Doctrina Christiana is prestigious among numerous religious literary works for having been the first published book in the Philippines in 1593. It has a distinct Dominican design at the front, a woodcut frontispiece that is an ancient signature of its publisher, Imprenta de los Dominicanos de Manila, now popularly known as the University of Santo Tomas Publishing House. Although it was not mentioned in the printed book, historians agreed that Plasencia was the author of the text that appears in this Doctrina. It was the same catechetical guide approved during the Manila Synod in 1782, presided by Bishop Salazar.
Literally translated from Spanish as “teachings of the church,” the chief aim of this book is to propagate the teaching of Christian doctrine as patterned from Saint Robert Bellarmine. Common Catholic vocal prayers such as the Lord’s Prayer, Hail Mary and The Creed were also included, all in Spanish, Baybayin and vernacular Tagalog.
The Library of Congress preserves the one and only 1500’s copy of the book by delamination and chemical bath procedures. A book conservator and clam shell box continues to house this rich Philippine heritage in the Library of Congress. This remains to be the only preserved original copy of the book.
The most original copy was traced from Luigi Banzi, a Bolognese book seller. The other original versions were in the Chinese and Spanish languages, later translated into baybayin for better comprehension of Filipino readers. In 1620, an Ilocano version was produced by Fr. Francisco Lopez to help educate remote Philippine regions on the basics of Catholic faith. The National Historical Institute reprinted a copy of it in 1991. The facsimile copy continues to be available for interested readers in the NHI office in Kalaw, Ermita and was given a foreword by Carlos Quirino. Online versions from Project Gutenberg (with foreword from Edwin Wolf 2nd) and Filipiniana.net followed suit for contemporary readers.
It was originally written by Fray Juan de Plasencia of Pila, Laguna. He was consequently the first Fransciscan priest of the same place.
- Bayang Pinagpala Blog (Accessed on December 23, 2009)
- Filipiniana.Net Digital Library (Accessed on December 23, 2009)
- Library of Congress Book Preservation (Accessed on December 23, 2009)
- Kabayan Central (Accessed on December 23, 2009)
- Doctrina Christiana at Project Gutenberg Online (Accessed on December 23, 2009)
- NHI Official Website (Accessed on December 23, 2009)
- Doctrina Christiana: The First Book Printed in the Philippines. Manila, 1593. available at Filipiniana.net