Philippine literature is the literature associated with the Philippines and includes the legends of prehistory, and the colonial legacy of the Philippines. Most of the notable literature of the Philippines was written during the Spanish period and the first half of the 20th century in Spanish language. Philippine literature is written inSpanish, English, Tagalog, and/or other native Philippine languages.
Classical literature in Spanish (19th Century)
On December 1, 1846, La Esperanza, the first daily newspaper, was published in the country. Other early newspapers were La Estrella (1847), Diario de Manila (1848) and Boletin Oficial de Filipinas (1852). The first provincial newspaper was El Eco de Vigan (1884), which was issued in Ilocos. In Cebu City “El Boletín de Cebú” (The Bulletin of Cebu), was published in 1890. On 1863, the Spanish government introduced a system of free public education that had an important effect on the ability of the population to read in Spanish and further in the rise of an educated class called the Ilustrado (meaning, well-informed). Spanish became the social language of urban places and the true lingua franca of the archipelago. A good number of Spanish newspapers were published until the end of the 1940s, the most influential of them being El Renacimiento, printed in Manila by members of the Guerrero de Ermita family.
Some members of the ilustrado group, while residing or studying in Spain, decided to start a literary production in Spanish with the aim of serving the autonomy and/or independence projects. Members of this group included Pedro Alejandro Paterno, who wrote the novel Nínay (first novel written by a Filipino); the Philippine national hero, José Rizal, who wrote excellent poetry and two famous novels in Spanish: Noli Me Tangere (Touch Me Not), and El Filibusterismo. A potent tool in promoting Filipino nationalism in Spanish was the foundation of La Solidaridad (more fondly called La Sol by the members of the propaganda movement) in 15 February 1885. With the help of this organ, Filipino national heroes like José Rizal, Graciano Lopez Jaena, Marcelo H. del Pilar, etc. were able to voice out their sentiments.
Poetry and metrical romances
* Ladino Poems – Were natives of first Tagalog versifiers who saw print: highly literate in both Spanish and the vernacular. * 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 corridos, these were also widely read during the Spanish period as entertaining, edifying, reading manner in their leisure time. It is also a fabrication of the writers imagination although the characters and the setting may be European. The structure is rendered dodecasyllabic quatrains.
The prose works of the Spanish Period consisted mostly of didatic pieces and translations of religious writings in foreign languages.
* The Panunuluyan– Literally, seeking entrance, the Tagalog version of the Mexican Las Posadas. Held on the eve of Christmas, it dramatizes Joseph’s and Mary’s search for Bethlehem. * Cenaculo – Was the dramatization of the passion and death of Jesus Christ. * Salubong – An Easter play that dramatizes the meeting of the Risen Christ and His Mother. * Moriones – Refers to the participants dressed roman soldiers, their identities hidden behind colorful, sometimes grotesque, wooden masks. * The Santacruzan – Performed during the month of May which have the devotion for the Holy Cross. It depicts St. Elena’s search for the cross on which Christ died. * Pangangaluwa – An interesting socio-religious practice on All Saint’s Day which literally means for The Soul.
These were generally held during the nine nights of vigil and prayers after someone’s death, on the first death anniversary when the family members put away their mourning clothes. * 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 – A forerunner of the balagtasan. The performances consist of two teams; One composed of young women called Dupleras or Belyakas; and the other, of young men called Dupleros orBelyakos. * The Comedia – It is about a courtly love between, a prince and a princess of different religions. It is about a Christian-Muslim relationship. *
Modern literature (20th and 21st century)
The greatest portion of Spanish literature was written during the American period, most often as an expression of pro-Hispanic nationalism, by those who had been educated in Spanish or had lived in the Spanish-speaking society of the big cities, and whose principles entered in conflict with the American cultural trends. Such period of Spanish literary production—i.e., between the independence of Spain in 1898 and well ahead into the decade of the 1940s—is known as Edad de Oro del Castellano en Filipinas.
Some prominent writers of this era were Wenceslao Retana and Claro Mayo Recto, both in drama and essay; Antonio M. Abad and Guillermo Gomez Wyndham, in the narrative; Fernando María Guerrero and Manuel Bernabé, both in poetry. The predominant literary style was the so-called “Modernismo”, a mixture of elements from the French Parnassien and Symboliste schools, as promoted by some Latin American and Peninsular Spanish writers (e.g. the Nicaraguan Rubén Darío, the Mexican Amado Nervo, the Spaniard Francisco Villaespesa, and the Peruvian José Santos Chocano as major models).