Philippine Literature is a diverse and rich group of works that has evolved side-by-side with the country’s history. Literature had started with fables and legends made by the ancient Filipinos long before the arrival of Spanish influence. The main themes of Philippine literature focus on the country’s pre-colonial cultural traditions and the socio-political histories of its colonial and contemporary traditions.
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It is not a secret that many Filipinos are unfamiliar with much of the country’s literary heritage, especially those that were written long before the Spaniards arrived in our country. This is due to the fact that the stories of ancient time were not written, but rather passed on from generation to generation through word of mouth. Only during 1521 did the early Filipinos become acquainted with literature due to the influence of the Spaniards on us. But the literature that the Filipinos became acquainted with are not Philippine-made, rather, they were works of Spanish authors.
So successful were the efforts of colonists to blot out the memory of the country’s largely oral past that present-day Filipino writers, artists and journalists are trying to correct this inequity by recognizing the country’s wealth of ethnic traditions and disseminating them in schools through mass media. The rise of nationalistic pride in the 1960s and 1970s also helped bring about this change of attitude among a new breed of Filipinos concerned about the “Filipino identity. ” Earliest works In 1593 – Doctrina Christiana is the first book printed in the Philippines.
The Doctrina Christiana is remarkable not only for having been printed at such an early period in an elaborated black letter of the Spanish language, but also for having copies made in Tagalog, both in Latin script and the commonly used Baybayin script of the natives at the time, plus another translation in traditional Chinese. In 1610 – Tomas Pinpin wrote and printed the “Librong Pagaaralan nang mga Tagalog nang Uicang Castilla”, 119 pages long, designed to help fellow Filipinos to learn the Spanish language in a simple way.
He is also with the first news publication
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made in the Philippines, “Successos Felices”. Tomas Pinpin was a printer, writer and publisher from Abucay, a municipality in the province of Bataan, Philippines, who was the first Filipino printer and is sometimes referred as the “Prince of the Filipino Printers. ” Archaic Writing System Compared to other Southeast Asian countries, the Philippines have very few artifacts that show evidence of writing, like the Laguna Copperplate Inscription.
It is known that the Filipinos transferred information by word of mouth so it is not a surprise to know that literacy only became widespread in 1571 when the Spaniards came to the Philippines. But the early script used by the Filipinos called Baybayin (often mistaken by most Filipinos as “Alibata”, although this was deprived from Arabic, which had no influence on the Philippine language whatsoever, became widespread in Luzon. The Spaniards recorded that people in Manila and other places wrote on bamboo or on specially prepared palm leaves, using knives and styli.
They used the ancient Tagalog script which had 17 basic symbols, three of which were the vowels a/e, i, and o/u. Each basic consonantal symbol had the inherent a sound: ka, ga, nga, ta, da, na, pa, ba, ma, ya, la, wa, sa, and ha. A diacritical mark, called kudlit, modified the sound of the symbol into different vowel sounds. The kudlit could be a dot, a short line, or even an arrowhead. When placed above the symbol, it changed the inherent sound of the symbol from a/e to i; placed below, the sound became o/u.
Thus a ba/be with a kudlit placed above became a bi; if the kudlit was placed below, the symbol became a bo/bu. Pre-Colonial Period (BC to 1564) Owing to the works of our own archaeologists, ethnologists and anthropologists, we are able to know more and better judge information about Philippine pre-colonial times set against a bulk of material about early Filipinos as recorded by Spanish, Chinese, Arabic and other chroniclers of the past. Pre-colonial inhabitants of our islands showcase the Philippines’ rich past through their folk sayings, folk songs, folk narratives and indigenous rituals and mimetic dances.
The most seminal of these folk sayings is the riddle which is tigmo in Cebuano, bugtong in Tagalog, paktakon in Ilonggo and patototdon in Bicol. There are also proverbs or aphorisms that express norms or codes of behavior, community beliefs or values by offering nuggets of wisdom in short, rhyming verse. The folk song is a form of folk lyric which expresses the hopes and aspirations, the people’s lifestyles as well as their loves. These are often repetitive and sonorous, didactic and naive as in the children’s songs or Ida-ida (Maguindanao), tulang pambata (Tagalog) or cansiones para abbing (Ibanag).
A few examples are the lullabyes or Ili-ili (Ilonggo); love songs like the panawagon and balitao (Ilonggo); harana or serenade (Cebuano); the bayok (Maranao); the seven-syllable per line poem, ambahan of the Mangyans that are about human relationships, social entertainment and also serve as tools for teaching the young; work songs that depict the livelihood of the people often sung to go with the movement of workers such as the kalusan (Ivatan), soliranin (Tagalog rowing song), the mambayu, a Kalinga rice-pounding song, and the verbal jousts/games like the duplo popular during wakes.
The folk narratives, such as epics and folk tales are varied, exotic and magical. They were created to explain the phenomena of the world long before science came to be known. They explain how the world was created, how certain animals possess certain characteristics, why some places have waterfalls, volcanoes, mountains, flora or fauna and, in the case of legends, the origins of things. Fables are about animals and these teach moral lessons. The epics come in various names: Guman (Subanon); Darangen (Maranao); Hudhud (Ifugao); and Ulahingan (Manobo).
