Best Destination Travel Guides - Travel Information by Travel Professionals
Visit Philippines. So much to experience. Travel and Tourism Guide to the Philippines.
page 1 of 1
Music
The music of the Philippines is a collection of number of influences that the country have had. Some of the well-known personalities in Music industry were the composers in 1960s and 1970s. Lucrecia Kasilag, pioneering task to discover the Filipino roots through ethnic music and fusing it with Western influences has led many Filipino composers to experiment with such approach. Felipe de Leon, who is known for his prodigious body of musical compositions, notably sonatas, marches and concertos have become the full expression of sentiments and aspiration of the Filipinos in the times of strife and of peace. Bayani de Leon and Jerry Dadap had written most serious music for the rondalla.

The people of the Philippines are known to have been fond of music and dancing in pre-colonial times, even though for the most part they did not know a single note of music. They seem to have had numerous instruments percussion instruments like cymbals and a kind of drum; a type of small guitar (kudyapi) which was apparently played all over the archipelago; and in certain regions a harp and a violin made of bamboo, a flute with four finger-holes and copper gongs.

The introduction of Western instruments led to the abandonment of the old pentatonic music, and singing was influenced by the choral and instrumental music of the church. Nevertheless a number of original types of song developed in the 19th century the kumintang, a romantic song; the kundiman, a kind of ballad; and the balitaw, which might be lively and humorous or slow and melancholy according to the region. The music of the 20th century, highly westernised though it is, uses themes from traditional folk songs; composers like Nicanor Abelardo and Francisco Santiago, in his Tagalog pieces and his symphony in D major, use traditional instruments, including some Muslim ones; and Abdon's Cantata is based on Tagalog Passions (0h! Dios sa Kalangitan).

Rondalla was brought by Spaniards in the Philippines in 1800s. The early Philippine rondalla repertoire consisted primarily of Western European symphonic overtures and arias from operas. At present, the standard Philippine rondalla consists of the pear-shaped piccolo bandurria, bandurria la-ud and the gutiar-shaped octavina and mandola, guitarra and bajo de unas (which has been supplanted by double bass).

Avant-garde composers like Ramon Pagayon Santos and Jose Maceda seek to combine Western and Asiatic percussion effects.

Dance
Most Philippine dances were originally patterned after European dances during Spanish regime. The Seguidilla, the Jota, the Rigodon, the habanera, Pandango sa Ilaw, Cariñosa, and Balitao are examples of these dances Filipinos are known for. Aside from these western-influenced dances, ethnic- created dances such as Tinikling, Maglalatik, and Singkil made its way to nationwide recognition. Despite its apparent adaptation to western dances, Filipinos still pay tribute to their cultural roots.

Sculpture
No sooner had Stone Age man learned to fashion implements then he began to produce decorative patterns in the form of flowers and petals, carving seeds, amulets, bracelets and also coloured stones like red cornelian and green jade. The men of the Bronze and Iron Ages developed these skills still further. Musical instruments like bells, drums and gongs were made of bronze, and a variety of weapons were produced: daggers, swords, knives, bolos (a kind of large broad-bladed dagger which the peasants still use for many different purposes). Various other materials were used glass, ivory and, for the carving of everyday objects, bone and horn.

One of the biggest influences during the colonial period was the Catholic Church, as it had a stronghold among the ideology of the people in the region. Religious symbols and images (Santos), decorative motifs on churches and houses and the quasi-religious cult of Rizal (statues of who were ordered by the Americans to be set up in every village square).

Sculpture continued to take on secular themes in the early 1900s. The major Filipino sculptor of the American colonial period was Guillermo Tolentino. His best known masterpiece is the Bonifacio Monument, which is a group of sculpture composed of numerous figures massed around a central obelisk. The pioneer of Philippine modern sculpture is Napoleon Abueva. Abdulmari Imao a native of Sulu produced contemporary interpretation of traditional Muslim themes. Roberto Chabet, Virgilio Aviado and Ray Albano, have come to the force, using any material which seems suitable for expressing their imaginative conceptions.

