The first book printed in the Philippines has been the object of a hunt which has extended from Manila to Berlin, and from Italy to Chile, for four hundred and fifty years. The patient research of scholars, the scraps of evidence found in books and archives, the amazingly accurate hypotheses of bibliographers who have sifted the material so painstakingly gathered together, combine to make its history a bookish detective story par excellence.
It is easy when a prisoner has been arrested and brought to the dock to give details of his complexion, height, characteristics and identifying marks, to fingerprint him and to photograph him, but how inadequate was the description before his capture, how frequently did false scents draw the pursuer off the right track! It is with this in mind that we examine the subject of this investigation, remembering that it has not been done before in detail. And, to complete the case, the book has been photographed in its entirety and its facsimile herewith published.
In studying the Doctrina Christiana of 1593 there are four general problems which we shall discuss. First, we shall give a physical description of the book. Secondly, we shall trace chronologically the bibliographical history of the Doctrina, that is, we shall record the available evidence which shows that it was the first book printed in the Philippines, and weigh the testimonies which state or imply to the contrary. Thirdly, we shall try to establish the authorship of the text, and lastly, we shall discuss the actual printing.
It hardly needs be told why so few of the incunabula of the Philippines have survived. The paper on which they were printed was one of  the most destructible papers ever used in book production. The native worms and insects thrived on it, and the heat and dampness took their slower but equally certain toll. Add to these enemies the acts of providence of which the Philippines have received more than their share—earthquake, fire and flood—and the man-made devastations of war, combined with the fact that there was no systematic attempt made in the Philippines to preserve in archives and libraries the records of the past, and it can well be understood why a scant handful of cradle-books have been preserved. The two fires of 1603 alone, which burned the Dominican convent in Manila to the ground and consumed the whole of Binondo just outside the walls, must have played untold havoc upon the records of the early missionaries. Perhaps the only copies of early Philippine books which exist today, unchronided and forgotten, are those which were sent to Europe in the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries, and may now be lying uncatalogued in some library there.
One copy of this Doctrina was sent to Philip II by the Governor of the Philippines in 1593; and in 1785 a Jesuit philologist, Hervas y Panduro, printed Tagalog texts from a then extant copy. Yet, since that time no example is recorded as having been seen by bibliographer or historian. The provenance of the present one is but imperfectly known. In the spring of 1946 William H. Schab, a New York dealer, was in Paris, and heard through a friend of the existence of a 1593 Manila book. He expressed such incredulity at this information that his friend, feeling his integrity impugned, telephoned the owner then and there, and confirmed the unbelievable “1593.” Delighted and enthused, Schab arranged to meet him, found that he was a Paris bookseller and collector who specialized in Pacific imprints and was fully aware of the importance of the volume, and induced him to sell the precious Doctrina. He brought it back with him to the United States and offered it to Lessing J. Rosenwald, who promptly purchased it and presented it to the Library of Congress. Where  the book had been before it reached Paris we do not know. Perhaps it is the very copy sent to Philip II, perhaps the copy from which Hervas got his text. Indeed, it may have been churned to the surface by the late Civil War in Spain, and sent from there to France. In the course of years from similar sources may come other books to throw more light upon the only too poorly documented history of the establishment of printing in the Philippine Islands.
The Physical Description
The book, printed in Gothic letters and Tagalog1 characters on paper made from the paper mulberry, now browned and brittle with age, consists of thirty-eight leaves, comprising a title-page as above, under a woodcut2 of St. Dominic, with the verso originally blank, but in this copy bearing the contemporary manuscript inscription, Tassada en dos rreales, signed Juan de Cuellar; and seventy-four pages of text in Spanish, Tagalog transliterated into roman letters, and Tagalog in Tagalog characters. The size of the volume, which is unbound, is 9⅛ by 7 inches,  although individual leaves vary somewhat due to chipping. Some of the leaves have become separated from their complements, but enough remain in the original stitching to indicate that the book was originally made up in four gatherings, the first of twelve leaves, the second of ten, the third of ten, and the fourth of six. Although the book is of the size called quarto, the method of printing must have been page by page, so it is doubtful that each sheet was folded twice in the usual quarto manner, but more probable that it was printed four pages to a sheet of paper approximately 9⅛ by 14 inches, which was folded once.
The volume is printed throughout by the xylographic method, that is to say, each page of text is printed from one wood-block which was carved by hand. Along the inner margins of some pages are vertical lines which were made by the inked edge of the block, and the grain of the wood has caused striations to appear in the printed portions throughout. The unevenness of the impression indicates that the pages were printed in some primitive manner without the help of a conventional press.
The paper, which is one of the distinctive features of most old Oriental books, has been discussed at length by Pardo de Tavera in his study of early Philippine printing, and we can do no better than translate the relevant passage in full:
“I have said before that the material composition of our books is inferior. The imprints before 1830 were made on a paper called by some rice paper, by others silk paper, and by still others China paper, according to their taste. It is detestable, brittle, without consistency or resistance, and was called rice paper because it was supposed to be made from that grain. It was the only kind then used in the Philippines, not only for printing, but for all manner of writing, letters, etc., and it is even recorded that in 1874 when tobacco was a state monopoly, cigarettes were made with this paper, and that the Indians and Chinese preferred it (and perhaps they still do) to rag paper or other kinds, because of the horrible taste it gives the tobacco.
“In China they commonly made paper of bamboo, but more principally from cotton and a plant which travellers have cited only by its common name, which they transcribe in various ways, calling it kochu, kotsu, or kotzu. Today it is known that this plant is an ulmacea (Broussonetia papyrifera) from a mash of which they  still make cloth in Japan. Cotton paper is superior to it, and naturally more expensive; but the paper of inferior quality which was received in Manila, where nothing was imported regularly but common articles of low price, was of kotsu. As all Chinese-made paper it was coated with alum, the finer [the paper] the thicker [the coating], for the purpose of whitening it and making the surface smooth, a deplorable business, for it made the paper very moisture absorbent, a condition fatal in such a humid climate as in these islands. Moreover, as the alum used is impure and contains a large proportion of iron salts, the humidity and weather oxidize it which finally darkens the paper, so that Philippine books present a coloration which runs the gamut of tones from the color of bone to that of dark cinnamon.”3
Because the Doctrina Christiana, which may well be translated “The Teachings of Christianity,” contains the basic elements of the religion which the missionaries were trying to spread among the unbaptized in the remote regions of the world, it was the most useful handbook they had. A summary of the contents of the present edition shows the fundamental character of the work. After a syllabary comes the Pater Noster, the primary and most popular prayer of Christianity. Then follow the Ave Maria, Credo, Salve Regina, Articles of Faith, Ten Commandments, Commandments of the Holy Church, Sacraments of the Holy Church, Seven Mortal Sins, Fourteen Works of Charity, Confession and Catechism. Here in a small compass is presented the simplest, most easily learned and most essential tenets of the Catholic Church.
So useful was the Doctrina considered as a guide for those who had just been, or were about to be, converted that the missionary fathers placed it in most cases foremost among the books necessary to have in print in a strange land. It is generally accepted today, although no extant copy is known, that the first book printed in Mexico4 in 1539 was a Doctrina in Mexican and Spanish. Recent research has shown that the second book printed by the pioneer Jesuit press at Goa, in India, in 1557 was St. Francis Xavier’s Doutrina Christão5 in the Malay language, of which also no copy has yet been located. But there are copies of the first book to come from a South American press, another Doctrina6 printed in  the native and Spanish languages at Lima in 1584. So the choice of this book as the first to be printed at Manila follows a widespread precedent.
We have then a book, the Doctrina Christiana, in Spanish and Tagalog, corrected by priests of more than one order—and this is important in tracing the authorship of the work—and printed by the xylographic method with license at Manila at the Dominican Church of San Gabriel in 1593. So much we get from the title, and in itself it is a fairly complete story, but from the date of its issue until the present time that very fundamental information has not been completely recorded.
