According to Atienza, Ramos, Salazar and Nazal in their book Panitikang Pilipino, “true literature is a piece of written work which is undying. It expresses the feelings and emotions of people in response to his everyday efforts to live, to be happy in his environment and, after struggles, to reach his Creator.”
It is important to study Philippine Literature as enumerated: To better appreciate our literary heritage: trace ideas passed down through generation from our ancestors and better understand ourselves and take pride in being a Filipino To understand that we have a great and noble tradition as means to assimilate culture To overcome limitations conditioned by certain historical factors
Time Frames of Philippine Literature in English:
Our ancient literature truly reflects our early customs & traditions as traced in folk stories, old plays and short stories.
Back then, the alphabet used was different and were similar to the Malayo-Polynesian alphabet which we called Alibata. Written works however did not last long because the Spanish Friars burned them believing that they were works of the devil or that were destroyed because they were written in perishable materials like the barks of trees, dried leaves and bamboo cylinders.
Those that survived are in oral form such as our folk songs.
The Spaniards tried to prove that our ancestors were really fond of poetry, songs, stories, riddles and proverbs which we still enjoy until today and which serve to show descendants the true Filipino culture. Pre-Spanish literature is characterized by Legends, Folk tales, Epics, Folk Songs, and Epigrams/Riddles/Chants/Proverbs & Sayings.
Spanish Period (1565-1872)
At this regime, Philippine literature started to thrived at Governor-General Miguel Lopez de Legazpi’s reign. Due to three centuries of colonization, several changes were influenced by the Spaniards:
1. Alibata, the 1st Filipino alphabet, was changed to Roman alphabet
2. Basis of religious practices was the teaching of Christian Doctrine
3. Spanish language was infused with Filipino language
4. Assimilation of European legends & traditions to our own
5. Translation of ancient literature to our dialects
6. Printing of Filipino grammar books
7. Periodicals gained a religious tone.
The first books published were Ang Doctrina Cristiana, Nuestra Señora del Rosario, Libro de los Cuatro Postprimeras de Hombre, Ang Barlaan at Josephat, The Pasion, Urbana at Felisa¸ and Ang Mga Dalit kay Maria. Several Literary compositions in this period were Arte y Reglas de la Lengua Tagala by Fr. Blancas de San Jose, Compendio de la Lengua Tagala by Fr. Gaspar de San Augustin and Vocabulario de la Lengua Tagala by Fr. Pedro de San Buenaventura.
Period of Enlightenment (1872-1898)
After being passive under Spanish rule for 3 centuries, the Filipino spirit awakened when the 3 well known priests – Gomez, Burgos, Zamora – were guillotined without enough evidence and the Spaniards weren’t able to restrain the rebellion.
The rebellion was divided in 2 efforts: The Propaganda Movement (1872-1896) and Period of Active Revolution (1896-1898). The Propaganda Movement were leaded by intellectual middle-class people like our “National Hero” Dr. Jose Rizal, Marcelo del Pilar, and Graciano Lopez Jaena, and its members were Antonio Luna, Mariano Ponce, Jose Ma.
Panganiban, Pedro Paterno etc. The objectives of this movement were to seek reforms and changes for the liberation and equity of Filipinos through their literary works. The most famous works of these people that stirred the Filipinos were Noli Me Tangere, El Filibusterismo, Mi Ultimo Adios, A La Juventud Filipina, Pagibig Sa Tinubuang Lupa, La Soberania En Pilipinas, Ang Fray Botod, Noche Buena, Sobre Filipinos, A Mi Madre, and Ang Lupang Tinubuan.
However, the petitions made by the propaganda movement were ignored and fell on deaf ears that this action led to the revolution leaded by Andres Bonifacio, Emilio Jacinto, and Apolinario Mabini, whose members were Jose Palma, Pio Valenzuala, etc. Though it’s true that the group used weapons against the colonizers, they also contributed several literary works such as Pag-Ibig sa Tinubuang Lupa, Kartilya ng Katipunan, and Sa Bayan Pilipino.
