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Culture & Arts

The arts of the Philippines reflect a society with diverse cultural influences and traditions. The Malayan peoples had early contact with traders who introduced Chinese and Indian influences. Islamic traditions were first introduced to the Malays of the southern Philippine Islands in the 14th century. Most modern aspects of Philippine cultural life evolved under the foreign rule of Spain and, later, the United States. In the 16th century the Spanish imposed a foreign culture based in Catholicism. While the lowland peoples were acculturated through religious conversion, the Muslims and some upland tribal groups maintained cultural independence. Among those who were assimilated arose an educated elite who began to establish a modern Filipino literary tradition. During the first half of the 20th century, American influence made the Philippines one of the most Westernized nations in Southeast Asia. The cultural movements of Europe and the United States profoundly influenced Filipino artists, even after independence in 1946. While drawing on Western forms, however, the works of Filipino painters, writers, and musicians are imbued with distinctly Philippine themes. By expressing the cultural richness of the archipelago in all its diversity, Filipino artists have helped to shape a sense of national identity. Many Malay cultural traditions have survived despite centuries of foreign rule. Muslims and upland tribal groups maintain distinct traditions in music, dance, and sculpture. In addition, many Filipino artists incorporate indigenous folk motifs into modern forms.

A. LITERATURE

The indigenous literature of the Philippines developed primarily in the oral tradition in poetic and narrative forms. Epic poems, legends, proverbs, songs, and riddles were passed from generation to generation through oral recitation and incantation in the various languages and dialects of the islands. The epics were the most complex of these early literary forms. Most of the major tribal groups developed an original epic that was chanted in episodic segments during a variety of social rituals. One common theme of the epics is a hero who is aided by benevolent spirits. The epics that have survived are important records of the ancient customs of tribal society before the arrival of Islam and Christianity. After the arrival of the Spanish, Catholic missionaries employed indigenous peoples as translators, creating a bilingual class known as ladinos. These individuals, notably poet-translator Gaspar Aquino de Belen, produced devotional poetry written in the Roman script, primarily in the Tagalog language. Later, the Spanish ballad of chivalry, the corridor, provided a model for secular (nonreligious) literature. Verse narratives, or komedya, were performed in the regional languages for the illiterate majority. They were also written in the Roman alphabet in the principal languages and widely circulated. Francisco Balagtas Baltazar, generally considered the first major Filipino poet, wrote poems in Tagalog. His best-known work, Florante at Laura (Florante and Laura), probably written between 1835 and 1842, is an epic poem that subversively criticizes Spanish tyranny. This poem inspired a generation of young Filipino writers of the new educated class, or ilustrados, who used their literary talents to call for political and social reform under the colonial system. These writers, most notably Jose Rizal, produced a small but high-quality body of Philippine literature in Spanish. Rizal's novel Noli Me Tangere (Touch Me Not), published in 1886, and its sequel, El Filibusterismo (The Subversive), published in 1891, helped to shape a new, nationalist identity during the last years of the 19th century.The transfer of the Philippines to United States control in 1898 resulted in a dramatic increase in literacy and, consequently, literary production. A variety of new literary journals began to be published. English-language Filipino novels, short stories, and poems were first published in book form in the 1920s. Many Filipino authors have had distinguished writing careers. Their works typically explore the Filipino cultural identity in the context of social and political issues. Filipino authors often write in more than one literary form and in more than one language. Major English-language works include Winds of April (1940) and The Bamboo Dancers (1959) by N. V. M. Gonzalez; Many Voices (1939) and Have Come, Am Here (1942) by Jose Garcia Villa; You Lovely People (1955) and Scent of Apples and Other Stories (1980) by Bienvenido N. Santos; The Laughter of My Father (1944) and America Is in the Heart (1946) by Carlos Bulosan; Bitter Country and Other Stories (1970) by Rosca Ninotchka; The Woman Who Had Two Navels (1972) and A Question of Heroes (1977) by Nick Joaquin; The God Stealer and Other Stories (1968) and Tree (1978) by Francisco Sionil Jose A Question of Identity (1973) by Carmen Guerrero Nakpil; and His Native Coast (1979) by Edith L. Tiempo.

