Philippine is a country rich in diversity and language heritage. Even before Spanish colonization, its literature had evolved tremendously. Some of the notable literatures are a general reflection of the influence exerted by Spaniards during the colonization of Philippine. During pre-colonial times, there has been widespread evidence that the island inhabitants display a culture rich with traditions. Folk speeches, folk songs and indigenous rituals are part of their daily lives. The infusion of such elements represents a lifestyle deeply ingrained in the locals. An understanding on the history of Philippine literature will allow us to appreciate the literary riches of this nation.
The colonization by Spain did not subject literature development to a halt. Rather, it breathed a different kind of life into the local literary works. European civilization was imbued into the local traditions through religion and institutions. During that period of time, performing theaters were introduced and the local languages experienced enrichment. Much later, Spain brought about liberal ideas and a sense of internationalism to the people of Philippines. Similar to the period of renaissance, it has substantial influence on local intellectuals. They start to question and portray the meanings of “liberty and freedom” in their works. The history of Philippine literature demonstrates that the combination of realism and surrealism gives rise to some of the greatest Philippines literature today.
19th century marks a change in the literary development when Filipino intellectuals educated in Europe wrote about colonization and the associated downsides. This realization brought about a reformation movement which eventually led to the downfall of the Spanish colonial. The history of Philippine literature was once again marked by a change when English was introduced. The introduction of English language led to the slow demise of Spanish, and subsequently literature written in Spanish. The sustaining use of English language birthed some of the well known English poems, short stories and once again enriched the local literature in a unique way.
Upon examination, we will discover that Philippine literature encompasses a way of life and values cherished by the locals. The local literature is a uniting element among its people, and will continue to evolve as enriched by modern changes.