Awit at Korido

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Philippine metrical romances, awit and korido in Tagalog, as defined by Dr. Damiana L. Eugenio in her book Awit and Corrido: Philippine Metrical Romances (AC:PMR, 1987), are long verse narratives on chivalric-heroic, religious, legendary and folkloric themes. 'Koridos' or 'corridos,' as Philippine romances are generally called, are heavily influenced by foreign literature. They were the most popular among the Spanish colonial literary forms. They are of uniform stanza pattern -- monoriming and assonant quatrain -- and vary in length, from a few hundred to several thousand lines.

They are more fully described by Trinidad H. Pardo de Tavera, a distinguished Filipino scholar, as: “stories in verse about historic events, falsified and fanciful, and love tragedies full of wonderful events mixed with divine prodigy and diabolical magic -- all lengthy, exaggerated, puerile, and absurd in the extreme. Not one of the characters is native. All are Turks, Arabs, knight-errant, ambassadors, dukes, warriors in armor, provided with magic arms and with balsams like the famous one of Fierabras, good Castilians and bad strangers. All the characters are at variance with Philippine life; for they are only semblances of the real and true beings of unknown lands and of prodigious races." (AC:PMR, 1987).

'Corrido' is the same term used for the romances in Ilongo, Cebuano, and Bicol. It is called 'kuriru' (a corruption of korido) in Pampango; 'biag' (life) or 'pinagbiag' in Ilocano; and 'impanbilay' in Pangasinan] [D. L. Eugenio, "Metrical Romances," Encyclopaedia of the Philippines: Literature (EP:L), vol. IX, p. 204]. In Tagalog literature corridos are also referred to as 'buhay' (life) and historia' (history), similar to its Iloko counterpart, 'biag' or 'pinagbiag'. Also with similar meaning is the term 'bida' or 'vida' in Visayan [Resil Mojares, Origins and Rise of the Filipino Novel, p. 61].


Similarities and differences

The terms 'awit' and 'corrido' are both related to music. 'Awit' is the Tagalog word for song while the Spanish word 'corrido' means "a metrical story, usually sung to the accompaniment of a guitar, in fandango style (Fansler 1916:204). Pardo de Tavera, an imminent Filipino scholar, believes that the word 'corrido' was derived from the Spanish 'occurido,' meaning "events" or "happenings" (Eugenio, AC:PMR, 1987, p. 204).

Korido is the generic name for Philippine romances. In Tagalog literature, an awit is distinguished from the korido basically by the number of syllables in each line. The korido refers to metrical romances in octosyllabic (8 syllables) verse called 'hakira' while the awit is in dodecasyllabic (12 syllables) verse called 'plosa.' (Eugenio, "Metrical Romances," EP:L, vol. IX, p. 204).

Further distinctions mentioned by Dr. Eugenio [Awit and Corrido: Philippine Metrical Romances, p. xxiv-xx] from some literary historians and critics are in terms of subject matter, style, and movement. Epifanio de los Santos refers to the awit as "chivalric-heroic" poems while corridos are "legendary and religious poems." Gabriel Bernardo on the other hand finds the distinction more in the music to which the romances are often set and in the amount of time the reader takes in singing or reciting it. "The awit is set to music in andante or slow time; the corrido, in allegro or hurried time." Further, Bernardo believes that "the awit is read mainly for the quality of its thoughts and for its beauty and sweetness of expression; the corrido, mainly for the plot of the story it tells." The Panganibans (Jose Villa Panganiban and Consuelo T. Panganiban) suggest a distinction in terms of the source of the story it tells; the corrido is based on an existing tale or legend from European countries while the awit is a story fabricated from the imagination of the writer although the setting and characters are still European. They are inclined to believe, however, that the two terms refer to one and the same type of narrative poetry, except that the name ‘awit’ was later given to it when it was chanted or sung and ‘corrido’ when it was merely narrated.

Another mark that distinguishes an awit from a korido is in their titles [Eugenio, EP:L, P. 204]. The awit begins with "Buhay na pinagdaanan ni" (life experienced by) or "Salita at buhay na pinagdaanan ni" (history and life experienced by) while korido always begins with the word 'corrido,' as in "Corrido at pinagdaanang buhay ni Principe Baldovino." But, as some Tagalog romances titled "corrido" have dodecasyllabic lines and are therefore awits, as noticed by Dr. Eugenio, differentiating based on their titles alone may not be enough to classify a romance as an awit or as a korido.

