Philippine Bible Society

Early Filipino Translations

Under the auspices of BFBS, Filipino expatriates in Spain were commissioned to translate the Bible into the major Philippine languages using the then modern Spanish Bible as a model. Don Pascual Poblete—a renowned poet—translated the Synoptic Gospels and Acts into Tagalog. Don Cayetano Lukban—a lawyer by profession—translated the Gospel of Luke into Bicolano, while the Gospel of Luke and Acts were translated into Ilocano by a labor leader and journalist, Don Isabelo de los Reyes. All these patriotic ilustrados were formerly incarcerated in Spanish colonies outside of the Philippines, due to their outspoken criticism of the Spanish excesses. These Philippine language translations were all published by the BFBS Agency in Madrid, Spain, and must have been completed before 1898 or in the early part of that year, as they were already part of the Singapore Scripture shipment which would be later brought to Manila by the BFBS’s agent in Singapore. It was this keen foresight of BFBS that served as the benchmark for initial Bible ministry in the Philippines when it was completely liberated from Spanish control on August 13, 1898.