The Bibliographical History
In tracing our clues down through the years, we find at the very beginning the most valuable evidence which has been uncovered, short of the book itself. From Manila on June 20, 1593, the Governor of the Philippines, Gomez Perez Dasmariñas, wrote a letter to Philip II of Spain in which he said:
“Sire, in the name of Your Majesty, I have for this once, because of the existing great need, granted a license for the printing of the Doctrinas Christianas, herewith enclosed—one in the Tagalog language, which is the native and best of these islands, and the other in Chinese—from which I hope great benefits will result in the conversion and instruction of the peoples of both nations; and because the lands of the Indies are on a larger scale in everything and things more expensive, I have set the price of them at four reales a piece, until Your Majesty is pleased to decree in full what is to be done.”7
This states unequivocally that two books were printed at Manila some time before June 20, 1593, one of which was the Doctrina in Tagalog, and the other the same work in Chinese. Although we are chiefly concerned here with the former, the fact that they were produced at about the same time and probably at the same place makes it necessary to trace the history of both in order to reconstruct the circumstances surrounding  the production of the one. Of the Chinese Doctrina no copy has yet come to light, and except for two 1593 references, there are no records of its existence.
Another document8 of 1593 verifies the information given in the letter of Dasmariñas, differing from it only in one detail. In the Archives of the Indies was found a manuscript account of 1593 listing books written in the Philippines, which says:
“There have been printed primers and catechisms of the faith, one in Spanish and Tagalog, which is the native language, and the other in Chinese, which are being sent to Your Majesty, the Tagalog priced at two reales and the Chinese at four, which is hoped will be of great benefit.”
The accounts of the printing of two Doctrinas contained in these documents confirm some of the information of the title and add a bit more. First, the letter says that the book was printed by permission given by the Governor, which agrees with the “with license” of the title, “for this once because of the existing great need.” By a royal cedula9 of September 21, 1556, which was promulgated again on August 14, 1560, it had been ordered that Justices “not consent to or permit to be printed or sold any book containing material concerning the Indies without having special license sent by our Royal Council of the Indies,” and on May 8, 1584 this was implemented by the further order “that when any grammar or dictionary of the language of the Indies be made it shall not be published, or printed or used unless it has first been examined by the Bishop and seen by the Royal Audiencia.” This latter portion was applied specifically to the Philippines in a letter10 from Philip II to the Audiencia of Manila, also dated May 8, 1584, to which further reference will be made. It can be gathered from Dasmariñas’ implied apology that he had never before given such a license, and, since he had arrived in the Philippines in 1590, that no books had been printed between that time and the licensing of the Doctrinas. It is, moreover, likely that if any similar books had been  printed during the administrations of his predecessors he would have mentioned the fact as a precedent for acting contrary to the cedulas.
According to Dasmariñas he had priced the books at four reales a piece, which followed the regular Spanish procedure, under which books were subject to price control. The Governor, it will be noted, also apologized for the high price he was forced to set, giving general high prices11 as his excuse. Yet, while the appraisal of four reales for this book was high compared to the prevailing scale in Spain, it was not high compared to prices allowed in Mexico. On June 6, 1542 the Emperor had given the Casa de Cromberger, the first printing-house in Mexico, permission12 to sell books printed there at seventeen maravedís a sheet, or exactly one half a real. If we assume that, although the Doctrina had been printed page by page, it was quarto in size and so appraised on the basis of eight pages to a sheet, we find that the price per sheet comes to about fourteen maravedís, or less than half a real. However, a contradiction occurs between the letter of Dasmariñas and this copy of the Doctrina, supported by the other 1593 document. On the verso of the title, Juan de Cuellar,13 the Governor’s secretary and the logical person to sign the official valuation, gives the price as two reales, and the 1593 account, while agreeing with the letter as far as the Chinese Doctrina is concerned, also lists the price of the Tagalog Doctrina as two reales. It is impossible to say what caused the discrepancy; perhaps it was a decision on Dasmariñas’ part to lower the cost, notwithstanding inflationary values, in order to make the book more readily available for the natives who were not economically as well off as the Chinese, or it could be that after the letter had been written it was noticed that the Chinese volume was larger than the Tagalog one, and some adjustment made. In any event, the price of this Doctrina was finally set at two reales, making it less than half the price allowed in Mexico fifty years before.
The evidence of the two 1593 documents would seem conclusive  with regard to printing in 1593, but witnesses were not long in appearing who stated something quite different. The earliest of these was Pedro Chirino,14 a Jesuit priest, who came to the Philippines with Dasmariñas in 1590. He went back to Europe in 1602, and while there had a history of the Philippines printed at Rome in 1604. In 1606 he returned to the islands, where he died in 1635. He left unpublished the manuscript of another and more detailed history, dated 1610, which contains a most significant passage, where, after speaking of various early writers in native languages, he continues:
“Those who printed first were; P. Fr. Juan de Villanueva of the Order of St. Augustine [who printed] certain little tracts, and P. Fr. Francisco de San Joseph of the Order of St. Dominic [who printed] larger things of more bulk.”15
Concerning this Juan de Villanueva16 very little indeed is known. From what has been recorded it would seem that there were two Augustinians of the same name who were in the Philippines before 1600. The first of these was a secular priest who came to Cebú about 1566, may have taken the Augustinian habit some time after his arrival, and died not long after 1569. The other Juan de Villanueva, the date of whose arrival is unknown, was in Lubao in 1590, in Hagonoy in 1593, and prior of Batangas from 1596 until his death in 1599. Of the two there can be no doubt but that Chirino referred to the second one. But, apart from Chirino’s note, there is no record anywhere that works by him existed, nor do the Augustinian chroniclers themselves, except for the modern Santiago Vela who knew of Chirino’s citation, mention him as a linguist or a writer. The only possibility is that between 1593 and 1599 Villanueva had printed some small xylographic books no copies and no further record of which have appeared.
As for Francisco de San Joseph, or Blancas de San José as he is more frequently called, there are other references to his part in the establishment of printing in the islands. From information doubtless obtained from  Diego Aduarte, then in Spain, Alonso Fernandez wrote in his ecclesiastical history, printed at Toledo in 1611:
“Father Fr. Francisco Blancas printed in the Tagalog language and characters a book of Our Lady of the Rosary in the year 1602, which was the first book that was printed there of that or any other material. After this he printed another of the sacraments in the language of the Philippines, in both characters, theirs and ours, from which the greatest results have been achieved.”17
Two years later the same author published at Madrid an account18 of the miracles performed by the Rosary of the Virgin, in which he included a list of “Of some writers of the Order of St. Dominic who were living in this year 1612,” and gave the same information as above, adding only that the printing took place in Bataan.
Diego Aduarte,19 whose history of the Dominican province of the Philippines is one of the best contemporary ones written, bears out these statements of which he was most probably the source. Aduarte came to the islands in company with his close friend Blancas de San José in 1595, went back to Spain as procurator of his order in 1607, and returned to Manila in 1628, staying in the Orient until his death in 1636. His history was continued and edited after his death by a fellow Dominican, Domingo Gonçalez, who had it printed in 1640. Summarizing the life and accomplishments of Blancas de San José, Aduarte wrote:
“So he was sent to Bataan, which is near there [Manila], where he learned the language of the Indians, called Tagalog, which is the most common in this country and is used among the Indians for many leagues around the city. So rapid was his study of the language that he began to preach in it within three months, and could teach it to others in six.... And believing that he was the instrument needed to bring the holy gospel to the Indians, he spared no pains to investigate the fitness of their words, the way to use them, and all the rest so that he could succeed in mastering it.... He wrote many books of devotion for them, and since there was no printing in these islands, and no one who understood it or who was a journeyman printer, he planned to have it done through a Chinaman, a good Christian, who, seeing that the books of P. Fr. Francisco were sure to be of great use, bestowed so much care upon this undertaking that he finally succeeded, aided by those who told him whatever they knew about it, in learning everything necessary to do printing; and he printed  these books. . . . He [Blancas de San José] printed a grammar to learn the Tagalog language, a memorial of the Christian life, a book on the four last things, another on the preparation for the communion, a confessionary, another on the mysteries of the Rosary of Our Lady, and another to teach the Tagalog Indians the Spanish language, and he left many very pious and curious works in the language of these Indians.”20
Blancas de San José,21 as we have noted, came to the Philippines in 1595. He was at Abucay in Bataan from 1598 until 1602, and then spent several years in and about Manila, preaching to the Indians and the Chinese, whose language he also mastered. In 1614 he set out for Spain, but died on the voyage before reaching Mexico. Of the books which he is said to have had printed, only two are known to be extant, the Arte y Reglas de la Lengva Tagala22 and the Librong Pagaaralan nang manga Tagalog nang uicang Castilla23 (or Libro en qve aprendan los Tagalos, la lengua Castellana), both printed at Bataan in 1610, and until the discovery of the present Doctrina and the Ordinationes of 1604 the earliest surviving Philippine imprints known.