American Regime (1898-1941)
After the Spaniards were defeated, peace movements started as early as 1900. Filipinos started writing again and nationalism remains undisturbed. During this period, writers went into all forms of literature like news reporting, poetry, stories, plays, essays, novels, etc. Their writing clearly depicted patriotism and longing for independence. In addition, 3 group of writers were formed – Spanish, Tagalog, and English. Though they differ in methods of reporting, they share the same ideas and spirit. The Spanish writers wrote on nationalism like in honoring Filipino heroes.
Tagalog writers went on and on in their lamentations on the conditions of the country and their attempts to arouse love for one’s native tongue. English writers just imitated the themes and methods of the Americans. Also, this regime was divided into three periods. The First Period was of Re-orientation (1898-1910). Not much was produced during this period and was not much of literary worth. Writers were still adjusting from the idea of democracy – freedom of ideas and speech, the new phraseology of English language and standards of English literary style.
They had to learn direct expression conditioned by direct thinking, sentence constructions, sounds & speech in English. They had to abandon sentimentality and floridity of language for the more direct and precise English language. Also, English becomes the official medium of instruction for all public schools. The Philippine Free Press was founded in 1905 and College Folio begun its publication. The Second Period was of Imitations (1910-1924). The UP College Folio was the pioneers’ in short English story and poetry writing.
They were more into imitating American and British models which resulted in a stiff, synthetic and unnatural style, lacking vigor and naturalness. Writers of this folio included Fernando Maramag, Juan F. Salazar, Jose M. Hernandez, Vicente del Fierro, Francisco Tonogbanua, Maximo Kalaw, Vidal A. Tan, Francisco M. Africa, and Victoriano Yamzon. In addition, the Philippine Herald began its publication in 1920. The Third Period was of Self-Discovery and Growth (1925-1941). By this time, Filipino writers had acquired the mastery of English writing.
They now confidently and completely wrote on a lot of subjects although the old-time favorites of love and youth persisted. They also went into all forms of writing like the novel and drama. Furthermore, Philippine Book Guild and Philippine Writers League was organized and the 1st Commonwealth Literary awards were given.
Japanese Period (1941-1945)
The progression of Philippine literature halted during the Japanese invasion. All newspapers except for Tribune and the Philippine Review were stopped. Because of the strict prohibitions in English writing by the invaders, Tagalog literature experienced renewed attention. Even the weekly Liwayway was placed under strict supervision until it was managed by Japanese man named Ishiwara. In other words, Tagalog literature was given a break during this period.
Many wrote plays (but dramas became lull and were simply translated versions of English plays), poems (3 types arise: Haiku, Tanaga, and Karaniwang Anyo), short stories (its field expanded), etc. Topics and themes were often about life in the provinces. Philippine Literature in English experienced a dark period and those who dared to write did for propaganda. Writings that came out during this period were journalistic in nature and what literary output there was hardly negligible. Writers felt chained but slowly the spirit of nationalism returned. While some continued to write, others waited for a better time to publish their works.
Rebirth of Freedom (1946-1970)
Writers had learned to express themselves more confidently but post-war problems beyond language and print-like economic stability, the threat of new ideas, and mortality had to be handled well & together. There was proliferation of newspapers and it proved that there were more readers in English than vernaculars. Journalist became more radical. And as normality was restored, the tones and themes of writings turned to the less pressing problems of economic survival.
Those who went abroad came back to publish their written works. It was noted that not all published books focused on war years but were simply compilations and second editions of what had been written before. Here are some works of this period: The Voice of the Veteran
Twilight in Tokyo
Death of the USAFFE
For Freedom and Democracy
Betrayal in the Philippines
Seven Hills Away
Most poems dealt with the usual love of nature and social & political problems. Novel & Short Stories became longer. Tagalog Literature was resurrected and mostly focused during the occupation of Japanese – brutality, poverty, exploits, etc. Several literary-related organizations were formed and literary awards were launched i.e. The Palanca Awards
Period of Activism (1970-1972)
The patriotic youths became active and ask for changes in the government. They believe that the system is okay but the stationed people are not. But because of this, several of them were imprisoned along with other rebel writers. They truly were heroes. Many books aptly record and embody these times but many of these are not known to many and many of these writers still have to be interviewed. These led to the declaration of Martial Law in 1972. Campus newspapers were malodorous of rebellious emotions.
