Book Reviews Charlotte Mason Filipiniana Living Books

Books Recos: FREE Living Books on Philippine History or Geography

This is an attempt to compile some of the “living books” about Philippine history and geography that are readily available online. I am indebted to the mamas at the Charlotte Mason Philippines Facebook group for pointing out some of these resources. I shall regularly update this page as I scour the Internet and find some more books.

UPDATED! This page was last updated on 25 June 2020.


1. Francisco the Filipino

by Burtis M. Little

At the close of the Spanish-American War in 1898, Spain withdrew from the Philippine Islands after more than three centuries of residence, and turned over the responsibilities of Philippine control to the people of the United States.

A number of years have elapsed since the American people took up the white man’s burden in the Orient, and although thousands of Americans have visited our new possessions during this time, there are still many persons who think vaguely of the Philippines as a tiny group of islands somewhere in the Pacific, inhabited by half savage people who wear little or no clothing and prefer dog meat to all other kinds of food.

When one stops to note that the archipelago consists of more than three thousand islands, which, if placed within the United States, would occupy an area extending from Minneapolis to New Orleans and from Denver [vi]to Kansas City, he secures a more definite idea of their magnitude. And when he learns further that the soil of these islands is astonishingly fertile, that they abound in valuable timber, coal, gold, copper, iron, lead, and platinum, and that of the eight million inhabitants, only about half a million are uncivilized, the remainder being Christians, some of whom are highly educated, with all the graces and accomplishments of a European, he again finds himself startled at the importance of these new American territories across the seas.

It was with the idea of giving American boys and girls a clearer idea of the Filipino people,—how they live, what they eat and wear, how they work and how they play,—that this little book was written. The author recalls with the greatest pleasure the two years spent among the school boys and girls of Albay Province, and is glad to number among his warmest friends the Filipinos of southern Luzon.

Franciso the Filipino is also available in print at The Learning Basket shop.


2. The Philippine Islands

by Ramon Reyes Lala

The book “The Philippine Islands” came about as a response  to the many inquiries that the author received from the many people he encountered during his student days as well on  his travels. After all, in those days, nothing in English has yet been written about the Philippines. It was then that “the idea of writing a history of my own fatherland…occurred to me. It was mortifying then to think that the glories of my native land were no better known.”

Buddy Gomez, “OPINION: The first naturalized Filipino-American” [Accessed 9 June 2020]

The author, Ramon Reyes Lala, is actually is the first naturalized Filipino-American. You can read more about that in this ABS-CBN News feature.


3. Fil and Filippa: Story of Child Life in the Philippines

 by John Stuart Thomson

Fil and Filippa: Story of Child Life in the Philippines is a 1917 novel written by American writer John Stuart Thomson. In the novel, Thomson narrated the life in the Philippines based on his impression of the country as a first time visitor. He focused on the customs and the life at home of a Filipino child. The story was written for children at the fifth, sixth, and seventh grade levels in the United States. 

Wikipedia


4. Adventures in the Philippine Islands

by  Paul P. de La Gironière

On hearing a recital of some adventures which had occurred to me during my long voyages, many of my friends have frequently begged of me to publish a narrative of them, which might perhaps be interesting.

“Nothing can be more easy for you,” they said, “as you have always kept a journal since your departure from France.”

I hesitated, however, to follow their advice, or to yield to their wishes, when I was one day surprised to see my name in one of the feuilletons in the “Constitutionnel.”

M. Alexandre Dumas was publishing, under the title of “The Thousand-and-One Phantoms,” a romance, one of the principal personages of which, in a voyage to the Philippine Islands, must have known me when I was residing at Jala-Jala, in the colony that I founded there.[xiv]

It must be evident that the lively romancist has ranked me in the category of his Thousand-and-One Phantoms; but, to prove to the public that I am really in existence, I have resolved to take up the pen, under an impression, that facts of the most scrupulous veracity, and which can be attested by some hundreds of persons, might possess some interest, and be read without ennui, by those especially who are desirous of learning the customs of the savage tribes amongst whom I have resided.


5. A History of the Philippines

by David P. Barrows

This book has been prepared at the suggestion of the educational authorities for pupils in the public high schools of the Philippines, as an introduction to the history of their country. Its preparation occupied about two years, while the author was busily engaged in other duties,—much of it being written while he was traveling or exploring in different parts of the Archipelago. No pretensions are made to an exhaustive character for the book. For the writer, as well as for the pupil for whom it is intended, it is an introduction into the study of the history of Malaysia.

Considerable difficulty has been experienced in securing the necessary historical sources, but it is believed that the principal ones have been read. The author is greatly indebted to the Honorable Dr. Pardo de Tavera for the use of rare volumes from his library, and he wishes to acknowledge also the kindness of Mr. Manuel Yriarte, Chief of the Bureau of Archives, for permission to examine public documents. The occasional reprints of the old Philippine histories have, however, been used more frequently than the original editions. The splendid series of reprinted works on the Philippines, promised by Miss Blair and Mr. Robertson, was not begun in time to be used in the preparation of this book. The appearance of this series will make easy a path which the present writer [4]has found comparatively difficult, and will open the way for an incomparably better History of the Philippines than has ever yet been made.

The drawings of ethnographic subjects, which partly illustrate this book, were made from objects in the Philippine Museum by Mr. Anselmo Espiritu, a teacher in the public schools of Manila. They are very accurate.


6. The Story of Magellan and The Discovery of the Philippines

by Hezekiah Butterworth

I have been asked to write a story of Ferdinand Magellan, the value of whose discoveries has received a new interpretation in the development of the South Temperate Zone of America, and in the ceding of the Philippine Islands to the United States. The works of Lord Stanley and of Guillemard furnish comprehensive histories of the intrepid discoverer of the South Pacific Ocean and the Philippine Islands; but there would seem to be room for a short, picturesque story of Magellan’s adventures, such as might be read by family lamps and in schools.

To attempt to write such a story is more than a pleasure, for the study of Magellan reveals a character high above his age; a man unselfish and true, who was filled with a passion for discovery, and who sought the welfare of humanity and the glory of the Cross rather than wealth or fame. Among [viii]great discoverers he has left a character well-nigh ideal. The incidents of his life are not only honorable, but usually have the color of chivalry.

His voyages, as pictured by his companion Pigafetta, the historian, give us our first view of the interesting native inhabitants of the South Temperate Zone and of the Pacific archipelagoes, and his adventures with the giants of Patagonia and with the natives of the Ladrone Islands, read almost like stories of Sinbad the Sailor. The simple record of his adventures is in itself a storybook.

Magellan, from his usually high and unselfish character, as well as for the lasting influence of what he did as shown in the new developments of civilization, merits a place among household heroes; and it is in this purpose and spirit I have undertaken a simple sympathetic interpretation of his most noble and fruitful life. I have tried to put into the form of a story the events whose harvests now appear after nearly four hundred years, and to picture truthfully a beautiful and inspiring character. To the narrative of his lone lantern I have added some tales of the Philippines.


Have you used any of these resources? Did I miss anything? Do share in the comments!

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