Prehistoric civilization in the philippine
A powerful and highly civilised nation comes in contact with a barbaric and isolated people, who have nevertheless advanced many steps on the road of progress, it would naturally be thought that the superior and conquering race would endeavour to collect and place on record information concerning such people: their manners, customs, language, religion, and traditions.Unfortunately, in the case of the Spanish conquests of the sixteenth century, that nation appears never to have considered it a duty to hand down to posterity any detailed description of the singularly interesting races they had vanquished.
As it was with the Guanches of the Canaries, the Aztecs of Mexico, and the Quichuas of Peru, so was it with the Chamorro of the Ladrones, and the Tagalo-Bisaya tribes of the Philippines.The same Vandal spirit that prompted the conquistadores to destroy the Maya and Aztec literature also moved them to demolish the written records of the Philippine natives, and but few attempts were made to preserve relics or information concerning them.
The Spanish priests, as the lettered men of those times, were the persons we should look to for such a work, but in their religious ardour they thought only of the ubjugation and conversion of the natives, and so, with the sword in one hand, and crucifix in the other, they marched through that fair land, ignoring and destroying the evidences of a strange semi-civilisation which should have been to them a study of the deepest interest.
Fortunately, however, there were a few in that period who were interested in such matters, and who wrote accounts of the state of culture of the islanders of that early date.
Some of these MSS. have been preserved in the archives of Manila, and have lately attracted the attention of Spanish scholars. Such is the article from which the greater part of these notes are taken. In the volume for 1891 of the Revista Ibero-Americana, published at Madrid, there appeared a series of papers contributed by the Bishop of Oviedo, and entitled “La antigua civilizacion de las Islas Filipinas,” in which he gives a very interesting description of the natives and their mode of life.
The source of this information is – 119 an old folio manuscript written on rice-paper in the year 1610 from data collected at the period of the Spanish conquest of the Philippines by Legaspi. It is extended to the ear 1606, and relates minutely the condition of the islanders prior to the arrival of the Spanish. The codex is divided into five books, and these again into 183 capitulos or chapters.
The writer lived in the group for twenty-nine years in order to complete his work, which is authorised by authentic signatures of responsible persons. Extracts have also been made from Miguel de Lo-arca’s account of the Philippines written in 1583, Dampier’s voyage in the Pinckerton collection, and Antonio de Morga’s “Sucesesos de las Islas Filipinas” The first historical existence of the Malay proper is traced to Menangkabau in the
Archipelago, and by their vigour, energy, and skill have made themselves masters of the original inhabitants. At an early period they probably received instruction from Hindoo immigrants in the arts of working metals, spinning, weaving, ;c. As to the whence of the various Malayan tribes of the Philippines, it is most probable that they originally reached the archipelago from Borneo, or the Malay Peninsula. From northern Borneo the Sulu islands form a series of stepping-stones across to Mindanao.
As the Tagalo language is looked upon as one of the purest of Malay ialects, and contains the least number of Sanscrit words, it may be inferred from this that the race has occupied the islands from an early date. It is possible that the first settlers were carried thither by ocean currents, and that the Kuro Siwo, or Black Current, which sweeps up past Luzon is also responsible for the existence of the Kabaran (a Malay tribe) in Formosa.
From ancient times boats and men have drifted up from the Malay Islands to Japan, and W. E. Griffis, in his “Mikado’s Empire,” states that Shikoku and Kiushiu were inhabited by a mixed race descended from people who had come from Malaysia and South-Eastern Asia. It is most probable that Micronesia was settled from the Philippine Group, which thus became the meeting ground of the northern migration of Polynesians from Samoa, and the Micronesians proper.
The Spanish codex before mentioned states that the Tagalo-Bisaya tribes were thought to be derived from the coasts of Malabar and Malacca, and that, according to tradition, they arrived at the islands in small vessels called barangayan, under the direction of dato or maguinoo (chiefs or leaders), who retained their chieftainship after the landing as the basis of a social organisation of a tribal kind, nd that every barangay (district or tribal division) was composed of about fifty families.
