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Welcome back my Philippine Literature students!

This topic about Pre-Spanish Period is


a very exciting one because it will bring us back to the time when our ancestors are still
enjoying the blessings of freedom to carve their own destiny under the heavens. The
days when they are but free to move elsewhere, free to explore their environs, free to
discourse with their fellow freemen and free to chart their own lives. So, join me as we
explore the beauty and unique features of Philippine Literary pieces produced during
this period.

Intended learning outcomes


By the end of this lesson, the students should be able to:
1.Identify the cultural, linguistic and aesthetic qualities of Philippine Literary pieces
produced during the Pre-Spanish period;
2.Discuss the types of literature during Pre-Spanish period; and
3.Appreciate the contributions of these literary pieces to the present corpus of
Philippine Literature.

Historical background of Pre-Spanish Period


Our forefathers already have a body of literature even before the arrival of the
Spaniards. They have customs and traditions comparable to other parts of the globe.
They have their own system of writing, alphabet, and other nuance of a working body

of literature. They are trading with the neighboring countries of Japan, China, Indonesia,
Malaysia, India, and Arabia. In short, they are not savages nor uncivilized as maliciously
declared by some friars during the Spanish colonization.
Our many language are related to the Malaya-Polynesian Family of Languages spoken in
vast areas covering mainland Southeast Asia, East Timor, Polynesia, Micronesia and
South Pacific Islands. We have our own system of writing called Baybayin consisting
of 3 vowels and 14 consonants. Baybayin came from the word baybay which
means spelling. The image below shows the Baybayin characters and the
corresponding sound represented.

The three vowels are a, e-i, and o-u. The first character has only one
pronunciation, while the second and third, has two, depending on the thought and
meaning presented. The fourteen consonants include [b, k, d, g, h, l, m, n, ng, p, s, t, w,
y]. The pronunciation of these is varied too. Add vowels and you will change some
scripts. Remove vowels and add crosses below. You can use it freely. I prepared an
activity for you to do in order to learn and master the use of it. We will do it on your
classroom. You may click here to know the details about it.
Now, going back to our Philippine literary pieces during the Pre-Spanish period. Majority
of these are in oral traditions. Our ancestors love to communicate as evidenced by a
great deal of surviving records. Their written accounts are not inferior too. They used
leaves, barks of trees, bamboo cylinders, dried muds and jars as stationery. Their pen

would be any pointed metal, stick, knife and others used to engrave and imprint their
message. However, the exposure to elements destroyed a great majority of these
works. The invading Spaniards destroyed and burned them too, thinking that these
were works of the devil. One interesting artifact that endured the test of longevity is the
Laguna Copperplate Inscription. Use the net to do some research about it.

Pre-Spanish Prose
1.Legends. Pre-Spanish legends are fictitious narratives which explain the origin of
things, places, or names. The early Filipino customs are also depicted in them as it
entertains the people during gatherings and occasions.

1.Examples include The Legend of the Tagalog of the Tagalogs and


2.The Legend of the Philippine Archipelago of the Visayans. We will study
the Legend of the Tagalog and the legend Why the Sea is Salty, both Ilokano
and Tagalog versions.

2.Folktales. Folktales are stories made up about life, adventures, love, horror and
humor where one can derive lessons about life.

1.Popular examples include The Sun and the Wind and


2.The Boy who became a Stone of the Tingguians.

Pre-Spanish Poetry
1.Epics. Epics are long narrative poems in which a series of heroic achievements or
events usually of a hero involving supernatural forces/phenomena. Listed below are
some of the epics celebrated among the various groups in the country.

1.Biag ni Lam-ang Ilokanos


2.Hudhod hi Aliguyon Ifugaos
3.Alim Ifugaos
4.Ibalon Bicol
5.Handiong Bicol
6.Hinilawod Bicol
7.Maragtas Visayan
8.Haraya Visayan
9.Lagda Visayan
10.Hari sa Bukid Visayan

11.Kumintang Tagalog
12.Bernardo Carpio Tagalog
13.Parang Sabir Moro
14.Darangan Moro
15.Indarapatra at Sulayman Moro
16.Dagoy Tagbanua
17.Sudsod Tagnbanua
18.Tatuaang Bagobo
Folksongs. Folksongs are the oldest forms of Philippine Literature that emerged which
are composed mostly of 12 syllables per line of four in a verse. These songs mirrored
the culture of each group singing specific song per occasion/celebration/activities.
Listed below are some of these songs and the corresponding
occasion/celebration/activities.