We have not cited here in detail the account of Juan Lopez24 in the fifth part of his history of the Dominicans, because, although it was printed nineteen years before the appearance of Aduarte’s work, the information therein contained regarding the Philippines was acknowledgedly obtained from the unfinished manuscript which Aduarte had with him in Spain. The pertinent passages add nothing to Aduarte’s information, and even the wording is reminiscent of his.
The first suggestion that early Philippine books may have been printed from wood-blocks occurred in Quétif and Echard’s bibliography of Dominican writers printed at Paris in 1719. There, after listing eight works by Blancas de San José, they add:
“He published all these in the Philippines with the help of a Chinese Christian using Chinese blocks, for in his day European typographers had not yet arrived in those islands, nor did they have types for their language.”25
This was an amazing suggestion, for as far as we know the bibliographers who made it had not actually seen the books; nor is it entirely true. The first two works listed are two books we know were printed typographically in 1610. The sixth is De los mysterios del Rosario de nuestra Señora Tagalice, the book referred to by Fernández as having been printed in 1602, and generally accepted as being from movable type, although no copy has been discovered to prove it. And yet, it is not at all impossible that some time before 1602 Blancas de San José had some of his writings printed from blocks. In any event, the idea, later developed by Medina and Retana, that xylography was used before a real printing-press was established, may have come from this not wholly accurate note.
For almost a hundred and fifty years no historian or bibliographer wrote anything to challenge the basic affirmations of Chirino, Fernández and Aduarte. In the middle of the 18th century, Lorenzo Hervas y Panduro,26 a Jesuit, was forced by the expulsion of the Jesuits from Spain to seek refuge in the Papal States, and took up residence at Cesena. There he began work on a tremendous universal history of the spiritual development of man, into which he wove the results of his philosophical, social and linguistic studies. These last were of particular importance, and Hervas is regarded as the true founder of the science of linguistics and comparative philology. In 1785 he published the eighteenth volume of his massive work, the Origine, formazione, meccanismo, ed armonia degl’ idiomi, in which he printed a Tagalog Ave Maria as written in 1593, with the note:
“The Ave Maria in the Tagalog of 1593 is to be read in the Tagalog-Spanish Doctrina Christiana which was printed in Tagalog and roman characters by the Dominican fathers in their printing-house at Manila in the year 1593.”27
In 1787 he finished his twenty-first volume, Saggio pratico,28 which was another philological study, including the Pater Noster in over three hundred languages and dialects, among them Tagalog, again from the 1593 Doctrina. Here, then, is ample proof that a copy of this book was known  to Hervas in 1785, and the only information which his loose transcription of the title failed to give was that the volume was “corrected by members of the orders,” that it was printed with license, and that it was printed at San Gabriel.
At the beginning of the following century two German scholars, familiar with Hervas’ writings, noted the 1593 Doctrina. Franz Carl Alter,29 in his monograph on the Tagalog language, printed the Ave Maria from the text which had appeared in 1785, and Johann Christoph Adelung,30 in his Mithridates, a comprehensive study of languages, included the Tagalog Pater Noster from the Saggio pratico of 1787. The latter also listed in a short bibliography of the Tagalog language the Doctrina of 1593, giving exactly the same information about it that Hervas had. Neither of these men apparently saw a copy of the book, limiting themselves to extracts from Hervas, but they perpetuated an earlier reference of the utmost importance.
Shortly after the two Germans published their notices of the 1593 Doctrina an entry appeared of a book printed at Manila in 1581. José Mariano Beristain y Sousa, a learned Mexican writer, issued in 1819–21 a bibliography of Spanish-American books, in which he listed alphabetically the authors, giving a short biography of each and adding a list of his works. Under Juan de Quiñones we find:
“‘Arte y Vocabulario de la Lengua Tagala,’ Imp. en Manila, 1581.”31
No specific authority is given for this entry, but in his sketch of the life of Quiñones Beristain cited as sources, Juan de Grijalva, Nicolás Antonio, Gaspar de San Agustin, and José Sicardo. It would seem logical that one of these must have mentioned such a work as printed in Manila in 1581, but in tracing down the sources no such precise notice is found.
Grijalva simply said that Quiñones “concerned himself with Tagalog and made a vocabulary and grammar of it.”32 Antonio33 referred to  Grijalva, and carried the matter no further. San Agustin, describing the Franciscan chapter of 1578, wrote:
“It was determined moreover in this chapter that P. Fr. Juan de Quiñones, prior of the Convent of Taal in Tagalos, and Fr. Diego de Ochoa, prior of Bacolor in Pampanga, should compose and fashion grammars, dictionaries, and confessionaries in the two languages [respectively Tagalog and Pampanga] in which they had ventured; which they executed very promptly and well, and these were of great use to those who came to these islands, for they had these by which they could study the languages.”34
Later, San Agustin, again mentioning Quiñones, referred to Grijalva, and added as an additional source for his information Tómas de Herrera. Sicardo35 added nothing new. Herrera, not cited directly by Beristain, may however have been the source from which the “Imp.” of his entry came. Herrera wrote:
“He [Quiñones] was the first to have learned the Tagalog language of which he published a grammar and dictionary as an aid to the ministers of the gospel.”
If Beristain read this, he may have been misled by the Latin of “published,”36 in lucem edidit, which may indeed mean printed and published, but also means quite properly published in the sense of written in manuscript and copied and circulated. We agree with Schilling37 that this latter meaning was the one intended. One other statement that Quiñones’ works were printed may derive from the same misunderstanding. About the year 1801 Pedro Bello wrote an account, still in manuscript and unpublished, of the writings of the Augustinians. His remarks on Quiñones, first printed by Santiago Vela38, we believe are only an extension of Herrera’s in lucem edidit.
This same confusion in terminology has been used39 to support Beristain’s claim by introducing as evidence the letter of Philip II of May 8, 1584. Salazar, the Bishop of Manila, probably shortly after the Synod of 1582, had written the King a letter, now unfortunately lost, in which  he spoke of a decision to standardize linguistic works. In answer to the Bishop, the following letter in the form of a royal cedula was sent:
“To the President and Judges of my Royal Audiencia situated in the city of Manila in the Philippine Islands.—It has been told me on behalf of Don Fray Domingo de Salazar, Bishop of that place, that it was agreed that no priest might make a grammar or vocabulary, and that if it were made it might not be published before being examined and approved by the said Bishop, because otherwise there would result great differences and disagreements in the doctrine; and this having been seen by my Council of the Indies, it was agreed that I should order this my cedula which decrees that when any grammar or vocabulary be made it shall not be published or used unless it has first been examined by the said Bishop and seen by this Audencia.”40
Here again the word publicado is brought forth to prove that the letter referred to printed works, but here again the term is equally applicable to manuscript works in common use and generally available.
Further evidence that there was no printing as early as 1581 is to be found in a letter41 from Juan de Plasencia, a Tagalist of great renown, to the King, dated from Manila, June 18, 1585, in which he reported on the state of missionary work in China and Japan, and added that he had written a grammar and a declaration of the whole Doctrina in the most common language of the Philippines, and that he was then making a dictionary, concluding by asking the King to send decrees ordering those works to be printed in Mexico at the expense of the Exchequer. Is it likely that Plasencia would have so written if an Arte y Vocabulario had been printed four years earlier? Furthermore, San Antonio, recording the book on the customs and rites of the Indians written by Plasencia at the request of the Governor Santiago de Vera, and dated October 24, 1589, said that it was not printed “because printing houses had not yet come to this country.”42
We then conclude with regard to Beristain’s entry, that although there existed in manuscript an Arte y Vocabuldrio Tagalo by Juan de Quiñones, there is no evidence of the existence of any book printed for  him from wood-blocks or in type. Santiago de Vela43 suggests the possibility that there might have been a xylographic Arte of 1581, but Schilling44 questions this in the face of the complete lack of reference to such a printed work by any 17th or 18th century writer, and the tenuous notices of Bello and Beristain; yet to say categorically that no such work was printed would be foolhardy in the face of the scanty early records and the appearance of this Doctrina, a single copy of which has just been discovered.
