Back Home Next

1.  Engravings

      From the Philippines in the late sixteenth century, extensive church records and memoranda in Spanish are extant, but the earliest works we have from Filipino hands are the engravings from the early seventeenth century by generations of Filipino printers and artists.

Along with individual prints, maps, or santos, illustrations were engraved for sermons, biographies, prayer-books, calendars and historical works.  Although often copied from European originals, most display Filipino perceptions and stylistic changes, along with persisting 'folk' elements.  They are often of better artistic quality than the originals.

     Notable amongst these artists are the printer and writer Tomas Pinpin (d. c.1680 - see below), the sangley (Filipino Chinese) Juan de Vera (d. c.1607), the engravers Juan Correa (active 1701-1724) and his son Jeronimo Correa de Castro (active 1729-1752), Luis Suarez (active 1737-1760), Laureano Atlas (active 1743-1771), Nicholas de la Cruz Bagay (d. c. 1770), and Philipe Sevilla (active 1749-1794).  (Refer Jose 1991, 131ff.)

2.  Linguistic Works

Pinpin was also the author of Librong Pagaaralan nang manga Tagalog nang uicang Castila (The book with which Tagalogs can learn Castilian), Manila, 1610.  Probably the earliest book written and published by a Filipino, this presents language as the "inside" of all things Spanish and includes many awit (songs) and other distinctively Filipino features.

      A similar work, for the Visayan language, Arte de la lengua bisaya de la provincia de Leyte, was printed by Pinpin for the Society of Jesus, but written by a Manila criollo, Domingo Ezquerra (1601-1670)

3.  Early History

The earliest historical writing by a Filipino so far discovered, is the Narrative of Juan Masolang, First Christian of Lilio, Laguna, and of the Founding of the Town in 1572.  An eighteenth century manuscript of this was translated and annotated, with a transcript of the original Tagalog text, by C. Quirino and M. Garcia (Manila, 1958).

Pinpin's last work was the Relacion de lo que asta agora se a  sabido de la vida, y Martyrio del mila graso padre Marcelo Francisco Mastrili S.J. (1639)

            See also Spanish writings below (12).

4. Doctrinal works

The first book printed in the Philippines was almost certainly the Doctrina Christiana by Juan de Plasencia, Miguel de Talavera and Juan de Oliver (1593, reprinted Washington, Library of Congress, 1947).

            Examples of the many other early works (in Spanish and Tagalog) concerning belief, would be Libro de las excelencias del Rosario de nuestra Senora ... (1602) and Libro de las quatro postrimerias del hombre ... (1604), both by Francisco de San Jose (1560-1614).

5.  Poetry

      Much of the Christian writing we have in the Philippines for this period is poetry, and drew on the rich oral tradition of vernacular languages like Tagalog and Visayan.  (Lumbera 1986, chaps. 1 & 2.)

Epic poetry by Pedro Bukaneg (1590-1626), and the poems of ladino writers (bilingual in Spanish and native language), fused native traditions with new content and forms.  Prominent among these are Fernando Bagongbanta (fl. 1605), and Pedro Ossorio (fl. 1625), whose work shows the influence of folk poetry as does the fine anonymous allegory, May Bagyo Ma't May Rilim (Though it is stormy and Dark).  (Lumbera, 1986, 150f.)

     A collection of Tagalog poetry was published by San Augustin in the Compendio de la lengua tagala.  (Manila, 1703.)

6.  Writings at this time by Filipino mestizos include those of Ignacio Mercado (1648-1698) on herbal medicine, Nicolas de Santedro del Castillo (1650-1715) in poetry, and Vincente Utguiola (1675-1747) in religious writings.

     Ignacio Gregorio Manesay (1675-1732) was a Chinese Filipino priest ordained in Manila who published two books in Canton (in Chinese) c.1715-1720.  These were The Gates of Heaven are Open to Chinese Christians, and The School of Christian Children.  He also translated into Spanish, Tagalog petitions addressed by Aeta people to the Archbishop of Manila.

7.  Unfortunately no writings of the Filipino mystic of Pasig, Sebastiana de Santa Maria (fl. 1690) have yet been found - nor from the two Spanish widows with whom she founded the Beaterio de Sta Catalina de Siena (House of Sisters of Charity of Catherine of Siena) in 1696.

8.  Pasyon

      The first known narrative poem in Tagalog, and a classic model for the pasyon genre is:

Gaspar Aquino de Belen's (fl. 1710) Mahal na Pasiong ni Jesu Christong Panginoon Natin na Tola (The Story of Our Lord Jesus Christ's Priceless Suffering) 1704, and five editions by 1760.  This stresses the humanity of Jesus, within the context of the events of Holy Week.  (Lumbera 1986, passim.)

Another early narrative is by Felipe de Jesus (fl. 1715); Dalit na Pamucao sa Balang Babasa Nitong Libro (Poem meant to Arouse the Piety of every Reader of this Book) Manila, 1712.  A Tagalog version of the legend of Barlaam and Josaphat.

