Xiqu in the Philippines: From Church Suppression to MegaMall Shows

Author(s):

Josh Stenberg

Publisher:

Journal of Chinese Overseas

Type:

Year published:

Article

2020

Volume:

16

Issue:

NA

Pages:

58-89

Keywords:

xiqu, music, Chinese, Philippines

Abstract

Evidence of xiqu (“Chinese opera”) in the Philippines begins in the early 16th centu-ry, when the Catholic church sought to suppress it. Despite its longevity, Philippine xiqu has not featured much in the multidisciplinary study of ethnic Chinese in the Philippines, nor as part of the global turn in xiqu research. This article, attending to the history and contemporary practice of xiqu, situates the Philippines and especially Manila firmly in the Hokkien network of Chinese theatre, especially in the period between the late nineteenth century and World War II. The Philippines were, and remain today, an important node in xiqu dissemination, transfer, and transnational evolution, as well as an integral part of the culture of the Chinese in the Philippines. The Philippine case helps break down fundamental linguistic, ethnic, and religious equations surrounding xiqu, given the genre’s syncretism, ethnic ambiguity, and non-Chinese language environment.

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