Social Criticism during the Commonwealth Period: Renato Constantino and the Philippine Collegian, 1939-1940

  • Francisco Jayme Paolo A Guiang


Renato Constantino was one of the most prominent postwar public intellectuals whose works on Philippine history and society were either praised for its nationalist message or criticized for its controversial Marxist views. What is often neglected in appraisals and literature about Constantino were his prewar writings published on the official student organ of the University of the Philippines, the Philippine Collegian. Hence, this paper studies Constantino’s Collegian editorials by showing that his early social criticisms were essential foundations of his more popular postwar intellectual works. To do this, the paper contextualizes Constantino’s early life by underscoring his exposure to the nationalist undercurrents of the Commonwealth period. After tracing the factors that shaped Constantino’s nationalist thinking, this paper then probes into his Collegian editorials so as to understand the general message which he conveyed to his readers. To prove the significance of his Collegian editorials to his intellectual legacy, this paper expounds on how Constantino performed early social criticism in the context of a prewar Philippine society. Lastly, this paper locates the place of his prewar writings within the breadth of his intellectual contributions as a whole. In doing so, Constantino’s Collegian editorials could be appreciated as a compelling starting point for a more profound form of social criticism which he practiced during the postwar years.