The first important work devoted solely to the early history of the Philippine press was by T.H. Pardo de Tavera, who in 1893 published his study of printing and engraving in the Philippines. He there recorded a 1593 Doctrina, but adamantly refused to accept it on the hearsay evidence of others. His account is valuable because it shows that there may have been a copy of the Doctrina in Java in 1885, and so we quote from it at some length:
“A learned Dutch orientalist, Dr. J. Brandes, wrote me in 1885 from Bali-Boeleleng (Java) telling me that in 1593 at Manila there was printed a Doctrina Christiana in Spanish-Tagalog, with the proper characters for the latter language. Other orientalists, at the last Congress in London in 1891, gave me the same information. Nonetheless, no one told me where he had read such a thing, nor much less that he had managed to see such a book, although inspecting a rare book which I acquired in Paris (Alter, Ueber die tagalische sprache, Vienna, 1803), I saw that the author cited such a Doctrina Christiana and said that he knew of its existence through Abbé Hervas. This is an error, and without doubt such a Doctrina was in manuscript, because in 1591 [he should have said 1593] there was no press in Manila nor in any part of the archipelago, and today we know for certain and positively that the first book issued there appeared in 1610.”45
Pardo de Tavera was the first to call attention to Alter, and through him to Hervas, and in all probability the orientalists at the London Congress had seen the Doctrina cited by one of these or Adelung. But he rejects that evidence in no uncertain terms. Mitigating somewhat his assurance, he speaks following the above-quoted passage of printing in China, and  differentiates between xylographic and typographic printing, and since he was obviously thinking in terms of printing on a press with movable type his conclusions are not too extreme.
In 1896 appeared José Toribio Medina’s La Imprenta en Manila, which was up to then the best, most complete and most scholarly work on early Philippine printing, and is today with its subsequent additions and corrections the standard bibliography of the subject. There Medina cited most of the authorities we have already quoted, the letter of Dasmariñas, Fernández’ Historia eclesiastica, Aduarte, Adelung, Beristain and Pardo de Tavera. Then, basing his conclusions strongly on the Dasmariñas letter and the note of Adelung, he listed46 as number one in his bibliography the Doctrina of 1593 in Spanish and Tagalog, and as number two the Doctrina in Spanish and Chinese of the same year. This is a verdict which has stood the test of time, and one that is just now confirmed by the discovery of the book itself. Two points, however, in his survey should be noted. In his discussion of the printing and the authorship Medina does not emphasize the Dominican origin of the book, although he does say that “it does not appear bold to us to suppose that the imprint of these Doctrinas ought to be the Hospital of San Gabriel in this village [Binondo],”47 and faithfully copies Adelung’s imprint notice, “in the Dominican printing-house,” in his listing of the book. The other point is that he says in his introduction and repeats in his entry that the Doctrina had a Latin as well as Spanish and Tagalog texts, an erroneous translation of Adelung’s “mit lateinische und tagalische Schrift.” He was hesitant as are all bibliographers, who must perforce record the probable existence of a book a copy of which they have never seen, in committing himself as to whether it was printed from blocks or from type or by a combination of the two methods.
More positive and more succinct than Medina was T.E. Retana whose earlier researches48 into the history of the Philippines Medina  acknowledgedly made use of, and who in 1897 published his La Imprenta en Filipinas, Adiciones y Observaciones a La Imprenta en Manila. He took the material of Medina, added the evidence of Chirino and Plasencia, and resummarized the problem. The letter of Dasmariñas showed conclusively that a Doctrina was printed in 1593. Chirino said that the first two whose works were printed were Juan de Villanueva and Blancas de San José. Fernández stated positively that the first book printed in the Philippines was the book of Our Lady of the Rosary by Blancas de San José printed at Bataan in 1602. Aduarte supported this without mentioning a title, place or date of printing. If we are to accept all these statements as incontrovertible, how can the apparent contradictions be reconciled? The answer had already been hinted at, but Retana solved the problem with amazing acumen, and arrived at four conclusions, which are here printed in his own words:
“A—That the Doctrinas of 1593, though printed at Manila, were not executed in type, but by the so-called xylographic method;
B—That the initiative for the establishment of typography is owed to P. Fr. Francisco Blancas de San José;
C—That the first typographer was the Chinese Christian Juan de Vera at the instigation of the said Father San José;
D—That the first typographical printing of this Dominican author is of the year 1602.”49
It is not difficult to say with the book itself in front of us, that it is an example of xylographic printing, but it was a great feat on the part of Retana, who had never seen a copy, to resolve apparently irreconcilable differences of opinion on the part of several unquestioned authorities by deducing that it was all a matter of semantics—what did printing mean? As for the sprite of 1581 introduced by Beristain, Retana dismissed it on the grounds of insufficient evidence. In a word, he concluded that the first book issued in the Philippines was a Doctrina printed from wood-blocks in 1593. 
All subsequent writers on the subject have derived their information from the sources we have already mentioned, and to a great degree have been influenced by the findings of Medina and Retana. The Rev. Thomas Cooke Middleton50 in 1900 confessed that he did not know what the first book printed was. Pardo de Tavera maintained his old intransigence, when in the introduction to his bibliography for the Library of Congress in 1903 he wrote that Medina’s affirmation that printing took place in 1593 “loses all validity in the face of the categorical statement of F. Alonso Fernández.”51 Medina did not comment further in his Adiciones y Ampliaciones52 of 1904, yet when the same year Pérez and Güemes53 published their additions to and continuation of Medina, bringing his bibliography down to 1850, they resurrected the 1581 Arte, but added no new evidence to prove their case. Blair and Robertson, in their tremendous, collective history of the Philippines, did not include a list of Philippine imprints in their bibliography,54 but referred readers to Medina and Retana with whom they agreed. To celebrate the three hundredth anniversary of typographical printing in the Philippines Artigas y Cuerva55 wrote a study which emphasized the part played by Blancas de San José, but did not deny the existence of the 1593 Doctrina. Retana56 in 1911 brought his work on the subject up to date, but retained all his major conclusions. In Palau’s standard bibliography of Spanish books we find the Doctrinas called “the two earliest books known to have been printed in Manila.”57 Finally, the most thorough recent work on the subject is to be found in Schilling’s58 survey of the early history of the Philippine press published in 1937. There is little that can be added to the evidence uncovered by these modern writers, but the appearance of the book itself enables us to say with certainty some things which they were able only to surmise. However, as regards the authorship and the circumstances and place of printing we are able, from the information given on the title, to carry the investigation somewhat further. 
The Authorship of the Text
The title tells us that the book was “corrected” by the priests of more than one order, and since it was printed by the Dominicans, we can assume that the ultimate responsibility for the preparation of the text in consultation with friars of other orders also lay in their hands. Our problem then is to discover what texts were available to them in 1593 and who were the priests who formed the editorial board. We have included in this study also the origins of the Chinese text, for the two Doctrinas appeared at the same time, and as we shall see the same Dominicans were probably responsible for the production and preparation of both the Tagalog and the Chinese texts. During the period under discussion there were priests of four orders active in the islands, and so we shall speak in turn of the Augustinian, Franciscan, Jesuit and Dominican fathers who might have written or worked on the Doctrinas printed in 1593.
The first priests to come to the Philippines were six Augustinians who accompanied Legazpi on the expedition which in 1565 established the first permanent European settlement in the islands. Among them was Martin de Rada, who was one of the most important and influential priests during the early days of the Spanish colony, and who was the first linguist of note to work in the Philippines. The first language he learned was Visayan,59 native to the island of Cebú where the Spaniards first landed, but he also learned Chinese. In May 1572 he was elected provincial of his order, and in June 1575 he went with Jerónimo Marín, as ambassador to China, being “the first Spaniard who entered into that said kingdom.”60 In preparation for the voyage, we are told by González de Mendoza, whose famous and popular history of China first printed in 1585 derives in a great measure from information brought back by Rada, that Rada  “began with great care & studie to learne that language [Chinese], the which he learned in few daies: & did make thereof a dictionarie.”61 Rada was then not only the first to write in Visayan, but also the first to compile a Chinese dictionary, and more important still brought back with him to Manila from China many books of which Mendoza gives a list.62 These books, printed in the usual Chinese method from wood-blocks, could have provided models for the Spaniards in the Philippines who lacked European facilities for printing, and they may have given birth to the idea which resulted in the xylographic Doctrinas.
