Chapter 2 Thesis Enrolment System

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  • Topic: Philippines, Oral literature, Orality
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Notes on Philippine pre-colonial literature
Notes and anecdotes on Philippine pre-colonial literature, mostly taken from my Filipino 14 class under Mr. Popa.

    The pre-colonial period in the Philippines is the longest chapter in the country's history. Yet it is also the darkest chapter in history, with very few records extant. The lack of knowledge concerning the period stems from the lack of resources concerning this era, brought on by the perishability of the items produced during those times. Having a strong affinity with nature, the early Filipino communities produced items molded from the raw materials in the region, mostly from plants and trees. Another reason was the Spanish colonization of the Philippines. The Catholic friars who were tasked with converting the "uncivilized" natives demonized the pre-colonial culture, seeing the beliefs of that era as a threat to their mission to spread Christianity in the land. Only a few manuscripts still survive to this day, mostly done by Spanish priests who had immersed themselves in the community in an attempt to decipher their ways. One of the most important was the Vocabulario de la Lengua Tagala by Fr. Juan de Noceda and Fr. Pedro San Lucar (1734), an anthology of early oral lore that preserved many examples of pre-colonial literature.

    However, despite the Spanish teachings, Philippine pre-colonial culture was not as barbaric as it had been made out to be. The presence of a bustling trade economy with Chinese and Muslim merchants existed long before the landing of the Spaniards. The oral literature in existence during that time also displayed a sense of sophistication beyond that of simple barbaric cultures. Anitism, a term coined by Stephen Hislop, refers to the religion prevalent in the religion at that time. The early Filipinos believed in the presence of anitos, primordial forces of nature that could accompany or possess people.

    Filipinos also held the principle of loob with great...
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