These epics revolve around supernatural events or heroic deeds and they embody or validate the beliefs and customs and ideals of a community. They are performed during feasts and special occasions such as harvests, weddings or funerals by chanters. Examples of these epics are the Lam-ang (Ilocano); Hinilawod (Sulod); Kudaman (Palawan); Darangen (Maranao); Ulahingan (Livunganen-Arumanen Manobo); Mangovayt Buhong na Langit (The Maiden of the Buhong Sky from Tuwaang–Manobo); Ag Tobig neg Keboklagan (Subanon); and Tudbulol (T’boli). The Spanish Colonization Period (1565 to 1863)
Colonial Literature (16th-18th Century) The arrival of the Spaniards in 1565 brought Spanish culture and language. The Spanish conquerors, governing from Mexico for the crown of Spain, established a strict class system that was based on race and soon imposed Roman Catholicism on the native population. Augustinian and Franciscan missionaries, accompanied by Spanish soldiers soon spread Christianity from island to island. Their mission was made easier by the forced relocation of indigenous peoples during this time, as the uprooted natives turned to the foreign, structured religion as the new center of their lives.
The priests and friars preached in local languages and employed indigenous peoples as translators, creating a bilingual class known as Ladinos. The natives, called “indios”, generally were not taught Spanish, but the bilingual individuals, notably poet-translator Gaspar Aquino de Belen, produced devotional poetry written in the Roman script in the Tagalog language. Pasyon, begun by Aquino de Belen, is a narrative of the passion, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, which has circulated in many versions. Later, the Mexican ballads of chivalry, the corrido, provided a model for secular literature.
Verse narratives, or komedya, were performed in the regional languages for the illiterate majority. They were also written in the Roman alphabet in the principal languages and widely circulated. In the early seventeenth century a Tagalog printer, Tomas Pinpin, set out to write a book in Romanized phonetic script, which would teach Tagalogs the principles of learning Castilian. His book, published by the Dominican press where he worked, appeared in 1610. Unlike the missionary’s grammar (which Pinpin had set in type), the Tagalog native’s book dealt with the language of the dominant rather than the subordinate other.
Pinpin’s book was the first such work ever written and published by a Philippine native. As such, it is richly instructive for what it tells us about the interests that animated Tagalog translation and, by implication, Tagalog conversion in the early colonial period. Pinpin construed translation in ways that tended less to oppose than to elude the totalizing claims of Spanish signifying conventions. Classical Literature (19th century) Classical literature (Jose Rizal, Pedro Paterno, Jesus Balmori, Huerta, Farolan, Licsi, Lumba, Castillo, etc. ) and historical documents (the national anthem, Constitucion Politica de Malolos, etc.) were written in Spanish, which is no longer an official language. Nationalism was first propagated in the Spanish language, especially in the writings of Marcelo H. Del Pilar or “Plaridel” in the La Solidaridad publications. In Cebu, the first Spanish newspaper, El Boletin de Cebu, was published in 1886. On December 1, 1846, the first daily newspaper, La Esperanza, was published in the country. Other early newspapers were La Estrella (1847), Diario de Manila (1848) and Boletin Oficial de Filipinas (1852). The first provincial newspaper was El Eco de Vigan (1884), which was issued in Ilocos.
In Cebu City, El Boletin de Cebu (The Bulletin of Cebu) was published in 1890. La Esperanza (1846) The first daily which began publication in 1846. Diario de Manila (1848) It was the only newspaper that did not undergo banning by the Spanish officials. Founded 1848, the magazine existed for 38 years. El Catolico Filipino (1862) On February 1, 1862, the first religious newspaper by Fr. Pedro Pelaez. This paper precipitated the Cavite rebellion. Published by Mariano Sevilla, the paper carried the slogan “Religious Unity” and called on all Filipinos to unite under one church.
Ironically, the church did not have a hand in the organization nor in the circulation of the paper. An organ of information based on Catholic principles. La Opinion (1887) Founded on April 1, 1887 and lasted up to 1890, was the first politics-oriented daily. It was considered the cheapest paper at that time costing 50 centavos for a month’s subscription. La Solidaridad and the Revolutionary Papers (1889) A fortnightly periodical published by Filipino emigres in Spain in 1889, became the vehicle through which nationalistic views were propagated.
Its first editor was Graciano Lopez Jaena. Other revolutionary papers of the time include Kalayaan, La Libertad, La Independenda, La Republica Filipinas, La Revolucion, El Renacimiento, and La Vanguardia. Most revolutionary papers were published outside the country either in Madrid or Barcelona due to Spanish censorship Ang kalayaan(1896) – was the official newspaper of the Kataastaasang, Kagalanggalangang Katipunan ng mga Anak ng Bayan (KKK) or Katipunan, for short. It was founded and edited by Emilio D. Jacinto in the late 1800s Daily Express (1972)
The only newspaper published by Juan Perez but reportedly owned by a Marcos crony, Roberto Benedicto, was the only existing print media at the onset of Martial Law La Illustration Filipino was a Spanish language newspaper published in Manila, Philippines, that ran during the last decade of the Spanish colonial era, and at times during the Philippine Revolution and the beginning of the 20th century under U. S. ruleIt was an illustrated weekly newspaper that covered a wide array of social related topics both local and international.
