Spanish Period

Spanish period
The Mass at Limasawa marked the start of Spanish colonization of the Philippines.

Welcome to the topic Spanish period! Spanish period is the second of the series of literary periods of growth and development of Philippine literature. This very interesting period is full of remarkable changes and developments in terms of Philippine literary genres. Some genres such as Awit or Corrido became integrated into our own corpora. Some genres are directly imported from the European theaters and cathedrals such as Doctrina cristiana and Nuestra Señora del Rosario. So, what are you waiting for? Join me as we undertake this very colorful and interesting episode of Philippine literature!

Intended learning outcomes (ILO)

By the time of completion of this topic, the students should be able to:

  1. Trace the development of Philippine literature during the Spanish period;
  2. Discuss the influences of Spanish colonization to the Philippine literary forms;
  3. Appreciate several literary pieces from selected ethnic groups and regions.

The historical background of Spanish period

The Spanish period in Philippine literature ushered a new era in Philippine literature. It paved the way for a greater collection of literary genres, literary specimens and literary criticisms. The Spanish period likewise witnessed dramatic changes in the lifestyle of the Filipinos ranging from the daily routines to the very thoughts that they have in their minds. In short, the Spanish period permeated into almost all aspect of Filipinos’ lives.

The old Baybayin was replaced with the Spanish (Roman) alphabet called the abecederio. The teaching of the Christian Doctrine became the basis of religious practices. The Spanish language traditionally called Castillan which became the literary language during this time, lent many of its words to our present-day Filipino language. Some of this words include: plato, cuchara, la mesa, cubiertos, calesa, platito, casa fuego, and a lot more!

European legends and traditions brought here became assimilated in our awits, corridos, and moro-moros. Ancient literary types were collected and translated to Tagalog, Cebuano, Ilokano, Waray and other major dialects. Many grammar books were printed in different tongues like Tagalog, Cebuano, Ilokano, etc. The periodicals and other reading materials during these times carry a religious tone.

Prose during the Spanish period

The prose literatures during the Spanish period were chiefly concerned on the propagation and spread of Christianity. They were written to enhance the Christian religion and morality and to give color to the Filipino’s daily life. In short, the prose writing during this period short, is chiefly known as “Church Literature.” The Spanish friars spent a considerable time burning and destroying ancient and Pre-Spanish literatures such as chants or “bulong” which they deemed as works of evil. Instead, they took pains studying our native languages and vernaculars. It is with the intention of dividing us with the use of our myriad of languages to turn the “indios” against each other. This concept is called divide and conquer/rule (divide et sempera).

Printed Books

  1. Doctrina cristiana (Christian doctrine) was the first book printed in the Philippines 1593. It was printed using the process called xylography imported from Spain. It was written by Fr. Juan de Placencia and Fr. Domingo Nieva, written both in Spanish and Tagalog. It contains 87 pages and the three original copies were stored in Vatican, Madrid Museum and the Library of US Congress.  It contains the basic catechetical teachings such as:
    1. Pater Noster
    2. Ave Maria
    3. The Ten Commandments
    4. Regina coeli
    5. Seven Mortal Sins
    6. Apostles’ Creed
    7. The Commandments of the Catholic Church
  2. Nuestra Señora Del Rosario (Our Lady of the Rosary) was the second book printed in the Philippines written by Fr. Blancas de San Jose in 1602. It was printed at UST Press with the help of Juan Vera, a Chinese mestizo. It contains:
    1. Biographies of the Saints
    2. Novenas
    3. Questions and Answers about Roman Catholicism
  3. Libro delos Cuatros Posprimeras de Hombres (The Book on the Four Fathers of the Church) was the first book printed in typography. It contains the biography of the Four Fathers of the Catholic Church.
  4. Barlaan at Josaphat (Barlaan and Josphat) was a Biblical story printed in the Philippines translated into Tagalog by Fr. Antonio de Borja from the original Greek written by San Juan Damaseño. It is the first Tagalog novel published in the Philippines with 556 pages. Fr. Agustin Mejia translated it into the Ilokano version.
  5. Urbana at Felisa (Urbana and Felisa) is a book written by Fr. Modesto de Castro, dubbed as the “The Father of Classic Tagalog Prose”. It is a correspondence story between two sisters that has influenced greatly the behavior of people in society. It outlines how the good manners and right conduct of individuals in their dealings with other people.
  6. Ang mga Dalit kay Maria was a collection of songs praising the Virgin Mary written by Fr. Mariano Sevilla in 1856. It was popularized and sang during May time “Flores de Mayo.”

