This article is available in Spanish.

Editor’s note: When we report on an issue, we always vet the correct words to use to deliver our message.

In this article, we didn’t mean to suggest that Philippine literature in Spanish is scarce, but that printed copies of it are not easily accessible to the public. From our observations, books under this specific category are not available in brick-and-mortar bookstores, and that local publishers are not printing them.

Our goal is to always provide accurate information. If we learn that information we provided is incorrect, we will publicly correct the mistake, as any reputable media outlet should. When correcting the mistake, we will update the original articles. If a story has been corrected, it will be labeled as such. If you believe an article needs to be corrected, you can contact us here.

Philippine literature books in Spanish language is disappointingly scarce. You won’t find any of them in local bookstores, and no publisher in their right mind produces them. Not only is the language itself a hindrance to understand its canon — if there is any — but also the lack of available materials for public consumption. If you’re a history buff or just curious of the other side of Philippine history, there’s a wealth of Spanish texts waiting for you at the shelves of Filipinas Heritage Library.

Can’t make it there due to COVID-19 pandemic restrictions? Fret not because you can read them from the comfort of your homes; they are digitized as well.

Here are some Philippine literature books in Spanish that will surely pique your interest:

Cartas sobre la revolucion, 1897-1900” by Mariano Ponce

This is a compilation of letters written by Mariano Ponce, a member of the Propaganda Movement, to local and foreign personalities during the Philippine Revolution. The book has 500 pages, so you will definitely find something worthwhile in there.

“Cartas sobre la revolucion, 1897-1900” is a firsthand account of Ponce; it is not written through the lens and with possible biases of a historian. That makes it so intriguing to read.

La Solidaridad

I’m sure that this well-known newspaper rings a bell to everyone, and now is your chance to read a rare compilation of it.

“La Solidaridad” is founded by Graciano Lopez Jaena in Barcelona and is managed by exiled Filipino liberals or the Propaganda Movement. Three of the leading writers in this publication are Jaena himself, Jose Rizal and Marcelo del Pilar.

Filipinas Heritage Library has two compilations of it, totaling to almost 1,000 pages’ worth of content.

El sitio de Manila: memorias de un voluntario” by Juan y Jose Toral

Don’t be fooled by the word “sitio” because it doesn’t mean “place.” This is not a travelogue, but a memoir of a Spanish volunteer during the siege of Manila in 1898 by Filipino insurgent forces. As we all know, the Battle of Manila is the largest battle in the Philippine-American war.

Through this book, you can read the personal account of a Spaniard.

La Guerra Hispano-Americana: Puerto Rico y Filipinas” by Severo Gómez Núñez

Have you ever heard of the phrase “history is written by the victors”? Well, that’s not true at all. That doesn’t mean that history can’t be twisted, though.

This book, published in Madrid in 1902, reveals the Spaniards’ point of view of the Spanish-American war. There’s a lot of valuable information here, accompanied with some rare photos. They might evoke a sense of wild-eyed awe in you.

Guerra Americano-Filipina en el Norte de Luzon” by Juan Villamor

If you want to read up more on the Philippine-American war, then this can provide more context on the topic.

Just like our publication, this book is published in both Spanish and English.

Vocabulario de la lengua tagala: primera, y segunda parte: en la primera se pone primero el Castellano, y despues el Tagalo, y la segunda al contrario que sonlas raices simples con sus acentos” by Domingo de los Santos

Now this is a real gem!

This dictionary puts together Spanish and Tagalog words in one volume. It is divided into two parts, reaching almost 1,000 pages.

If you’re learning Spanish as a Filipino, this is really a must-have. The dictionary also offers bilingual sentence examples. And though it’s quite archaic, it proves to be very useful.

There are still a lot of Spanish texts out there that we haven’t yet encountered. In fact, we barely scratched the surface of it. Still, the books above are proof that there’s so much untold history that we have yet to read and reflect on.


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Arvyn Cerézo
Arvyn Cerezo (he/they) is the editor of La Jornada Filipina, an English- and Spanish-language news magazine in Manila. His work has appeared in various international news sites. He currently reviews science fiction and fantasy books for the trade magazine Publishers Weekly, and does reporting and commentary on books for Book Riot. You can find them on arvyncerezo.com.

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