History of Philippine Literature
1.) Pre-Colonial Period
• The evolution of Philippine literature depended on the influences of colonization and the spirit of the
age. But before the change was done, indigenous Philippine literature was based on the given traditions
and customs of a particular area of the country. Of course, Philippines is an archipelago country,
consisting several islands, (7,107 islands to be exact). And each of those islands has their specifications
of cultures and traditions, bearing different set of native literature.
I find this particular idea exciting. Of course, I would really want to get a glimpse of what they call
“indigenous Philippine literature” during the pre-colonial period. It would really grant my intense
interest to know the many different faces of Philippine literature. What was the literature among the
Maranaw, to name a few.
• There were two literary forms during the pre-colonial period: written and oral literature. It’s really
awesome how native people thought of having an interactive learning system for children considering
the innocence they have in terms of civilization. Bugtong or riddle, for me, is an effective way to
inculcate the ability of logical thinking of a child. Since its main target is to improve the vision of the
child, of how he observes his surroundings and to make his mind work to find the right answer, I am
pretty sure the native Filipinos were good enough in terms of this. The use of the metaphor as the heart
of the riddle makes it very poetic and good to hear. And if any child at present isn’t even familiar of any
Filipino riddle, he should definitely call himself an alien, for real. It is a must.
The rest of the gang like salawikain or proverbs (they have seriously the sound to make me reflect its
hidden meaning through the good lines, and I like the fact that they provides good values), tanaga
(whose form makes it beautiful), and the epic (I don’t want to cram negativity here but I hate epic, those
involving powers and stuff) were the interesting written literature in the historic time.
• And about the oral literature, I find it very amusing in a way that they chant ambahan, songs about
nature or childhood, even during joking, drinking, and many other random chores. Oh, it will be best to
assume that they really do enjoy the literature they have. And this game whenever they attend funeral
wakes has a very mysterious impression to me. Well, I just hope they do won’t make the dead rise for
enjoying the game while on wake. The bayok is common for me but the balagtasan is what makes it
exciting. I love how “players” over an issue in a very poetic way of utterance.
• The concept of preserving oral literature amazes me so much. So how were they able to transmit it
verbally, I don’t want to know. They really had the memory skill to be able to do that. And as I found out,
they performed oral literature in favor of the illiterate.
• And of course, because of this indigenous literature, Philippines had represented the ethos and
identity of the country. Cool.
2.) The Spanish Colonial Period (1565-1897)
• 16th Century was the start of the deprivation of the indigenous Philippine literature. Spanish colonial
government finally got in the scene. They were able to manipulate literature by monopolizing it under
the religious orders. Literature evolves mainly on the themes of Spanish/ European culture and of
course, the Roman Catholic religion.
• As a proof of the influence of Spanish colonization, the first book ever printed in the Philippines is a
Christian Doctrine or Doctrina Christiana in 1593 by the Dominican press.
• Although they allowed Bienvido’s Lumbera’s “May Bagyo Ma’t May Rilim” be published, its Christian
content was set in the colonial context therefore, depriving the native...
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