The Spanish Period (1565-1898) was believed to have started during the time of Miguel Lopez de Legazpi, the first Governor-General in the Philippines. He was responsible for establishing peace with various indigenous tribes. During his time, many changes happened to the Filipinos. Literature, religion, lifestyles, societal classes and the like was taken into the Philippines.
Regarding Philippine literature, the Spaniards have exerted a strong influence using their own literature. The first Filipino alphabet called the ALIBATA was replaced by the Roman alphabet. Before the Spanish came into the Philippines, the religions were Hinduism, Buddhism and Paganism. The Christian Doctrine was the main religion brought in by the Spaniards. The Philippines had a very diverse collection of languages, but the Spanish language was mixed into them. European legends and traditions were also mixed in to our own. Ancient literature was collected and translated into the different dialects in the Philippines. Their grammar books were also translated in the Philippine language. Most of the periodicals during this time had a religious feel or bias to them.
There have been several books that have been made during the Spanish period. -The first one is the “Ang Doctrina Christiana”. It is the first book printed in the Philippines in 1953, written by Fr. Juan de Placencia and Fr. Domingo Nieva, both in Tagalog and Spanish. It contained various prayers, The Ten Commandments, Seven Mortal Sins, How to Confess and the Cathecism. -The second book that was printed in the Philippines is the Nuestra Señora del Rosario, written by Fr. Blancas de San Jose in 1602. It contained biographies of saints, novenas, and questions and answers on religion. -The Libro de los Cuatro Postprimeras de Hombre was the first book printed in typography. -The book Ang Barlaan at Josephat is a Biblical story printed in the Philippines and translated to Tagalog from Greek by Fr. Antonio de Borja. It was believed to be the first Tagalog novel published in the Philippines. -The book “The Pasion” was about the life and suffering of Jesus Christ. -Urbana at Felisa is a book by Modesto de Castro. These are letters between two sisters Urbana at Felisa and have influenced greatly the behavior of people in society because the letters dealt with good behavior. -The “Ang Mga Dalit kay Maria” is collection of songs praising the Virgin Mary. Fr. Mariano Sevillawrote this in 1865 and it was popular especially during the Maytime “Flores de Mayo” festival.
There have also been some literary compositions made during the Spanish period. -Arte y Reglas de la Lengua Tagala (Art and rules of the Tagalog language). Written by Fr. Blancas de San Jose and translated to Tagalog by Tomas Pinpin in 1610. -Compendio de la Lengua Tagala (Understanding the Tagalog language). Written by Fr. Gaspar de San Agustin in 1703. - Vocabulario de la Lengua Tagala (Tagalog vocabulary). The first Tagalog dictionary written by Fr. Pedro de San Buenaventura in 1613. Vocabulario de la Lengua Pampanga (Pampanga vocabulary). The first book in Pampanga written by Fr. Diego in 1732. -Vocabulario de la Lengua Bisaya (Bisayan vocabulary). The best language book in Visayan by Mateo Sanchez in 1711. -Arte de la Lengua Ilokana (The Art of the Ilocano language). The first Ilocano grammar book by Francisco Lopez. -Arte de la Lengua Bicolana (The Art of the Bicol language). The first book in the Bicol language and written by Fr. Marcos Lisbon in 1754.
Folk songs have been widespread in the Philippines. Every region had their own national song. Folk songs truly manifest the artistic feelings of the Filipinos. They show the Filipinos’ innate appreciation for and love of beauty.
Recreational plays were performed by the Filipinos during that time. Tibag – This ritual was about the search for the cross of Jesus Christ at St. Helena Lagaylay - A celebration in Canaman, Camarines Sur to honor the Sta. Cruz tradition. Women dance on the streets while chanting prayers to find the real cross The Cenaculo – Was the dramatization of the passion and death of Jesus Christ. Panunuluyan – it dramatizes Joseph's and Mary's search for Bethlehem. The Salubong (or Panubong) - The Salubong is an Easter play that dramatizes the meeting of the Risen Christ and his Mother. Carillo (Shadow Play) – this is a form of dramatic entertainment performed on a moonless night during a town fiesta or on dark nights after a harvest. This shadow play is made by projecting cardboard figures before a lamp against a white sheet. The Zarzuela – considered the father of the drama; it is a musical comedy or melodrama three acts which dealt with man’s passions and emotions like love, hate, revenge, cruelty, avarice or some social or political proble. The Sainete – is a Spanish comic opera piece, with music. It was often placed at the end of entertainments, or between other types of performance, and used scenes of low life.
The Moro-Moro dance is the earliest form of theater performing in the Philippines, starting in 1650. It is part of their cultural routine when entertaining their visitors. The dance is a play based off of two poems, the "awit" and the "corrido," that spread across the Philippines around 1610. It usually shows the struggles between Christians and non-Christians. The Moro-Moro dance expresses the loves, deeds and different adventures of the kings, queens, princes, princesses and dukes. It also shows different creatures, such as lions, tigers, bears, snakes, dragons, angels, saints, devils and giants. The Moro-Moro is a very long play; the show can go on for five to six hours a night for three nights in a row. The longest play known lasted for 12 days. The Karagatan comes from the legendary practice of testing the mettle of young men vying for a maiden's hand. The maiden's ring would be dropped into sea and whoever retrieves it would have the girl's hand in marriage. The Duplo is a performance that consisted of two teams; One composed of young women called Dupleras or Belyakas; and the other, of young men called Dupleros or Belyakos.
The Balagtasan is a poetic joust or a contest of skills in debate on a particular topic or issue. This is replaced the DUPLO and is held to honor Francisco “Balagtas” Baltazar.
Dung-aw were Iloko literature by way of folk songs, riddles, proverbs, lamentations. During the Spanish period, it was known to be a chant to express his emotions towards life, sufferings and sacrifices of the dead and includes apologies for his misdeeds. Corridos were widely read during the Spanish period that filled the populace's need for entertainment as well as edifying reading matter in their leisure moments. Awit, like corrido's, these were also widely read during the Spanish period as entertaining, edifying, reading manner in their leisure time.