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Lesson 8: Artworks

What is the significance of artworks such as editorial cartoons, paintings or

photographs in the mapping of Philippine History?
The reason as to why artworks are important and very significant is because it provides a
detailed insight as to the perspective of the artist who made the artwork in regards to the
historical event. Despite being a secondary source as the artist may not have been eyewitness
to the historical event, it is still given importance as they have witnessed the reciprocated result
of such event to the masses, and was able to produce an informed opinion through their
artwork. For example, in the satirical artwork from the July 27, 1907 issue of the “Lipang
Kalabaw”, if we analyze the artwork, we can observe the negative connotations that derive from
death sentence from the Filipino Freedom Fighters who committed banditry as instructed by the
Americans. This may have caused an outpour of reactions by the masses especially during the
sensitive time of the Americans’ act of colonization of the Philippines.
If it weren’t for such artworks, we would be unable to have a unique perspective, or visual
details that pertain to the significant historical event. These are crucial puzzle pieces that would
help in forming the overarching timeline, and the emotional or rational background that went into
a significant historical event. This then helps us, the historians of the present become properly
informed by such issues.
Explain the historical contexts of the succeeding paintings and illustrations.
Examine the artworks. What do they tell us?
The historical contexts that derive from such artworks are from the Spanish Colonialism period
in which the Philippines was under Spanish rule. In these artworks we are able to visualize the
Spanish perspectives of how they viewed the native Filipino people during their rule. In the first
painting, “Espana guia a Filipinas por el camino del progreso” by Juan Luna in 1885, depicts a
friendly relationship between a Spanish and a Filipino woman. This showcases that the Spanish
perspective in regards to their rule in the Philippines was a peaceful and harmonious one, which
may have been the truth for a brief period of time, but their treatment towards Filipinos were
often discriminatory which consequently led to their rebellion later on.
The other, much earlier artworks by Boxer Codex in 1590, “Naturales Tagalos”, “Visayan
Pintados” and “Negrillos”, showcases the different period pieces of the native Filipinos
throughout the Philippines. This is quite authentic, and crucial to its time as it depicts Filipino
artistry prior to its full colonialization by the Spanish, thus Spanish influences have not altered
the culture of Filipino dressmaking and wear. This is of significance as it allows us proper
visualization of the authentic styles of Filipinos.
In the “Naturales Tagalos” it depicts rich red cloth, weaponry, and golden jewelry which exudes
class, sophistication and royalty. The male is depicted as someone who has darker skin, which
may allude to his hard-work and being exposed to the sun through the means of battle. In the
other hand, the female has fair white skin which implicates how female royalty was valued and
not forced into hard labor or battles. In “Visayan Pintados”, intricate tattoos are showcased,
which explicates the vibrancy of Visayan culture. “Negrillos” emphasizes the native Mindanaoan
people who value a simpler lifestyle as evident by their lack of clothing, as well as their choice of