Within the first few years several more Augustinian fathers63 arrived whose linguistic accomplishments are briefly noted by the historians, but while these men were certainly pioneers in the speaking of Tagalog and Chinese, they are not recorded as having written in the language. According to Cano,64 the first Tagalog grammar was written by Agustin de Alburquerque, and Retana65 considered him one of the possible authors of the present Doctrina. This friar reached the Philippines in 1571, accompanied Rada on his second expedition to China in 1576, was elected provincial in 1578, and died in 1580. However, there is no early record saying that Alburquerque wrote any linguistic work. The statement was not made until the 19th century, and in contradiction Juan de Medina, who wrote in 1630, said that Juan de Quiñones “made a grammar and lexicon of the Tagal language, which was the first to make a start in the rules of its mode of speech.”66 Furthermore, in the official acts67 of the Augustinian province we find that on August 20, 1578 Alburquerque as provincial of the order commissioned Quiñones to write a grammar, dictionary and confessionary in the Tagalog language. The conclusions of Santiago de Vela68 are that it is doubtful that Alburquerque wrote any linguistic works, and if he did they were liable to have been rough preliminary studies69 upon which the texts of Quiñones were based. In view of the lack of positive contemporary evidence70 we believe that Alburquerque  may be eliminated except as the instigator of such works, and we return again to Juan de Quiñones.
In so far as Quiñones71 was the author of a grammar and dictionary claimed to have been printed at Manila in 1581, we have shown what various writers have said, and though we must conclude that the work was probably not printed, it is certain that he wrote in the Tagalog language. Agustin Maria de Castro72 said, although no earlier writers support it, that Quiñones actually presented a grammar, dictionary and Doctrina in Tagalog at the Synod of 1582 for its approval. Our total information about this Augustinian linguist boils down to these essentials: that he did write a grammar and dictionary of Tagalog about 1578–81, which may have been the earliest written in the Philippines; that he may have presented these and a Doctrina at the Synod of 1582 which approved Juan de Plasencia’s works; that there is no concrete evidence that any of these works were printed; and that Quiñones’ works which were extant in manuscript in 1593 might have been consulted in the preparation of the present Doctrina.
Another member of the Order of St. Augustine who might have been able to participate in the editing of the 1593 Doctrinas was Diego Muñoz. Muñoz came to the islands in 1578, and died in 1594. Of him San Agustin writes:
“Moreover in this year  the ministry for the Sangleys was founded in the convent of Tondo, and P. Fr. Diego Muñoz was named as its special minister. He devoted particular zeal to the study of the Chinese language, and preached in it with much elegance. And all the Sangleys who were going to be baptized, and there were many, had recourse to this ministry, and the teaching was continued with much vigilance and care. And there never lacked a religious of our order to apply himself to such holy work, from the time we came to this land, as our original records of the province prove.”73
To him is also attributed74 a volume of manuscript panegyric sermons in Tagalog, and because of this and his work at Tondo he may  have been consulted by the Dominicans. We also mention Lorenzo de León,75 who arrived in 1582, spent twelve years in the provinces, wrote a book called the Estrella del mar in Tagalog, and died in 1623, and might also have helped.
Although the first Franciscans did not arrive in the Philippines until June 24, 1577, the writings of the linguists of that order are more fully recorded. Among the earliest was Juan de Plasencia who, the Franciscans claim, wrote the first Tagalog grammar. He was fortunate in meeting soon after his arrival Miguel de Talavera,76 who had come with his parents on the expedition of Legazpi. Miguel, then quite young, became in a manner of speaking the disciple of Plasencia, and while the father taught him Latin, he in turn taught Plasencia the elements of Tagalog which he had picked up. For two years Plasencia ministered in the provinces of Tayabas, Laguna, and Bulacan where he used and perfected his knowledge of the native language. On May 20, 1579, when the provincial Pedro de Alfaro left for China, he named Plasencia acting provincial during his absence. A reference to the earliest linguistic writings of the Franciscans occurs in an account by Santa Inés of the chapter meeting held in the Convent of Los Angeles in July 1580, which was presided over by Plasencia:
“The third and last thing that was determined in this chapter was that a grammar and dictionary of the Tagalog language should be made and a translation of the Doctrina Christiana completed. And since Fr. Juan de Plasencia, the president of this same chapter, excelled all in the language, he was given this responsibility, and he accepted it, and immediately set to work. And then after great study, much lack of sleep and care, together with fervent prayers and other spiritual duties, of not little importance in the good profit of such work, he reduced the language to a grammar, made a catechism, a very full dictionary, and various translations.”77
But the most important record of his writings is contained in the description of the Synod called by Bishop Salazar in 1582. In March, 1581,  Domingo de Salazar, the first Bishop of Manila and the Philippines, had arrived. The problems which faced him were manifold, particularly those of ecclesiastical jurisdiction, the treatment of the natives by government administrators, and the means by which the gospel could best be spread. A synod was called to resolve these points. One matter of the utmost importance was the approval of standard Tagalog texts, and Juan de la Concepcion gives the following account of what transpired in this connection:
“His excellency presided at the meetings. At them the most learned topics were discussed and the most learned persons were present—the Dominican father Salvatierra, the most outstanding scholars among the Augustinians and Franciscans, the Jesuit fathers Sedeño and Sanchez, and the Licentiate Don Diego Vasquez de Mercado as dean of the new cathedral. At this convention or diocesan synod it was discussed whether the Indians were to be ministered to in their native language, or if they would be obliged to learn Spanish, and it was decided to instruct them in their native tongue. The divine office, the Doctrina Christiana, which Father Fr. Juan de Plasencia had translated into the Tagalog language, was approved. His work, the Arte y Vocabuldrio Tagalo, was judged most useful because of the ease by which it permitted an understanding and thorough knowledge of so foreign a language.”78
The already quoted account of Santa Inés continues with a similar description of the Synod, and says that when the problem of teaching the natives was brought up only Plasencia could resolve it.
“Since, having seen his catechism and the translation which he had made in Tagalog of the grammar and dictionary, those who were at the Synod and understood anything of the language could do nothing but admire the fitness of the terms, their efficacy and strength. And they said that, without the particular help of heaven, it seemed impossible that in so short a time and with so few years in the country he could have done such excellent work. And then, having approved them, they ordered that various copies be made, particularly of the translation of the Doctrina, so that with them and with no other would the ministers teach the Indians, and so it was approved, in order that there might be uniformity in all parts of the Tagalog country. This translation is that which has come down to this day, except that it is more polished.”79
It must have been shortly after the handbooks of Plasencia received the seal of ecclesiastical approval that Salazar wrote the King speaking of the  action taken, and got back in answer the cedula, quoted before, giving the Bishop and Audiencia the right of censorship over such works. The question of chronological precedence80 between Quiñones and Plasencia is not important, for the specific approval of Plasencia’s texts by the Synod, attended by Quiñones himself, shows that Plasencia’s books were accepted, and in conformity with the ruling of the Synod would have been the only texts allowed to be used generally in the Philippines.
Another reference to writers in the native tongues in an anonymous manuscript of 1649 introduces the names of other linguists:
“The first missionaries left many writings in the Tagalog and Bicol languages, the best of which are those left by Fathers Fray Juan de Oliver, Fray Juan de Plasencia, Fray Miguel de Talavera, Fray Diego de la Asuncion, and Fray Gerónimo Monte. Mention is here made of the above fathers because they were the first masters of the Tagalog language, and since their writings are so common and so well received by all the orders. They have not been printed, because they are voluminous, and there are no arrangements in this kingdom for printing so much.”81
Miguel de Talavera we have spoken of before. That he helped Plasencia in the compilation of his earliest works in Tagalog is clear, and to him in part must be attributed the miracle of the production by Plasencia of the texts “in so short a time and with so few years in the country.” Martínez says specifically that Talavera “was the first interpreter among our priests, and greatly helped Fr. Juan de Plasencia in the composition of the Arte y Vocabulario.”82 Juan de Oliver was in somewhat the same relationship to Plasencia, but instead of helping with the initial attempts, he carried on from where Plasencia left off. Oliver came to the Philippines on the same expedition which brought Bishop Salazar in 1581. According to Huerta83 he worked in various Tagalog villages, and mastered the Tagalog and Bicol languages, in which he wrote twenty-two works, which Huerta lists. Of these three are of particular interest to us. The first entry says that he “corrected the Tagalog grammar written by Fr. Juan de Plasencia, and added the adverbs and particles;”84 the second that “he  perfected and augmented the Spanish-Tagalog dictionary, written by the said Fr. Juan de Plasencia;” and the sixteenth lists a Catecismo de doctrina Cristiana esplicado.
Several authors, attempting to establish the priority of Quiñones’ dictionary, question the existence of one by Plasencia at the Synod of 1582 in the face of his own statement in 1585 that he “was then making a dictionary.”85 To us there seems to be no inconsistency, if Plasencia in 1585 was referring to a revision, unquestionably made with his knowledge and help, by Juan de Oliver. In short, it is reasonable to assume that Plasencia, burdened with administrative duties from 1583 to 1586, during which time he was custodian of his order, secured the aid of Oliver in reediting and continuing his linguistic studies. Plasencia died in 1590.
