Characteristics of Philippine Literature

Category: Philippines
Last Updated: 21 Mar 2023
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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 in Spanish, English, Tagalog, and/or other native Philippine languages. Philippine literature refers to all literature from the Philippines, written in Spanish, English, Tagalog, and a variety of other Philippine languages.

Philippine literature flourished during the Spanish period (nineteenth century) and the first half of the twentieth century. The literature of the Philippines covers a variety of genres, most notably poetry and metrical romances, prose, dramas, religious dramas, and secular dramas.

Introduction to Philippine Literature

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The history of a nation can be learned in its constitution, its laws, and its political statements. But to know the history of a nation’s spirit, you must read its literature. For in literature you can discover how the people of a nation have reacted to the events around them.

In the stories, essays, and poems contained in this volume, you will read the dreams, anxieties, joys and problems of the Filipino in the past seventy-five years. By reading this development of Philippine Literature you will review what has happened to the Filipino since 1900. But literature offers much more than a mere personalized history. For an important quality of art is to share with others the intense realization of human experience. Through this sharing, you may recognize your own experiences. You may learn what you are or how you have become what you are. You may even learn what you might be in the future.

Philippine literature shows you how the Filipino differs from others. Yet in a sense, the Filipino writer is linked with all the other writers of the world. For in explaining or questioning human experience, writers are never alone. Philippine Literature in English is really a part of the literatures of the world. A further quality of literature is that the expressions used should be memorable. The language should be clear and forceful so that the ideas strike the reader with almost the same force with which they struck the writer. The early Filipino writers had difficulty in expressing themselves since English was a language new to them.

The marvel is that they learned this language so quickly and with such a facility. Philippine literature in English reveals the spirit of the Filipino. Gradually this literature has learned to express the deepest of human experiences in words that create memorable images. You may divide Philippine Literature in English into many types and numerous periods. But for our purposes, we shall consider three stages through which the literature has passed. These stages might be called: 1) The Early Period, from 1900 to 1930 2) The Middle Period, from 1930 to 1960 3) The Modern Period, from 1960 to 1974

Philippine literature

Philippine literature is the literature associated with the Philippines and includes the legends of prehistory, and the colonial legacy of the Philippines, written in both Indigenous, and Hipic languages. 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 in Spanish, English, Tagalog, and other native Philippine languages.

Early Works

"Doctrina Christiana", Manila, 1593, is the first book printed in the Philippines.

Tomas Pinpin wrote and printed in 1610 "Librong Pagaaralan nang mga Tagalog nang Wikang Kastila", 119 pages designed to help fellow Filipinos to learn the Spanish language in a simple way. He is also credited with the first news publication made in the Philippines, "Successos Felices", 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 Boletin de Cebu" (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 Ninay (first novel written by a Filipino); the Philippine national hero, Jose Rizal, who wrote excellent poetry and two famous novels in Spanish: Noli Me Tangere (Touch Me Not), and El Filibusterismo'.

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-Hipic 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 Maria Guerrero and Manuel Bernabe, 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 Ruben Dario, the Mexican Amado Nervo, the Spaniard Francisco Villaespesa, and the Peruvian Jose Santos Chocano as major models). Apart from the works in Spanish, the only remarkable and valuable Filipino writer writing in the English language is Nick Joaquin.

Related Questions

on Characteristics of Philippine Literature

What are the characteristics of Philippine literature in English?
Philippine literature in English is characterized by its unique blend of Western and Eastern influences. It often incorporates elements of Filipino culture, such as folk tales, proverbs, and indigenous languages, as well as themes of identity, colonialism, and post-colonialism. It also often features a strong sense of regionalism, with stories and poems that focus on the particularities of the Filipino experience.
How can you describe Philippine literature?
Philippine literature is a rich and diverse collection of works that reflect the history and culture of the Philippines. It includes a variety of genres, such as poetry, fiction, non-fiction, drama, and folk literature. Philippine literature is often characterized by its use of symbolism, imagery, and allegory to explore themes of identity, colonialism, and social justice.
What are the key characteristics of Philippine literature?
The key characteristics of Philippine literature include its focus on themes of identity, family, and community, as well as its use of symbolism and imagery to convey its messages. Philippine literature also often incorporates elements of the country's history, culture, and folklore, making it a unique and vibrant form of expression.
What are the characteristics of literature?
Literature is a form of art that uses language to express ideas, feelings, and stories. It can take many forms, including novels, plays, poems, and short stories. Literature often uses figurative language, symbolism, and other literary devices to convey its message.

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Characteristics of Philippine Literature. (2017, Feb 05). Retrieved from

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