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Introduction to the Study of Literature

“No other study is more important than that of literature.”

Definition of Literature
 The word literature is derived from the Latin term litera which means letter. It has
been defined differently by various writers.
 Some loosely interpret literature as any printed mater written within a book, a
magazine or a pamphlet.
 Others define literature as a faithful reproduction of man’s manifold experiences
blended into one harmonious expression.
 Because literature deals with ideas, thoughts and emotions of man, literacture
can be said to be the story of man. Man’s loves, griefs, thoughts, dreams and
aspirations coached in beautiful language is literature.
 In its broadest sense, literature may be defined as an artistic representation of
life, that is of varied human experiences, in different forms or expressions.
 Most writers think of literature as the preserved writings of a country or a
people. It is an embodiment of a nation’s traditions, customs and cultural
patterns. It is also a vehicle for expressing experiences, thoughts, feelings, beliefs
and attitudes about a given subject.
 In order to know the history of a nation’s spirit, one must read its literature.
Hence it is, that to understand the real spirit of a nation, one must “trace the little
rills as they course along down the ages, broadening and deepening into the
great ocean of thought which men of the present source are presently exploring.
 Brother Azurin, said that “literature expresses the feelings of people to society, to
the government, to his surroundings , to his fellowmen and to his Divine
Creator.” The expression of one’s feelings, according to him, may be through
love, sorrow, happiness, hatred, anger, pity, contempt, or revenge.
 For Webster, literature is anything that is printed, as long as it is related to the
ideas and feelings of people, whether it is true, or just a product of one’s
 In PANITIKANG PILIPINO written by Atienza, Ramos, Salazar and Nazal, it
says that “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 a product of life and about life. A good piece of literature presents a slice of
life; and makes the reader capture truth and beauty. One needs to be sensitive
and receptive enough to participate in the significant experiences as he reads.

PHILIPPINE LITERATURE | CRIM-LEVEL I-BLOCK A & B | Christian B. Llaguno, LPT, Instructor

Literary Standards:
1. Universality
2. Artistry
3. Intellectual Value
4. Permanence
5. Style
6. Spiritual Value
7. Suggestiveness
• Great literature is timeless and timely.
• Forever relevant, it appeals to one and all, anytime, anywhere, because it deals
with elemental feelings, fundamental truths, and universal conditions.
• A great piece of literature has the same effects on people over the world since
the same sentiments and emotions are felt, shared and understood.
• In its restricted meaning, literature includes only those works that are polished
and artistic in forms and thoughts. Artistic means the work must express truth
and beauty.
• Any work that distorts one’s idea towards things is not artistic, e.g., if after
reading a literary piece which one claims ‘great’, he starts doing atrocities,
crimes, violence, or becomes a rapist, then this work is NEVER artistic but sheer
• Within the same context, if a book or treatise of leadership has the power to
influence leaders to become terroristic aggressors and virtual dictators, then it is
NOT artistic.
• Requires that literature or a literary piece such as short story must also give a
sense of information, and should make the reader think or analyze. It must be
intellectually stimulating and focuses on content.
• A great work of literature endures. It can be read again and again as each
reading gives fresh delight and new insights and opens a new world of meaning
and experience.
• Its appeal is lasting.
• This is the peculiar way in which writer sees life, forms his ideas and expresses
• Literature elevates the spirit by bringing out moral values which makes a better
• The capacity to inspire is part of the spiritual value of literature.

PHILIPPINE LITERATURE | CRIM-LEVEL I-BLOCK A & B | Christian B. Llaguno, LPT, Instructor

• This is associated with the emotional power of literature.
• A great literature moves us deeply and stirs our feelings and imagination and
evoke one’s visions above and beyond the plane of ordinary life and experience.
• If a book has power to awaken in you a lively sense of pleasure or a profound
emotion of sympathy, if it quickens your love for beauty, truth or goodness; if it
moves you to generous thoughts or noble action, then that book is for you and
for the time a great book.

3 Basic Standards for Good Literature

According to Dinia Delfina S. Reyes, Ph.D
1. Aesthetic aspect – emphasizes form or delightful sense of the beautiful and
pleasurable. This is achieved through artistic use of language, sounds, and imagery.
2. Intellectual aspect – requires that literature or a literary piece such as short story
must also give a sense of information, and should make the reader think or analyze. It
must be intellectually stimulating and focuses on content.
3. Spiritual aspect – a piece must also generate values and be spiritually uplifting.

Why We Need to Study Philippine Literature

 We study literature so that we can better appreciate our literary heritage. We
cannot appreciate something that we do not understand. Through a study of our
literature, we can trace the rich heritage of ideas handed down to us from one
forefathers. Then we can understand ourselves better and take pride in being a
 Like other races of the world, we need to understand that we have a great and
noble tradition which can serve as the means to assimilate other cultures.
 Through such a study, we will realize our literary limitations conditioned by
certain historical factors and we can take steps to overcome them.
 Above all, as Filipinos, who truly love and take pride in our own culture, we
have to manifest our deep concern for our own literature and this we can do by
studying the literature of our country.

