Traditional pre-Hispanic literary manifestations consist of songs, magic formulas, spells, recited during sowing and harvesting or for other important occasions or celebrations, as well as in about twenty epics of various ethnic groups. Few of these have so far been transcribed and translated into English, such as the lam-ang of the Ilocans, hudhud of the Ifugao (Luzon) and tawaang of the Manuwù (Mindanao). Also worth mentioning is the Darangan epic of the Muslims (Moros) of Mindanao, whose recitation lasts a week. Among the songs, noteworthy are the talindeo (songs of the boatmen), the kumintang (warlike songs) and the kundinam, love verses, to be classified among the best Filipino folk creations. The advent of the Spaniards gave a European imprint to the culture of the Philippines, unique for an Asian country. Certain types of theater and poetry clearly reveal such influences. Thus the moro-moro (or comedia) of the century. XVIII, melodramatic representation of Christian victories over Muslims (to be mentioned Don Gonzalo de Cordoba, 1831, by A. Fajardo). Thus the corrido, a typically Hispanic chivalric ballad adapted to Tagalog. And above all the awit, a poem in hendecasyllables, which expresses the best of pre-modern Tagalog literature, with Florante at Laura (1838) by Francisco Baltazar (1788-1862), known by the pseudonym Balagtás, exalted beyond his modest merits. Alongside him, another poet should also be mentioned, Huseng Sisiw (1746-1829). The short story is also productive, with CH Panganiban (1894-1936) and DA Rosario (1894-1936). Among the many, to remember the young JA Arceo, who died 23 years old in 1939, effective imitator of Edgar A. Poe, and Hernando R. Ocampo (1911-1978), painter and realist narrator, approached by many to J. Joyce. His masterpiece, the short story Bakyà (1939; The Wooden Clog), written in English and Tagalog, was also brought onto the stage and screen. G. Abadilla (1905-1969) was very active during the Japanese occupation. But the greatest wealth of Tagalog literature is poetry.
Among the prominent names JC de Jesus (1896-1932) and Amado Hernandez (1903-1970), whose beautiful poems appeared with more than a decade of delay, having been imprisoned because involved in the Communist uprisings. We remember in particular Bayang Malaya (Free People), composed in 1955, printed in 1969, which refers to the style of Florante at Laura. Hernandez is also considered to be one of the two best storytellers in Tagalog, alongside Lope K. Santos, author of Banaag at Siket (Rays and smiles), which dates back to 1906. Around the 1960s, literature began in Filipino, no longer in Tagalog. It is not just a question of names, because the Filipino, flexible, open to current use, to English and Spanish terms, differs from Tagalog, a bit antiquated in the purism of style and lexicon. At the same time, the narrative becomes closer to social reality, starting with the novel by Hernandez Mga Ibong Mandaragit (1959; The birds of prey). And for the first time a Filipino novel deals with sexuality, with Ang Pagkamulat ni Magdalena (The Awakening of Magdalene) by Abadilla. The search for a national identity also makes its way into fiction and the flourishing of magazines accompanies the development of the critical spirit and the expansion of the public. Poetry is not alien to renewal. Young poets reveal more philosophical and intellectualistic tendencies, moving away from the old romantic and sentimental inspiration. On the stylistic and linguistic level, the renewal is equally profound: there are even those who do not disdain to versify (or write in prose) in engalog or taglish (two terms designating the English-Tagalog or Tagalog-English mixed colloquial language). From the 1960s onwards, there have been numerous stories that reveal the influences of American naturalism. The flowering of prose comedy is also noteworthy. Literature in Spanish did not produce any major works in the 12th century. XVII and XVIII, but in the century. XIX gives two masterpieces to Filipino literature with the novels Noli me tangere (1887) and El Filibusterismo (1891), both published abroad, scorching indictments against bigotry, the dominance of religious orders, and Spanish misrule, written by the doctor, patriot and martyr J. Rizal (1861-1896), whose beautiful lyrics should also be remembered, particularly the exhilarating Ùltimo Adiós, composed on the eve of the shooting. Some other authors can worthily join Rizal, such as Pedro A. Paterno.
Also worth mentioning is the novel La loba negra (The black wolf), discovered after the end of Spanish rule and attributed to José A. Burgos. The periodical La Solidaridad, published by Filipino students in Spain (1889-95), first in Barcelona and then in Madrid, gave impetus to literature in Spanish, which was still productive for a few decades. To remember the poem Bajo los cocoteros (1911; Under the palm trees) by Claro M. Recto, the future first president of a republic not yet completely independent, in 1934; by the same author is the drama Solo entre las sombras (1917; Alone in the Shadows), Anton Abad’s novel, El campeón (1939), and a few others. But in the post-war period, the lack of use of the Spanish language led to the extinction of this branch of Filipino literature in the 1950s, while English became increasingly popular, even with a flourishing literary production, alongside that in Tagalog-Filipino.. Many storytellers draw inspiration from history and traditions: Linda Ty-Casper with The Peninsular (1964) and Three-Cornered Sun (1979); R. Demetillo with the story in verse Barter in Panay (1961), inspired by an ancient legend; Severino Montano with the dramas The Parting at Calamba (1953) and The Love of Leonor Rivera (1954), which evoke the figure of José Rizal, while Adrian Cristobal refers to another national hero, Andrés Bonifacio, with the drama The Trial (1963). Of historical inspiration is Alejandrino Hufana’s collection of verses, Poro Point (1961). More and more frequent in the last decades of the century. XX was the search for national identity in ethnic traditions, as in the short stories Look, Stranger, on this Island Now (1963) by NMV Gonzalez and in his novel A Season of Grace (1956), in the compelling poems by José Garcia Villa; (Many Voices; 1939), in the novellas by Gregorio Brillantes (The Distance to Andromeda; 1960) and in the novels by Nick Joaquin (The Woman Who Had Two Navels; 1961) and Bienvenido Santos (Scent of Apples; 1979). The end of the twentieth century. it has seen the rise of numerous literary competitions and prizes and of writers’ associations which have contributed to giving new impetus to the sector (in fact, during the twentieth century, many authors needed to self-finance the publication of their manuscripts). And so, for example, in the Hall of Fame of the “Carlos Palanca Memorial Awards in Literature”, writers have entered whose works range from non-fiction, to poetry, to drama, one example of all, Jose Delisay Jr. (b. 1954). According to itypeauto, women’s literature is also experiencing a phase of notable flowering, as evidenced by the awards assigned to writers such as Cristina Pantoja Hidalgo (b.1944), author of Catch a Falling Star (1999) and Sky Blue After The Rain: Selected Stories and Tales (2005), Gilda Cordero-Fernando (1929) and Reine Arcache Melvin. Finally, some minor literatures, such as hiligaynon and ilocano, have a certain importance for fiction and theater.