CORNELL University Professor emeritus and Philippine studies scholar Benedict Anderson releases another remarkable contribution to Philippine letters in his translation of Isabelo de los Reyes’ Ang Diablo sa Filipinas.
De los Reyes is one of the earliest Philippine folklorists who is credited for compiling El Folk-Lore Filipino which won a silver medal at the Madrid Exposition in the late 1800s.
Anderson was fascinated by El Diablo Filipino because of the numerous details provided by De Los Reyes on Philippine indigenous beliefs and mythology and the tales being spread by Spanish friars supposedly to combat superstition among Filipinos.
The scholar praises De Los Reyes for his research on folklore and his keen sense of humor in the re-telling and “mockery” of the friars that put down Filipinos’ beliefs in deities. He also says that goes as far as placing the author in the same heroic pedestal as Rizal.
“The First Filipino criticized Isabelo as a shallow writer, unreliable with facts, ignorant, and self-promoting, while Isabelo often wrote about Rizal with pure admiration. Despite his weaknesses—which all of us have—one can’t avoid feeling that he was the nicest of the heroes of his time—let’s say, by comparison with Rizal, the Luna brothers, Del Pilar, Mabini, Ponce and others,” Anderson said.
Ang Diablo sa Filipinas is available in the History section of all National Book Store and Powerbooks branches nationwide.