Roles of Literature in Our Life

1. Transmitter of values. Events, as we read them in literature, make us look at
ourselves and live through the experiences of the characters. We glean from the
stories the morals that lend to good life: honesty, friendship, love of country,
respect for elders, self-discipline, justice, honor, etc.
2. Preserver of ideals, customs and traditions. We get a glimpse of our ancestors’
way of life by reading their stories and poems. Reflecting on their practice,
beliefs and attitudes make us understand more deeply our roots, thereby
inspiring us to strengthen our present and future from lessons of the past.

PHILIPPINE LITERATURE | CRIM-LEVEL I-BLOCK A & B | Christian B. Llaguno, LPT, Instructor

3. Mirror of life. Literature reflects the cultures of different races. Those who do not
have the resources to travel and personally observe the ways of people from
other parts may enrich their knowledge vicariously through literature. Knowing
how people from the other side of the planet live broadens our perception of life
and humanity.
4. Agent of change. History bears records of significant changes in society brought
about by literature. The choice of Tagalog as basis for Filipino, the national
language of the Philippines, has been partly due to the popularity of writings in
Tagalog like Francisco Balagtas’ Florante at Laura. Other historical events, like
the Civil War in America, were said to have been triggered by the famous book,
Uncle Tom’s Cabin of Harriet Beecher Stowe.
Today, literature in the mass media, is a potent force swaying public opinion.
Ideas massively delivered, whether orally or in writing, can greatly influence
people’s thinking. They can make or unmake heroes, presidents, idols or villains.
5. Source of pleasure. Like other forms of art, literature entertains and gives
pleasure. Some people read literature for “rhyme” and not for “reason”. They
find soothing relaxation in listening to the mellifluous sounds of syllables and
words rhythmically combined.

Time Frames in Philippine Literature in English

1. The Period of Enlightenment (1898-1910)
2. Period of Imitation (1910-1925)
3. Period of Self-Discovery (1925-1941)
4. Japanese Period (1941-1945)
5. The Rebirth of Freedom (1946-1970)
6. Period of Activism (1970-1972)
7. Period of the New Society (1972-1981)
8. Period of the Third Republic (1981-1985)
9. Contemporary Period (1986-present)

Literature and History

• In discovering the history of a race, the feelings, aspirations, customs and
tradition of a people are sure to be included…and these feelings, aspirations,
customs and traditions that are written is literature.
• Events that can be written down are part of true literature. Literature, therefore,
is part of history.
• The main difference however is, literature may be figments of the imagination or
events devoid of truth that have been written down, while history is made up of
events that really happened.

Literary Compositions that Have Influenced the World

PHILIPPINE LITERATURE | CRIM-LEVEL I-BLOCK A & B | Christian B. Llaguno, LPT, Instructor

1. The Bible or the Sacred Writings. This has become the basis of Christianity
originating from Palestine and Greece.
2. Koran. The Muslim Bible originating from Arabia.
3. The Iliad and the Odyssey. These have been the source of myths and legends of
Greece. They were written by Homer.
4. The Mahab-harata. The longest epic of the world. It contains the history of religion in
5. Canterbury Tales. It depicts the religion and customs of the English in the early days.
This originated from England and was written by Chaucer.
6. Uncle Tom’s Cabin. Written by Harriet Beecher Stowe of the US. This depicted the
sad and fate of slaves; this became the basis of democracy later on.
7. The Divine Comedy. Written by Dante of Italy. This shows the religion and customs
of the early Italians.
8. El Cid Compeador. This shows the cultural characteristics of the Spaniards and their
national history.
9. The Song of Roland. This includes Doce Pares and Roncesvalles of France. It tells
about the Golden Age of Christianity in France.
10. The Book of the Dead. This includes the cult of Osiris and the mythology and
theology of Egypt.
11. The Book of the Days. This was written by Confucius of China. This became the
basis of Christian religion.
12. One Thousand and One Nights/The Arabian Nights. From Arabia and Persia (Iran).
It shows the ways of government, of industries and of the society of the Arabia and

General Classification and Types of Literature

1. According to Form
 Oral – handed down originally through words of mouth, like songs,
proverbs, folk tales, and riddles
 Written – preserved in writing; formally documented from the start.
2. According to appeal
 Universal – refers to writings written long ago but continue to exist
 Limited – last only for a brief period of time
3. According to in point of space
 Internationally
 Nationally
 Regionally
4. According to genre
 Prose
 Poetry

PHILIPPINE LITERATURE | CRIM-LEVEL I-BLOCK A & B | Christian B. Llaguno, LPT, Instructor

General Types of Literature
1. PROSE – consists of those written within the common flow of conversation in
sentences and paragraphs
2. POETRY – refers to those experiences in verse, with measure and rhyme, line
and stanza and has a more melodious tone.

