Folklore and Insurgent Journalism of Isabelo de los Reyes


Modern-day journalism has associated folklore with the fictive and mythic. Its deployment in journalistic narratives or human interest pieces generally aims to bring out local color or quaintness. In his long journalistic career, Isabelo de los Reyes’s retrieval of folklore for publication in community newspapers performed a similar function of engaging the reader but also exposed political myths to undermine colonial regimes of Spain and the United States.

De los Reyes’s treatment of folklore was not only to catalogue popular knowledge but also to ground such knowledge on conditions of domination. Folklore, as a “conception of the world” is systematized and inflected with reflections upon a reality. Thus, the publication of folklore in newspapers allows the creation of common body of knowledge that, according to Gramsci, “offers to a people the elements for a deeper knowledge of (themselves)” (Gramsci, 1992, p.187).

The folklore project of de los Reyes inaugurates a tradition in insurgent journalism. Folklore, as common stories of the lesser heard, performs the dual function of acculturation and subversion. As in de los Reyes’s time, journalism today could include genres adapted to new and critical function that could open up new flanks of expressions and protests.