Pottery
The traditional pottery of the Philippines was notable for its generous but simple and varied forms. Regular patterns were produced by impression. For example string or woven objects, or might be geometric (X-shaped or V-shaped). Figural decoration was quite exceptional. The pottery might be painted red, brown or black, or sometimes glazed. The import of Chinese porcelain tempered the originality of the native ware.

The Manunggul Jar excavated in Palawan is an evidence of the high artistic level which the art attained during the ancient times. The large burial jar has a cover which features tow men rowing a boat, it was thought that the crown ornament of the cover showed the soul of the dead being ferried into the next world.

Painting
With the invention of printing the art of engraving rapidly established itself, with such artists as Francisco Herrera and Juan Correa de Castro. The mid-years of the 19th century saw the foundation of an Academy of Painting. During this period the favourite themes were the miniature and the portrait (Antonio Malantic and Justiniano Asuncion), landscapes (Lorenzo Guerrero, Simon Flores, Telesforo Socgangs and Felipe Santos) and genre painting (Bonifacio Arevalo, Isabelo Tampincco, M. Nepomuceno and R. Marinez). Juan Luna and Felix Resurreccion Hidalgo, while studying in Spain, both obtained prizes at the National Exhibition in Madrid with their romantic and impressionist style.

In the last half of the 19th century, Filipino painters showed enough maturity of concept and technique to merit critical acclaim. Damian Domingo got recognition as Father of Filipino Painting. Juan Luna's Spolarium won the first Gold Medal at Exposicion Nacionall de Bellas Artes in 1884. This monumental painting shows fallen gladiators being dragged to an unseen pile of corpses in a chamber beneath the Roman arena.

Fabian de la Rosa, Jorge Pineda and Fernando Amorsolo dominated the period of American control with their genre paintings (scenes of farming life) and landscapes. Their successors (Galo Ocampo, Carlos Francisco) denounced their academism and sought new, more abstract, forms. The neo-realist painters of the post-war period (Hernando R. Ocampo, Vicente Manansala, Romeo Tabuena, Cesar Legazpi, Victor Oteyza and Ramon Estrella) and the l960s (Lee Aguinaldo, Jose T. Joya) were much influenced by international modernist trends.

The abstract expressionism of the 20th century established itself with the work of Jose Joya and Manansala, and then became figurative with Jaime de Guzman and surrealist with Norman Montiñas and Roy Rodriguez. Genre scenes also played a part in the search for an identity (Malang Santos, Miguel Zaragosa, Manuel Rodriguez, Ang-KiuKok, Hugo Yonzon). Social realism characterises the work of painters like Nestor Vinluan, Mars Galang and Bienvenido Cabrera. Conceptual art is also brilliantly represented by three artists - Roberto Chabet, Alan Rivera and Ileana Lee who are engaged in constant experiment and the quest of new possibilities.

Muslim Art
The art of the southern Philippines, closely related to the Malaysian art of Indonesia, is notable for the richness of its colours (golden yellow, bluish green, reddish mauve), and both the local cloths and woven mats have the same brilliant hues. Wood-carving (okir) shows the same qualities, and has two favourite themes - the sarimanok, a bird with outspread wings holding a fish in its beak or claws, and the naga or stylised snake both of which are accompanied by floral motifs in simplified form. The Muslims are also highly skilled coppersmiths, producing small jars and caskets chased with arabesques for utilitarian purposes. The same patterns are found on the kris, a dagger with an irregularly shaped blade, and the kampilan, a kind of long sword.

The Art of Northern Luzon
In this region carved wood is left in its natural colour, except for shields, which are painted red and black, and the eyes and teeth of statues. The statues (bulol and bihang) are ritual figures which protect the village and its storehouses and the rice-fields respectively, with crudely carved faces designed to ward off evil spirits. Bamboo vessels and gold articles are decorated with delicate abstract patterns. Representations of human figures and animals are found only among the Ifugaos, Bontocs and Ibalois, usually with simple geometric forms. Even everyday objects have carved decoration.