Types of Prose
These include novels or biographies, short stories, contemporary dramas,
legends, fables, essays, anecdotes, news, and speeches.

a. Novel. This is a long narrative divided into chapters. The events are taken from
true to life stories…and spans a long period of time. There are many characters
involved. Example: Without Seeing the Dawn by Stevan Javellana.
b. Short story. This is a narrative involving one or more characters, one plot and
one single impression. Example: The Laughters of My Father by Carlos Bulosan.
c. Plays/drama. This is presented on a stage, is divided into acts and each act has
many scenes. Example: Thirteen Plays by Wilfredo M. Guerrero.
d. Legends. These are fictitious narratives, usually about origins. Example: Th Bikol
Legend by Pio Duran.
e. Fables. These are also fictitious and they deal with animals and inanimate things
who speak and act like people and their purpose is to enlighten the minds of
children to events that can mold their ways and attitudes. Example: The Monkey
and the Turtle.
f. Anecdotes. These are merely products of the writer’s imagination and the main
aim is to bring out lessons to the reader. It can be stories about animals or
children. Example: The Moth and the Lamp.
g. Essay. This expresses the viewpoint or opinion of the writer about a particular
problem or event. The best example of this is the Editorial Page of a newspaper.
h. Biography. This deals with the life of a person which may be about himself, his
autobiography or that of others. Example: Cayetano Arellano by Socorro O. Albert.
i. News. This is a report of everyday events in society, government, science and
industry, and accidents, happening nationally or not.
j. Oration. This is a formal treatment of a subject and is intended to be spoken in
public. It appeals to the intellect, to the will or to the emotions of the audience.
There are three types of poetry: narrative, lyric, and dramatic.
A. Narrative poetry. This form describes important events in life either real or
imaginary. The different varieties are:

1. Epic. This is an extended narrative about heroic exploits often under

supernatural control. It may deal with heroes and gods.

PHILIPPINE LITERATURE | CRIM-LEVEL I-BLOCK A & B | Christian B. Llaguno, LPT, Instructor

Two kinds of epic poetry are the popular or ancient, and the literary or modern.
The ancient or popular epic is often without a definite author and is of slow
growth; the modern is with a definite author.
(Translated in English verse by Amador T. Daguio)

Aliguyon inttoduced himself –

“My name is Aliguyon, son of
Amtalao, of Hannaga.
I came to renew the hostility between
your father and mine,”
Pumbakhayon nodded and said,
as you will,
Meet me on the stone floor of the granary
But I will first go home to eat.
For your coming, aliguyon, is unexpected.”
Pumbakhayon turned to the village to do
What was to be done in Daligdigan,
He caught one of their roosters,
And shouted, “Come, comrades
of our village,
Do what is to be done for you are called.
Our enemies are on the embankments,
Let us fight
Aliguyon, son of Amtaalo,”
(Like Aliguyon, Pumbakhayon goes through the ritual of the rooster and the invocation to the spirits and
seeing a good sign, gathers his men and sets forth to meet his opponent.)

2. Metrical Tale. This is a narrative which is written in verse and can be classified either
as a ballad or a metrical romance.
Examples of these are simple idylls or home tales, love tales, tales of the supernatural or
tales written for a strong moral purpose in verse form.
Here is an example of an idyll which aims at picturing true country life.

By Al Perez

Ako’y magsasakang bayani ng bukid

Sandata’y araro matapang sa init
Hindi natatakot kahi’t na sa lamig
Sa buong maghapon gumagawang pilit.

Ang kaibigan ko ay si Kalakian

PHILIPPINE LITERATURE | CRIM-LEVEL I-BLOCK A & B | Christian B. Llaguno, LPT, Instructor

Lagging nakahanda maging araw-araw
Sa pag-aararo at asa paglilinang
Upang maihanda ang lupang mayaman.

Ang haring araw di dapat sumisikat

Ako’y pupunta na sa napakalawak
Na aking bukiring lagging nasa hagap
At tanging pag-asa ng taong masipag.

Sa aking lupain doon nagmumula

Lahat ng pagkain nitong ating bansa
Ang lahat ng tao, mayamn o dukha
Sila’y umaasa sa pawis ko’t gawa.

Sa aking paggawa ang tangi kong hangad

Ang ani’y dumami na para sa lahat
Kapag ang balana’y may pagkaing tiyak
Umaasa akong puso’y magagalak.

At pagmasdan niyo ang aking bakuran

Inyong makikita ang mga halaman
Ditto nagmumula masarap na gulay
Paunang pampalakas sa ating katawan.

Sa aming paligid mamamalas pa rin

Ang alagang hayop katulad ng kambing
Baboy, manok, pato’t alay ay pagkain
Nagdudulot lakas sa sariling atin.

Ako’y gumagagawa sa bawa’t panahon

Nasa aking puso ang taos na layon
Na sa bawat tao, ako’y makatulong
At nang mabawasan ang pagkakagutom.

