Siete Infantes de Lara

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Pitong Infantes de Lara (Seven Princes of Lara) is an anonymous Philippine metrical romance (awit at corrido) based on the Spanish legend Los siete infantes de Lara (The seven princes of Lara).

Characters

The main characters are:

  • Rubio Velasquez, the Lord of Villarin, brother of Doña Sancha and husband of Doña Lambra—the villains of the story
  • Doña Sancha Velasquez, the sister of Rubio Velasquez and wife of Busto de Lara who dies immediately after giving birth to the seven princes all at one time
  • Busto de Lara, the son of Señor Gonzalo de Lara and the husband of Doña Sancha Velasquez
  • Seven Princes of Lara (only Gonzalo, the youngest, is identified), the sons of Busto de Lara and Doña Sancha whose combined strength was feared by the Moorish world
  • Doña Lambra, the wife of Rubio Velasquez whose head along his her husband and his captain was cut-off by Morada in revenge for the ambush of the seven princes
  • King Almanzor, the Emperor of Turkey and father of Hismeña
  • King of Arabia (unnamed), who Morada repeatedly defeated in a game of Chess at the age of thirteen
  • Princess Hismeña, baptized Maria Hismeña, the daughter of King Almanzor and second wife of Busto de Lara
  • Prince Morada, baptized Gonzalo Morada, the son of Princess Hismeña and Busto de Lara, half-brother of the seven Princes of Lara
  • Bishop (unnamed), who wed Busto and Hismeña
  • King Filipo, the King of Spain.

Synopsis

The story revolves around the betrayal and ambush of the seven princes of Lara by their uncle, Ruy Velasquez, who was beseeched by his wife, Doña Lambra to avenge the insult done to her by the seven princes; the princes’ heads were served on a platter to their father. Many years later the princes’ death, in turn, was avenged by their half-brother Morada Gonzales.

Commentary/Criticism

Pitong Infantes de Lara is one of the most popular Philippine metrical romances in the nineteenth century. A comparative study of Siete Infantes de Lara with its Spanish sources and analogs reveals similarities and differences. The Philippine poet was found to have reworked the narrative and retold only the most dramatic moments in the tragic story. The poet sometimes simplifies, sometimes expands, and at times modifies the incidents in the Spanish original. The names of the characters were modified: Rubio Velasquez is Ruy Velasquez in the Spanish source; Busto de Lara is the Spanish Gonzalo Gustios. The King of Arabia in the Spanish source is Aliatar, King of Segura. Prince Morada whose Christian name is Morada Gonzalo but sometimes called Morada Gonzales is Mudarra Gonzalez in the Spanish source Hismeña, the name was given to Almanzor’s daughter in the Philippine romance has no parallel in any of the Spanish versions. She is called Axa in two of the ballads (Damiana L. Eugenio, Awit and Corrido: Philippine Metrical Romances, p. 48-55).

The examination of the Philippine versions reveals that the story as told in the Tagalog romance remained fairly the same in the other versions except for the Pampango version which was expanded almost three times (5.132 lines) as the Tagalog version (1,1984 lines). Busto de Lara’s fate in Turkey, which is narrated in the Tagalog version in two pages is treated in 26 pages in the Pampango version.

Juan Atayde, in his article "Theaters of Manila" (p. 70-74), mentions Philippine metrical romances which had been distorted and augmented by its poet to complement the folklores of the country and hopes that Filipino scholars would one day study the language of these romances. As a Philippine romance which had been reworked Siete Infantes could be one of the romances that Atayde was referring to which Filipino scholars today need to examine for its cultural and artistic relevance.

The Philippine Versions

This romance has several versions: Tagalog (496 stanzas, 72 pages [P. Sayo, no date]) Pampango (3 parts [J. Martinez, 1957]), Ilocano (88 pages, 7 stanzas/page [Calasiao: Parayno-Molina Press, 1967]), Pangasinan (72 pages, 7 stanzas/page [Calasiao: Imprenta Parayno, 1958]), Bicol (2 parts [Naga City: Cecilio Press, no date]), and Hiligaynon (Iloilo: Imprenta “La Editorial,” 1933])-(Eugenio, “Appendix A: Master List of Philippine Metrical Romances,” Awit and Corrido: Philippine Metrical Romance, p. 353)

There are two Tagalog romances found. The version published by P. Sayo, the text Dr. Eugenio studied, with the complete title: Salita at Buhay na Kahabag-habag na Pinagdaanan ng Pitong Infantes de Lara at nang Kaaba-abang Kanilang Ama sa Reinong España (The Pitiful Life Experienced by the Seven Princes of Lara and by their Miserable Father in the Kingdom of Spain). The other is an undated Tagalog version with a similar title but varies in spelling: Salita at buhay na cahabag habag na pinagdaanan nang pitong Infantes de Lara, at caaba-abaang canilang ama sa reinong España (Checklist of Philippine Linguistics in the Newberry Library [pp. 150-151] compiled by Doris Varner Welsh.) This edition, bound with a Spanish manuscript, has 67 pages and gives ''Amigos del Pais'' as its probable publisher in Manila. This could be the oldest version as its annotation puts down 1867 as the year of its publication: Bound in is a manuscript Spanish version, translated by Ciriaco Espejo, with title page: Corrido de los siete Yntantes de Lara, texto Tagalo y version Castellana de Ciriaco Espejo. [Manila, 1867] 94 p. (Ms. 1749).

References

  • Atayde, Juan. “The Theaters of Manila,” translated by Concepcion Rosales and Doreen

Fernandez, Philippine Studies, Vol. 30 / First Quarter 1982. Quezon City: Ateneo de Manila University Press, 1982.

  • Eugenio, Damiana L. Awit and Corrido: Philippine Metrical Romances. Quezon City, Philippines: University of the Philippine Press. 1987.
  • Northup, George Tyler. An Introduction to Spanish Literature, Third edition revised by Nicholson B. Adams, University of Chicago Press, 1960.
  • Doris Varner Welsh. Checklist of Philippine Linguistics in the Newberry Library. Chicago,

Illinois: The Newberry Library, 1950.

Citation

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