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Ambeth Ocampo on Tomás Pinpín

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Everybody’s favorite scholar and today’s foremost historian, the very friendly Ambeth Ocampo, shares with us some tidbits of a great Filipino, culture hero Tomás Pinpín, to commemmorate Día de la Hispanidad which happens tomorrow (or just a few minutes from now as of this writing).

October 12, 1492 is the day Columbus set foot on America. This was an event once commemorated as the “discovery” of America but in 1992 was celebrated and repackaged as the “encuentro de dos mundos” or the encounter of two worlds, the meeting of the Old World (Europe) and the New (the Americas). When I was in college, we had 12 units of Spanish in our curriculum and each year on Oct. 12, students celebrated the Spanish National Day or Día de la Hispanidad with song, dance, and food. After college, I looked forward to the annual reception in the Spanish ambassador’s residence in Forbes Park to meet old friends and partake of the largest paellas in Manila.

Día de la Hispanidad for me is better associated with T. Pinpín, a narrow forgotten street in downtown Manila named in honor of the 17th century engraver Tomás Pinpín. Unfortunately, not much is known about him, not even basic information, date of birth and date of death — however Pinpín’s name lives on, at least in Filipiniana bibliographies, for the wonderful books he printed, many of them rare today. He is also remembered for a bilingual Spanish-Tagalog book he wrote and printed that resulted in his being conferred the title of “Prince of Filipino Engravers” that makes me wonder who is “the King” of Filipino Engravers. His other textbook title is “Patriarch of Filipino Printing” that again makes me wonder if the printing profession was exclusively male in the past because many book companies or publishing houses today were established or run by women: Esther Vibal, Socorro Ramos, Gilda Cordero Fernando, Gloria Rodríguez, Reni Roxas, Karina Bolasco, Cristina Pantoja Hidalgo, Maricor Baytión and many more. So if Tomás Pinpín is the “patriarch” of Filipino Printing, we have to determine the “matriarch.”

Tomás Pinpín was active in his profession from 1610, when his name first appeared in Blancas de San José’s “Arte y reglas de la lengua tagala” (the first Tagalog grammar ever published), to 1639, when he published the “Relación de la Vida y Martirio del Jesuita P. Mastrilli” (Report on the life and martyrdom of the Jesuit Fr. Mastrilli). While Pinpín’s name does not appear in books after 1639, no one is sure whether this is due to death, retirement, or the passing of his printing press to his son Simón.

Bas relief of Tomás Pinpín.

Read the rest of the article here.

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