Nothing definite appears to have been obtained from their traditions as to the original habitat of the race, and this may be accounted for by the supposition that the migration occurred at a remote period, and that all knowledge of their former home was lost. When a migratory – 120 race takes possession of new regions it maintains little or no correspondence with those left behind; thus in time they forget their old habitations, and their geographical knowledge is reduced to obscure and fading traditions.
On arriving at their new home the invaders must have ejected the indigenous Aieta from the low-lying country, and driven them back into the mountains. Juan de Salcedo, the Cortes of the Philippines, in his triumphal march round the island of Luzon, was unable to conquer many of the hill tribes, both Aieta and Tagalo, some of whom have remained independent until the present time. The Spanish Government forbade all intercourse with these mountaineers on pain of one hundred lashes and two years’ imprisonment, and this edict had the effect of preserving the ruder, non- agricultural hill-races.
This invading race of Malays was divided into many different tribes, the principal ones being the Tagalo of Luzon and the Bisaya of the southern isles. The Tagalo or Ta-Galoc were the most numerous, and were endowed with all the valour and politeness which can be expected in a semi-civilised people. The Pampango and but easily civilised. The Bisaya were also called Pintados or “painted ones,” by the Spanish, from their custom of tatooing the body. Within this community of tribes there are numerous differences of dialects and customs, clothing, character, and physical structure, which in many cases indicate obvious traces of foreign mixture.
As a race, the Philippine natives of the Malayan tribes are of moderate stature, well- formed, and of a coppery-red colour, or, as De Morga quaintly describes them, “They were of the colour of boiled quinces, having a clever disposition for anything they undertook: sharp, choleric, and resolute. ” Both men and women were in the habit of anointing and perfuming their long black hair, which they wore gathered in a knot or roll on the back of the head. The women, who were of pleasing appearance, adorned their hair with Jewels, and also wore ear-pendants and finger-rings of gold.
The men ad little or no beard, and both sexes were distinguished for their large, black eyes. The Zambales, or Beheaders, shaved the front part of the head, and wore on the skull a great lock of loose hair, which custom also obtained among the ancient Chamorro of the Ladrones. Most of the tribes filed their teeth, and stained them black with burnt cocoanut shell; while among the Bisaya the upper teeth were bored, and the perforations filled with gold, a singular custom observed by Marco Polo in China, and which was also practised in ancient Peru and Egypt.
Many of the tribes are spoken of y the early Spanish navigators as being endowed with fair intellectual capacities, possessing great powers of imitation, sober, brave, and determined. The Tagalo character, according to some later writers, is difficult to define: the – 121 craniologist and physiognomist may often find themselves at fault. They are great children, their nature being a singular combination of vices and virtues.
The costume of the men consisted of a short-sleeved cotton-tunic (chinina), usually black or blue, which came below the waist, a coloured cotton waistcloth, or kilt (bahaque), extending nearly to the knees, and over this a belt or sash of silk a andbreadth wide, and terminating in two gold tassels. On the right side hung a dagger (bararao) three palms long, and double-edged, the hilt formed of ivory or gold, and the sheath of buffalo-hide. They wore a turban (potong) on the head, and also leg-bands of black reeds or vines such ¤s are seen among the Papuans of New Guinea.
Chains, bracelets (calombiga), and armlets of gold, cornelian and agate were much worn, and he was reckoned a poor person who did not possess several gold chains. Hernando Requel, writing home to Spain, stated: “There is more gold in this island of Luzon than there is iron in Biscay. ” The Tinguiane had a peculiar custom of wearing tightly-compressed bracelets, which stopped the growth of the forearm, and caused the hand to swell. Women wore the top’s, a bordered and ornamented cloth wrapped round the body, which was confined by a belt, and descended to the ankles.
The bust was covered with a wide- sleeved camisita, or frock (baro), to which was sometimes added a handkerchief. The women of Luzon were without head-dress, but made use of a parasol of palm-leaves (payong). Among the Bisaya the women wore a small cap or hood, and in the slaves. Both sexes wore the same dress among the Ilocanos, the chief article of attire eing a loose coat (cabaya) similar to those of the Chinese. The dress of the Chiefs’ wives was more elegant than that of women of the common people (timaguas). They wore white robes, and others of crimson silk, plain or interwoven with gold, and trimmed with fringes and trinkets.
