How Google Doodle’s ‘Lola Basyang’ tribute shocked some netizens

February 11, 2022 - 2:37 PM
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Lola Basyang
(Illustration from Google Doodle/Released)

Did you know that our very own Lola Basyang is not really a grandmother in real life?

Google Doodle surprised some Filipinos after it released a tribute to the “Father of Filipino Drama” on his 161st birthday on Friday.

The tech giant on February 11 decorated its logo with an illustration of Severino Reyes with a book featuring an old woman telling stories to children.

It is a reference to Reyes’ reputation as a storyteller of classic Tagalog stories “full of seemingly ancient wisdom,” according to Google Doodle’s description of him on their page.

Severino-Reyes'-160th-Birthday-Hires
(Illustration from Google Doodle/Released)

Reyes is the man behind the famous “Lola Basyang” figure in Philippine literature.

Born in Spanish-era Manila, he pursued studies in history, literature and the sciences and obtained a degree in philosophy.

In 1902, Reyes founded the Gran Compania de Zarzuela which is a theater group devoted to expanding the art form across the Philippines.

It staged his play “Walang Sugat” (No Wounds), a historical drama centered around the Philippine Revolution.

The popular reception of this play marked the beginning of the Philippine Golden Age of Zarzuela.

“Zarzuelas” are Spanish-influenced works of dramatic musical theater.

Reyes wrote over 50 zarzuelas after that in the decades that followed.

He also served as the editor-in-chief of Liwayway, a popular Tagalog magazine in which he contributed stories under the nom de plume “Lola Basyang.”

His stories became such an integral part of Philippine society that the name “Lola Basyang” is still being used to refer to a grandmother or someone who loves telling stories.

This could be seen on how Filipinos reacted upon learning that Reyes was actually “Lola Basyang” following the Google Doodle tribute.

“ALL THIS TIME I THOUGHT LOLA BASYANG IS AN ACTUAL PERSON OR SUMN SKJDJSD,” another Twitter user said.

“Today, I learned Lola Basyang is the pen name of Severino Reyes who is definitely not a lola. The betrayal…” a different Filipino commented.

“TIL: Lola Basyang is not really a lola. Thanks @GoogleDoodles,” another Twitter user said. “TIL” is short for “today I learned.”

According to the National Historical Commission of the Philippines, Reyes based the character of “Lola Basyang” on a neighbor named Gervacia de Guzman.

Also known as Gervacia Guzman de Zamora, she was the matriarch of the Zamora clan in Quiapo, Manila.

He reportedly knew her as a doting grandmother who regularly told stories to her grandchildren after supper.