Except for the length of the verses, which is only observed in Tagalog romances, Dr. Eugenio finds no other valid distinction between the awit and korido. Both are read for the story they tell as much as for their imaginative devices. This may have contributed in Dr. Eugenio considering the korido as the generic name of Philippine romances. Resil Mojares in his book Origin and Rise of the Filipino Novel: A Generic Study of the Novel until 1940 also used the term 'corrido' for the genre since the distinctions offered between the awit and corridos are all conjectural. However, there really seems to be a difference between the two terms as Jose Rizal mentions in his letter to Vicente Barrantes. Rizal, antagonized by the article of Barrantes on the Tagalog theater, reacts through a letter which was published in La Solidaridad. Though Rizal did not state the distinction between the awit and corrido in the letter, he clearly pointed out that a difference exist between the two. And judging by the importance he placed on the awit and korido, the distinction may not be merely be a difference in the number of syllables and its titles. This part of the letter reads: "Everything Your Excellency says about the 'corridos' might be correct, but the fact is, Your Excellency does not know what the Tagalogs call 'corridos.' The Tagalog differentiate them from the 'awits,' another thing that Your Excellency does not have to know. The purpose is to insult the race and to insult it, knowledge is not necessary." (La Solidaridad, Quincerio democratico, vol. 1, 1889, translated by Guadalupe Fores-Ganzon, Fundacion Santiago, 1995, p. 225.)

Introduction in the Philippines

It is not known exactly when or how the metrical romances were introduced and took shape in the country. Vicente Barrantes assumes a Spanish origin and suggests that romances and popular tales of Spain, which were already altered when they reached the country and were in turn altered by the natives, may have been brought by the soldiers of Miguel Lopez de Legaspi from Mexico (Eugenio, AC:PMR, p. xvi). The corridos that took shape in the Philippines thus may have been influenced not just by Spanish and European sources but also by the Mexican corrido. The corridos, the narrative folk songs of Mexico, are direct descendant of the Spanish romances (ballad). They narrate legends, historical accounts and currents events (Encyclopedia Britannica, Micropedia, vol. III, 1964, p. 167). Other sources in written form may have followed later, Spanish lore and literature: ballad collection (such as Romancero General), Spanish chronicles and histories, fiction, drama, and poetry. Oral transmission is considered the probable cause for the very imperfect way some stories have been preserved in Philippine romances.

It is also not known when the Philippine romances were first printed. Dr. Eugenio thinks that they were probably printed in the late eighteenth or early nineteenth century, but she is fairly certain that romances were being written in the second half of the eighteenth century, as Jose de la Cruz, the first known important writer of metrical romances, is assumed to have written some of his works before the end of the eighteenth century. She cites both Gaspar de San Agustin and Epifanio de los Santos attesting to the prevalence of metrical romances even before Huseng Sisiw, Francisco Baltazar, and Ananias Zorilla became known as poets. No very old copies were preserved. The oldest copy which Fansler reported he saw was dated 1815.


The "Masterlist of Philippine Metrical Romances" appended by Dr. Eugenio in her book Awit and Corrido: Philippine Metrical Romances lists 344 titles of awits and corridos. The majority of the works, particularly the older and better known romances, are anonymous. Of the fifty Philippine metrical romances studied by Dr. Eugenio in the same book, only fifteen either indicate the names of the authors on the title page or give their initials in the closing lines of the poem. Six others poems indicate that the romances have been "arranged," "modernized," "corrected," or "adapted." Many authors used pseudonyms, like Gedeere, the pseudonym of the author of Julieta and Romeo.

Based on the large number of Spanish words and the occasional Iberian turn in how the romances were constructed, Spanish priests acquainted with Philippine languages may have authored some of the tales (Dean S. Fansler, Metrical Romances, p. 206. In Eugenio, AC:PMR, p.xxi).

Attempts were made to discover all the authors, but they were not very successful. The signatures at the end of the poems have not been identified and are of little help. Literary historians had identified only three important Tagalog poets of awit and corridos: Jose de la Cruz, the supposed author of five or six romances among which is Bernardo Carpio; Francisco Baltazar, who wrote Florante at Laura and many others that were later lost in a fire; and Ananias Zorilla, who is believed to be the author of Dama Ines and Principe Florinio. Later authors indicated their names and some, based on the number of works they turned out, seem to have "specialized" in the writing of awits and corridos. Among these poets were: Joaquin Tuazon, Joaquin Mañibo, Franz Molteni (pseudonym), Cleto R. Ignacio, Feliciano and Jacinto Castillo, and Pedro and Simeon Aranas.