Ako’y magsasakang bayani ng bukid

Sandata’y araro matapang sa init
Hindi natatakot jahit na sa lamig
Sa buong maghapon gumagawang pilit.

Translation of “Bayani sa Bukid”

By Al Perez

I am a farmer, hero of the fields

My weapon’s the plow, brave against the heat
I am not afraid even of the cold
All day long, working at my best.

My friend is Kalakian

PHILIPPINE LITERATURE | CRIM-LEVEL I-BLOCK A & B | Christian B. Llaguno, LPT, Instructor

Always ready everyday
In plowing and in creating
To prepare the rich soil.

King sun need not to rise

I’m going to the wide
Field I’m always concerned with
And the only hope of an industrious one.

In my field there starts

All flood of our country
All people, rich or poor,
They depend on my sweat and labor.

In my work, my only ambition

To be abundant for all
If everyone has sure food
I am sure hearts will be glad.

Try and look at my surroundings

You’ll see the garden
Where starts the vegetables
That strengthen our bodies.

Around us you’ll also see

The tended animals like the goats,
Pigs, chickens, ducks and offerings of food
That gives strength to us.
I always work in all seasons
In my heart is the sincere hope
That I can help every person
And alleviate hunger.
I am a farmer, hero of the fields.
My weapon’s the plow, strong against the heat.
I am not daunted even by the cold
The whole day long, working at my best.
3. Ballads. Of the narrative poems, this is considered the shortest and simplest. It has a
simple structure and tells of a single incident. There are also variations of these: love
ballads, war ballads, sea ballads, humorous, moral, historical or mythical ballads. In the
early times, this referred to a song accompanying a dance.

B. Lyric Poetry. Originally, this refers to that kind of poetry meant to be sung to the
accompaniment of a lyre, but now, this applies to any type of poetry that expresses
emotions and feelings of the poet. They are usually short, simple and easy to
There are different types of lyric poetry. These are:

PHILIPPINE LITERATURE | CRIM-LEVEL I-BLOCK A & B | Christian B. Llaguno, LPT, Instructor

1. Folk Songs (Awiting Bayan). These are short poems intended to be sung. The
common theme is love, despair, grief, doubt, joy, hope and sorrow. An example of this


Salaginto salagubang
Ang babae sa lansangan
Kung gumiri’y parang tandang.

Santo Niño sa Pandacan

Puto seko sa tindahan
Kung ayaw kang magpautang
Uubusin ka ng langgam.

Mama, mama, namamangka

Pasakayin yaring bata
Pagdating sa Maynila
Ipagpalit ng manika.
Ale, ale, namamayong
Pasukubin yaring sanggol
Pagdating sa Malabon
Ipagpalit ng bagoong.

Chit-chirit-chit, alibangbang
Gold bug and the beetle
The street woman
Struts like a rooster.

Child saint of Pandacan

Puto seco in the store
If you don’t want to lend
You’ll be devoured by ants.
Sir, sir, paddling the canoe
Give this child a ride
When you reach Manila
Swap it with a doll.

Lady, lady with the umbrella

Shade this infant
When you reach Malabon
Swap it with bagoong.

2. Sonnets. This is a lyric poem of 14 lines dealing with an emotion, a feeling, or an idea.
These are two types: the Italian and Shakespearean.

PHILIPPINE LITERATURE | CRIM-LEVEL I-BLOCK A & B | Christian B. Llaguno, LPT, Instructor

Here is an example of a sonnet in Philippine Literature:

By Alfonso P. Santos

Let me but see in dramas the santang buds

That in my absence blossoms still beside
My window, Crimson buds, like crimson pearls,
Ever in faithfulness they bloom, unchanged,
Unfailing like the memories of home.
Now is the time, the season of their blooming,
An hour less, an hour more, yet stays
Their crimson evermore, unchanged, untouched,
Let me but see in dreams the santang buds
That in my absence blooms, in faith for one
Heart lost in foreign lands, fated to share
No love, no fortune from the world, but born
To suffer want and misery, decreed
To live unknown, in penitence and need.

3. Elegy. This is a lyric poem which expresses feelings of grief and melancholy, and
whose theme is death.
Here is an example:
By Ricaredo Demetillo

He who had lived the earth with a firm

Is now, being infirm, laid in the earth
That covers him with green grass quietly.

Once when he walked the fields, he

suddenly knelt
And with an avid gesture clasped the earth.
His sun-lit fingers sifted dust.

Lovers would write their incoherent view

On passionate pages; but he, on pads of
Wrote with his plow a tongue-tied love.

Fields understood, for when the harvest

Fruits lay like brown breasts for his
hands to pluck,

PHILIPPINE LITERATURE | CRIM-LEVEL I-BLOCK A & B | Christian B. Llaguno, LPT, Instructor

And he with lightness, touched each
pregnant stalked
His house was quiet, like the man who
The gate-behind him when the lamplight glowed
He knew no woman’s touch except the earth’s.

