Tuesday, April 21, 2009

World Digital Library, I Love You!

As a Filipino who became a US citizen at such a young age, I've always been curious about my Filipino heritage. Thanks to the internet, I can research about the history of the Filipino Americans and the Philippine culture and history without leaving my home office and spending over $2000 worth of roundtrip ticket to the Philippines.

I recently visited the World Digital Library where they posted online some of history's earliest works such as the Christian Doctrine in Spanish and Tagalog which was the first book printed in the Philippines. It was published in Manila in 1593. (FYI, Tagalog is one of the dialects that is commonly spoken in the Philippines. There are 170 dialects in the country.)

One of the pages featured online in Christian Doctrine in Spanish and Tagalog
Sources: World Digital Library and the Library of Congress

I was in complete amazement as I viewed the scanned pages of this book that was nearly five centuries old. The book showed the Tagalog alphabet, which were the same alphabets that I learned from my early childhood education in the Philippines. It also featured the Our Father prayer both in Spanish and Tagalog.

The real (not scanned) Christian Doctrine in Spanish and Tagalog can be located in the Library of Congress in Washington D.C. I found it strange that this book was not in the Philippines or in Spain.

Curious to know more about the doctrine? Check it out here. This link will also feature the scanned pages of the book.

I strongly urge you to visit the World Digital Library. Journals, maps, and even old videos are just some of the media featured from all over the world. If you love history or if you just want to itch that scratch, run. Don't walk there. I promise that you won't regret it, and it's worth your time.

Just one of the manuscripts that was featured online from World Digital Library. It was written by Antonio Pigafetta who journeyed with Ferdinand Magellan when the latter discovered the Philippines in 1521.

An Oracle Bone from China made between 1200 to 1180 B.C.


  1. Thanks for the tip.My family comes from the Seychelles and this Magellan also made his mark there.

  2. Hi Helen! I'll definitely visit the World Digital Library. Do you get to visit the Philippines for vacation at all?

  3. Seychelles. Yvette, did you know I had to google that? Sorry for my ignorance. This is why I love learning new things.

    Hey, Peter. Kumusta ka dyan sa Maynila? (For our non-Tagalog speakers, that's How are you doing there in Manila?) To answer your question, I haven't visited the Philippines in a long time. I was lucky to go back there during the 90's and finish my bachelor's. If I didn't, I would have forgotten how to speak Tagalog.

    I promise myself that one day I will take a vacation there and enjoy the white, sandy beaches. I think the Philippines has the most beautiful beaches in the world.