The birth, decline, and rebirth

Possibly introduced by the soldiers of Legaspi in the 1600s, awits and corridos reached the height of their popularity in the nineteenth century, which persisted up to the twentieth century. They passed strict political and literary censorship during the Spanish period, and came to be the only reading matter that was safely enjoyed by the masses. Fansler writes that “the stories not only make up the body of most of the entertaining reading of the lower and middle classes, but they also furnish passages for quotation and recitation on every conceivable occasion." They were printed in cheap booklets in the cities and towns and then sold at five or ten centavos each in sidewalk stalls and brought by peddlers to the remotest barrios. They were distributed like the broadside ballads of England and America. With the coming of a free press and more varied and modern reading matters in the twentieth century, their popularity started to fade.

A bright new day for Philippine romances is again foreseen as increasing interest in the romances has been observed in the last half century, either as a purely scholarly preoccupation, or as part of the nation's striving to discover and establish its identity as a people.

List of metrical romances

Following are the fifty Philippine metrical romances studied by Dr. Damiana L. Eugenio in relation to their sources and other analogues showing that most of the foreign sources were indigenized.

Charlemagne Cycle

  1. Clodoveo [and Clotilde] - Ignacio, Cleto R. Casaysayan ng Catotohanang Buhay ng Haring Clodoveo at Reyna Clotilde sa Reinong Francia.
  2. Doce Pares -[T.L.C.G.] Salita at Buhay ng Doce Pares sa Francia na kampon ng Emperador Carlo Magno hangga nang Ipagkanulo ni Galalon na Nagapatay sa Roncesvalles. Maynila: P. Sayo., 1947.
  3. Baldovino - Corrido at Pinagdaanang Buhay nang Principe Baldovino sa Kaharian ng Dacia at nang Princesang si Sevilla sa Reino nang Sansueña. Maynila: P. Sayo. n.d.
  4. Irlos - Corrido ang Bierang Delanan ning Conde Irlos ila nang Condesang Asauana ang Cayariang Francia. Manila: Aklatang Lunas, n.d. (Pampango)

Arthurian Cycle

  1. Tablante de Ricamonte - Dinaanang Buhay ni Tablante de Ricamonte sampo ng Mag-asauang si Jofre at ni Bruniesen sa Caharian nang Camalor na Nasasacupan nang Haring si Artos at Reina Ginebra

Spanish-Portuguese history & legend

  1. Bernardo Carpio - Ang Walang Pagkupas na Kasaysayan ni Bernardo Carpio. Maynila: Philippine Book Co., 1949
  2. Siete Infantes de Lara - Salita at Buhay na Kahabag-habag na Pinagdaanan ng Pitong Infantes de Lara at nang Kaaba-abang Kanilang Ama sa Reinong España. Maynila: P. Sayo, 1919.
  3. Almanzor - Buhay ng Duque Almanzor at ni Mariang Matalinong Bait sa Kaharian ng Toledo nang Panahong nasa Capangyarihan ng mga Moro. Maynila: P. Sayo. n.d.
  4. Rodrigo de Villas - Salita at Buhay na Pinagdaanan ni Don Rodrigo de Villas at ni Doña Jimena sa Kaharian ng Espanya. Maynila: P. Sayo, 1926
  5. Dama Ines - Ang Kahabag-habag na Buhay nang Dama Ines sa Kahariang Portugal, Alila nang Isang Princesa sa Bayang España Mulang Pagkabata. No imprint.
  6. Gonzalo de Cordoba - Buhay ni Gonzalo de Cordoba, na Pinalayaw na Gran Capitan, at nang Princesa Zulema. Maynila: J. Martinez, n.d.

Spanish books of chivalry

  1. Oliveros and Artos /(Oliveros and Armenia) - (E. J. de T.) Salita at Buhay nang Principe Oliveros at nang Princesa sa Caharian nang Inglaterra at sampo nang Principe Artos at ng Princesa Blanca na Ama at Ina ni Don Juan Tiñoso sa Reinong Valencia. Maynila: J. Martinez, 1915.
  2. Adriana and Pantinople - Ang Pinagdaanang Buhay nang Princesa Adriana sa Kahariang Antioquia at nang Principe Pantinople sa Imperiong Francia. No imprint.
  3. The Wooden Horse - Kabayong Tabla: Buhay ng Principe Don Juan at Princesa Donya Maria sa Kaharian ng Balensia at Asturias. Manila: Aklatang Lunas, 1950.
  4. Roberto el Diablo - Salita at Buhay ni Roberto el Diablo Anak nang Duque de Normandia; at sa Huli Tinauag na Tauo nang Dios. Binondoc (Manila): Libreria Tagala, n.d.