The other two Franciscans listed by the anonymous historian of 1649 are elsewhere recorded as having written various works in Tagalog. To both Diego de la Asuncion86 and Gerónimo Montes y Escamillo87 were attributed grammars and dictionaries, and the latter also wrote a Devotional tagalog, said to have been printed at Manila in 1610. In speaking of these early linguistic texts, it is not necessary to believe that each was a completely original work, but rather that they were based upon a recognized model, which was at first the Talavera-Plasencia-Oliver text, and that the individual missionaries used their experience in the field to produce, as it were, new editions. That this was the case is borne out by the notes of Pablo Rojo to his bibliography of Plasencia where speaking of the grammar and dictionary he says that “perfected by other missionaries, they have been the base for such grammars and dictionaries of Tagalog as have been written, but in the form in which they came from the hands of their author, they have not come down to us.”88 More important still is Rojo’s statement89 that he found a portion of Plasencia’s Doctrina which had been believed lost, and from which he quotes the Pater Noster. Since he does not say where the manuscript was or how it was known to be  Plasencia’s text, we cannot put too much reliance on the statement, but the text as there printed, while similar to that of the present Doctrina, is not identical.
Before passing on to the Dominicans we shall mention briefly the linguists of the Society of Jesus. In the early days there were not many Jesuits in the Philippines. However, there were some linguists among them, chiefly of the Visayan tongue, in which they are said to have printed a Doctrina90 as early as 1610. Limiting ourselves to a note of those who knew Chinese and Tagalog, we find that the first mentioned by Chirino as an outstanding master of one of these was Francisco Almerique, who arrived with Santiago de Vera in 1583. Shortly thereafter he “began the study of the Chinese language in his zeal to aid in the conversion of the many Chinese who came to Manila and whom we in the Philippines call Sangleys.”91 And Colin says “his principal occupation was with the Tagalog Indians, being the first of the Company to learn their language.”92 Nothing further is said of his accomplishments in these languages, but his knowledge would have been available in 1593, for he was then still active in the islands.
Chirino himself landed at Manila in 1590 shortly after Dasmariñas, and went almost immediately to Taytay where he learned Tagalog and was joined in 1592 by Martin Henriquez. At the time Juan de Oliver was preaching in that district, and it is exceedingly probable that he helped the newcomers with the language, for Chirino speaks of him in terms of highest praise. Henriquez “learned the language in three months and in six wrote a catechism in it, a confessionary, and a book of sermons for all the gospels of the year in the said idiom,”93 but he died on February 3, 1593 at Taytay. How thoroughly Chirino himself had grasped the fundamentals of Tagalog is evident from his three chapters94 on the language and letters  of the natives in which he prints the Ave Maria in Tagalog and reproduces the Tagalog alphabet—its first appearance in a European publication. But Chirino, who remained in the provinces until 1595, would have mentioned his participation and that of Henriquez in the Doctrina of 1593, so we record them as possible but not probable consultants.
Had Aduarte written that the first books printed at Manila were two Doctrinas issued by the Dominicans at San Gabriel in 1593, and given some details of their production, we could conclude our study with a quotation from him, but nowhere does he mention them. In fact, his inference was that the first book was that printed for Blancas de San José, and yet we know that this Doctrina preceded anything that Blancas de San José could have written, since he did not come to the Philippines until 1595. We can assume, as Retana did, that by printing Aduarte meant printing from movable type, but this does not explain away the fact that Aduarte, who recorded in detail events of far less significance, did not speak of the Doctrinas at all. The best—and it is a most unsatisfactory best—that we can do is ascribe the omission to the frailty of man, and record that there is no notice of the Dominican Doctrina of 1593 in the most complete contemporary Dominican history of the Philippines.
The first members of the Order of St. Dominic95 to land in the Philippines were Bishop Salazar and his assistant, Christoval de Salvatierra. But they were fully occupied with the administration of the bishopric and could not devote themselves to regular missionary work. It was not until July 25, 1587 that working Dominican missionaries came. Then fifteen96 under the leadership of Juan de Castro arrived, and established the first Dominican province97 of the Philippines and China, thus consummating the hope expressed as early as 1579.98 
In consultation with the other orders it was decided that the Dominicans should be given the ministry of the territories of Pangasinan and Bataan, which had theretofore been spiritually exploited by few priests. Almost immediately, on September 15, 1587, the vicariate of Bataan was founded and settled. In speaking of it, Aduarte stressed the importance of a knowledge of the language of the natives, which there would have been Tagalog, to the success of the mission. Domingo de Nieva, one of the four members of the mission, learned it rapidly and well, and soon began to preach to the Indians in their own tongue. His aptitude for languages and its usefulness to the Dominicans must have been very great, for Aduarte in listing the priests who originally volunteered in Spain makes few comments about individuals, but of Nieva he remarks that he “was afterwards of great importance because of the great ease and skill with which he learned languages, whether Indian or Chinese.”99 Unfortunately Nieva was only a deacon, and so could not hear confession, a fact which was greatly deplored, because during that first year no other priest mastered the language sufficiently well to do it, but in September 1588 he reached the requisite age and was ordained. About that time the friars in Bataan—one had died and another was ailing—were joined by Juan de la Cruz, “who, being young, succeeded very well with the language,”100 and also succeeded in surviving the climate.
Early in 1588 Juan Cobo101 arrived from Mexico. Shortly thereafter, on June 12, 1588, the Dominican chapter held its first convocation. It elected Juan de Castro the first provincial, adopted the general ordinances102 already made in Mexico, gave the convent at Manila the title of priory, and designated as parts of the province four vicariates. Of primary importance was the appointment then of Juan Cobo to the mission for the Chinese.
From the very earliest days of the Spanish occupation of Manila, the governors had had trouble with the Chinese and Sangleys.103 These people  had long conducted a profitable trade between China and the Philippines, and many had settled permanently near Manila, while others stayed there regularly between trading voyages. The Chinese merchants were in full control of the shops of the city, and so monopolized retail trade that the early governors legislated104 against them to give the Spaniards a chance to establish themselves in business. In 1588 there were as many as seven thousand of them in and around Manila.
No one had objected to the Pangasinan and Bataan assignments, but when it was suggested that the Dominicans also assume the responsibility for the ministry over the Chinese and Sangleys in the suburbs of Manila, the Augustinians vehemently resented what they considered an invasion of their prior rights. Aduarte omits any account of a disagreement, merely saying that since the Chinese had had no one to minister to them the Dominicans assumed that responsibility, but in a letter105 from the Licentiate Gaspar de Ayala to Philip II, dated from Manila, July 15, 1589, full details of the squabble are given. From this source we learn that the Augustinians had a convent in the village of Tondo in the Chinese district. There they had ministered to the natives in their own language, but had rather neglected their Chinese-speaking parishioners. Consequently after the arrival of the Dominicans the Audiencia passed an ordinance requiring that the Bishop appoint ministers of one order to administer to the Chinese in their own language within thirty days. To meet the deadline the Augustinians began to study Chinese at breakneck speed, but when the Bishop came to Tondo to hear one of the friars, who was supposed to know the language, preach in it, there was some trouble as a result of which the Augustinian would not, or indeed could not, preach. Naturally, when it was decided to award the territory to the Dominicans, the Augustinians accused the Bishop of favoritism towards his own order.
The whole situation is best described in the report on the Chinese made by Salazar to the King on June 24, 1590: 
“When I arrived in this land, I found that in a village called Tondo—which is not far from this city, there being a river between—lived many Sangleys, of whom some were Christians, but the larger part infidels. In this city were also some shops kept by Sangleys, who lived here in order to sell the goods which they kept here year by year. These Sangleys were scattered among the Spaniards, with no specific place assigned to them, until Don Gonzalo Ronquillo allotted them a place to live in, and to be used as a silk-market (which is here called Parián), of four large buildings. Here, many shops were opened, commerce increased, and more Sangleys came to this city.... When I came, all the Sangleys were almost forgotten, and relegated to a corner. No thought was taken for their conversion, because no one knew their language or undertook to learn it on account of its great difficulty; and because the religious who lived here were too busy with the natives of these islands. Although the Augustinian religious had charge of the Sangleys of Tondo, they did not minister to or instruct them in their own language, but in that of the natives or this land; thus the Sangley Christians living here, were Christians only in name, knowing no more of Christianity than if they had never accepted it.... Then I appealed to all religious orders to appoint some one of their religious to learn the language and take charge of the Sangleys. Although all of them showed a desire to do so, and some even began to learn it, yet no one succeeded; and the Sangleys found themselves with no one to instruct them and take up their conversion with the necessary earnestness, until, in the year eighty-seven, God brought to these islands the religious of St. Dominic.”106
So we find, as the Dominicans undertook their mission, a large settlement of Chinese, including both a settled and a floating population, concentrated in the Parián, across the Pasig river from the main city of Manila.
