The different literary periods in Philippine literature include the pre-colonial period, the Spanish colonial era, the American colonial era and the contemporary period. Literature in the Philippines evolved as part of the country's changing history.
The first Philippine literary period was the pre-colonial era. During this time, folk songs, epics, narratives and sung narratives were popular. Many of the folk songs featured simple rhythms, while narrative songs were used to tell historical stories. Philippine epics from the pre-colonial era told mythological stories, and often reflected on community ethics.
During the Spanish colonial era, theater became popular. During this time, Spanish explorers attempted to teach their language to indigenous people, which meant religious songs and poetry found their place in society. The introduction of prose took a similar approach by attempting to influence social behaviors. By the 19th century, Philippine writers were using prose to their own benefit by writing about the negative effects of colonization.
During the American colonial period, English was introduced to mainstream schools throughout the country. This meant some American literary influences had an impact on Philippine literature, including the introduction of free verse poetry. Short story telling also became popular, and as romantic movie traditions intersected with Philippine culture, so did romantic novels.
Following military rule in the 1960s, the contemporary period emerged. Poetry, prose and short stories remain popular, but writing has become more competitive and professional throughout the country. Writers are encouraged to attend workshops, and literary awards ceremonies are held each year.