Spanish Religious Architecture
In spite of its evident Spanish characteristics colonial religious architecture differs considerably from its sources. The Spanish models underwent a first transformation in Mexico and moved on in their altered state to the Philippines, where they were further modified in the light of local conditions and local inspiration. The changes resulted from the fact that in the absence of professional architects the buildings had to be constructed by amateurs, who were compelled to use their imagination to make up for their lack of professional skills: it was necessary, therefore, to make use of local builders.

In course of time the Chinese and the Filipinos turned out to make excellent architects. Clearly no craftsman of any reputation was likely to cross the world to practise his art in the Philippines; but a number of monks made a name for themselves in this field. Thus Juan Macias, an Augustinian built the monastery and church of his order in Intramuros at the beginning of the 17th century; soon afterwards Antonio de Herrera devised the inverted arch, a reversed segmental arch inserted into the foundations of a building to increase its resistance to earthquakes; and Jesuit, Antonio Sedeo built the convent and church of the Society of Jesus in Manila, as well as a stone-built fort and the chapel of Nuestra Seora de Guia in Intramuros. Although most builders were still anonymous, a number of architects and artists were able to establish their reputation in the 18th century, like Juan de Ayco, Jeronimo Quibon and Jacinto Caba, who worked on the cathedral of Cebu around 1700; Andres de la Cruz and Pedro Eulogio, who worked at Vigan; Don Bartolome Palatino de Paete, who designed the facade of San Geronimo at Morong (Rizal); and Michel Guangco, who constructed the stone-built church of San Joaquin at Iloilo.

Changes in architectural style resulted not only from the different ideas of local architects but also from differences in the materials locally available and in their employment to meet local climatic and geographical conditions (typhoons, earthquakes). The Philippines possessed a variety of materials: bamboo, leaves of the nipa palm, rattan cane, the coarse grass called cogon and other species which were tough and resistant to weather and had long proved themselves in the construction of boats. All this enabled Filipino builders to show their skill and originality in adapting imported patterns to local circumstances.

Architectural forms were therefore modified to suit local needs. The first churches were probably modest rectangular structures built with the same materials as the houses of those who were to worship in them. It would sometimes become necessary, however, to enlarge them to accommodate a larger congregation, and accordingly to develop a more sophisticated type of architecture. The churches might also have to be strengthened and fortified for the purpose of protection, and they might also require to be decorated; for they served both an aesthetic and a psychological function as a demonstration of the greatness and power of their God.

The first churches were low buildings, with a wall height of some 10 to 12 metres. The walls themselves, between 1 and 3 metres thick, were supported by buttresses on the exterior walls, alternating with tall windows. The walls had a core of undressed stone, gravel and pebbles and were faced with bricks and mortar; and the facades were given a coating of stucco to which decorative patterns were applied. The binding material sometimes incorporated shells and sandstone, which gave the decorative motifs a distinctive character and remarkable weather resistance. At Ilocos, Bohol, Manila and Panay coralline stone was used in place of brick, to great advantage. Some of the richer parishes used dressed stone from Bulacan or Rizal. In Paoay, Ilocos Norte for instance, the tower was separate from the church so that in the event of an earthquake it would not collapse on to the church; while in Miagao, Ilocos Norte the facade was framed between two symmetrical defensive towers, but usually there was only one. The facades were decorated with columns and pilasters in two or three registers.

The timber roof vaulting was at first left exposed but was later concealed by trompe l'oeil panels. Stone vaulting was exceptional. There are several examples of domes in the province of Laguna. The domes at Apalit (Pampanga) and Santa Lucia (Ilocos Sur) are in pseudo-Renaissance style, while those at Betis (Pampanga) and Lipa (Batangas) show Baroque inspiration. Later churches, seen from outside, appear to have two lateral aisles, but these are made up of vaulted chapels which have no communication with one another, with sacristies at the east end on either side of the apse. A few more recent or larger churches, particularly on Bohol, have true aisles and a transept. With the introduction of the Plateresque style and improvements in technique part of the facade began to be covered with elaborate carved decoration, though the church (as at Tigbauan, Cortes) was otherwise of fortified type to provide defence against Muslim raids or local insurrections.