The dominating figure of the Chinese mission from the time of his arrival in the Philippines was Juan Cobo. In a letter, written by him from the Parián of Manila, July 13, 1589, probably to ecclesiastical authorities in Mexico, he gives an account of the early days of the mission:
“The Order took a site next to this Parián, since there was not a single house between Santo Domingo and the Parián. And because of this opportunity the Order presently charged itself with the Chinese, both Christians and infidels. And upon P. Fr. Miguel de Benavides and P. Fr. Juan Maldonado was imposed the responsibility for the care of the Chinese and for learning their language. P. Fr. Miguel was less occupied with other matters than Fr. Juan Maldonado, so that he progressed in the language enough to begin to catechize in it. This was the first year the Order was in Manila. 
“Presently in the second year when I came, the Order moved P. Fr. Miguel and myself into another separate house at the other edge of the Parián. So that there stood between Santo Domingo and San Gabriel, which is the name of this church of the Chinese, the whole of the Parián of the Sangleys. And there a poor little church was built under the protection of San Gabriel, to whom it fell by lot, and a poor house where we two lived. We entered into it at the beginning of September 1588. This was the first church for the Chinese built, and we believe that there is today not another parish church [for the Chinese] but that.... And P. Fr. Miguel catechized them and preached to them in their Chinese language, and taught the doctrine in it. I myself did not yet know the language, but the Lord has been served, so that in a short time I progressed in it.”107
The account of Aduarte is not so accurate in some details, but it supplies others not mentioned by Cobo. The first mission which Benavides and Maldonado (or de San Pedro Martyr as he was later known) built was near the village of Tondo, in a new settlement specially founded for Christian Chinese, called Baybay, and it was named for Our Lady of the Purification. The second mission which was established by Benavides and Cobo was at first a palm-leaf hut. The name of San Gabriel was decided upon by making lots with the names of various saints on them and then drawing. San Gabriel came out three times in a row, and “all were persuaded that the Lord was pleased to have the patronage belong to this holy archangel.” Soon, because of the good works of the fathers who established a hospital there for the care of the sick and poor, the demands upon the hut became so great that a larger building was planned. At first it was to have been erected on the site of the hut, but the inhabitants protested that a stone building so near native houses might do them great damage in the event of an earthquake, so the friars went to the other side of the river, and there built a temporary building of wood which was later completed in stone. It was here then that the Doctrina was printed, in the Church of San Gabriel, near the Parián of Manila, at the edge of the Chinese settlement.
Under the care of Benavides and Cobo the mission flourished, and the two fathers became increasingly proficient in the Chinese language. When  the provincial Juan de Castro began making preparations for an inspection tour of his Chinese vicariate in 1590, he chose as his companion Miguel de Benavides. The account of the events leading up to this expedition is given in the already quoted letter of Salazar on the Chinese:
“Of the Dominican religious who came to these islands, four are engaged in ministering to the Sangleys. Two of these four officiate in the Church of San Gabriel, which, together with the house where the religious live, stands close to the Parián. Another church with its house is on the promontory of Baybay, near Tondo—which a river divides, separating it from Manila. Two of the four have learned the language of the Sangleys so well, and one of these two how to write also (which is the most difficult part of the language), that the Sangleys wonder at their knowledge.... After due consideration of the matter, the Dominican fathers and myself decided that it was necessary to go to China.... Thus we decided upon the departure, sending at present no more than two religious: Fray Miguel de Benavides, who was the first to learn the language of the Sangleys; and Father Juan de Castro, who came as vicar of the religious and who was made provincial here. We preferred these two, as one is well acquainted with the language, and the other is much loved and esteemed by the Sangleys on account of his venerable gray locks and blessed old age; and we know that in that land old people are much respected and revered.”108
They sailed on May 22, 1590, but Juan de Castro before he left appointed Cobo acting superior of the province with full authority during his absence, and in the latter’s place as head of the Chinese mission sent Juan de San Pedro Martyr.
There is no doubt but that at this time Benavides and Cobo were the two outstanding Chinese linguists among the Spaniards in the Philippines. To Benavides has been attributed109 a Chinese dictionary, and Schilling110 uses the already quoted letter of Cobo to prove that he also wrote a Doctrina in Chinese, but, granting that such works were written by him, there is no evidence that they were written in Chinese characters, and not in Chinese transliterated into roman letters. The available evidence points to the fact that Cobo was the only one who could then write in Chinese characters. Salazar in his above quoted letter had said that “one of these two [have learned] how to write also,” and in the same letter he continued,  “Fray Juan Cobo, the Dominican religious—who, as I have said before, knows the language of the Sangleys and their writing, and who is most esteemed by them—is sending to Your Majesty a book, one of a number brought to him from China.”111 Further witness to Cobo’s amazing knowledge of Chinese writing is given by Aduarte:
“He knew three thousand Chinese characters, each different from all the rest, for the Chinese have no definite number of letters nor alphabet.... He translated a number [of Chinese books]; for like those of Seneca, though they are the work of heathens, they contain many profound sayings like ours. He taught astrology to some of them whom he found capable of learning; and to bring them by all means to their salvation also taught them some trades that are necessary among Spaniards, but which, not being used by the Chinese, they did not know—such as painting images, binding books, cutting and sewing clothes, and such things—doing all to win men to God.”112
Finally, as a more definite proof that Cobo could have been the author of the Chinese Doctrina of 1593, we have the record113 of a Catecismo de la Doctrina Cristiana en Lengua China written by him, as well as many other works in Chinese.
In May 1590, then, the most accomplished Sinologist yet to work in the Philippines was in charge of the Dominican province. “His first act,” wrote Aduarte, “was to strengthen the ministry to the Chinese by appointing to it Father Domingo de Nieva, a priest of great virtue and very able—which was tremendously important there—and one who best mastered that language, as well as that of the Indians in which he had had experience; and he worked in both of them, and wrote much to the great advantage of those who came after him.”114 It is surprising that no previous writer has emphasized the presence of Domingo de Nieva, whose proficiency in Tagalog we have already noted, at San Gabriel during the years when the printing of the Doctrinas must have been planned and executed. His works are cited by Fernández,115 and after giving a summary of his career, Aduarte added: 
“He wrote much in the language of the Indians and other things in the language of the Chinese for whom he had printed in their language and characters a memorial upon the Christian life, with other brief tracts of prayer and meditation, in preparation for the holy sacraments, of confession and the sacred communion. He was an enemy of sloth, and so worked much in Chinese, in which he wrote a practically new grammar of the Chinese language, a vocabulary, a manual of confession and many sermons, in order that those who had to learn this language might find it less difficult.”116
Medina117 records these various works as Manila imprints of unknown date, and to this indefinite information about them we can add nothing positive. However, it is apparent that some time before 1606, when Nieva died on his way to Mexico, he had had books printed, and since they were in Chinese they must have been printed from wood-blocks, for at that early date it would have been impossible to have cast the number of characters necessary to print in Chinese with movable type.
With Nieva was Maldonado, or San Pedro Martyr. He had been one of the first associates of Benavides in the first Chinese mission at Baybay, but after the arrival of Cobo he had been sent by order of the first chapter to Pangasinan. When Cobo was appointed acting provincial San Pedro Martyr was again assigned to the Chinese ministry. He had learned Tagalog, and after his return to the Parián “he learned more words of the Chinese language than any other member of the order, though he was not successful with the pronunciation.”118
On May 31, 1592, the Governor received a letter from the Emperor of Japan demanding that an ambassador be sent to offer him the fealty of the Philippines. Juan Cobo, as the best speaker of Chinese, was chosen to represent the Spaniards, and he left Manila on July 29, 1592. After successfully convincing the Japanese Emperor of the amity of the Spaniards, he left to come back to Manila, but his ship was wrecked in November on the coast of Formosa, and there Cobo was killed by hostile natives. Meanwhile Benavides had gone back to Spain with Bishop Salazar in  1591, and did not return to the Philippines until after his appointment as Bishop of Nueva Segovia in 1595.
