Before the Spanish came into the Philippines, the religions were Hinduism, Buddhism and Paganism. The Christian Doctrine was the main religion brought in by the Spaniards. The Philippines had a very diverse collection of languages, but the Spanish language was mixed into them. European legends and traditions were also mixed in to our own. Ancient literature was collected and translated into the different dialects in the Philippines. Their grammar books were also translated in the Philippine language. Most of the periodicals during this time had a religious feel or bias to them.
The first book in the Bicol language and written by Fr. Marcos Lisbon in 1754. Folk songs have been widespread in the Philippines. Every region had their own national song. Folk songs truly manifest the artistic feelings of the Filipinos. They show the Filipinos’ innate appreciation for and love of beauty. Recreational plays were performed by the Filipinos during that time.
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Tibag – This ritual was about the search for the cross of Jesus Christ at St. Helena Lagaylay – A celebration in Canaman, Camarines Sur to honor the Sta. Cruz tradition.
Women dance on the streets while chanting prayers to find the real cross The Cenaculo – Was the dramatization of the passion and death of Jesus Christ. Panunuluyan – it dramatizes Joseph’s and Mary’s search for Bethlehem. The Salubong (or Panubong) – The Salubong is an Easter play that dramatizes the meeting of the Risen Christ and his Mother. Carillo (Shadow Play) – this is a form of dramatic entertainment performed on a moonless night during a town fiesta or on dark nights after a harvest. This shadow play is made by projecting cardboard figures before a lamp against a white sheet.
The Zarzuela – considered the father of the drama; it is a musical comedy or melodrama three acts which dealt with man’s passions and emotions like love, hate, revenge, cruelty, avarice or some social or political proble. The Sainete – is a Spanish comic opera piece, with music. It was often placed at the end of entertainments, or between other types of performance, and used scenes of low life. The Moro-Moro dance is the earliest form of theater performing in the Philippines, starting in 1650. It is part of their cultural routine when entertaining their visitors.
The dance is a play based off of two poems, the “awit” and the “corrido,” that spread across the Philippines around 1610. It usually shows the struggles between Christians and non-Christians. The Moro-Moro dance expresses the loves, deeds and different adventures of the kings, queens, princes, princesses and dukes. It also shows different creatures, such as lions, tigers, bears, snakes, dragons, angels, saints, devils and giants. The Moro-Moro is a very long play; the show can go on for five to six hours a night for three nights in a row. The longest play known lasted for 12 days.
The Karagatan comes from the legendary practice of testing the mettle of young men vying for a maiden’s hand. The maiden’s ring would be dropped into sea and whoever retrieves it would have the girl’s hand in marriage. The Duplo is a performance that consisted of two teams; One composed of young women called Dupleras or Belyakas; and the other, of young men called Dupleros or Belyakos. The Balagtasan is a poetic joust or a contest of skills in debate on a particular topic or issue. This is replaced the DUPLO and is held to honor Francisco “Balagtas” Baltazar.
Dung-aw were Iloko literature by way of folk songs, riddles, proverbs, lamentations. During the Spanish period, it was known to be a chant to express his emotions towards life, sufferings and sacrifices of the dead and includes apologies for his misdeeds. 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 corrido’s, these were also widely read during the Spanish period as entertaining, edifying, reading manner in their leisure time.