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John Villanueva


LIT101 Literatures of the Philippines

Mr. Greg Delos Angeles

Written during the Martial Law regime, the literary text, Ang Kagilagilalas na
Pakikipagsapalaran ni Juan Dela Cruz by Jose F. Lacaba, in my opinion, perfectly depicts how
hard life is during the time the poem is created. To summarize, it talks about one Filipino who
was greatly influenced to join the opposing side of the government in order to fight those who
exceedingly abuse their designated powers. The youth mentioned in the poem may actually be
the student activists who consistently try to urge every Filipino to unite and battle those who
showcase reprehensible behavior while holding a specific position in the government.
I agree when Professor Delfin L. Tolentino stated that literature plays a societal function
and when Matthew Arnold mentions literature as a criticism of life. This literary text, in its
entirety, plays a vital role in the society. It does not only depict how the life of Filipinos during
the Martial Law is but it also demonstrates how persevering we are. The criticism of life is
greatly appreciated from this written piece as the author, in my opinion, was able to experience
some of these scenarios and brought them into play. I strongly believe that a literary piece
becomes more powerful when the application of ideas and personal experiences was
incorporated into it. All these into one make the poem all the more interesting.
Juan Dela Cruz, a simple Filipino, embarked on a journey in Manila in the hopes of
having a better life or a future. Yet, the opposite happened and his life was never the same again.
The text clearly illustrated that Juan was in grave poverty for he lacks the things that he needs
and/or wants. Due to this sad fact, it was easy for others to influence him to trace a different life
path. I strongly believe that he was able to get himself into the NPA (New Peoples Army) when
he decided to live in the mountains with others. In the last stanza of the poem, Lacaba mentioned

that the PC (Police Chief) blames the youth for influencing such an innocent man and turned him
into one of those people who the government considers their enemy. After I finished reading the
entire poem, it made me sad and furious at the same time about how Juans life went during the
Martial Law. It makes me want to take a stand. Therefore, I consider this a form of protest
literature. Protest literature does not only pertains to protest against political dispensation but
also those which illustrates the brutal reality of a particular situation that makes one reader to
reflect and come up with ideas to act in order to rectify the matter or issue.
At present, we can still see the same Juan Dela Cruz in some cases. There are still those
who experience the same things as Juan Dela Cruz experienced during the Martial Law. It may
not be in the same degree but poverty still remains one of the biggest problems of Filipinos
today. There are still those who cannot eat three full meals a day, others dont even have any.
There are other scenarios that remained the same since that time which seeks long-term solution.
Reading the entire text makes you wonder how different it would be if Juan Dela Cruz is
not poor, if hes not scarce with the things that he needs and wants, if Martial Law wasnt
implemented, if all those things were the opposite it would have been nice to world to live in. It
felt like a utopian dream to see the world as oppose to what it is now, like how good it is in
movies with happy endings. Yet, the opposite is true.
I recommend this literary text to be read by everyone for them to reflect and/or ponder
upon their own lives and how they plan to take action on the things that are still not in order
especially those concerning poverty. This Lacaba opus is a must read for it not only exposes how
hard Filipino lives is in the past and it is also a demonstration of a bitter truth that we are no
farther from what we are before; and that the only way out is to act now, not later.

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