Summary of the Philippine Literary Periods

Philippine literary periods

The Philippines has a rich literary heritage. The years since the country’s colonization by Spain have seen the flowering of poetry in a variety of languages, as varied and distinct as the archipelago’s hundreds of dialects and ethnicities.

To fully understand the literature of a country, it is important to know its literary periods. It is also important to take a step back and analyze how the culture and the society interacted with its literary works.

The Philippine literary periods can be loosely grouped into six periods – from pre-colonial to the contemporary period.

Pre-Colonial Period

  • characterized mainly by oral tradition
  • crude on ideology and phraseology
  • literature shows our customs and traditions in everyday life
  • self – expression

Spanish Period

  • literature is classified as religious and secular
  • liberal ideas and internationalism influenced Filipinos minds in understanding “liberty and freedom”

American Period

  • firm establishment of English as the medium of instruction in all schools
  • active arousal in the field of literature started to be felt in the following newspapers
  • Filipino writers went into all forms of literature like news, reporting, poetry, stories, plays, essays, and novels
  • writings clearly depicted their love of country and their longings for independence.

Japanese Period

  • Philippine literature in English came to a halt – writers in English turned to write in Filipino
  • Filipino literature was given a break during this period
  • topics and themes were often about life in the provinces

Post War Period

Before The Declaration Of Martial Law

  • Philippine writing in vernacular became popular


  • The writers had a better knowledge of their craft and enjoyed political activism

1970 – 1972 (Rise of Nationalism and Students Activism)

  • Nationalism was emphasized by young and aspiring writers.
  • Revolutionary form of literature attacked the ills of the society

1970 – 1972 (Period of New Society)

  • Provided a venue in reviving traditional drama and in creating original plays.

1981 – 1985 (3rd Republic)

  • Continues to reflect on social, political realities.

Contemporary Period

  • Filipino writers in the contemporary period has become more conscious of their art with the proliferation of writers workshops here and abroad and the bulk of literature available to him via the mass media including the internet.

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