That left as the only two remaining experts in the Chinese language, Domingo de Nieva and Juan de San Pedro Martyr, both of whom were at San Gabriel in 1592. Moreover, both of them knew Chinese and Tagalog. A text in Tagalog was available, based on the Talavera-Plasencia-Oliver model, which had circulated freely, and this, we believe, was further edited—hence the “corrected by the religious of the orders”—by these two Dominicans. In their editorial work they may have been helped by Juan de la Cruz, who, we have noted, was sent to Bataan in 1588, there learned Tagalog, and “succeeded so perfectly with it that Father Fr. Francisco San Joseph, who was afterwards the best linguist there, profited by the papers and labors of P. Fr. Juan de la Cruz.”119 Juan de Oliver, the pioneer Franciscan Tagalist was still living and available for consultation, and the polylingual Jesuit, Francisco Almerique, also was in Manila at the time. A Chinese text had been written by Juan Cobo, and both Nieva and San Pedro Martyr were capable of preparing this for publication, again possibly aided by Almerique, and also Diego Muñoz, if as an Augustinian he had been willing to cooperate with the Dominicans. Nothing remained to be done but have the blocks cut and the impressions pulled.
The Printing of the Books
The stage was set for the production of the Doctrinas. That there were Chinese xylographic models upon which the books could be based is evidenced by the account of Mendoza of the considerable number of Chinese books brought to Manila by Martin de Rada as early as 1575. A more likely model was a bilingual text in Spanish and Chinese which Cobo describes in his letter of July 13, 1589, where speaking of the Jesuits in China he says: 
“Moreover the Father of the Company who was in China wrote and printed in Chinese letters a whole book of the unity of God, the creation of the world, and the commandments explained; and in this book has gotten as far as the incarnation of the Son of God. Concerning this I am not speaking of things heard, for I have it, and am thus certain of it, as of all the things that happened. How far I have progressed with the Chinese letters I shall say later. This book was printed in China in 1584. It circulates freely in China whence we have our copy, and because of the writing, contrary to what others have misleadingly said about the Chinese, they have done him no ill: from which it may be inferred that the lion is not so wild as they paint him.”120
There is no direct evidence to support our belief that it was during the brief period after Castro returned, probably late in 1590, and relieved Cobo of his executive responsibilities, and June 1592 when he left for Japan, that Cobo began intensive plans for the production of bilingual texts. His recorded interest in such books, his influence with the Chinese, his energy and his own linguistic aptitude would naturally have stimulated him to undertake the task. Whether he actually began work on the blocks from which the books were printed, or merely suggested the feasibility of the idea, we do not know, but we feel sure that Juan Cobo was the father of the production of books in the Philippines.
There is no need here to go into the history of printing in China; the method used there and its antiquity have been fully described by others.121 That there were Chinese in Manila who understood this age-old process would seem obvious from the reports of skilled craftsmen whose presence was noted by all the writers of the period. We have already quoted a reference to Juan Cobo’s teaching them European trades, and Salazar in his already cited letter speaks of them further:
“They are so skillful and clever, that, as soon as they see any object made by a Spanish workman, they reproduce it with exactness. What arouses my wonder most is, that when I arrived no Sangley knew how to paint anything; but now they have so perfected themselves in this art that they have produced marvelous works with both the brush and the chisel.... What has pleased all of us here has been the arrival of a bookbinder from Mexico. He brought books with him, set up a bindery, and hired a Sangley who had offered his services to him. The Sangley secretly, and  without his master noticing it, watched how the latter bound books, and lo, in less than [lacuna in MS.] he left the house, saying that he wished to serve him no longer, and set up a similar shop.”122
To turn over a manuscript copy of a book to a Chinaman who had already some familiarity with the production of books in China, or who with a given text could carve the blocks according to tradition, was then not a matter of great difficulty. There were Chinese books which showed what the result would be; there were Spanish books, definitely some from Mexico, which provided samples of European characters and format.
Who cut the blocks—that is exactly what Chinaman—we do not know, nor do we know who handled the presswork, but it is logical to assume that the whole process took place under the supervision of the fathers of San Gabriel, Juan Cobo if work had begun before 1592, and certainly Nieva and San Pedro Martyr. One further aide may have been the lay brother, Pedro Rodriguez, who had been sent to San Gabriel with Nieva, and who was a handyman or skilled mechanic, for Aduarte credits him with rebuilding and restoring the hospital.
In speaking of the book printed for Blancas de San José, Aduarte said that the printing had been done by “a Chinaman, a good Christian,”123 but in this particular account he does not give the Chinaman’s name. Yet, where he describes the founding of a second church of San Gabriel in Binondo, sometime after March 28, 1594124 and before June 15, 1596 when it was admitted to the chapter, he tells in some detail of printing done by Juan de Vera.125
“There have been in this town [Binondo, then called Minondoc] many Chinese of very exemplary lives. Juan de Vera was not only a very devout man, and one much given to prayer, but a man who caused all his household to be the same. He always heard mass, and was very regular in his attendance at church. He adorned the church most handsomely with hangings and paintings, because he understood this art. He also, thinking only of the great results to be attained by means of holy and devout books, gave himself to the great labor necessary to establish printing in this country, where there was no journeyman who could show him the way, or give him an  account of the manner of printing in Europe, which is very different from the manner of printing followed in his own country of China. The Lord aided his pious intentions, and he gave to this undertaking not only continued and excessive labor, but all the forces of his mind, which were great. In spite of the difficulties, he attained that which he desired, and was the first printer in these islands; and this not from avarice—for he gained much more in his business as a merchant, and readily gave up his profit—but merely to do service to the Lord and this good to the souls of the natives.”126
It is interesting to note that this narrative, which is in substance similar to that about the books of Blancas de San José, nowhere mentions the name of the priest in connection with Vera. It is probable that Juan de Vera was, as Retana believed, the first typographer, and it may be that he also printed the Doctrinas of 1593. It is impossible to say with certainty, but it is not too fanciful to suppose that Juan de Vera tried xylographic printing under the supervision of Nieva and San Pedro Martyr, and after some experimenting achieved typography in the time of Blancas de San José.
Since we have here dealt with a volume printed entirely from wood-blocks it does not seem necessary to discuss in detail the subsequent typographical books. However, just as this goes to press, a copy of the Ordinationes Generales prouintiae Sanctissimi Rosarij Philippinarum,127 printed at Binondo by Juan de Vera in 1604, has been discovered, and also presented by Mr. Rosenwald to the Library of Congress. This is the volume described by Remesal128 as being printed “in as fine characters and as correctly as if in Rome or Lyon.” No copy of the book had been described since his day, although Medina129 and Retana130 both listed it from references which probably derived from Remesal. Its discovery—almost unbelievable coming so close on the heels of that of the Doctrina—helps to close the gap between the latter and the two Bataan imprints131 of 1610, the Arte y Reglas de la Lengva Tagala and the Librong Pagaaralan nang manga Tagalog nang uicang Castilla. 
The full story of the early typographical products of the Philippines must wait upon another occasion, for the questions posed by the scanty records and the handful of surviving books are extremely knotty. Where did the type come from? Medina suggested it was imported from Macao; Retana believed it to have been cut in the Philippines. Fernández said that the first works of Blancas de San José were printed at Bataan and the two 1610 books have that place of printing, yet in 1604 the Ordinationes issued from Binondo. Remesal wrote that this book was printed by Francisco de Vera, and the book itself bears the name of Juan. Indeed, the history of the early typographers and the output of their presses, as it has so far been written, presents many problems, but they are problems which we feel are outside the scope of this study.
To summarize what we have learned of the earliest printing in the Philippines: we have the possibility, but not a likely one, that an Arte by Juan de Quiñones was printed xylographically in 1581; we know that in the first half of the year 1593 two Doctrinas were printed xylographically—although we have no way of telling which came first—one in Tagalog from the Talavera-Plasencia-Oliver text, and one in Chinese written by Juan Cobo, both edited and printed under the supervision of Domingo de Nieva and Juan de San Pedro Martyr; we surmise that between 1593 and 1602 other works were also printed xylographically, such as the small tracts of Juan de Villanueva and some of the books of Blancas de San José, Nieva and others; and in 1602 was printed by Juan de Vera, in all likelihood from movable type, the book of Our Lady of the Rosary by Blancas de San José. The known facts are not many, and we can only hope that time and further research will discover new ones to make the history of the earliest Philippine imprints more complete and more satisfactory.
Philadelphia, January 20, 1947 Edwin Wolf 2nd.