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(from left)
- Illustration of traditional Komedya staging.
- Costume of principal actors.
From: Kasaysayan ng Komedya. Tiongson, N. 1982. Manila: De La Salle University

It is a theater dramatization of the conflicts between Christian and Muslim heroes usually ending with the victory of the Christian and conversion of Muslims to Christianity.

Reasons for selection

It was once a major Filipino theater tradition, but in recent time due to changing national politics as well as the influx of modern theater and cinema has gradually been fading and its actors disappearing with little hope of successors.

Area where performed

Ilocos, Pampanga, Tagalog Region, Bicol Region, Visayas (the Christian areas of the Philippines in general.)

Essential elements of the performing art

Music, Dance, Theatre

Detailed explanation

The Komedya is a colorful theatrical tradition in Christianized Philippines whose plot generally revolves around the social, political and religious conflicts of Muslim and Christian heroes dramatized in colorful romantic and stylized acting, and in exotic costumes, presented usually during community festivals with the support and patronage of the community. Participants are usually recruited from the communities where they are presented and the language of the script is the language of the locality where it is presented. Thus, it is in Ilocano in the Ilocos, Kapampangan in Pampanga, Tagalog in the Tagalog provinces, Cebuano in Cebu, etc.

This theater tradition has its origins in the theater traditions of Spain and Mexico in the 16th-18th century. It came to the Philippines through the Hispanic Christianization of the Philippines, which is why many of the plots have Hispanic characteristics.

The Philippine Komedya -- which eventually became adopted in various ethnolinguistic sections of the country -- is said to have began in 1766 and was in a state of development until 1820 from which year to 1896 it experienced what is called a flowering of this tradition. After the Philippine revolution, it was again flourishing, and except in Manila, it was flourishing in the rural areas of the Philippines until about 1982. But largely due to changes in the structures of Philippine society and new media and aesthetics, this performing art is gravely endangered.

Publication and textual documentation

TIONGSON, Nicanor G.
1982 Kasaysayan ng Komedya sa Pilipinos 1766-1982 History of the Komedya in the Philippines 1766-1982 .
Manila: De La Salle University. 269p. In Tagalog; with Komedya text.

Audio documentation

not yet available

Visual documentation

not yet available

Institution/organisation involved in preservation and promotion

does not exist

Data provider

Dr. Florentino H. Hornedo
Ateneo de Manila University
Address: Loyola Heights, Quezon City, Philippines