Kundiman and Catastrophe: The Torrential Aesthetics of the Folk Kundiman



The kundiman has been hailed as the Tagalog region’s typical love song, and holds a special and enduring place in the Philippine popular imagination. While it is often interpreted for its nationalist and political overtones, less noticed perhaps are the kundiman’s articulations of weather-knowledge, of which there are many references of interest to ecocritical scholars. This essay analyzes the catastrophic intersections among historical, political, and literary storms through re-readings of the folk kundimans in Wenceslao Retana’s El Indio Batangueño, Manuel Walls y Merino’s La Musica Popular de Filipinas, and Jose Rizal’s poetry and prose, and argues that there is a torrential aesthetic of slippage that still very much informs contemporary discourses regarding the intertwined nature of climatic, social, and political catastrophes.

Keywords: kundiman, catastrophe, talinghaga, environmental tropes, nineteenth-century Philippine literature

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