Pre-Spanish Period

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  • Topic: Fable, Philippine mythology, Fables and Parables
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The Pre-Spanish Period
Historical Background

Long before the Spaniards and other foreigners landed or set foot on Philippine shores, our forefathers already had their own literature stamped in the history of our race. Our ancient literature shows our customs and traditions in everyday life as traced in our folk stories, old plays and short stories. Our ancestors also had their own alphabet which was different from that brought by the Spaniards. The first alphabet used by our ancestor was similar to that of the Malayo-Polynesian alphabet. Why certain things existed in their physical environment must have intrigued the ancient Filipinos as it did other early peoples. In their effort to define their world, to account for the realities in it, and to explain their feelings, beliefs, and judgments, they made up interesting narratives. These have come down to us in the form of origin myths, legends, fables, tales of the supernatural, and humorous accounts about some trickster, like Pusong or Pilandok, or some bungling character who got by in spite of or because of his lack of wit. And there were also metrical accounts of native Filipino gods and their deeds. Songs and verses filled early religious practices: to express devotion, to atone for sins, to minister to the sick, and to bury the dead.Verses were composed also to pray for abundance and happiness: in the home, on the farm, on the sea, and elsewhere. In like manner, verses aired love for and loyalty to the barangay and its rulers. These were supplemented by accounts of battle (kudanag), songs of victory (tagumpay, talindad), songs of hanging a captured enemy (sambotan, tagulaylay), and songs expressive of manliness. From the people’s social life evolved. But whatever records our ancestors left were either burned by the Spanish friars in the belief that they were works of the devil or were written on materials that easily perished, like the barks of trees, dried leaves and bamboo cylinders which could not have remained undestroyed even if efforts were made to preserve them. Other records that remained showed folk songs that proved the existence of a native culture truly our own. Some of these were passed on by word of mouth until they reached the hands of some publishers or printers who took interest in printing the manuscripts of the ancient Filipinos. Although attempts have been made to compile these folk narratives by such collectors as Fr. Jose Ma. Pavon (Las antiguas leyendas de la isla de Negros) during the Spanish period Fay-Cooper Cole (Traditions of the Tinguian, 1915), Mable Cook Cole (Philippine Folk Tales, 1916), and Dean S. Fansler (Filipino Popular Tales, 1921) during the early part of the American regime, and some Filipino and American antropologists and folklorists in more recent times, many of the theme still remain in the memory of the folk, uncollected and unwritten.


Mythology is an interwoven series of myths told by a given race. The word also means the study of myths in general.

Classifications of Mythology:

1) Myth: an account of the deeds of a god or of a supernatural being; a kind of imaginative precursor of scientific investigation. - are permanent, they deal with the greatest of all problems – the problems which do not change because men and women do not change. They deal with love (the romantic element), war, sin, tyranny, courage, and faith; all in the same way in relation to man.

2) Legend: a widely-accepted but unverified story of the origin of things, persons or places.

Myths and legends deal largely with gods, their deeds, adventures, dealing with supernatural beings and culture heroes with origins and explanation of things and phenomena in the surrounding world.

3) Folktale: Pure fiction that seems to have no other origin than a desire to amuse and interest.
- bring knowledge and understanding of men’s motives and tolerance that recognizes faith where ignorance would only...
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