They attacked the ills of society and politics. Any establishment became the symbol of the ills that had to be changed. Frustrations of youths were felt in churches and schools. Even those with authority who should be respected were thought to be hindrances to the changes sought by youths hence, they were targeted. The literature of the activist reached a point where they stated boldly what should be done to effect these changes. Some of theses who rallied to this revolutionary form of literature were Rolando Tinio, Rogelio Mangahas, Efren Abueg, Rio Alma, and Clemente Bautista.
The forms of literature that led during this period were the essays, debates and poetry. The short stories, novels and plays were no different in style from those written before the onset of activism. Some of these were I Married a Newspaperman by Maria Luna Lopez, The Modern Filipino Short Story by Patricia Melendez Cruz, Cross Currents in Afro-Asian Literature by Rustica D. Carpio, Brief Time to Love by Ofelia F. Limcaco, and Medium Rare and Tell
the People by Julie Yap Daza
Period of New Society (1972-1981)
Bilingual education which was initiated by the Board of National Education as early as 1958 and continued up to the period of Martial Rule in September 1972, resulted in the deterioration of English in the different levels of education. The focus of education and culture were on problems of national identity, on re-orientation, renewed vigor and a firm resolve to carve to carry out plans and programs.
The forms of literature that led during this period were the essays, debates and poetry. The short stories, like the novels and plays were no different in style from those written before the onset of activism. Books entitled The Modern Filipino Short Story(Patricia Melendez Cruz) and Brief Time to Love (Ofelia Limcao) came out during this epoch.
Period of The Third Republic (1981-1985)
After the Martial Rule was lifted, people still seethed with rebellion and protest from the previous oppression and suppression. Just because the rule was lifted, it doesn’t mean people will be peaceful. The anger and hatred felt didn’t dissipate immediately. It was even enflared when the late Benigno S. Aquino Jr. was assassinated.
The people’s idol and hope brutally murdered, who wouldn’t feel mad? The aftermath was chaotic yet ironically, the people united and somehow brought change to our country. Such event was considered one of the major turning points in History. It should be noted that Philippine Literature retained its luster inspite of the numerous limitations. Also, the Palanca Awards continued whether on time or delayed.
Contemporary Period (1986)
Finally, freedom became a reality – won through peaceful, bloodless and God-blessed revolution. Through everyone’s effort, independence was blessed to them, true Republic of the Philippines. Several changes in literature during this period was evident:
On Newspapers: buddy newspaper became opposition papers overnight (i.e.
Bulletin Today & The Inquirer) and enjoyed an overnight increase in circulation. Being free of restrictions, columnists became vocal and a bumper crop of young journalist emerged. The old stalwarts of the former dispensation came back with retaliation. Excluding tabloids, 19 local dailies, both English & Tagalog, were in circulation by June 1986.
On Books: Experiences during the Martial Law was documented and Philippine Literature is still progressing. Books that carry print and visual events of what occurred during the February Revolution were People Power (by Monina M.A. Mercado & J.B. Reuter) and Bayan Ko (Veritas Publication & Communications Foundation).
Literary awards were continuously given like the National Book Awards in which in that period, Marjorie Pernia (Dreamwavers Selected Poems) and Damiana L. Eugenio (Awit sa Corrido: Philippine Metrical Romances) were awarded according to the choices made by the Manila Critics Circle. Also, Bookfair Manila ’88 by Philippine Exhibit Company was held with the belief that “requisition of knowledge not only enhances individual skills & capabilities but more importantly, makes positive contributions to the nations development program”.
The flowering of Philippine literature in the various language continues as Filipino writers continue to write whether these are socially committed, gender/ethnic related or in personal intention. They became more conscious of their art with the proliferation of writers workshops here and abroad and the bulk of literature available to him via mass media including internet. With various literary awards, writers were encouraged to compete with peers and hope that their creative efforts will bore them rewards.
With the new requirement by the CHED of teaching of Philippine Literature in all tertiary schools in the country emphasizing the teaching of vernacular literature or literatures of the regions, the audience for Filipino writers is virtually assured. And, perhaps, a national literature finding its niche among the literatures of the world will not be far behind.
