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TOMAS PINPIN (ca. 1580) First Filipino Printer Biographers surmised that Tomas Pinpin was born between 1580 and 1585 in Barrio Mabatang, Abucay, Bataan. In 1646, Dutch marauders plundered and burned the Parish of Abucay, including the records of parishioners where Tomas Pinpin's birth and parentage could have been traced. Tomas Pinpin is immortalized in history as the first Filipino printer and the first Filipino to publish a book. He learned his trade from Father Francisco Blancas de San Jose who, when assigned as parish priest of Abucay in 1608, brought with him the printing press he established in Binondo, Manila in 1602. Employed by Father Blancas in 1609, Pinpin have mastered printing in a year's time so that by 1610, he was able to publish Father Blancas' Arte y reglas de la lengua Tagala (Art and rules of the Tagalog Language). In the same year, he published his own book, Librong Pag-aaralan nang mga Tagalog ng Wicang Castila, designed to help other Filipinos to learn the Spanish language easily. It was the first book, containing 119 pages, printed in Tagalog. Pinpin eventually became shop manager of the printing press, which he later transferred to Pila, Laguna. He enhanced the appearance of the books he printed with his engraving skills. Among these books of different authors were: Relacion de martirio (1625), Relacion (1626), Triunfo (1626), Arte Ilocano (1627), Vocabulario Japon (1630), Ritual (1630), Confesario (1636), Sucesos Felices (1637) and Relacion de la Vida y Martirio del Jusuita P. Mastrilli (1639). Since Pinpin's signature no longer appeared on books printed after 1639, it was assumed that he retired. However, Pardo de Tavera claimed that a book of a friar in 1648 was signed: "Printed in the office of Tomas Pinpin" and concluded that Pinpin must have passed on the trade to his son. By 1643, several books that were printed bore the name of his son, Simon Pinpin. Tomas Pinpin's death was as vague as his birth but his contribution in the history of printing lingers. A bust in his honor rests at Plaza Cervantes while a street in Escolta bears his name. References: Quirino, Carlos. Who's who in Philippine History. Manila: Tahanan Books, 1995. Zaide, Gregorio F. Great Filipinos in History. Manila: Verde Bookstore, 1970.


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