The retablos, masterpieces of decoration, were no less composite in style than the rest of the architecture. Here the luxuriant imagination of Filipino artists, which for various reasons rarely found expression on the facade, was allowed free play; and within this riot of architectural and floral motifs were niches for santos, painted wooden statues of Christ, the Virgin or saints. The carved draperies of the figures swelled out voluminously like the rich embroidered fabrics set with precious stones in which other figures were covered. Sometimes the head, hands and feet were carved from ivory.

These churches, the building of which usually extended over several decades, were also a symbol and a measure of the missionaries success in the task of conversion, and accordingly no effort was spared in their construction. The people of the Philippines contributed both money, through the taxes they paid, and their own labour. It is not difficult to imagine what a concentration of effort and of thought went to the building of a new church or the enlargement or alteration of an earlier one. The variations between these churches, reflecting the different personalities of the builders or differences in local conditions, result from the participation of local craftsmen and contribute to the distinctive originality of each one. Unfortunately many of them have disappeared as a result of earthquakes, wars or fires, and a new church has frequently been built on the ruins of an older one.

In the southern part of the archipelago, particularly on Cebu and Bohol, Muslim influence can be detected in minaret and bulbous domes (Carcar, Naga, and Cebu) or in scrollwork, geometric patterns or stylised ornament in low relief. Chinese influence in the decorative forms can also be seen, for example in the church of San Joaquin (Iloilo) or the one at Paoay (Ilocos Norte).

The parish priests gradually came to dominate administrative and social as well as religious activities, and greater attention was paid to the church buildings. Sometimes an arched passage continues the line of the nave to link the church with the convento (presbytery), but usually it is at right angles to the church, as at San Vicente (Ilocos Sur), Laoag (Ilocos Norte), Baclayon (Bohol) and Santa Lucia; it may also form a T shape with the church, as at Loboc (Bohol). Normally, there is a courtyard or atrium in front of the entrance to the church, which is surrounded by a wall marking out the boundaries of the mission station. The square in front of the church is the central point of any town, and the bishop's palace forms part of the complex, may also include a seminary, a school or a monastery, as at Vigan and Jaro (Iloilo), where the various buildings stand round a long rectangular plaza.

LITERATURE

Script
Before the coming of the Spaniards the people of the Philippines used a very distinctive syllabary of 14 consonants and 3 vowels known as Baybayin or Alibata which was also used with some variations of form by the coastal peoples. It seems likely that it was used by traders for keeping their accounts. It is thought to be developed from the Javanese script Old Kiwi.

The basic consonantal symbols were pronounced with the vowel a. The other vowels are indicated either by separate letters or by dots, a dots over a consonant changes the vowel to /i/ or /e/ thus gave the sound be or bi; while the dot under a consonant changes the vowel to /o/ or /u/ thus became bo or bu. This explains why the present-day Tagalog language, the alphabet of which has five vowels, makes little distinction between e and i and between o and u: thus hindi, which signifies negation, is pronounced something like hinde. At this period the people of the Philippines probably wrote in vertical lines and from left to right; but unfortunately the materials on which they wrote (bark, leaves or bamboo) were very vulnerable to destruction, and few documents have survived from this remote period.

The earliest known book in Tagalog is the Dotrina Cristiana (Christian Doctrine) printed in 1593. Each section of the book is presented in three parts: first, the Spanish text then, the Tagalog translation written in the Spanish alphabet, and finally the Tagalog written in the baybayin script.

Early Literature
The early literature of the Philippines, both oral and written, was usually sung or chanted. It took a great variety of forms, and was used to accompany not only religious rituals but the activities of daily life like weaving, gathering fruit, planting or harvest. It was also a social entertainment on the occasion of deaths, marriages, etc. when the guests vied with one another in exchanging versified maxims, proverbs and riddles. By way of example a Tagalog proverb may be quoted:

Ang dila ay hindi patalim. Nguni't kung sumugat ay malalim.
(The tongue is not a knife. But it can inflict a deep cut.)