9.  The first Indio priest-poet and writer of historical and theological treatises was Bartolome Saguinsin (c.1694-1772).  Of his many writings in Tagalog, Spanish and Latin, the following have survived:

Doctrina Cristiana - of which he was Co-editor and translator of selections in Tagalog.  (Manila, 1749)

Epigrammata: Collections of verse in Latin and Spanish to honour Simon de Anda Y Salazzar.  (Sampaloc, 1766)

La Novena de San Juan de Dios.  The first valedictory work to be written by a Filipino priest.  (Manila, 1771)

10.  One of the earliest, and probably most important of writings by Spaniards in the Philippines were the reports and memorials of Domingo de Salazar, first Bishop of Manila, protesting the abuses and cruelties inflicted on Filipinos by Spanish settlers.  Chief among these are the letters to Felipe II of June 20, 1582, June 27, 1588 and June 24, 1590; and the documents

Affaires in the Philipinas Islands (1583),

Relacion de las cosas de las Filipinas (1583), and Relation of the Philippine Islands (1588).  (Gutierrez 1979.)

      Another strong demand for the elimination of obligatory service and other oppression of the Filipino is fully argued by Gomez de Espinosa (d. c.1658), a High Court Judge of Manila, in his Discurso Parenetico (Admonitory Address) Manila 1657.

11.  Cebuano Writing

      Known early works in Cebuano include those by Spanish writers:

            Tomas de San Geronimo (d. 1686) - devotional and linguistic works, including an Explication of doctrine and a Practica del catecismo (both reprinted in the eighteenth century).

            Tomas de San Lucas (fl. 1695) left a Platicas y Sermones en idioma bisaya (Discourses and Sermons ...) printed in 1726, 1798 and 1801).

            Francisco Encina (1715-1760) - wrote Arte de lenga zebuana (printed in 1801 and 1836), and a number of other manuscripts.

            Mateo Perez (1771-1842) amongst other writings, compiled a collection of maxims, probably the first literary work in Cebuano.  (See Mojares 1975, 24ff.)

12.  Amongst the many Spanish writers working in the Philippines in this period, who have left studies on Filipino history, languages and culture, are:

            Juan de Plasencia (d. 1590) Relacion de las Costumbres de Los Tagalos (1589) and a Tagalog translation of Doctrina Christiana (c.1593);

            Diego de Bobadilla (1590-1648) wrote an account of the customs and social organization of Visayans, as well as a narrative of Philippine history.

            Other historical works remain from Marcelo de Ribadencira (1601), Antonio de Morga (1609), Pedro Chirino (1604), Francisco Colin (1663), Franciso Combes (1667), Pedro Velarde  (1749), Diego Aduarte (1640), Baltasar se Santa Cruz (1693) and Juan de la Concepcion (1788).

            Colin (1592-1660) also wrote India sacra, hoc est, suppetiae sacrae ex utraque India in Europam (Madrid 1666), presenting 'new light' on the Old Testament, through knowledge acquired in the 'far east' and the 'new world'.

            Combes (1620-1665) also left a Disertacion en defensa de la libertad de los indios (Manila 1657) to make public the practices of extortion and oppression suffered by Filipinos.

            Other linguistic works include the Visayan grammar of Cristobel Jimenez (c.1612), Tagalog dictionaries by Domingo de los Cantos (1703) and Niceda (1753), the Tagalog grammar of Sebastian Totanes (1703) and the Visayan dictionary of Sanchez (1711).

13.  Other letter series of significance for Philippine church history of this period are extant from Martin Baluyot Paulissigui (d. 1718), Juan Christostomo (d. c.1730), Sebastian Polintan (c.1683-1739), Phelipe Antonio Garzia (d. c.1740), Juan Evangelista Munos (fl. 1740) and Paulino Paraz (fl. 1750).  Throughout the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries many sermons were published individually by the Manila presses, but only rarely from Filipino authors, such as Saguinsen (above).

Selected References

Cuumins, J.S.  Jesuit and Friar in the Spanish Expansion to the East.  London, Variorum, 1986.

de la Costa  The Jesuits in the Philippines 1581-1768.  Cambridge, Harvard University Press, 1961.

Doctrina Christiana.  Facsimile of copy held in Library of Congress, Washington, n.d.

Gutierrez, Lucio  "Domingo de Salazar's Struggle for Justice and Humanization in the Conquest of the Philippines (1579-1594)"  Philippiniana Sacra 14.41, 1979.

Javellana, Rene B. (ed. & tr.)  Casaysayan nang Pasiong Mahal ni Jesucristong Panginoon Natin ...  Quezon City, Ateneo de Manila University Press, 1988.

Jose, R.T.  Simbahan - Church Art in Colonial Philippines 1565-1898.  Manila, Ayala Museum, 1991.

Lumbera, Bienvenido L.  Tagalog Poetry 1570-1898: Tradition and Influences in its Development.  Quezon City, Ateneo de Manila University Press, 1986.

Mojares, Resil B.  Cebuano Literature: A Survey and Bio-Biography with Finding List.  Cebu City, University of San Carlos, 1975.

------  Origins and Rise of the Filipino Novel: A Generic Study of the Novel until 1940.  Quezon City, University of the Philippines Press, 1983.

Rafael, Vincente L.  Contracting Colonialism: Tradition and Christian Conversion in Tagalog Society under Early Spanish Rule.  Quezon City, Ateneo de Manila University, 1988.

Santiago, Luciano P.R.  The Hidden Years: The First Filipino Priests.  Quezon City, New Day Publishers, 1987.

Schumacher, John N.  Readings in Philippine Church History.  2d ed.  Quezon City, Loyola School of Theology, 1987.


China ] India ] Indo-China Siam Burma ] Japan ] Korea ] Malaya ] [ Philippines ] Sri Lanka ]