” Her mother brought these corridos at the La Editorial Publishing House where these were printed and sold to the public.
On November 6, 1906 she entered the Iloilo High School. She stopped her studies after the first year because her mother did not approve of co-education and just stayed at their home where she wrote in her native tongue.
Childhood and Early Works
She began writing at a young age wherein she already had her poems published at the age of 12. At the age of sixteen, she published her first novel in Hiligaynon, "Ang Mga Tunoc Sang Isa Ca Bulac" (The Thorns of a Flower) which she finished in December of 1907, which was later followed by many novels, compilations of poems and short stories. Jalandoni only wrote for publication purposes due to the male-dominated society at the time. Back then, female voices in literature were not taken seriously by the general public. Although her mother strictly forbade her to take literature seriously, she refused to do so and devoted her life entirely to literature.
In her childhood autobiography Ang Matam-is Kong Pagkabata (My Sweet Childhood), she cites: "I will be forced to write when I feel that my nose is being assaulted by the scent of flowers, when my sight is filled with the promises of the sun and when my soul is lifted by winged dreams to the blue heavens."
Her famous poem Ang Guitara (The Guitar) is read in classrooms all over the country today. Literary critics and historians claim that she has mastered a special talent for poetry and description as well as dramatic evocations of landscapes and events in her novels and short stories. Her works span from the coming of Malay settlers in the Middle Ages up to the Spanish and American colonial era as well as the Japanese occupation of World War II, all portraying the history of Panay and the evolution of the Ilonggo culture. According to Riitta Varitti of the Finnish-Philippine Society in Helsinki, "Jalandoni was the most productive Philippine writer of all time."
Other famous works include Anabella, Sa Kapaang Sang Inaway (In the Heat of War), Ang Dalaga sa Tindahan (The Young Woman in the Market) and Ang Kahapon ng Panay (The Past of Panay). Throughout her turbulent and displaced life, she still managed to publish 36 novels, 122 short stories, 7 novelettes, 7 long plays, 24 short plays and dialogos in verse complied in two volumes, seven volumes of personally compiled essays including some translations from Spanish and two autobiographies. She has been displaced from her hometown twice and has survived the Philippine Revolution, the Filipino-American War and the Japanese Occupation. In 1977, she received the prestigious Republic Cultural Heritage Award for her literary achievements from the government, about one year before her death.
Her works are kept in the University of the Philippines in Diliman and in the Visayas, the Ateneo de Manila, the Universities of Iloilo and San Agustin, the Universities of Syracuse and Yale in the United States and in the National Library.
Death Of A Great Writer
She died on September 14, 1978 at the age of 87. At the time of her death she had written a total of 66 volumes composed of 24 novels, long poems, dramas, historical epics, translations, meditations, poems, her autobiography, a bibliography of her works and many other literary pieces. The author lost twenty novels during the Second World War when these were burned inside the Archbishop’s Palace in Jaro where she kept them.
During her lifetime she had received many awards recognizing her contribution to the enrichment of Hiligaynon, her native tongue and the genius that made her such a prolific writer. She never married. She is now survived by a few nieces as well as several other close relatives. Magdalena Jalandoni's birth place and ancestral house still stands today as a historical landmark and a museum not far from the cathedral of Jaro and is frequented by students. A street at the Cultural Center of the Philippines complex in Pasay City, Philippines is named in her honor.
Magdalena Jalandoni Wikipedia entry, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Magdalena_Jalandoni
First Thoughts: Magdalena G. Jalandoni blog, http://andyesperancilla2.blogspot.com/2010/09/magdalena-jalandoni.html
Magdalena Jalandoni Blog, http://magdalenajalandoni.blogspot.com/
Today In Philippines History, The Kahimyang Project May 26, 2012, http://kahimyang.info/kauswagan/articles/1150/today-in-philippine-history-may-27-1893-magdalena-jalandoni-was-born-in-jaro-iloilo-city
Heroines, News Today December 13, 2007, http://www.thenewstoday.info/2007/12/13/heroines.html
Magdalena G. Jalandoni Ancestral House Facade, ExploreIloilo.com, http://imgarcade.com/1/magdalena-jalandoni/