B. ART AND ARCHITECTURE

During most of the Spanish colonial period, the art and architecture of the Philippines were strongly influenced by the patronage of the Roman Catholic Church. Most art emphasized religious iconography. The church commissioned local craftspeople, often skilled Chinese artisans, to construct provincial stone churches with bas-relief sculpture and to carve santos, or statues of saints, and other devotional icons in wood and ivory. The edifices, statues, and paintings of the period show Chinese and Malay modifications of Spanish baroque, an elaborate and detailed style.Philippine painters began to explore secular themes in the mid-1800s. The painters Juan Luna and Felix Resurreccien Hidalgo produced works in the romantic and early impressionist styles, achieving recognition in Europe. Painters of the early 1900s-notably Fernando Amorsolo, Fabien de la Rosa, and Jorge Pineda-produced romanticized landscapes, genre scenes, and portraits. In the late 1920s Victorio Edades, an American-trained painter, infused modernism into the Philippine art world. Many Philippine painters who were influenced by American and European modernism also experimented with it to reflect Philippine realities, such as Carlos Francisco, Arturo Luz, Anita Magsaysay-Ho, Vicente Manansala, and Hernando Ocampo. Lee Aguinaldo and Fernando Zobel de Ayala achieved international recognition in the 1960s and 1970s.Sculpture took on secular themes in the early 1900s. The major Filipino sculptor of the American colonial period was Guillermo Tolentino, who trained in classical sculpture in Rome. In the 1950s Napoleon Abueva pioneered modernism in Philippine sculpture. Many talented sculptors were active in the following decades, notably Eduardo Castrillo, whose large welded-metal sculptures are displayed in Manila's Memorial Park; Solomon Saprid, noted for his expressionist series of mythical figures titled Tikbalang; and Abdulmari Imao, who produced contemporary interpretations of traditional Muslim designs. More recently, sculptors have tended to utilize ethnic artifacts and natural materials to produce assemblages with social themes.In remote areas, tribal groups have preserved traditional art forms such as woodcarving, textile weaving, bamboo and rattan weaving, and metalsmithing. Artistic body adornments such as bead jewelry, body tattoos, and headdresses are important indications of social status. In the northern Philippines, the Ifugao people are known for their sculptural wood carvings of bulul figures, which represent guardian deities. The figures are ritually placed in rice granaries to bring a plentiful harvest. The terraced rice fields of the Ifugao are considered a major architectural feat. The Ifugao built them over a period of centuries by carving terraces into the mountainsides and reinforcing each level with stone walls.The Muslim peoples in the south practice okir, a design tradition that shows evidence of Indian and Islamic influences. Rendered in hardwood and brass, the okir designs are mostly figurative, depicting animals, plants, and mythical figures. The style is highly decorative, with long curvilinear lines and secondary arabesques. The designs are based in the ancient epics and serve as significant cultural symbols. An important motif of the Maranaos is the sarimanok design, depicting a bird holding a fish in its beak or talons. Many okir designs are used as decorative elements in architecture. The Muslim peoples of the Philippines are noted for their metalworking skills, producing weaponry such as swords and decorative containers in brass and silver.

