Sintunado Semintality: Serenades in Francisco Balagtas' La India Elegante y El Negrito Amante and Merlinda Bobis' Serena Serenata

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Abstract

The serenade, or the harana as it is more popularly known, enjoys a special place in Philippine culture, owing in part to its attachment to the subjects of courtship and heterosexual romance. While most associate the harana with the consummation of erotic desire, two Philippine writers have imagined the serenade as generically otherwise: one being Francisco Balagtas in La India Elegante y El Indio Amante (1862) and the other being Merlinda Bobis in Ms Serena Serenata (1995). While temporally distant from one another and written under different sets of historical and cultural circumstances, both one-act plays are linked by the shared imagination of a dissonant harana, or ones that fail at the very task they were designed to do. Through their exploration of the inharmonious, Balagtas and Bobis provide a description of the fraught conditions of Philippine reality that is entangled by intersecting critiques of gender, race, the national, and the colonial from within and beyond the archipelago’s national boundaries. The irresolution of haranas, of their climax into misapprehension, provides the promise of a larger ground for cultural critique, one that belays our expectations of the function and trajectories of what Benedict Anderson calls the imagined sound of national discourse. If, as Anderson says, imagined sound connects us in a particular way, then dissonant haranas suggest that a more comprehensive enharmonic engagement must first necessarily contend with the presence and reality of sintunado sentimentalities.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages13
JournalKatipunan
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 16 Sep 2021

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