1.Kundiman Songs of Love/Serenading songs


2.Kumintang War/Battle songs
3.Dalit Worship songs
4.Oyayi/Hele Lullaby songs
5.Diana/Danaya Wedding songs
6.Soliraning Laborer/Workmen songs
7.Talindaw Fisher/Fishing songs
2.Epigrams. Epigrams are more commonly called Salawikain. These have been
customarily used and served as laws or rules on good behavior. These are like
allegories or parables that impart lessons for the youth consisting of couplets (2lines) which usually have rhyming end-syllables. These lessons in life that they wish
to impart are usually implied. Popular examples include:

1.Aaanhin pa ang damo, kung patay na ang kabayo.


2.Sa marunong umunawa, sukat ang salita.
3.Riddles. They are called Bugtong by the Tagalogs and Burburtia among the
Ilokanos. These are made up of one or two measured lines which may consist of 4 to
12 syllables. They are often used to stir a thought-provoking questions. They are
often used for entertainment purposes during gatherings and celebrations. Each
group/region feature unique riddles. Some of which are:

1.Riddle: Maliit pa si kumpare, umaakyat na sa torre. Answer: Langgam (ant)


2.Riddle: Isda ko sa Mariveles, nasa loob ang kaliskis. Answer: Sili (bell pepper)
4.Chants. Chants are customarily called Bulong or Pasintabi by the Tagalogs
and referred to asBari-bari by the Ilokanos. These are sometimes in witchcraft or
enchantment often with an accompanying Anting-anting (amulet or talisman).
Examples are:

1.Among the Visayans: Ikaw na nagnakaw ng mais ko, lumuwa sana ang mga
mata mo, mamaga sana ang kamay mo, parusahan ka ng mga anito.

2.Among the Tagalogs: Tabi-tabi po kayo, akoy magbubuhos ng tubig at mainit


ito, kung masaktan ko kayo, pagpasensiyahan niyo na po.

5.Sayings. Sayings are more commonly called Sawikain. They are used to
emphasize lessons for the youth and these lessons are explicitly stated. Examples
are:

1.Pag may itinanim, may aanihin.


2.Ang maglakad ng matulin, pag natinik ay malalim.

Sample Pre-Spanish Prose


The Legend of the Tagalog
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 maiden.
The maiden was Maria and she had lots of suitors who came from afar and who fought
for her hand. But Maria 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.

Ill 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 silence.

I promise to bring you one, Maria. Even if I have to risk my life, Ill bring you what you
wish.
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. They waited for a long while but Ilog had not returned. 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. Ive brought you the serpent you wished 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 were focused on
the snake and on Maria. When Maria saw the snake was still struggling, she shouted:

Taga, Ilog! Taga, Ilog.


(Cut Ilog! Cut Ilog!) which she addresses 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:

TAGA-ILOG, TAGAILOG, which later became TAGALOG.

Why the sea is Salty?


(Tagalog Version)
Many years ago, the sea tasted like ordinary rainwater. It was bland and tasteless.
Fortunately, the people living in the islands knew about a friendly giant who kept
mounds of salt in his cave.
The people would cross the ocean on their boats to reach the gentle giants island, and

that is how they were able to bring salt back to their villages, in order to prepare tastier
meals.
One time, however, the ocean was quite rough and they could not sail out to gather
salt. They eventually ran out of salt and the villagers no longer enjoyed their tasteless
meals. They wondered how they could get salt again, when a child suggested they ask
the giant to stretch out his legs over the ocean so that they could walk to his island
instead.
The kind giant agreed, and villagers with empty salt sacks walked along the giants leg.
Unfortunately, the giants foot landed on an anthill, and the ferocious red ants started
biting the enormous leg.

Hurry! pleaded the giant, who strained to keep his itchy legs still.
As soon as the people reached the giants island, he immediately withdrew his foot and
scratched the itchy bites. The villages just smiled at how a giant could be bothered by
tiny ants.
Anyway, the people got their salt and the giant again stretched his leg over the ocean.
Immediately, the ants began biting his swollen foot. Once again, the giant asked the
people to hurry up, but the heavy salt sacks slowed them down.
Besides, the people didnt believe that the tiny ants could really affect the giant, so
they idly chatted away, and walked rather slowly.
Before the villagers could cross the ocean, the giant cried out and thrust his ant-bitten
foot into the ocean. All the packed salt fell into the plain-water sea and melted.
The giant saved the people from drowning, but no one was able to recover the spilled
salt. From that day on-wards, the sea became salty.

Why the sea is Salty?


