Philippine literature, written in Filipino, English, Spanish, and Philippine languages (e.g., Cebuan, Ilocano, Tagalog,
Hiligaynon, Pampangan, Hanunuo-Mangyan, and Bontok), has been influenced by colonization, economic and social
systems, religion, and political movements. An oral tradition continues to exist through epics, riddles, poems, and
legends of the country's around sixty ethnolinguistic groups, reflecting a culture linked with the Malay of Southeast Asia
and the influence of Indian, Arabic, and Chinese cultures. With the colonization of the islands by Spain and the United
States, Western forms such as the novel, short story, essay, and full-length play were introduced. However, resistance to
colonization also produced a tradition of radical literature. Philippine literary texts have been records of everyday life,
historical documents, receptacles of values, and either participants
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in the colonial discourses of the colonizers, or
testaments to freedom and sovereignty.
Precolonial Literature (1564)
Among the literary forms during the precolonial period were riddles and proverbs, at the heart of which were the
talinghaga (metaphor); the Hanunoo-Mangyan ambahan (a poetic form chanted without a predetermined musical pitch);
the Tagalog poetic form tanaga; myths, fables, and legends; mimetic dances and rituals that at times involved a plot (for
example, the Ch'along of the Ifugao); and epics, such as Lam-ang and Labaw Donggon. Created in communal societies,
the subject matter and metaphors came from common village experiences. Literature was essential in daily life, rites of
passage, and survival. Songs provided rhythm at work, rituals healed the sick, and epics validated community beliefs.
Each member of the community was a poet or storyteller, and the conventions of oral... [continues]
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