Development of Philippine Music
The Filipinos are a musical nation is a fact. Their beautiful sentimental music is the result of their reaction to their physical and emotional environment. However, the Filipinos do not have sufficient authentic records of their forefathers’ invaluable writings because these were destroyed by conquerors or accidentally lost through carelessness or ignorance. Also, one cannot tell exactly the characteristics of certain epochs of Philippine music because music may develop continuously over different periods of history regardless of historic circumstances.
As musical people, Filipinos have a particular brand of music for every occasion. Our ascendants had their own collection of songs, dances, and instruments which exemplified their religious and social life. Songs of our ancestors were more of recitative but the melody exudes customs, traditions, and aspirations of the people. Many of these songs were sung by non-Christian tribes.
Early Filipinos had songs for the various activities. According to Agoncillo and Zaide, early Filipinos had: 1. Ordinary songs (diyuna, talindaw)
2. Street songs (indulamin, suliranin)
3. Sorrow (dalit, umbay)
4. Wedding (ihiman)
5. Rowing (tigpasin, kalusan)
6. Lullaby (hele, hili, oyayi, iyaya)
7. Success (baling-kungkong, dupayanin, hiliran, sambotani, tagumpay) 8. House (tingad)
9. General merrymaking (kalipay)
10. Counting (urukay)
a) Buktot/kutibeng/bigwela – Visayan guitar made from coconut shell b) Butting/gurimbao – bamboo ties with hemps or banana fibers c) Kudyapi/ketyapi/hagalong – two-stringed elongated lute
d) Litgit – bamboo violin
e) Pas-ing/kuglong/pantig – bamboo guitar
f) Karaga – guitar used by Karaga people in east coast of Mindanao g) Gurimbao – bamboo bow
h) Bontok violin/hoggrine/kokin/sawduang/rayanastron
i) Negrito violin
a) Bansik/Kalaleng/Palawta – four-hole made of mountain cane b) Tulak/tulalo – flute with one hole for mouth and six holes for fingers c) Balingling/baling/kipanaw – nose flute
d) Natoy/subbing – clarinet
e) Sahunay – bamboo flute with coconut leaf trumpet attached to the lower end f) Pasiyak – water whistle
g) Pasyok – toy instrument made of leaf of the coconut or nipa for small horn(turutot) h) Diw-diwas – pipe instrument
i) Tambuli – trumpet made from horn
a) Kalutang – most primitive percussion instrument still used b) Bunkaka/bilbil – bamboo musical instrument
c) Sulibaw – hollow wooden drum; rhythm instrument to mark the times of the dance d) Tugo – drum
e) Ludag – drum
f) Neguet – drum
g) Gansa – kind of bronze goong
h) Kulingtangan – set of graduated melody gongs extensively used i) Gandingan – 4 big narrow-lidded gongs
j) Babandir – single bronze gond
k) Gabbang – native xylophone used in Sulu
l) Subing – Jew’s harp
Spanish Period (1521-1898)
Spaniards not only brought their own culture but also European influence which marked the beginning of the cultivation of music as a fine art in the Philippines. The Educational Decree of 1863 was implemented and it provided
for formal education for teachers where vocal music was one of the subjects to be taught. Because of this, Sacred Music was given importance because Christianity was the main goal of Spanish Colonization.
a. Tagulaylay is a melody depicting grief. It is best adapted to the reading/singing of the Passion of our Lord during the Holy Week. It is also sung in monotone. b. Palimos is a song of the blind asking for alms
c. Kumintang is the oldest and most popular song among Christian Filipinos. It is a nocturnal song sung to the accompaniment of the violin/guitar. It expresses the history, character and tradition of the people. d. Awit is a recitative written in ¾ time and in minor key. It is set freely to verses about Philippine legendary hero. e.
Balitaw is a Visayan folksong with is a dance and song – though mostly sung. It is dived into 2 classes: Balinaw Mayor (derived from the graceful French slow waltz) and Balitaw Menor (characteristically a Visayan love song). f. Kundiman comes from the words “Kung hindi man”. It is a Tagalog love song whose rhythmic figure is derived from the lively Spanish bolero a typical ¾ waltz. Also, it is the favorite of serenaders.
Duplo is an impromptu competition in which the loser recites a poem, a sort of entertainment to console the relatives of the deceased.