(Ilokano Version)
(Narrated by Jos M. Paredes of Bangued, Ilocos Sur. He heard the story from a farmer.
From the compilation of Dean S. Fansler and Mabel Cook Cole)

A few years after the creation of the world there lived a tall giant by the name of Angngalo, the only son of the god of building. Ang-ngalo was a wanderer, and a lover of
work. He lived in the mountains, where he dug many caves. These caves he protected
from the continual anger of Angin, the goddess of the wind, by precipices and sturdy
trees.
One bright morning, while Ang-ngalo was climbing to his loftiest cave, he spied
someone across the ocean. The ocean at the time was pure, its water being the
accumulated tears of a disappointed goddess namedBaybay. Ang-ngalo waved at the
beautiful maid. She beckoned to him, and waved her black handkerchief: so Ang-ngalo
waded across to her through the water. The deep caverns in the ocean are his
footprints.
This beautiful maid was Sipnget, the goddess of the dark. She said to Ang-ngalo, I am
tired of my dark palace in heaven. You are a great builder. What I want you to do for me
is to erect a great mansion on this spot. This mansion must be built of bricks as white
as snow.
Ang-ngalo could not find any bricks as white as snow: the only white thing there was
then was salt. So he went for help to Asin, the ruler of the Kingdom of Salt. Asin gave
him pure bricks of salt, as white as snow. Then Ang-ngalo built hundreds of bamboo
bridges across the ocean. Millions of men were employed day and night transporting
the white bricks from one side of the ocean to the other.
At last the patience of Baybay came to an end: she could not bear to have her deep
and quiet slumber disturbed. One day, while the men were busy carrying the salt bricks
across the bridges, she sent forth big waves and destroyed them. The brick-carriers and
their burden were buried in her deep bosom. In time the salt dissolved, and today the
ocean is salty.

Note:
The hero of the tale, Ang-ngalo, is the same as the Aolo (Angalo) mentioned in the
notes to No. 3 (p. 27, footnote). Blumentritt (s.v.) writes, Ang-ngalo is the name of the
Adam of the Ilokanos. He was a giant who created the world at the order of the
supreme god, Lumawig.

Pre-Spanish Poetry
Indarapatra at Sulayman
(A summary of the Moro epic)
(From the compilation of Mabel Cook Cole)
A long, long time ago Mindanao was covered with water, and the sea extended over all
the lowlands so that nothing could be seen but mountains. Then there were many
people living in the country, and all the highlands were dotted with villages and
settlements. For many years the people prospered, living in peace and contentment.
Suddenly there appeared in the land four horrible monsters which, in a short time, had
devoured every human being they could find.
Kurita, a terrible creature with many limbs, lived partly on land and partly in the sea,
but its favorite haunt was the mountain where the rattan grew; and here it brought
utter destruction on every living thing. The second monster, Tarabusaw, an ugly
creature in the form of a man, lived on Mt. Matutun, and far and wide from that place
he devoured the people, laying waste the land. The third, an enormous bird
called Pah, was so large that when on the wing it covered the sun and brought
darkness to the earth. Its egg was as large as a house. Mt. Bita was its haunt, and there
the only people who escaped its voracity were those who hid in caves in the mountains.
The fourth monster was a dreadful bird also, having seven heads and the power to
see in all directions at the same time. Mt. Gurayan was its home and like the others it
wrought havoc in its region.
So great was the death and destruction caused by these terrible monsters that at
length the news spread even to the most distant lands, and all nations were grieved to
hear of the sad fate of Mindanao.
Now far across the sea in the land of the golden sunset was a city so great that to look
at its many people would injure the eyes of man. When tidings of these great disasters
reached this distant city, the heart of the king Indarapatra was filled with compassion,
and he called his brother, Sulayman, begging him to save the land of Mindanao from
the monsters.
Sulayman listened to the story, and as he heard he was moved with pity.

I will go, said he, zeal and enthusiasm adding to his strength, and the land shall be
avenged.
King Indarapatra, proud of his brothers courage, gave him a ring and a sword as he
wished him success and safety. Then he placed a young sapling by his window and said
to Sulayman:

By this tree I shall know your fate from the time you depart from here, for if you live, it
will live; but if you die, it will die also.
So Sulayman departed for Mindanao, and he neither walked nor used a boat, but he
went through the air and landed on the mountain where the rattan grew. There he
stood on the summit and gazed about on all sides. He looked on the land and the
villages, but he could see no living thing. And he was very sorrowful and cried out:

Alas, how pitiful and dreadful is this devastation!