Many personalities at the time, both Spanish and Filipinos, contributed articles and pictures, although the newspaper also published anonymous articles that in some cases raised a great deal of controversy. On 1863, the Spanish government introduced a system of free public education that increased the population’s ability to read Spanish and thereby furthered the rise of an educated class called the Ilustrado (meaning, well-informed). Spanish became the social language of urban places and the true lingua franca of the archipelago.
A good number of Spanish newspapers were published until the end of the 1940’s, the most influential of them being El Renacimiento, printed in Manila by members of the Guerrero de Ermita family. Some members of the ilustrado group, while in Spain, decided to start a Spanish publication with the aim of promoting the autonomy and independence projects. Members of this group included Pedro Alejandro Paterno, who wrote the novel Ninay and the Philippine national hero, Jose Rizal, who wrote excellent poetry and his two famous novels in Spanish: Noli Me Tangere (Touch Me Not), and El Filibusterismo.
Especially potent was La Solidaridad, more fondly called La Sol by the members of the propaganda movement, founded in 15 February 1885. With the help of this paper, Filipino national heroes like Jose Rizal, Graciano Lopez Jaena, and Marcelo H. del Pilar were able to voice out their sentiments. Poetry and metrical romances •Ladino Poems – Were natives of first Tagalog versifiers who saw print: highly literate in both Spanish and the vernacular. Salamat nang walang hanga gracias se den sempiternas, sa nagpasilang ng talaal que hizo salir la estrella: macapagpanao nang dilim que destierre las tinieblas sa lahat na bayan natin de toda esta nuestra tierra. •Corridos – Were widely read during the Spanish period that filled the populace’s need for entertainment as well as edifying reading matter in their leisure moments. •Awit – like corridos, these were also widely read during the Spanish period as entertaining, edifying, reading manner in their leisure time. It is also a fabrication of the writers’ imagination although the characters and the setting may be European.
The structure is rendered dodecasyllabic quatrains. ANG BUOD NG IBONG ADARNA Sa isang mapayapang kaharian ng Berbanya, may isang hari na ang pangalan ay si Don Fernando, ang kanyang asawa ay si Donya Valeriana. Sila ay may tatlong anak na lalaki. Ang pinakamatanda ay si Don Pedro, ang ikalawa ay si Don Diego at ang bunso ay si Don Juan. Isang gabi, samantalang natutulog si Don Fernando, nagkaroon sya ng isang masamang panaginip at sya ay nagkasakit. Ang kanyang panaginip ay tungkol kay Don Juan na sya daw ay inihagis sa isang balong malalim ng dalawang lalaki.
Kinabukasan, ipinatawag ang lahat ng manggagamot sa Berbanya upang gamutin ang hari, ngunit walang makapagpagaling sa kanya. Hangga’t isang ermitanyo ang dumating at nagsabi na ang tanging makapagpapagaling sa kanya ay ang pitong awit ng Ibong Adarna. Ang Ibong Adarna ay matatagpuan sa puno ng Piedras Platas sa Bundok ng Tabor. Isinugo ng hari ang kanyang dalawang anak na lalaki upang hanapin ang Ibong Adarna, ang una ay si Don Pedro at sumunod ay si Don Diego, ngunit sila ay nabigo sa paghahanap sa Ibong Adarna.
Dahil sa Labis na pagod, sila ay nakatulog sa ilalim ng isang puno na kumikislap ang mga dahon na parang diamante. Kapag dumapo ang Ibong Adarna sa kalaliman ng gabi ito ay umaawit at pagkatapos ay umiipot. Nang mapatakan ng ipot ng ibong Adarna ang dalawang prinsipe, sila’y naging bato. Lumipas ang tatlong taon ngunit hindi na nakabalik ang dalawang prinsipe, dahil dito natakot si Don Fernando na isugo ang kanyang bunsong anak na si Don Juan dahil baka magkatotoo ang kanyang panaginip. Ngunit nagpumilit si Don Juan na hanapin ang Ibong Adarna.
Samantalang si Don Juan ay naglalakbay upang hanapin ang ibon, nakita nya ang isang ketongin na humingi sa kanya ng pagkain. Dahil si Don Juan ay may magandang kalooban, ibinigay nya ang kanyang kahuli-hulihang baon na tinapay sa matandang lalaki na ketongin. Dahil dito, tinulungan sya ng ketongin kung papaano matatagpuan ang Ibong Adarna. Sinabi nito na mayroon isang maliit na bahay malapit sa bundok kung saan nakatira ang isang ermitanyo na magbibigay sa kanya ng kaalaman kung papano mahuhuli ang Ibong Adarna. At ibinilin din ng matanda na huwag syang hihimlay sa isang puno na kaiga-igaya ang anyo.