C. MUSIC AND DANCE

Filipino classical musical compositions in many ways epitomize the blending of multicultural influences. The compositions often embody indigenous themes and rhythms in Western forms, such as symphonies, sonatas, and concertos. Several composers and conductors in classical music have achieved international recognition, including Antonio Molina, Felipe Padilla de Leon, and Eliseo Pajaro. Jose Maceda is considered the first Filipino avant-garde composer, liberating Philippine classical music from the traditional constructs of Western forms. Traditional types of music are played on wind, string, and percussion instruments made from local materials. These include the kulibit, a zither with bamboo strings and tubular bamboo resonators; wooden lutes and guitars; and the git-git, a wooden three-string bowed instrument. The Muslim peoples use these and other instruments to play complex musical compositions that have been passed by memory from generation to generation. Most Filipino communities remember the tunes and lyrics of traditional folk songs. Tagalogs, for example, have more than a dozen folk songs for various occasions, including the uyayi or hele, a lullaby; the talindaw, a seafaring song; the kumintang, a warrior song; the kundiman, a love song; and the panambitan, a courtship song. Some songs are accompanied by a specific folk dance.Formal training in classical dance has been available in the Philippines since the 1930s. The first noted Filipino choreographers in classical ballet were Leonor Orosa-Goquingco, Remedios Totoy de Oteyza, and Rosalia Merino-Santos. Orosa-Goquingco is most noted for her staging of Filipinescas: Philippine Life, Legend and Lore in Dance, which toured the world in the 1960s. Merino-Santos later turned to modern dance and founded the Far Eastern University Modern Experimental Dance Troupe. Other dance companies include Ballet Philippines (formerly the Modern Dance Company), Hariraya Ballet Company, Dance Theater Philippines, and Pamana Ballet (formerly the Anita Kane Ballet Company). Several Filipino ballet dancers have achieved international fame, including Maribel Aboitiz, Eddie Elejar, Lisa Macuja, and Anna Villadolid.Choreographer Francisca Reyes-Aquino is recognized for pioneering research in the documentation of Philippine folk dances and founding the Philippine Folk Dance Society. She codified the folk dances into steps, directions, and musical arrangements that are taught in physical education classes in most schools. Among other folk dance troupes, the Bayanihan Philippine Dance Company (formerly the Bayanihan Folk Arts Center) and the Far Eastern University Folk Dance Group perform stylized adaptations of folk dances in local and international tours. Informal folk dancing is performed for a variety of occasions, such as harvests, weddings, and religious celebrations. The Manila Symphony Orchestra accompanies many dance performances. The Philippine Cultural Center in Manila provides an important venue for the performing and applied arts.

D. LIBRARIES AND MUSEUMS

In addition to the university libraries, the major libraries of the country are the Manila City Library, the National Library, and the library of the Science and Technology Information Institute, all in Manila. The Lopez Memorial Museum and Library, in Pasay, has collections of paintings by major Filipino artists, as well as the letters and manuscripts of Jose Rizal. The Santo Tomas Museum, in Manila, has major archaeological and natural-history collections, illustrating the history of the islands. The National Museum, in Manila, has divisions of anthropology, botany, geology, and zoology, along with art collections and a planetarium.

Culture and Arts

The arts of the Philippines reflect a society with diverse cultural influences and traditions. The Malayan peoples had early contact with traders who introduced Chinese and Indian influences. Islamic traditions were first introduced to the Malays of the southern Philippine Islands in the 14th century. Most modern aspects of Philippine cultural life evolved under the foreign rule of Spain and, later, the United States.

In the 16th century the Spanish imposed a foreign culture based in Catholicism. While the lowland peoples were acculturated through religious conversion, the Muslims and some upland tribal groups maintained cultural independence. Among those who were assimilated arose an educated elite who began to establish a modern Filipino literary tradition.

During the first half of the 20th century, American influence made the Philippines one of the most Westernized nations in Southeast Asia. The cultural movements of Europe and the United States profoundly influenced Filipino artists, even after independence in 1946. While drawing on Western forms, however, the works of Filipino painters, writers, and musicians are imbued with distinctly Philippine themes. By expressing the cultural richness of the archipelago in all its diversity, Filipino artists have helped to shape a sense of national identity.

Many Malay cultural traditions have survived despite centuries of foreign rule. Muslims and upland tribal groups maintain distinct traditions in music, dance, and sculpture. In addition, many Filipino artists incorporate indigenous folk motifs into modern forms.

A. LITERATURE

The indigenous literature of the Philippines developed primarily in the oral tradition in poetic and narrative forms. Epic poems, legends, proverbs, songs, and riddles were passed from generation to generation through oral recitation and incantation in the various languages and dialects of the islands. The epics were the most complex of these early literary forms. Most of the major tribal groups developed an original epic that was chanted in episodic segments during a variety of social rituals. One common theme of the epics is a hero who is aided by benevolent spirits. The epics that have survived are important records of the ancient customs of tribal society before the arrival of Islam and Christianity.

After the arrival of the Spanish, Catholic missionaries employed indigenous peoples as translators, creating a bilingual class known as ladinos. These individuals, notably poet-translator Gaspar Aquino de Belen, produced devotional poetry written in the Roman script, primarily in the Tagalog language. Later, the Spanish ballad of chivalry, the corridor, provided a model for secular (nonreligious) literature. Verse narratives, or komedya, were performed in the regional languages for the illiterate majority. They were also written in the Roman alphabet in the principal languages and widely circulated.