We thought it fitting that the sun should

With quite fingers the rice-fronds in the field
When he, after a fever, gave himself to
We could not salvage breath, but we could
His body and lay it in the earth he loved
He may return and beckon from a sheaf.

4. Ode. This is a poem of a noble feeling, expressed with dignity, with no definite
number of syllables or definite number of lines in stanza.
5. Psalms. (Dalit) This is a song praising God or the Virgin Mary and containing a
philosophy of life. Here is an example:

O Mariang sakdal dilag

Dalagang lubhang mapalad
Tanging pinili sa lahat
Ng Diyos Haring Mataas.

Itong bulaklak na alay

Ng aming pagsintang tunay
Palitan mo Birheng Mahal
Ng tuwa sa kalangitan.
Halina’t tayo’y mag-alay
Ng bulaklak kay Maria
Halina’t magsilapit
Dine sa Birheng marikit

Ng Inang kaibig-ibig
Dakilang Reyna sa langit
Ng ampuni’t saklolohan
Tayong mga anak niya.

6. Awit. (Song) These have measures of twelve syllables (dodecasyllabic) and slowly
sung to the accompaniment of a guitar or banduria.
An example of the awit is Florante at Laura by Francisco Balagtas. (This will be
further discussed in Chapter III)

PHILIPPINE LITERATURE | CRIM-LEVEL I-BLOCK A & B | Christian B. Llaguno, LPT, Instructor

7. Corridos. (Kurridos) These have measures of eight syllables (octosyllabic) and recited
to a martial beat.
An example of the corridor is Ibong Adarna. (This will be further discussed in
Chapter III).

C. Dramatic Poetry
1. Comedy. The word comedy comes from the Greek term “Komos” meaning festivity
or revelry. This form usually is light and written with the purpose of amusing, and
usually has a happy ending.
2. Melodrama. This is usually used in musical plays with the opera. Today, this is
related to tragedy just as the farce is to comedy. It arouses immediate and intense
emotion and is usually sad but there is a happy ending for the principal character.
3. Tragedy. This involves the hero struggling mightily against dynamic forces; he meets
death or ruin without success and satisfaction obtained by the protagonist in a comedy.
4. Farce. This is an exaggerated comedy. It seeks to arouse mirth by laughable lines;
situations are too ridiculous to be true; the characters seem to be caricatures and the
motives undignified and absurd.
5. Social Poems. This form is either purely comic or tragic and it pictures the life of
today. It may aim to bring about changes in the social conditions.

The Pre-Spanish Period

Historical Background
 Long before the Spaniards and other foreigners landed on Philippine shores, our
forefathers already had their own literature stamped in the history of our race.
 Ancient literature shows our customs and traditions in everyday life as traced in
our folk stories, old plays and short stories.
 Our ancestors also had their own alphabet which was different from that brought
by the Spaniards. The first alphabet used by our ancestors was similar to that of
the Malayo-Polynesian alphabet.
 Whatever records our ancestors left were either burned by the Spanish friars in
the belief that they were works of the devil or were written on materials that
easily perished, like the barks of trees, dried leaves and bamboo cylinders which

PHILIPPINE LITERATURE | CRIM-LEVEL I-BLOCK A & B | Christian B. Llaguno, LPT, Instructor

could not have remained undestroyed even if efforts were made to preserve
 Other records that remained showed folk songs that proved the existence of a
native culture truly our own. Some of these were passed on by word of mouth
till they reached the hands of some publishers or printers who took interest in
printing the manuscripts of the ancient Filipinos.
 The Spaniards who came to the Philippines tried to prove that our ancestors
were really fond of poetry, songs, stories, riddles and proverbs which we still
enjoy today and which serve to show to generations that true culture of our

Pre-Spanish Literature is characterized by:

A. Legends D. Folk songs
B. Folk Tales E. Epigrams, riddles, chants
C. Epics F. Proverbs and sayings

A. Legends
 A form of prose, the common theme of which is about the origin of a thing, place,
location or name. The events are imaginary, devoid of truth and unbelievable.
Old Filipino customs are reflected in these legends. Its aim is to entertain. Here is
an example of a legend:
We are aware that we Filipinos are a mixture of different races: we have the
Ilocanos, the Kapampangans, Visayans, Bicolanos, and the Tagalogs, whose origin
we will trace.
In a certain wide region of Luzon, there was a village frequented by young men.
This town was full of trees, beautiful flowers and a river where clear waters flowed.
What attracted the young men more than the scenery was a beautiful nymph-like
The maiden was Maria and she had lots of suitors who came from afar and who
fought for her hand. But Maria remained unconcerned and very choosy. Because she
was kind, her suitors remained undaunted so Maria thought of a plan. She called all
the young men together and told them,
“You are all good and kind and it is difficult for me to choose one among you.
Let me decide with a test.”
“I’ll marry the first man who can bring me a big, live and strong serpent,” Maria
said in jest.
The young men were dumbfounded. After a while, the voice of Ilog broke the
“I promise to bring you one, Maria. Even if I have to risk my life, I’ll bring you
what you wish.”