Other Prose Compositions

  1. Arte y Reglas de la Lengua Tagala (Arts and Rules of the Tagalog Language) is a book written by Fr. Blancas de San Jose with the help of Fernando Bagongbanta, a ladino and a Tagalog man-of-letters.
  2. Vocabulario de la Lengua Tagala (Vocabulary of the Tagalog Language) was the first Tagalog dictionary written by Fr. Pedro de San Buenaventura in 1613.
  3. Compendio de la Lengua Tagala (A Dictionary of the Tagalog Language) was written by Fr. Gaspar de San Agustin in 1703.
  4. Vocabulario de la Lengua Pampanga (Vocabulary of the Kapampangan Language) was the first book in Kapampangan written by Fr. Diego in 1732.
  5. Vocabulario de la Lengua Bisaya (Vocabulary of the Visayan Language) was deemed as the best language book in Bisayan by Mateo Sanchez in 1711.
  6. Arte de la Lengua Ilokana (Art of Ilokano Language) was the first Ilokano grammar book written by Fr. Francisco Lopez.
  7. Arte de la Lengua Bicolana (Art of the Bicol Language) was the first book in Bicol language written by Fr. Marcos Lisbon in 1754.

Poetry during the Spanish period

Just like the prose written during the Spanish period, the poetry composed during the Spanish period were primarily used to spread Christianity. In almost all parts of the archipelago, the Christianity doctrine was propagated using the sword and the cross. The old and ancient poetic samples are either burned or destroyed by the friars.

The arrival of xylography and typography printing equipment triggered the faster and easier means of communicating one’s thought through poetry. Some Filipino versifiers adopted the new language (Spanish) while others maintained their local tongue in writing poetry. As time went by, some natives began learning the Spanish languages and became well-versed. These natives who became experts in speaking and writing Spanish language are called ladinos. Each poetic work was commonly written in two tongues, Spanish and Tagalog.

Pioneer Filipino poets

  1. Fernando Bagongbanta was a native of Abucay Bataan who assisted Blancas de San Jose in printing Artes Y Reglas de la Lengua Tagala. His well known work is the poem entitled “Salamat nang walang Hanggan”.
  2. Tomas Pinpin was a contemporary of Bagongbanta was known as the “Prince of Filipino Printers” because he was the first indio to own a printing press. He was the co-author of Fr. Blancas de San Jose in the book “Librong pag-aaralan ng mga Tagalog sa Uikang Castila.”
  3. Pedro Suarez Osorio comes from Ermita, Manila and wrote the book entitled Explicacion de la Doctrina Lengua Tagala.”
  4. Felipe De Jesus was a native of San Miguel, Bulacan who possess a tender feeling when he wrote “Ybong Camunti sa Palad.