No sooner had Sulayman uttered these words than the whole mountain began to move,
and then shook. Suddenly out of the ground came the horrible creature, Kurita. It
sprang at the man and sank its claws into his flesh. But Sulayman, knowing at once that
this was the scourge of the land, drew his sword and cut the Kurita to pieces.
Encouraged by his first success, Sulayman went on to Mt. Matutun where conditions
were even worse. As he stood on the heights viewing the great devastation there was a
noise in the forest and a movement in the trees. With a loud yell, forth leaped
Tarabusaw. For a moment they looked at each other, neither showing any fear. Then
Tarabusaw threatened to devour the man, and Sulayman declared that he would kill the
monster. At that the animal broke large branches off the trees and began striking at
Sulayman who, in turn, fought back. For a long time the battle continued until at last
the monster fell exhausted to the ground and then Sulayman killed him with his sword.
The next place visited by Sulayman was Mt. Bita. Here havoc was present everywhere,
and though he passed by many homes, not a single soul was left. As he walked along,
growing sadder at each moment, a sudden darkness which startled him fell over the
land. As he looked toward the sky he beheld a great bird descending upon him.
Immediately he struck at it, cutting off its wing with his sword, and the bird fell dead at
his feet; but the wing fell on Sulayman, and he was crushed.
Now at this very time King Indarapatra was sitting at his window, and looking out he

saw the little tree wither and dry up.

Alas! he cried, my brother is dead; and he wept bitterly.


Then although he was very sad, he was filled with a desire for revenge, and putting on
his sword and belt he started for Mindanao in search of his brother.
He, too, traveled through the air with great speed until he came to the mountain where
the rattan grew. There he looked about, awed at the great destruction, and when he
saw the bones of Kurita he knew that his brother had been there and gone. He went on
till he came to Matutun, and when he saw the bones of Tarabusaw he knew that this,
too, was the work of Sulayman.
Still searching for his brother, he arrived at Mt. Bita where the dead bird lay on the
ground, and as he lifted the severed wing he beheld the bones of Sulayman with his
sword by his side. His grief now so overwhelmed Indarapatra that he wept for some
time. Upon looking up he beheld a small jar of water by his side. This he knew had been
sent from heaven, and he poured the water over the bones, and Sulayman came to life
again. They greeted each other and talked long together. Sulayman declared that he
had not been dead but asleep, and their hearts were full of joy.
After some time Sulayman returned to his distant home, but Indarapatra continued his
journey to Mt. Gurayan where he killed the dreadful bird with the seven heads. After
these monsters had all been destroyed and peace and safety had been restored to the
land, Indarapatra began searching everywhere to see if some of the people might not
be hidden in the earth still alive.
One day during his search he caught sight of a beautiful woman at a distance. When he
hastened toward her she disappeared through a hole in the ground where she was
standing. Disappointed and tired, he sat down on a rock to rest, when, looking about,
he saw near him a pot of uncooked rice with a big fire on the ground in front of it. This
revived him and he proceeded to cook the rice. As he did so, however, he heard
someone laugh near by, and turning he beheld an old woman watching him. As he
greeted her, she drew near and talked with him while he ate the rice.
Of all the people in the land, the old woman told him, only a very few were still alive,
and they hid in a cave in the ground from whence they never ventured. As for herself
and her old husband, she went on, they had hidden in a hollow tree, and this they had

never dared leave until after Sulayman killed the voracious bird, Pah.
At Indarapatras earnest request, the old woman led him to the cave where he found
the headman with his family and some of his people. They all gathered about the
stranger, asking many questions, for this was the first they had heard about the death
of the monsters. When they found what Indarapatra had done for them, they were filled
with gratitude, and to show their appreciation the headman gave his daughter to him in
marriage, and she proved to be the beautiful girl whom Indarapatra had seen at the
mouth of the cave.
Then the people all came out of their hiding-place and returned to their homes where
they lived in peace and happiness. And the sea withdrew from the land and gave the
lowlands to the people.

References
Soriano-Baldonado, Rizza. (2013). Readings from World Literatures: Understanding
Peoples Culture, Traditions and Beliefs: A Task-Based Approach. Quezon City: Great
Books Publishing.
Vinuya, Remedios V. (2012). Philippine Literature:

A statement of ourselves.

Grandbooks Publishing, Inc.


Kahayon, Alicia H. & Zulueta, Celia A. (2006). Philippine Literature through the Years.
Mandaluyong City: National Book Store.
Cole,

Mabel

C.

(2008).

Philippine

Folk

Tales.

(e-book).

Accessed

at

http://www.gutenberg.org/files/12814/12814-h/12814-h.htm
Baybayin

courtesy

of

http://www.christusrex.org/www1/pater/JPN-tagalog-

baybayin.html
Pre-Spanish Scene Image courtesy of http://mandirigma.org