PHILIPPINE LITERATURE | CRIM-LEVEL I-BLOCK A & B | Christian B. Llaguno, LPT, Instructor

Ilog was a man known for his bravery. He left immediately to fulfill his promise.
The men whispered among themselves. They were sure that Ilog would never be
able to return. Even Maria was saddened because she also grieved the loss of a man
as brave and accommodating as Ilog.
After many hours, Ilog returned. They crowded to see how Ilog would prove his
bravery. Ilog held a big snake by its nape and tail.
While the men were thus occupied, two Spaniards passed by. Their attention was
caught not by what Ilog held but by the beauty of Maria.
“Maria,” heroically called Ilog. “I’ve brought you the serpent you whished for.
What else do you want me to do to make you happy?”
“Cut it up!” shouted Maria.
The Spaniards were startled. They asked the people around where they were and
in what place they were in but nobody paid attention for their attention was focused
on the snake and on Maria. When Maria saw that the snake was still struggling, she
“Taga, Ilog! Taga, Ilog! (Cut, Ilog! Cut, Ilog!) which she addressed to Ilog so he
would cut the snake up again.
The two Spaniards, thinking that this was in answer to their question repeated
the words TAGAILOG, TAGAILOG which later became TAGALOG.

B. Folk Tales
Ever since, the Philippines has been blessed with a wealth of folk tales. Because
folk tales have been passed on by word of mouth it is difficult to trace their origins.
Contemporary writers build their stories from old folk tales or from the products of
their imaginations.
Folk tales are made up of stories about life, adventure, love, horror and humor
where one can derive lessons about life. These are useful to us because they help us
appreciate our environment, evaluate our personalities and improve our
perspectives in life.
Here is an example of a folk tale:


(Tingguian folk tale)

In the olden days, like the moon, the sun also had star children which were
yellowish in color, very bright and very hot. The star children of the moon, however,
were reddish and cool. The moon was scared that his stars would wither and die if
they play with the star children of the sun. The moon suggested to the sun that they
kill their children who were crowding the heaven with their number.
When the sun had killed his children, the moon merely hid behind the dark
clouds. In the evening, when the clouds faded, the moon stars appeared. This

PHILIPPINE LITERATURE | CRIM-LEVEL I-BLOCK A & B | Christian B. Llaguno, LPT, Instructor

angered the sun so he gave chase to the moon. Thus when he overtakes the moon,
we have the so-called eclipse. Every morning, the sun kills the moon stars that he
Until now, this chase continues and because the moon still continues to give birth
to stars, these moon stars are still around.
Author: Jose G. Villa)

C. Epic Age
Epics are long narrative poems in which a series of heroic achievements or
events, usually of a hero, are dealt with at length. Nobody can determine which
epics are the oldest because in their translations from other languages, even in
English and Spanish. We can only determine their origins from the time mentioned
in the said epics.
The HUDHOD and the ALIM of the Ifugaos may have happened during the
Stone Age when iron was still known. The Darangan of the Moros may have started
during the period of the kingdom of the Bumbaran that sank in the Pacific Ocean
during the Deluge. It is clear that MARAGTAS was written during the period of
Christ and the IBALON of Bicol which dealt with the early people of Bicol is
believed to have happened before the Deluge.
Aside from the aforementioned epics, there are still other epics that can be read
and studied like the following epics
 Bidasari – Moro epic
 Biag ni Lam-ang – Ilokano epic
 Maragtas – Visayan epic
 Haraya – Visayan epic
 Lagda – Visayan epic
 Hari sa Bukid – Visayan epic
 Kumintang – Tagalog epic
 Parang Sabir – Moro epic
 “Dagoy” at “Sudsod” – Tagbanua epic
 Tatuaang – Bagobo epic
 Indaraptra at Sulayman
 Bantugan
 Daramoke-A-Babay – Moro epic in Darangan

Here are examples of some epics:

(Ilocano epic)

PHILIPPINE LITERATURE | CRIM-LEVEL I-BLOCK A & B | Christian B. Llaguno, LPT, Instructor

(This epic was written by Pedro Bukaneg who was said to have been thrown by his
parents down the Abra River while still an infant because he was blind. A woman who
found him gave him away to an Agustinian priest. He was christened Pedro Bukaneg.
He was cared for, and sent to school until he became proficient in Spanish and Samtoy
(Ilocano dialect). He is now known as the Father of Ilocano Literature. From his name
we derive the word BUKANEGAN which means Balagtasan in Tagalog.)

