Published: February 11, 2011
Filipino music was enriched by Spanish and Mexican influences. The native talent for music was developed with Spanish encouragement. When the Spanish and Mexican dances were introduced in the Philippines, Filipino composers made them part of Filipino culture. The polka, tango, jota, rigodon, and surtido are today considered Filipino dances, but they all originated from Spain.
On the other hand, the popular fandango, jarabe, and curacha are all of Mexican origin. The Filipino songs were hispanized, as evidenced by “Sampaguita,” composed by Dolores Paterno, and the “Bella Filipino,” composed by T. Masaguer.
From Mexico and Europe were introduced the violin, the flute, the piano, the harp, the guitar and other musical instruments resembling hose from foreign lands.
The Spanish missionaries greatly contributed to the development of Philippine music. Fr. Geronimo de Aguilar, a Franciscan priest who arrived in Manila in 1582, was the first Spanish music teacher to win distinction in the Philippines. He founded a music school in the Franciscan convent in Manila and was the first to teach music to the Filipinos of Bicolandia.
In 1742 a music conservatory, the Colegio de Niños Tiples, was established in the Manila Cathedral by Archbishop Juan Angel Rodriguez. Many poor but gifted Filipino boys who studied in this consrvatory became famous musicians. One of these was Marcelo Adonay, a great organist and the foremost Filipino composer of church music. He was hailed as the “Palestrina of the Philippines.”
In 1818 a unique bamboo organ was built by the Recollect priest-musician, Fr. Diego Cerra, in the Old Catholic Church of Las Piñas, Rizal. This famous bamboo organ of Las Piñas is a tourist attraction today and is one of the living glories of Philippine musical art.
The Filipinos also excelled in painting and sculpture. The Spaniards helped develop the people’s natural ability in these arts by establishing an art school in Manila. European painting was introduced in the Philippines by the Spanish missionaries. The first Filipino painter to win fame was Damian Domingo, known as the Father of Filipino Painting.
In 1820 Damian Domingo opened the first school of painting in Manila which subsequently became the Academy of Fine Arts. The two greatest Filipino painters of the nineteenth century–Juan Luna and Felix Resurreccion Hidalgo–obtained their art education from Spanish maters of the brush. The paintings of these two men were acclaimed not only in the Philippines but in Europe as well. Filipino painters of lesser prominence during the Spanish ties were Rafael Enriquez, Lorenzo Guerrero, Isidro Arceo, Simeon Flores, and Miguel Zaragosa.
The Spanish architectural style found expression in Philippine churches and in the stone houses of well-to-do Filipino families. In due time, Filipino architects used this style in constructing homes as well as churches. Among the most famous architects in this country during the Spanish times were Father Antonio Sedeño, a Jesuit and the first builder of stone edifices in Manila; Father Antonio Herrera, an Augustinian and the builder of the Guadalupe Monastery in Rizal; Felix Roxas, the builder of the old Santo Domingo Church in Intramuros which was razed to the ground at the end of World War II; and Genero Palacios, builder of the all-steel Gothic church of San Sebastian, which still proudly stands in Quiapo, Manila.
The Filipinos were taught sculpture by the Spanish friars too. They learned the elements of Western sculpture from these men who had the churches decorated with intricate and elaborate figures. Many Filipino sculptors, like the Filipino painters, won fame in the nineteenth century. Isabelo Tampingco was well known for his splendid wood carvings in the Jesuit church of St. Ignatius in Intramuros, Manila, also razed to the ground at the end of World War II. Manuel Asuncion, Romualdo de Jesus, Domingo Teotico, Jose Arevalo, among others, became famous as carvers of beautiful figures of saints. Jose Rizal, our national hero, was also a talented sculptor.