Musical instruments were used to accompany the singer in such songs as the kundiman, with verses consisting of four alexandrines. Unfortunately few examples of the art have survived. These genres were practised in the different regions and languages of the Philippines, along with tales, legends, epics and romances. The Ifugaos, Bontocs, Igorots, Visayans, Ilocanos and other tribes had their own literature in the same way as the Tagalogs. The epic Agyu or Olahing of the Manobos is a three part epic that starts with pahmara (invocation) then the Kepu'unpuun (narration of the past) and the sengedurog (an episode complete in itself); Biag ni Lam-ang (Life of Lam-ang) of the Ilocanos narrates the adventure of prodigious epic hero who exhibits extraordinary power at an early age; no fewer than twenty-five of these epics recount the adventures of Bantugan, a hero who possessed all the perfections of a demigod. Other epics known to most Filipinos are the Ibalon of Bikol, Kudaman of Palawan, Darangan a Muslim epic, Myth of Bernardo Carpio of Tagalogs.

Drama
The traditional theatre of the Philippines took a variety of forms, the most popular of which was the carillo, a shadow theatre using figures of papier-mâché; performances were usually given at the end of the harvest. The duplo was a kind of witty dialogue featuring well-known figures of the day or dealing with matters of topical interest.

In the moro-moro the Spaniards were depicted fighting the Muslim infidels, who were inevitably defeated. The actor's entrances and exits are stylized, the gestures and movements broad and exaggerated and the poetic lines and verses recited in declamatory, sing-song tone with religious adherence to rhythm and intonation. The cenaculo, performed in front of churches, was a representation of Christ's Passion. It narrates a long sequence of episodes from the Old and New Testaments with special emphasis on the life, suffering and resurrection of Jesus Christ; the tradition is still maintained during Holy Week. The zarzuela is a Spanish lyric-dramatic genre that alternates between spoken and sung scenes, the latter incorporating operatic and popular song as well as dance. It is originally performed for the entertainment of Spanish noblemen after the hunt, was introduced to the Philippines in the second half of the 19th century.

The zarzuela latter became a potent means of expressing the nationalist feelings of the Filipinos after the coming of the Americans; and some works which were considered too subversive, like Matanang Cruz's Hindi Ako Patay (I am not dead) and Severino Reyes' Walang Sugat (Scar-free), were banned and their authors imprisoned. This latter work is set during the Revolution, and shows a return to the tradition of a theatre which also included music, singing and poetry. Hermogenes Ilagan was another writer who revitalised the art of the zarzuela, as in Dalagang Bukid (Country Maiden). In his dramatic work Tanikalang Ginto (The Golden Chains) Juan Abad denounced the United States for purporting to help the Philippines but later enslaving them instead of recognising their independence. In his three-act drama Kahapon, Ngayon at Bukas (Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow) Aurelio Tolentino protested against American control and called on the nation to take up arms and drive out the invader; for this he was condemned to life imprisonment in 1904, but was pardoned in 1912.

During the 1930s, drama flourished in all three national languages. Jesus Balmori, writing in Spanish produced Ayes de Rapina (Birds of Prey), a political satire; Wilfredo M. Guerrero wrote Women are Extraordinary in English; while Julian Balmaceda, concerned with the difficulties of peasants caught in the clutches of the moneylenders, wrote in Tagalog Bunganga ng Pating (In the Shark's Jaws). During the Japanese occupation plays in Tagalog came to the fore. The zarzuela has only recently returned to the stage with revivals of productions of the 1930s.

Since the 1960s the theatre has been concerning with national, social and political problems, in a religious and moralising context. Novelists and short story writers have also shown their talent for the theatre, like R. Sikat with his Mga Kaluluwang Naghahanap (Souls in Search) and D. Landicho with Daga at Mansanas (Mice and Apples). Political nationalism finds expression in T.S. Manoloto's Mga Yagit (Rejects), L.R. Banag's Sa Mga Kubo ng Agila (In the Eagle's Talons) and F. Samonte's Huling Pasiya (Final Judgment).

