Though relatively young compared to other world literatures, Philippine literature has come a long way in evolving from the early forms of folklore literature to the contemporary literature we know today. The changing times and the cultural influences brought about by both the foreign and local people have shaped the fate of Philippine literature.
On the earliest times before the Spanish colonization, myths, legends, and tales were the forms of literature at hand. These reflected the indigenous culture and tradition of pre-Spanish Philippines. Stories were orally shared and passed down from one generation to the next. A bit before Spaniards came, the early natives had also developed their own writing system called the alibata and the earliest writings in Philippine literature were written in that manner on bamboo, leaves, stones, and other indigenous materials.
These myths usually impart of the origin of man and the world, and mostly had a transcending spiritual purpose. Babaylans or the priestesses were in charge of remembering and preserving the folklore which they preached to the people, especially to the future generations. An example of well preserved myth is the Ifugao tale of Bugan and Kinggauan that talks about the marriage of a goddess with a man and the death of their son which resulted in the creation of the world’s many things. Tales were in local vernacular forms and showed the diversity ad richness of culture by each region.
On the advent of Spanish colonization, the earlier forms of literature were trashed and abandoned for the Spaniards wanted to convert the natives to Christianity and the only way to do this was to convince the natives into believing that these were evil and wicked. That explains why the term “yawa” means devil, but in fact, Yawa was a warrior babylan from Bohol.
Folklore was forgotten and natives were slowly but surely became hispanized throughout the 300 years of colonization. Prayers, chants, and other religious...
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