Francisco Balagtas Baltazar, generally considered the first major Filipino poet, wrote poems in Tagalog. His best-known work, Florante at Laura (Florante and Laura), probably written between 1835 and 1842, is an epic poem that subversively criticizes Spanish tyranny. This poem inspired a generation of young Filipino writers of the new educated class, or ilustrados, who used their literary talents to call for political and social reform under the colonial system. These writers, most notably Jose Rizal, produced a small but high-quality body of Philippine literature in Spanish. Rizal's novel Noli Me Tangere (Touch Me Not), published in 1886, and its sequel, El Filibusterismo (The Subversive), published in 1891, helped to shape a new, nationalist identity during the last years of the 19th century.

The transfer of the Philippines to United States control in 1898 resulted in a dramatic increase in literacy and, consequently, literary production. A variety of new literary journals began to be published. English-language Filipino novels, short stories, and poems were first published in book form in the 1920s. Many Filipino authors have had distinguished writing careers. Their works typically explore the Filipino cultural identity in the context of social and political issues. Filipino authors often write in more than one literary form and in more than one language. Major English-language works include Winds of April (1940) and The Bamboo Dancers (1959) by N. V. M. Gonzalez; Many Voices (1939) and Have Come, Am Here (1942) by Jose Garcia Villa; You Lovely People (1955) and Scent of Apples and Other Stories (1980) by Bienvenido N. Santos; The Laughter of My Father (1944) and America Is in the Heart (1946) by Carlos Bulosan; Bitter Country and Other Stories (1970) by Rosca Ninotchka; The Woman Who Had Two Navels (1972) and A Question of Heroes (1977) by Nick Joaquin; The God Stealer and Other Stories (1968) and Tree (1978) by Francisco Sionil Jose A Question of Identity (1973) by Carmen Guerrero Nakpil; and His Native Coast (1979) by Edith L. Tiempo.

B. ART AND ARCHITECTURE

During most of the Spanish colonial period, the art and architecture of the Philippines were strongly influenced by the patronage of the Roman Catholic Church. Most art emphasized religious iconography. The church commissioned local craftspeople, often skilled Chinese artisans, to construct provincial stone churches with bas-relief sculpture and to carve santos, or statues of saints, and other devotional icons in wood and ivory. The edifices, statues, and paintings of the period show Chinese and Malay modifications of Spanish baroque, an elaborate and detailed style.

Philippine painters began to explore secular themes in the mid-1800s. The painters Juan Luna and Felix Resurreccien Hidalgo produced works in the romantic and early impressionist styles, achieving recognition in Europe. Painters of the early 1900s-notably Fernando Amorsolo, Fabian de la Rosa, and Jorge Pineda-produced romanticized landscapes, genre scenes, and portraits. In the late 1920s Victorio Edades, an American-trained painter, infused modernism into the Philippine art world. Many Philippine painters who were influenced by American and European modernism also experimented with it to reflect Philippine realities, such as Carlos Francisco, Arturo Luz, Anita Magsaysay-Ho, Vicente Manansala, and Hernando Ocampo. Lee Aguinaldo and Fernando Zobel de Ayala achieved international recognition in the 1960s and 1970s.

Sculpture took on secular themes in the early 1900s. The major Filipino sculptor of the American colonial period was Guillermo Tolentino, who trained in classical sculpture in Rome. In the 1950s Napoleon Abueva pioneered modernism in Philippine sculpture. Many talented sculptors were active in the following decades, notably Eduardo Castrillo, whose large welded-metal sculptures are displayed in Manila Memorial Park; Solomon Saprid, noted for his expressionist series of mythical figures titled Tikbalang; and Abdulmari Imao, who produced contemporary interpretations of traditional Muslim designs. More recently, sculptors have tended to utilize ethnic artifacts and natural materials to produce assemblages with social themes.