Dramatists writing in English, like Wilfrido M. Guerrero, are concerned with the problems created by lack of tolerance and understanding. Severino Montano prefers short pieces, either comedies or tragedies; his Lonely in my Garden has been performed in the United States. Nick Joaquin has made his name by his plays, short stories and poems, like his Portrait of the Artist as a Filipino, an elegy in three scenes.

Spanish Colonial Period
The literature during this period may be classified as religious prose and poetry and secular prose poetry.

Poetry
Religious lyrics written by ladino poets or those versed in both Spanish and Tagalog where used to teach Filipinos the Spanish language. Fernando Bogonbanta's Salamat nang Walang Hangan (Unending Thanks) is a fine example that is found in the Guidelines for the Christian life in the Tagalog language which was published in 1605. There were also novenas and catechisms as well as pasyon, a religious poetry that became entrenched in the Filipino's commemoration of Chirst's agony and resurrection at Calvary.

Secular works appeared alongside historical and economic changes. The most notable of the secular lyrics followed the conventions of a romantic tradition. The leading poets were Jose Corazon de Jesus (Huseng Sisiw) and Francisco Balagtas. Some secular poets who wrote in the same tradition were Leona Florentino, Jacinto Kawili, Isabelo delos Reyes and Rafael Gandioco.

Another secular poetry is the metric romance, the corrido or awit, was a traditional genre also practised by 18th century poets. Francisco Balagtas wrote the most famous of the country's metrical romances, Florante at Laura depicts in allegorical form some of the abuses committed by the Spaniards.

The late 19th century saw a notable flowering of lyrical poetry by Jose de Vergara, Juan de Atayde and Pedro Paterno (who was also a novelist). At the beginning of the 20th century a school of nationalist poetry celebrating the glory of the nation or the heroism of Rizal arose, with such writers as M. Guerrero, Cecilio Apostol, Jose Palma y Velasquez, Andres Bonifacio and Emilio Jacinto. Along with the revolutionary love song of the period (kundiman), these anti-colonial and nationalist discourses contributed to the Filipino's struggle for independence.

Prose Writing
Jose Rizal (1861-96) is the greatest figure not only in the Spanish-language literature but in the history of the Philippines. He studied medicine at the University of Santo Tomas and later in Madrid, and in the course of his travels in France, Germany and Britain encountered some of the great spirits of the day. His first work in Spanish, Noli me Tangere (Touch Me Not, 1887), was historically significant and was instrument in establishing the Filipino sense of national identity. This novel brought him fame but displeased the Spaniards. His second novel El Filibusterismo (The Subversive, 1891) portrayed Philippine society with critical view. These two novels denounced Spanish abuses, and as a result when he returned to the Philippines for the second time, in 1892 he was deported to Dapitan (Mindanao). When he was on the point of leaving for Cuba as a doctor he was arrested, found guilty of treason and rebellion, and shot on 30 December 1896 though in fact his participation in the Revolution had been intellectual and literary rather than political.

Noli me Tangere novel expressed the pain of the persecuted Philippines. Juan Crisostomo Ibarra, a young progressive, returns to the Philippines after completing his studies and learned that his father has died a wretched death in prison, although he had been an honourable man, wealthy and respected. He tries to find out the truth but his enemies seek to destroy him. As a result of their intrigues his promised bride, Maria Clara seeks refuge in a convent and he himself is led to disappear mysteriously. Elias, a boatman whom Ibarra had saved from drowning, later, was able to pay his debt of gratitude. El Filibusterismo describes Ibarra's return, under the name of Simoun, and his attempts to find Maria Clara and take vengeance on his enemies. Meanwhile, however, his fiancée has committed suicide, and his plot fails: whereupon he commits suicide in his turn.

These two novels depict the society of the period and its archetypes, particularly the evil-doing Spanish clergy. Maria Clara is an example of a girl brought up under the Spanish system. Ibarra-Simoun's reforming zeal, which is strong but personal and self-centred, is frustrated by his excess of passion, the contrasting figure of Elias represents Rizal's clear-sightedness, his moral strength and superiority and his dynamism.