Philippine Folk Dances:
There are more than 175 folk dances in the Philippine which have remained unchanged through the years. Because Filipinos enjoyed European dances particularly fandango, curacha, tango, sapateado and the stately rigodon, some of these folk dances were modified to meet the need for change as modernization demands. These dances reflect almost all aspects of the people’s lives: religious, occupational, entertainment, recreational, courtship, marriage, baptism and even war.
According to Mrs. Lucrecia Urtula, Philipine indigeneous music acan be
divided into three distinct groups: The Rondalla
The instruments of Muslim Filipinos (assortment of brass instruments) The instruments of the mountain region tribes (i.e. gong, flute, drums)
Early Philippine Theatre:
There were various native stage presentations Filipinos enjoyed during the Spanish period. The most popular vernacular presentations were the moro-moro, carillo and Zarzuela. During occasions of town fiestas, performers used provisional stage of nipa and bamboo. Later, huge “theatre bodegas” with pyramidal roofs such as those seen over cockpits appeared. The Moro-moro depicts the battle between Christians & Muslims, the adaptations of legends about knight-errants & princesses, the triumphant entry/exit of the conqueror and the downfall of the vanquished accompanied by Spanish music.
The Carillo is a shadow play using puppets made from cardboard skillfully manipulated by a narrator behind the screen. The themes are usually derived from the libretto from “Don Quixote”, “Buhay ng Mahal na Panginoong Hesukristo” and “Don Juan Tenorio”. The Zarzuela are improvised plots by comedians using comic, tragic, fantastic, melodramatic, or a combination of all. It does not have a definite form. Singing was free and imaginative.
Performers make extemporaneous comments. At times, the audience swapped comments with the artists. It is said that Zarzuela originated from Pampanga hence, they are the best. Before the birth of talkies and television, zarzuelas used to be the most popular form of entertainment especially during the barrio fiesta.
The Bamboo Organ of Las Piñas:
The man who conceived the idea of building the bamboo organ was a young Spanish priest of the Augustinian Recollect order, Fr. Diego’ Cera dela Virgen del Carmen. Due to low funds, he along with the village craftsmen created the Bamboo Organ and was credited for it. The organ has undergone repairs in several years. It is the oldest and most unique musical instrument for its durability is unsurpassed for having lasted more than 160 years compared to most organs of only 15 years.
American Period (1898-1941)
The first known law affecting the Philippine Public School System was Article 74 of the Philippine commission which provided formal training for teachers. The American Educational systems have greatly influenced the Philippine system of musical education with the treatment of music as part of a broad pattern of liberal education. American textbooks and song books were used.
The radio, phonograph, and movies helped disseminate world culture. American singing through jazz invaded the country. Nevertheless, the spirit of nationalism triggered by the Spanish revolution, pushed Pilipino composers to use the native folk songs for their thematic materials. With the establishment of conservatories (school for special instruction in music), formal education in music started. Under a program of specialization was the training program for professionals which produced music specialist such as performer, composer, transcriber, conductor, researcher, musicologist, arranger, theorist, essayist, and critic.
It was believed that Philippine Opera evolved from the Zarzuela. And because of the various opera companies engaged in the production of Zarzuela, Manila was dubbed “Italy of the Orient”
Japanese Occupation Period (1942-1945)
This was the darkest epoch in the history of the Philippines. The Japanese wanted only Oriental ways for the people. This gave the Filipinos no other choice but to revert to their traditional ways of entertainment – opera, musical plays and drama although a few appreciated Japanese music.
Post Liberation Period (1945-1946)
The Filipino is a lover of music. Music is as important as the air he breaths. He finds adequate expression of his feelings through singing, moving, creating, playing an instrument, and just listening. The reawakening of interest in diversified forms of culture is manifested in the proliferation of ensembles, vocal and instrumental not only in schools but also in churches, government and private offices, communities and within the
family. Not only the gifted in institutions get involved but even the out of school youth has his share of participation.
The people’s patrimony of the country caused the use of native instruments through rondalla, a favorite performing string ensemble in all public schools, private institutions, government offices, and other musically interested groups. Need for professional growth is evident in the holding of in-service-training programs, seminars, workshops, and conferences sponsored by schools, government agencies, and musical organizations. Teaching competency in music is assured with the appointment of Bachelor of Music graduates in Applied Music and Music Education as teachers. School songs, choral and instrumental arrangements are available in the market.
