May 12 to September 15, 2006

Curated by Eileen Legaspi-Ramirez and Claro Ramirez

This modest showing of novenas and prayer books sought to draw attention to how sacred texts from the 1800s and 1900s figured in the crafting of discourse on the self and the divine. Couched amidst the tug-and-pull of pre-colonial and colonial constructions of palatable culture, Impress gathered and laid out artifacts imaginably tied into such contested notions as community, righteousness, holiness, servitude, submission, nobility, and struggle.

Like other forms of cultural heritage, books such as novenas record cultural change. The exhibition Impress highlights prayer books, particularly novenas. Createde to help the faithful in their prayers, the novena were used to promote religion as well as ideology. This made possible by the control exercised by the Church in the production and distribution of these novenas. The popularity of this form of religious literature is evidenced by the number of novenas which were printed and the translations of these novenas from Spanish to various Philippine languages. The presence of these novenas imply that the Filipinos learned the techniques of printmaking as well as Christian iconography. These also show the development in printing techniques.

On display were novenas printed by the University of Santo Tomas Press, the earliest printing press in the country.