In remote areas, tribal groups have preserved traditional art forms such as woodcarving, textile weaving, bamboo and rattan weaving, and metalsmithing. Artistic body adornments such as bead jewelry, body tattoos, and headdresses are important indications of social status. In the northern Philippines, the Ifugao people are known for their sculptural wood carvings of bulul figures, which represent guardian deities. The figures are ritually placed in rice granaries to bring a plentiful harvest. The terraced rice fields of the Ifugao are considered a major architectural feat. The Ifugao built them over a period of centuries by carving terraces into the mountainsides and reinforcing each level with stone walls.

The Muslim peoples in the south practice okir, a design tradition that shows evidence of Indian and Islamic influences. Rendered in hardwood and brass, the okir designs are mostly figurative, depicting animals, plants, and mythical figures. The style is highly decorative, with long curvilinear lines and secondary arabesques. The designs are based in the ancient epics and serve as significant cultural symbols. An important motif of the Maranaos is the sarimanok design, depicting a bird holding a fish in its beak or talons. Many okir designs are used as decorative elements in architecture. The Muslim peoples of the Philippines are noted for their metalworking skills, producing weaponry such as swords and decorative containers in brass and silver.

C. MUSIC DANCE

Filipino classical musical compositions in many ways epitomize the blending of multicultural influences. The compositions often embody indigenous themes and rhythms in Western forms, such as symphonies, sonatas, and concertos. Several composers and conductors in classical music have achieved international recognition, including Antonio Molina, Felipe Padilla de Leon, and Eliseo P Jaro. Jose Maceda is considered the first Filipino avant-garde composer, liberating Philippine classical music from the traditional constructs of Western forms.

Traditional types of music are played on wind, string, and percussion instruments made from local materials. These include the kulibit, a zither with bamboo strings and tubular bamboo resonators; wooden lutes and guitars; and the git-git, a wooden three-string bowed instrument. The Muslim peoples use these and other instruments to play complex musical compositions that have been passed by memory from generation to generation.

Most Filipino communities remember the tunes and lyrics of traditional folk songs. Tagalogs, for example, have more than a dozen folk songs for various occasions, including the uyayi or hele, a lullaby; the talindaw, a seafaring song; the kumintang, a warrior song; the kundiman, a love song; and the panambitan, a courtship song. Some songs are accompanied by a specific folk dance.

Formal training in classical dance has been available in the Philippines since the 1930s. The first noted Filipino choreographers in classical ballet were Leonor Orosa-Goquingco, Remedios Totoy de Oteyza, and Rosalia Merino-Santos. Orosa-Goquingco is most noted for her staging of Filipinescas: Philippine Life, Legend and Lore in Dance, which toured the world in the 1960s. Merino-Santos later turned to modern dance and founded the Far Eastern University Modern Experimental Dance Troupe. Other dance companies include Ballet Philippines (formerly the Modern Dance Company), Hariraya Ballet Company, Dance Theater Philippines, and Pamana Ballet (formerly the Anita Kane Ballet Company). Several Filipino ballet dancers have achieved international fame, including Maribel Aboitiz, Eddie Elejar, Lisa Macuja, and Anna Villadolid.

Choreographer Francisca Reyes-Aquino is recognized for pioneering research in the documentation of Philippine folk dances and founding the Philippine Folk Dance Society. She codified the folk dances into steps, directions, and musical arrangements that are taught in physical education classes in most schools. Among other folk dance troupes, the Bayanihan Philippine Dance Company (formerly the Bayanihan Folk Arts Center) and the Far Eastern University Folk Dance Group perform stylized adaptations of folk dances in local and international tours. Informal folk dancing is performed for a variety of occasions, such as harvests, weddings, and religious celebrations.

The Manila Symphony Orchestra accompanies many dance performances. The Philippine Cultural Center in Manila provides an important venue for the performing and applied arts.

D. LIBRARIES MUSEUMS

In addition to the university libraries, the major libraries of the country are the Manila City Library, the National Library, and the library of the Science and Technology Information Institute, all in Manila. The Lopez Memorial Museum and Library, in Pasay, has collections of paintings by major Filipino artists, as well as the letters and manuscripts of Jose Rizal. The Santo Toms Museum, in Manila, has major archaeological and natural-history collections, illustrating the history of the islands. The National Museum, in Manila, has divisions of anthropology, botany, geology, and zoology, along with art collections and a planetarium.

 

 

 

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