Philippine Music comes in a variety of forms, covering a wide spectrum of sources, geographically and historically; representing more than 100 ethno-linguistic groups as well as different social and cultural environments in the Philippines. The totality of these forms may be categorized into three distinct repertoires: 1) Asiatic oral traditions; 2) westernized oral traditions; and 3) western-influenced art and popular music, and semi classical music. The first category covers forms that are closely related to the cultural traditions of Southeast Asia.
In the Philippines, such traditions are practiced among the villages in the Cordillera Administrative Region, in the upland areas of Palawan, Mindoro and eastern Mindanao, the predominantly Muslim communities in western Mindanao and Sulu, as well as the different Negrito communities across the archipelago, e.g. Northern Luzon, Bicol and parts of Panay and Mindanao. Most of the musical forms are performed in connection with rites of passage and life cycle events as well as occupational activities.
These occasions consist of birth, initiation and graduation ceremonies; courtship and marriage; death and funeral rites; hunting, fishing, planting and harvest; healing and various forms of armed conflicts. The second category of musical forms consists of orally transmitted genres and compositions that are performed in rural Christian communities in Luzon, Visayas and parts of lowland Mindanao, and are generally referred to as Philippine “folk music”.
Their origins may be traced through four evolutionary processes: 1) forms that have been introduced by the Spanish colonial power and later adopted and modified by local artists and performers (metrical romances); 2) syncretic and hybrid forms that have been locally assimilated elements from Western religious traditions (subli, sanghiyang); and 4) locally processed songs based on older pre-colonial tunes (planting songs, children’ s play songs, lullabies, love songs and serenades).
Much of Philippine folk music are found in the religious and paraliturgical repertoires of countryside Christian communities, as well as in various forms of entertainment and rites of passage such as marriage and funeral ceremonies.
The third category of Philippine musical forms are found in urban communities and centers of population. In the last 100 years, Filipino composers have written works in the standard Western art music forms (chamber music, symphonic music, opera, serswela, etc.) and contemporary music styles, as well as the latest popular music industry- Latin American, jazz, country, rock, folk, rap, etc. In addition, modern compositions have also been written for such theatrical forms as dance and/or ballet, drama, musicales, and cinema.
Outside the symphony orchestra tradition and the Filipino theater, the Filipinos have also developed a repertoire for three distinct musical ensembles: the band (brass and bamboo), the rondalla and the chorus. The Philippine band repertoire consists of marches, overtures, symphonic poems, concertant pieces, and medleys of Filipino folk tunes, which are performed duing the military and civic parades, as well as formal and semi-tests the playing prowess and physical endurance of the competing musicians. Incidental pieces for the comedia and other forms of local theater have also been written for the band.
The rondalla(plucked string ensemble) that was introduced by Spain as the estudiantina and comparsa, has a similar repertoire. It consists of marches and pasodoble pieces (fast and brilliant music in two), medleys and arrangements of Filipino folk songs, overtures, concertant music, and folk dance accompaniments. In recent years, Filipino composers have written serious art pieces for the rondalla or individual rondalla instruments. In modern compositions, the rondalla instruments are also combined with symphonic instruments. In the field of vocal music, choral music in the Philippines has dramatically expanded in the last fifty years, with the rise
of the high quality choral singing and the countrywide proliferation of choral groups in all sectors of society : church , government, business and culture. Initially, Philippine choral music consisted of folksong arrangements, old masses and hymns, as well as locally composed operas and sarswelas. Today, the repertoire has been augmented by local madrigal-like pieces, arrangements of popular love songs, and large scale compositions are very much in demand during choral competitions and choral festivals that occur during the Christmas season.
Although Philippine musical forms may be classified according to a few general categories, e.g. welcome song, song debates, courtship music, etc. each culturally-related genre has its own distinctive features which include, language and/or idiom, style of rendition and other elements. For example, the pasyon in Pampanga and the pasyon from Bulacan would greatly differ from each other in language, the tunes used, the number of singers, and performance style (leader-chorus, antiphonal, etc.).
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