Rizal did not confine himself to the novel, but added to his reputation with two plays, Junto al Pasig and An Autobiography, Memorias de un Estudiante de Manila . His poems proclaim his love for the suffering country which he seeks to arouse from its oppression. His essays were published in five volumes along with his correspondence, written in Spanish, German, Tagalog, French and English.

Graciano Lopez Jaena and Marcelo H. were the two writers contemporary with Rizal and fought with him in Madrid for the cause of Filipino nationalism, writing numerous articles for their propaganda journal, La Solidaridad. Marcelo H. del Pilar was popularly known as Plaridel. He tried to marshal the nationalist sentiment of the enlightened Filipino ilustrados, against Spanish imperialism using the pasyon and prayers. Monetary currency was used to describe the friar in the poem Friar Ginoong Barya (Hail Father Coins) and A Parody of Aba Ginoong Maria (Hail Mary, A Popular Prayer). Graciano Lopez Jaena becomes a leading literary and oratical spokesman for the cause of Filipino freedom.

Two other writers of the period, who made their names by historical and political writings are Pedro A. Paterno and Apolinario Mabini. Pedro A. Paterno was the author of Pacto de Biak-na-Bato (Pact of Biyak-na-Bato, 1910); the very first novel written in Tagalog, Ninay (1907); and the first Filipino collection of poems in Spanish, Sampaguitas y Poesis (Jasmines and Poems which was published in Madrid in 1880. Apolinario Mabini, known as Sublime Paralytic was a Filipino theoretician who wrote the constitution for the first Philippine Republic in 1899-1901.

American Colonial Period

Poetry
Poetry in English came into its own only with the Commonwealth. The lyricism and psychological realism of Jose Garcia Villa, allied with his mastery of the language, established his reputation both in the Philippines and abroad. Angela Manalang Gloria is another maverick in poetry that used free verse and talked about illicit love in her poetry. Poets Aurelio S. Alvaro, Zulueta da Costa, Guillermo Castillo and Oscar de Zuñiga sang of love and of nature, while Nick Joaquin wrote on traditional themes of national and religious concern.

Prose writing
In spite of the increasing self-confidence of literature in English during the period of American control authors writing in Spanish continued the tradition. Poets like Jesus Balmori, Flavio Zaragosa-Cano and Claro M. Recto, no less devoted to their country than their forerunners, were among those who gave the most effective expression to their feelings.

The works of Trinidad H. Pardo de Tavera, Rafael Palma and Epifanio de los Santos were concerned with historical, linguistic, cultural and folk themes.

The novel followed the same development as poetry, and around 1935 established itself as the favourite genre of the writers of the day. In spite of the strong Western influence Jose Garcia Villa's collection The Best Twenty five Stories of 1928, reveals an original style and a profound attachment to the people of the Philippines; Manuel E. Arguilla possesses the same skill in depicting rural life; Nestor V.M. Gonzales and even more notably, Nick Joaquin established their reputations as writers of short stories but also expressed the sensibility of the Filipino soul in their poems, essays, plays and novels.

There were relatively few novelists in this period, Zoilo M. Galang and Stevan Javellana were popular writers of great imaginative and creative power, while Maximo T. Kalaw and Juan C. Laya were more committed and realist.

Some writers preferred the essay as a form of expression, like Carlos P. Romulo, Leon M. Guerrero, Vicente Albano Pacis and Salvador P. Lopez. Their main preoccupation was with political, national and social problems.

The influence of the great colonial powers which superimposed their cultural structures on the Philippines is still a cause of imbalance. The two most harmful factors in this respect were the conversion to Catholicism and the introduction of the English language. In bringing the Catholic faith to the Philippines the Spaniards injected an alien spirit and system of thought; and the general use of English in all fields of education during the period of American control moulded the intelligence of school-children and students for several decades by introducing them to textbooks written for young Americans with a very different pattern of life.

Tagalog poetry
At the beginning of the 20th century Tagalog writers rediscovered the excellence of their language for writing poetry. Jose Corazon de Jesus, a strong personality, established the genre of the lyrical monologue. Florentino T. Collantes chose simple and familiar themes, while Amado V. Hernandez fought for social justice. A few avant-garde poets who rejected romanticism, sentimentality and the conservative rules inherited from the past and sought to achieve greater expressive force were Gonzalo K. Flores and Amado V. Hernandez and Alejandro G. Abadilla.