An Outline of Biag-ni-Lam-Ang
In Nalbuan (now part of La Union) there once lived a couple by the names of
Namongan (the woman) and Don Juan (the man). When Namongan was about to
deliver a child, Don Juan went to the mountains to punish some Igorot tribes. Before he
could arrive home, the infant already talked and asked to be named Lam-Ang. He was
the one who chose his own godfather. Because his mother was always the one watching
him, he asked her where his father was.
At 9 months, when Lam-ang’s father had not arrived, he followed him to the
mountains. On the way, he dreamed that the Igorots were holding a feast to celebrate
the death of his father. He woke up ang angrily hastened to the Igorots and tortured
one of them before he set him free.
Upon his return to Nalbuan, some women friends gave him a bath in the
Amburayan River. All the fish in the river died because of his dirt and foul smell.
Lam-Ang fell in love with a woman named Ines Kannoyan whom he courted in
her hometown together with a white rooster and a dog. He met Sumarang, another
suitor on the way to Ines’ house, and after a fight slew him. He also met a lot of suitors
in front of Ines’ house. He let his rooster crow and immediately a neighboring house
collapsed. Ines looked out of the window. Lam-ang let his dog bark and immediately,
the fallen house stood up again. Ines’ parents consented to his courtship provided he
could equal their wealth.
Lam-ang returned home. When he returned to Kaluntian (town of Ines) he rode a
boat full of gold worth more than the wealth of Ines. They were soon married and a big
wedding feast was held.
After several years, the town elders told Lam-ang that it was now his return to
catch the raring (a fish). This was everyone’s obligation.
Lam-ang confided to Ines about his premonition that he would be bitten by a
berkakan (a species of shark), if he caught the raring. This came true; Lam-ang died.
In her grief, she called the rooster and a diver to gather the bones of Lam-ang
and when these were gathered and formed, Lam-ang came back to life.

(Ifugao Epic)

PHILIPPINE LITERATURE | CRIM-LEVEL I-BLOCK A & B | Christian B. Llaguno, LPT, Instructor

In the early days, people lived in plenty, were happy and led quiet lives. The
earth was all level plains except for two bills, Amuyao in the east and Kalawitan in the
west. People lived between these two hills. People had nothing to worry about – food
was plenty and rice could be had from the joints of bamboos which were also used to
cook them and the rice grains were big.
Water came from the juice of canes called bayak. If they liked fish, they just
dipped in the swamps and rivers. Deers and wild pigs were tame and were easy to
catch. Whatever they liked to eat was a plenty.
A sad event happened in their lives when a drought came. Not a drop of rain fell.
All the plants and animals died. The people died of thirst and starvation. The people
thought of digging for water but in the strong flow of water, many people died. The
people still rejoiced even if there were deaths because of the water. The water flowed
continuously until everyone drowned except 2 brothers Wigan and Bugan. Wigan, the
boy, was flung to Amuyaw Hills while Bugan, the girl, was flung to Kalawitan Hills.
In the end, the water finally receded. Bugan was able to light a fire which was
spotted by Wigan. Wigan climbed the Kalawitan Hill and the brother and sister were
reunited. They traveled to far places but could not find people. Wigan put up a shack
and where he left her while he set about looking around. Finally, they discovered they
were the only ones left on earth.
After a time, Bugan discovered that she was carrying a child and, in shame, she
thought of killing herself but Bathala, Makanungan, their god stopped her. They were
married and it was said that this was not a sin because that was the only way to start
populating the earth again.
They begot nine children – four girls and five boys. The four girls were wedded
to the four boys while the youngest, Igon, remained unmarried.
Another drought occurred and there was no food; so, they approached
Makanungan. Wigan caught a rat to offer to Bathala. When Bathala did not take pity on
them, they killed Igan and offered him to Bathalang Makanungan. Makanungan took
pity and ended the drought; he even attended their feast but he was not happy about
the death of Igan. Because of what they did, they would be punished; their family
would be separated. Their children would go to the north, south, east, west of earth.
The moment they would meet, they would quarrel and kill each other. This was the
curse of Makanungan which came true because until now, the children, fathers, cousins
and relatives kill one another.

D. Folk Songs
Folk songs are one of the oldest forms of Philippine literature that emerged in the
pre-Spanish period. These songs mirrored the early forms of culture. Many of these
have 12 syllables. Here is an example:


PHILIPPINE LITERATURE | CRIM-LEVEL I-BLOCK A & B | Christian B. Llaguno, LPT, Instructor

(Awit ng Pag-ibig – Song of Love)

Noong unang panahon ako ay bata pa,

Natisod mo na ay di pa alintana,
Nang ako ay lumaki at maging dalaga,
Tila sa wari ko ay may pagbabanta pa.
(When I was still young
You tripped me and still you didn’t care
When I grew up to be a woman
I believe that there is even a threat.)
Pagsinta mo sa akin ay di ko tatanggapin
Pagkat’t akong ito ay alangan sa tingin,
Ako ay mahirap, pangit pa sa tingin,
Bakit naman ngayon ay iyong iibigin?
(Your love I will not accept
Because I don’t measure up to you
I am poor and ugly to look at,
Why will you love me?)