Oriental didactic tales

  1. Alejandre and Luis - Salita at Buhay nang Dalawang Magkapuwa Bata na si D. Alejandre at D. Luis sa Kaharian ng Aragon at Mosobia. Quezon City: Samar Publishing Co., 1957.
  2. Floristo and Blanca Flor - Salita at Buhay ng Isang Pastora na si Blanca Flor sa Isla Florista at ng Principe Floristo sa Siudad ng Gran Cayro. Maynila: P. Sayo, n.d.
  3. Erastro - Salita at Buhay na Pinagdaanan nang Principe Erastro na Anac nang Haring Deocleciano sa Reyno ng Roma. Maynila: n.p., 1912
  4. Doncella Teodora - Buhay na Pinagdaanan ni Doncella Teodora, na ito’y Binili at Naging Parang Anac ng isang Mercader na si Crispulo Asawa ni Leoncia sa Cahariang Darmacia. Icalimang pagcalimbag. Maynila: J. Martinez, 1937.

Italian novella

  1. Cricelda - Salita at Buhay na Pinagdaanan nang Dalawang Mag-ama sa isang Aldeang Sakop nang Reinong España. Maynila: P. Sayo, n.d.
  2. Julieta and Romeo - Gedeere (pseudonym) Julieta at Romeo: O Sintahang Dalisay. Icalauang pagkalimbag. Maynila: J. Martinez, n.d.

The Constance Saga

  1. Florentina - Buhay ng Kawawa at Mapalad na Princesa Florentina sa Kahariang Alemanya. Maynila: Aklatang Lunas, 1950.
  2. Maria who became a Crab - L., H. Salita at Buhay ni Maria na Anak ni Juan de la Costa at ni Dalida na naging Alimango sa Reinong Ungria. Maynila: P. Sayo, 1953.
  3. Proceso - Buhay ng isang Mercader na si Proceso at nang Caniyang Anac na si Maria sa Caharian ng Ungria. Maynila: J. Martinez, 1909.

Classical romance

  1. Destruction of Troy - Ignacio, Cleto R. Ang Cahambal-hambal na Pagcaguho ng Troya: Catotohanang Buhay nang Principe Paris Anac ng Haring Priamo at nang Reyna Esilva sa Cahariang Troya. Maynila: P. Sayo, 1916.