Tagalog prose writing
There was a revival of the novel at the beginning of the 20th century, and Tagalog writers strove to make their mark by an original style. Lope K. Santos and Valeriano Hernandez Peña turned towards literature of psychological and social concern, but the novel was not entirely displaced. Their successors were able to establish themselves in spite of the increasing importance of literature in English. T.L. Sauco made his name with Ang Magmamani (The Groundnut Seller); Lazaro Francisco, after a novel on history and liberty inspired by the war, turned to the subject of social injustice and the insecurity of the peasants. In the 1960s Alejandro Abadilla and Elpidio Kapulong pursued this literature of protest against conventional morality and religious orthodoxy. Rogelio R. Sikat, inspired by Rizal, described the oppression to which the farmers were exposed; Edgardo M. Reyes depicted the hardships of life in towns.

The 20th century also saw the birth of the Tagalog short story. It shows the same trends as the novel not surprisingly, since some writers have practised both genres. Jesus A. Arceo and Genoveva Edroza are interested in the psychology of their characters, but the overriding preoccupation of the short story has been with social themes. Among the leading names in this rich period were Hernando R.Ocampo, Francisco R. Reyes and N. Gonzales. Also during this period, the pure classical Tagalog language has been simplified as its use has extended. A collection of short stories published in 1954, Mga Agos sa Disyerto (Tremors in the Desert) included work by all the leading short story writers of the day E. M. Reyes, R. Sikat, D. Mirasol, and E. Abueg. A number of magazines have provided a medium for the publication of short stories and have contributed to their success.

The Press
The history of the press in the Philippines dates back to 1637. The early newspapers, in Spanish, were subject to very strict censorship. The first newspaper entirely written in Tagalog appeared in 1890. The best known newspapers of this period were La Solidaridad, a nationalist journal printed in Madrid in the 1890's, and Kalayaan (Freedom), the organ of the Katipunan.

In the 20th century the establishment of democratic political life with the foundation and development of parties was reflected in the publication of many journals of opinion. At the present day the national press is dominated by three English-language papers, the Manila Bulletin Today, the Philippine Daily Inquirer and the Manila Times (the oldest running newspaper in the Philippines), and one in Tagalog, the Filipino Express.

The Cinema
The first films shown in Manila in 1904 were French and Italian, with Spanish subtitles. In 1912 an American director made a film on the life of the national hero Jose Rizal. In 1919, Jose Nepomuceno known as the "Father of the Philippine Movies" made his first film which was based on the highly acclaimed musical play of the day, Dalagang Bukid (Country Maiden) by Hermogenes Hagan and Leon Iglesia. He had resort to what must have been a quite novelty at that time, covered the whole range of cinematic activity, acting as script-writer, cameraman and distributor. The period before the Second World War saw the production of sentimental films, the traditional zarzuela, comedies and above all musical comedies. The cinema of the new Republic was dominated by Lamberto Avellana, Leopoldo Silos and Gerry de Leon, the last of whom made two films based on novels by Rizal. The directors of the period now turned towards filming on location.

In the 1970s and 1980s the predominant figures in the Filipino cinema were some stars, idolised by their fans; but three directors have also made a name for themselves. Ishmael Bernal is sophisticated and intellectual, while Celso ad Castillo is notable for the powerful visual impact of his films. The best known of the three was the late Lino Brocka, with films of great realism like Insiang and Maynila sa Kuko ng Liwanag (Manila in the Claws of Neon). The popularity of the seventh art in the Philippines is demonstrated by Manila's hundred cinemas, showing not only Filipino films but the productions of Hollywood (of which the Philippines are the second best customer).

Home | Contact us | Privacy & Terms | Site Map | Credits | Advertise with us | Top of page
Copyright © 2006-2014 visitphilippines.org. A Best Destination Travel Guide by Travelindex. All rights reserved.
Use of this web site constitutes acceptance of the visitphilippines.org privacy policy and terms of service.