(War Song)

Ang nuno nating lahat

Sa kulog di nasisindak,
Sa labanan di naaawat,
Pinuhunan buhay, hirap,
Upang tayong mga anak,
Mabuhay nang mapanatag.
(Our ancestors weren’t afraid of thunder
In battle they didn’t run;
Their lives were at stake; they suffered pain,
So that we, children, can live in peace.)


(Song to the God of the Visayans)

Pumanaog, pumanaog
Si Mansilatan
Saka si Badla ay bababa,
Mamimigay ng olakas
Pasayawin ang mga Baylan,

PHILIPPINE LITERATURE | CRIM-LEVEL I-BLOCK A & B | Christian B. Llaguno, LPT, Instructor

Pagligiran ng mga Baylan.
Descend, descend, Masilatan
Badla will also descend
He’ll give away strength
Let the Baylans dance
Surround the Baylans.



Matulog ka na bunso
Ang tatay mo ay malayo
Hindi niya tayo masundo
Pagkat ang daa’y maputik at
Go to sleep, my child
Your father is far
He cannot fetch us
For the way is muddy and rugged.

(Wedding Song)

Umawit tayo at ipagdiwang

Ang dalawang pusong ngayon
Ay ikakasal
Ang daraanan nilang landas
Sabuyan natin ng bigas.
Let’s sing and feast
For the two hearts who are to be married;
The path they’ll pass
Let’s strew them with rice.

(Song of the Laborer)

Hala gaod tayo, pagod ay tiisin

Ang lahat ng hirap pag-aralang bathin
Kahit malayo man, kung ating ibigin,
Daig ang malapit na ayaw lakbayin.
(Hey, let’s row, let’s bear our fatigue

PHILIPPINE LITERATURE | CRIM-LEVEL I-BLOCK A & B | Christian B. Llaguno, LPT, Instructor

All failures, let’s learn to bear
Even if far, if we like
Much better than the near one we don’t want to tread.)
Kay pagka-sawing-palad ng
Ianak sa hirap,
Ang bisig hindi iunat,
Di kumita ng pilak.
(How pitiful are those born poor
Our sinews if we don’t stretch
Will not earn silver.)

(Boatman’s songs)

Sagwan, tayo ay sumagwan

Ang buong kaya ay ibigay,
Malakas ang hangin,
Baka tayo ay tanghaliin
Pagsasagwa’y pagbutihin.
Row, let’s row
Our full strength let’s give
The wind is strong; we might be benighted,
Let’s make good our rowing.)

Other Forms of Pre-Spanish Poetry

E. Epigrams, Riddles, Chants, Maxims, Proverbs or Sayings

Pre-Spanish poetry consists of epigrams, riddles, maxims, proverbs much of
which came from Tagalog. Some consist of stanzas of wit and wisdom. Here are

1. Epigrams: (Salawikain) : these have been customarily used and served as laws or rules
on good behavior by our ancestors. To others, these are like allegories or parables that
impart lesson for the young.
Aanhin pa ang damo
Kung patay na ang kabayo
(What is the use of grass
If the horse is already dead?
Interpretation: Sometimes, what comes is too late to be useful.

PHILIPPINE LITERATURE | CRIM-LEVEL I-BLOCK A & B | Christian B. Llaguno, LPT, Instructor

2. Riddles: (Bugtong) or Palaisipan: These are made up of one or more measured lines
with rhyme and may consist of four to 12 syllables.
Bungbong kung liwanag
Kung gabi ay dagat.
(Bamboo stem during the day
At night, a sea.)
Answer: Mat

3. Chant (Bulong): Used in witchcraft or enchantment.

Ikaw ang nagnanakaw ng bigas ko
Lumuwa sana ang mga mata mo
Mamaga sana ang katawan mo
Patayin ka ng mga anito.
(You stole my rice
May your eyes bulge;
And your body swell;
Be killed by the anitos (gods).

4. Maxims: Some are rhyming couplets with verses of 5,6 or 8 syllables, each line having
the same number of syllables.
Pag hindi ukol
Hindi bubukol
(What is not intended for one, will not bear fruit.)
Sa marunong umunawa
Sakat ang ilang salita.
(To one who can understand, a few words suffice.)

5. Sayings (Kasabihan): often used in teasing or to comment on a person’s actuations.

Putak, putak
Batang duwag
Matapang ka’t
Nasa pugad.
Putak, putak (a sound made by a cackling hen)
Cowardly child
You’re brave only because you are in your nest.

6. Sawikain (Saying with no hidden meanings)

PHILIPPINE LITERATURE | CRIM-LEVEL I-BLOCK A & B | Christian B. Llaguno, LPT, Instructor

Nasa Diyos ang awa
Nasa tao ang gawa.
(In God we trust
In man, the effort to work.)

PHILIPPINE LITERATURE | CRIM-LEVEL I-BLOCK A & B | Christian B. Llaguno, LPT, Instructor