The first Philippine novel, Ninay gathers together a large number of themes and motifs which shaped the works of a large number of literary texts. It was written by Pedro Paterno and was published in 1908. It portrayed the richness of the Philippine environment and culture through intertwined narratives and descriptions of the countries sights and rituals. It served to disprove the Spanish assertion that the Philippines did not have a distinct culture.
Using the nine-day novena for the dead (pasiam) as the frame, the novel unfolds a series of narratives that constitute variations of unrequited love. The first doomed love affair is between Ninay, for whom the prayers for the dead are being said, and Carlos Mabagsic falsely accused by the villainous Portuguese businessman Federico Silveyro of leading an insurrection.
After a colorful sojourn abroad, Carlos returns only to find out that Ninay has entered a convent. He dies of cholera and Ninay succumbs to the disease and also dies. Unrequited love because of the machinations of another evil character, Don Juan Silveyro, is also the fate of ill-starred Loleng and Berto, who becomes an outlaw to avenge the death of his sweetheart. It is Berto who finally puts an end to the wicked ways of Federico.
The second narrative is that of Loleng and Berto. Don Juan Silveyro's evil schemes prevent the lovers from being together. Loleng dies and Berto turns into an outlaw to take revenge on Don Juan. Berto also unwittingly avenges Ninay and Carlos by ending Federico's wickedness as well. The novel has ten chapters: an introduction followed by one chapter for every night of the pasiyam..