Miscellaneous tale types

  1. The Adarna Bird - 'Corrido at Buhay na Pinagdaanan nang Tatlong Principeng Magkakapatid na Anak ng Haring Fernando at nang Reina Valeriana sa Kahariang Berbania. Maynila: P. Sayo, n.d.
  2. Asuero - Salita at Buhay na Pinagdaanan nang Haring Asuero, ni Doña Maria, at ni Juan Pobre sa Bayang Herusalem. Maynila: J. Martinez, 1924
  3. The Dead King - Salita at Buhay na Pinagdaanan nang Haring Patay na si Don Juan sampu nang Kanyang Kapatid na si Don Pedro sa Kahariang Ungria at ang Princesang Anak nang Haring Gonzalo sa Reynong Alejandria. Maynila: Aklatang Lunas, 1956.
  4. Eliseo and Feliza - [M., J.] Ang Catua-tuang Buhay na Pinagdaanan nang Mag-asauang Eliseo at ni Feliza sampu nang canilang Cumpareng Caritativo sa Ciudad ng Cordova. Maynila: J. Martinez, 1 937
  5. Felizardo and Rogeria - [Y., E.] Salita at Buhay na Pinagdaanan nang Magcasintahan na si Don Felizardo at si Doña Rogeria sa Caharian ng Barcelona. Maynila: J. Martinez, 1915.
  6. Florante and Laura - Baltazar, Francisco. Pinagdaanang Buhay ni Florante at ni Laura sa Kaharian ng Albanya. Maynila: P. Sayo, 1923.
  7. Gunlas - Castillo y Marquez, Esteban. Pinagdaanang Buhay ni Gunlas na Anac ng isang Privado sa Cahariang España. Maynila: J. Martinez, 1915.
  8. Igmidio and Cloriana - Salita at Buhay ni Principe Igmidio na Anak ng Haring Gonzalo sa Reynong Aragon at Princesa Cloriana na Anak ng Haring Grimaldo sa Reynong Gran Cairo. Maynila: P. Sayo, 1956.
  9. Jaime del Prado - (R., L.) Buhay na Pinagdaanan ni D. Jaime del Prado na Anak nang Haring Enrico at Reina Isabela sa Reino ng Ungria. Maynila: J. Martinez, 1921.
  10. Juan and Maria, Brother and Sister - (M., J.) Corrido at Buhay na Pinagdaanan ng dalauang Magcapatid na si Juan at si Maria sa Reinong España. Maynila: P. Sayo, n. d.
  11. Juan Bachiller - Ang Cahapis-hapis na Buhay nang Dalauang Mag-ama na Pinangyarihan sa Reinong España na si Juan Anac, Ipinagbili ang Catauan niya sa isang Mercader Ipalibing lamang ang Amang Namatay. Maynila: n.p. , 1894.
  12. Juan del Mundo - Buhay na Pinagdaanan ni Don Juan Hari sa Mundo nang Austria at ni Doña Maria sa Kaharian nang Murcia. Maynila: P. Sayo, 1919.
  13. Juan Tiñoso - Ang Kalugod-lugod na Buhay ni Don Juan Tiñoso at ng Princesa Flocerpida. Maynila: Aklatang Lunas,1949.
  14. Leopoldo and Arintina - Pinagdaanang Buhay ni Leopoldo at ni Arintina, Princesang Anak nang Haring Aronte sa Kaharian ng Pransia at ang Kahabag-habag na Nasapit ni Leogarda sampu ng Dalawa niyang Anak na Tubo sa Villa. Maynila: P. Sayo, n.d.
  15. Magcarayap: Cay Calabasa - Buhay ng Dalauang Magcasintahan sa Cahariang Borgoña na Pinamagatang Magcarayap at nang isang Pastorang Tubo sa Villa na naging Asaua nang Hari sa isang Calabasa. Maynila: P. Sayo, 1953.
  16. Doña Maria [Heavenly Princess] - Ang Maogmang Vida ni Doña Maria na Princesa sa Calangitan na Napag-agom ni Don Juan na taga España. Naga City, n.d. (Bikol)
  17. Octavio - Corrido qng Bie nang Delanan ning Aring Don Octavio ampon ning Reina Teodora at Don Fernando, a Anac da qng Cayarian España. (Pampango)
  18. Orontis and Talestris - Buhay na Pinagdaanan nang Principe Orontis at nang Reina Talestris sa Caharian nang Temesita. Maynila: P. Sayo, n.d.
  19. Palmerin - Corrido qng Bienang Delanan ning suguing Aring Palmarin ila ning Asaua nang Capanusig a Reina Isberta qng Cayarian Marsella. Maynila: J. Martinez, n.d. (Pampango)
  20. Reyna Mora - Salita at Buhay na Pinagdaanan ni Haring D. Luis sa Tatlong Anak at sa Reyna Mora. Maynila: J. Martinez, 1921.
  21. Sigesmundo [and Policena] - [Julian, Eulogio] Salita at Buhay na Pinagdaanan ni Sigesmundo at nang Duquesa Policena at nang Principe Adonais at nang Princesa Cloriana at Principe Tangcredo at ni Laveña sa Cahariang Albania. Maynila: J. Martinez, 1914.
  22. Susana - Ang Kahapis-hapis na Buhay ng Binibining si Susana. Maynila: P. Sayo, 1926
  23. Villarba - [T.V.] Salita ng Cahabag-habag na Buhay ng Haring si Villarba at ng Reynang si Doña Maria sampo ng Canilang Anac na Tumubo sa Reyno ng Truel. Maynila: Imprenta “Ilagan y Sanga,” 1923.

Saints' lives

  1. Isabela - Salita at Buhay na Pinagdaanan ni Isabel sa Kahariang Portugal. Maynila: P. Sayo, n. d.
  2. Margarita de Cortona - Ignacio, Cleto R. Cahanga-hangang Buhay ni Santa Margarita Cortona na taga Toscana sa Nayon ng Diocesis at Limang Virgenes at Apat na Puong Soldados na pawang mga Martires at ibang Nadamay. Maynila: P. Sayo, 1916


  • Encyclopaedia Britannica, Micropaedia, vol. III, 1964.
  • Eugenio. Damiana L. Awit and Corrido: Philippine Metrical Romances. Quezon City, Philippines: University of the Philippine Press. 1987.
  • La Solidaridad, Quincerio democratico, vol. 1,1889, translated by Guadalupe Fores-Ganzon, Fundacion Santiago, 1995.
  • Mojares, Resil B. Origin and Rise of the Filipino Novel: A Generic Study of the Novel until 1940. Quezon City: University of the Philippines Press, 1983.
  • Encyclopaedia of Philippines: Literature, vol. IX. Manila: Cultural Center of the Philippines, 1994.



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