Types of Poetry during Spanish period

  1. Hymns and Religious verses were adaptation of the ancient and Pre-Spanish songs and hymns incorporated with Catholic dogma and rites and rituals. These were:
    1. Talindaw is a native verse sung by a leader during a ceremony usually during a novena.
    2. Pabinian is the choral response of the mass to the leader’s talindaw
    3. Dalit kay Maria made up of 2 or 4 line verse sung much more seriously as an invocation to the Virgin Mary.
  2. Buhay is an extended and versified biography of European saints and some personalities in the Old and New Testaments of the Bible.
  3. Awit is a song usually chanted which is usually comprised of dodecasyllabic (12) verse fabricated from the writer’s imagination. The awit entitled Florante at Laura was written by Francisco “Balagtas” Baltazar who was deemed as the “Prince of Tagalog Poets.”
  4. Corrido is  a song which narrates a story usually comprised of octosyllabic (8)  verses about legends from European and other kingdoms. The corrido entitled “Ibong Adarna” was written by Jose Corazon dela Cruz (Huseng Sisiw) was deemed as the “King of Tagalog Poets.”
  5. Ang Pasyon ni Kristo (The Passion of the Christ) is a book detailing the life and sufferings of Jesus Christ read during Lent season. Chanters take 2-4 nights singing Pasyon, and it has been translated into various dialects throughout the country. Popular Tagalog translations include:
    1. Mariano Pilapil (Tondo)
    2. Gaspar Aquino de Belen (Batangas)
    3. Aniceto de la Merced (Bulacan)
    4. Luis de Guia (Bulacan)
  6. Folksongs are song representatives of each ethnic group/region that manifests artistic feelings of the Filipinos. They are usually the reflection of the feelings, ideas and customs of the common people during the Spanish period. Some of the  popular folksongs per group/region include:
    1. Ilokano – Pamulinawen, Manang Biday
    2. Kapampangan – Atin cu pung Singsing
    3. Tagalog – Sit-sirit-sit, Leron-leron Sinta, Paru-parong Bukid
    4. Bicol – Sarung banggui
    5. Bisaya – Dandansoy
    6. Waray – Tuba
    7. Leyte – Lawiswis kawayan
  7. Spanish-Influenced Dramas are amalgamations of old, Pre-Spanish customs and Christian practices. Carrying a religious tone, each dramatic work is performed of celebrated with a symbolic Christian overtones. Some of these include:
    1. Tibag is a ritual celebration to remind the people about the search of St. Helena for the cross on which Jesus died
    2. Lagaylay is a special occasion celebrated by the Pilareños of Pilar, Sorsogon during May to meet together and celebrate in honor of religious patron
    3. Cenaculo is a dramatic presentation to commemorate the passion and death of Jesus Christ. It has two kinds:
      1. Cantada is a performance where the lines are sung/chanted in verse like the Pasyon.
      2. Hablada is a performance where the lines are spoken in deliberate manner in dignified theme.
    4. Panunuluyan is a dramatic presentation of the search of the Virgin Mary and St. Joseph for an inn in to deliver the baby Jesus.
    5. Salubong is an Easter play that dramatizes the meeting of the Risen Christ and His mother, Virgin Mary.
    6. Carillo is (also known as shadow play) which is a dramatic entertainment performed in moonless nights during town fiestas or on dark nights after harvest. It has different names in various localities such as:
      1. Carillo – in Manila, Rizal, Batangas and Laguna
      2. Titres – Pangasinan, Bataan, Capiz and Negros
      3. Gagalo/Kikimut – in Pampanga and Tarlac
      4. Al-alia – Ilocos and La Union
    7. Zarzuela is a musical comedy or melodrama in three acts which deals with man’s passions and emotions as well as social issues. This is usually patronized and exclusive only for the rich and well-to-do families.
    8. Sainete is a short musical and exaggerated comedies performed for the benefit of the people from the lower social classes.
    9. Moro-moro is a dramatic performances presented during town fiestas to entertain people which depicts the struggles between Christian princes and Moslem sultans. The outcome is always predictable with the defeat and conversion of Moslem fighters into Christians.
    10. Panambitan is a chant of free verse by a bereaved person beside the corpse of the dead. It is called Taghoy or Panaghoy in other places and the Ilokanos call it “Dung-aw”.
    11. Karagatan is a poetic vehicle of a socio-religious discussions which is performed/celebrated during the wake of a dead person. It is based on a legend about a princess who dropped her ring in the middle of the ocean for her suitors to dive a retrieve. Whoever is able to return the ring is worthy to be chosen.
    12. Duplo is a poetic joust in speaking and reasoning with roles taken form the Bible’s Proverbs and sayings and usually performed in the wake of a dead person. It eventually replaced karagatan.
    13. Balagtasan is a poetic joust or contest on a particular issue or topic and is held in honor of Francisco “Balagtas” Baltazar. It replaced duplo. It has been adopted in many places with different names such as:
      1. Bukanegan is an Ilokano adaptation of Balagtasan held in honor of Pedro Bukaneg, an Ilokano man-of-letters, and celebrated author of the Ilokano epic, Biag ni Lam-ang.
      2. Crisotan is a Kapampangan adaptation of Balagtasan in honor of Juan Crisostomo Soto, a Kapampangan man-of-letters.

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