Reading a 1907 Novel

March 7, 2011

For a change, I started reading a novel. And, it was quite a find! The book that I picked up and set aside to read from the collection of my brother was published in 1907. Titled “Anino ñg Kahapon” , the only novel written by Francisco Laksamana (described as “Manunulat sa Mulig Pagsilag), it was first printed 104 years ago.* (For the summary, click:  12791881585635). It was quite interesting to know that years ago, novels had dedication addressed to book owners re potential book borrowers cum mutilators:

As expected, there are many Tagalog words that I could not understand. Sobrang lalim or obsolete na. I tried to read the first few chapters but I got bugged by not understanding some paragraphs in one reading. Added to that are the accents on letters or the accent marks called “mga tuldik” — pakupya (circumflex), pahilis (acute), and paiwa (grave). They are all over!!! It is a novel not a dictionary so I found all those accent marks as nuisances. Of course, they were “in” during those days— Here are some examples:**

salawál na putî ring nakabiyakis hangáng ibabâng-tuhod; [not in the dictionary]*

…dî tahô ang patutuñguhang dako [Syn. alam, batid, tanto]

…nagpatuloy ñg walâng ulik-ulik ang loób [Syn. urung-sulong, patumpik-tumpik, atubili / “hesitant”]

…dahil sa pag-ibig…ay napawakawak ang sariling kapurihan [in this context, it is not in the dictionary but listed and means “isolated” or “abandoned”, and “wakawak” means “tiwangwang”; the meaning must be “napariwara”]

nakabitiw ng hawak sa pasibi ng karang [the word “pasibi” is not among the entries, but “karang” is listed with six different meanings; I assume karang here means “awning”, at ang pasibi ay “tukod”??]

* Dictionary reference: Jose Villa Panganiban’s Diskyunaryo Tesauro Pilipino-Ingles (1972)

I managed to finish reading the book… quite tediously. Simply told, then [Spanish period] and now, the situation has not changed. Innocent people get jailed...or, incarcerated for an offense actually different from what they committed. The oppressed and oppressors are still here but in different shapes and forms—corrupt politicians, drug pushers and jueteng lords… The end was rather hushed. It built the suspense of separation between lovers Elisea and Modesto but it simply fast-forwarded the events to 1896 looking forward to a new dawn. How different could it be from Banaag at Sikat? Unfortunately, I haven’t read it…

* The introduction by Mona P. Highley divulges the fact that the copy we own is actually just a reprint, not the original or first edition of the book, as she writes: “Ngunit kailangan ang kaunting paliwanag sa panahong into ng mga “bomba” at “comics” bago basahin ng mga kabataan ang Anino ng Kahapon, na nilimbag noong 1907, at naglalarawan ng mga “kapanahunang malungkot ng kapilipinuhan.” It must have been reprinted in the 70’s when bomba films were highly popular. Moreover, there are no accent marks on her intro. The edition, (a “replica” of the original I suppose, since they reprinted even the accompanying ads during the early American period, i.e. Singer, E.C. McCullough & Co. Printers, Germinal, etc.) was said to be the second offering of Pamana ng Panitikan ng Pilipinas (PPP).

** Accent marks in the above sentence examples from Anino…are incomplete as I couldn’t find some of the appropriate marks in the computer.


  1. Ah hello, what foreign language is this? Ang hirap basahin.

  2. Mahirap ho talaga intindihin pero Pilipino pa rin sya kaya lang malalim at obsolete na like the words that I highligted. They are foreign to us because most of them are not in use anymore, and not in our modern dictionaries. I honestly had difficulty understanding some parts; in some, I just assume the meaning according to the context of the whole paragraph. The use of accents also added confusion…Kind’a strenous to read early writings!

  3. Parang balagtasan, ano ha. Teka meron nagregalo sa akin tagalog na libro noong pasko. I manage to read the first story. Ugh. And also some Filipino CDs. I gave the CD away. Not that I am disowning the Filipino heritage, it’s just to alien to me. 😆

  4. You must have been away too long from our country… or the language used wasn’t just colloquial enough for you!

  5. OO nge ano, Almost 40 years. Sige, ingat.

  6. 40 years? Wow! But I’m happy that you can still speak the language unlike other immigrants…

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