Sarsuela/Zarzuela | @kapampangan.words (Video from the Sapni Nang Crissot Literary and Cultural Foundation, Inc.)


It’s World Theater Day! Did you know that a theater form sparked the golden age of Kapampángan literature?

a musical theater genre with alternating sung and spoken text. A prominent literary form in Kapampángan that spurred the golden age of Kapampángan literature
Tagálog (Filipino): sarsuwéla

Spanish zarzuela “Spanish lyric-dramatic genre that alternates between spoken and sung scenes”, derived from the Palace of Zarzuela, a royal residence near Madrid where the zarzuela was first performed

Derived Word
(1) writer or composer of zarzuelas
(2) actor in a zarzuela
Tagálog (Filipino): sarsuwelísta

Golden Age of Kapampángan Literature
Zarzuelas were Spanish musical play productions that were introduced in the Philippines in 1879. They started to flourish in Pampanga when Alejandro Cubero’s troupe visited San Fernando, Pampanga to introduce the zarzuela in 1882.

It spurred some of the greatest writers in Kapampángan literature, notably Mariano Proceso Pabalan Byron, Juan Crisostomo Soto (the Father of Kapampángan Literature), and Felix Galura among others, and eventually the golden age of Kapampángan literature.

The zarzuela became a popular literary form primarily due to it being a social performance and belonging to the spoken word genre. As a dramatic form, it was valued primarily because of its very nature: a ritual-like community affair, and as a musical drama, strengthened, even more, the collective consciousness of Kapampángans.

Felix Galura – Ing Mora (The Muslim Woman, 1906)
He believed that Spanish literary forms with nonsensical, fantastic scenes were the main cause of the backwardness of Filipinos, so he began translating Spanish works into the vernacular. His only surviving zarzuela is Ing Mora, a one-act zarzuela in verse.

Jose Gallardo – Crucifijong Pilak (Silver Crucifix, 1956)
Known as the King of Pampango Parnassus, he was a prolific Kapampángan poet and writer of the mid-20th century. He sparked a revival in the interest of the zarzuela in the 1950s.

Mallari, Julieta C. (2011). Indigenizing the Zarzuela: Kapampangan Ethnocentric Adoption of the Foreign Genre. Coolabah, 5, 161-175.
The Kapampangan Listorian (2017, June 28). 52. 9 Kapampangan Zarzuelas.