From their ears were suspended golden pendants of excellent workmanship, and on their fingers and ankles were massive gold rings set with precious stones. The timaguas and slaves went barefooted, but the upper class wore shoes, the women being daintily shod with velvet shoes embroidered with gold. Both men and women were very cleanly and elegant in their persons and dress, and of a goodly mien and grace; they took great pains with their hair, rejoicing in its blackness, washing it with the boiled bark of a tree called gogo, and anointing it with musk oil and other perfumes. They bathed daily, and looked upon it as a remedy for almost every complaint. On the birth of a child the mother repaired to the nearest stream, and bathed herself and the little one, after which she returned to her ordinary occupation. Women were well treated among these people, and had for heir employment domestic work, needlework”in which they – 122 excelled”the spinning and weaving of silk and cotton into various fabrics, and also the preparation of the hemp, palm, and anana fibres.
The Philippine natives, with the exception of some of the hill tribes, were diligent agriculturalists, this being their chief occupation. In some mountainous regions they adopted a system of terrace cultivation similar to that of China, Peru, and Northern Mexico in bygone times, and which may also be seen in Java. They cultivated rice, sweet potatoes, bananas, cocoanuts, sugar-cane, palms, various vegetable roots and ibrous plants. They hunted the buffalo, deer, and wild boar. The flesh of the buffalo, or karabao, was preserved for future use by being cut into slices and dried in the sun, when it was called tapa.
Rice was prepared by being boiled, then pounded in a wooden mortar and pressed into cakes, thus forming the bread of the country. They made palm wine (alac or mosto) from the sap of various species of palms. Food was stored in raised houses similar to the pataka of the Maori. The first fruits of the harvest were devoted to the deified spirits of ancestors, called anito. l The Bisaya, hen planting rice, had the singular custom of offering a portion of the seed at each corner of the field as a sacrifice.
The ordinary dainty among the islanders was the buyo or betel quid, consisting of a leaf of betel pepper (tambul or Siri) smeared over with burnt lime and wrapped round a piece of areca nut (bonga). “The Filipinos,” says the old Spanish padre, “lived in houses (bahei) built of bamboo, cane, and palm leaves, and raised upon foundation-piles about six feet from the ground. ” These dwellings were supplied with cane screens in the place of divisions and doors. The elevated floor, where they ate and slept, was also made of split cane, and the whole structure was secured by reeds and cords for want of nails.
They ascended to these houses by a portable ladder, which was removed when the inmates went out, a sign that no person might approach the dwelling, which was otherwise unsecured. The house was surrounded by a gallery or verandah (batalan), earthenware, and copper vessels for various purposes. They had, moreover, in their houses some low tables and chairs, also boxes called tampipi, which served for the purpose of keeping wearing apparel and Jewels. Their bedding consisted usually of mats manufactured from various fibres. The houses of the chiefs were much larger and better constructed than those of the timaguas.
Many of their villages were built on the banks of rivers and the shores of lakes and harbours, so that they were surrounded by water, in the manner of the seaside dwellings of New Guinea and the Gulf of Maracaibo. Among the Tinguiane tree houses were made use of. In these they slept at night, in order to avoid being surprised by enemies, and – 123 defended themselves by hurling down stones upon the attacking party, exactly in the ame manner as the natives of New Britain do to this day. The external commerce of the Tagalo tribes was principally with China, of which nation there were vessels in Manila on the arrival of the Spanish.
They are also said to have had intercourse with Japan, Borneo, and Siam. They had no coined money, but to facilitate trade they utilised gold as a medium of exchange in the form of dust and ingots, which were valued by weight. Magellan speaks of their system of weights and measures. These people were skilful shipwrights and navigators. The Bisaya were in the habit of making piratical forays among the isles. Their vessels were of arious kinds, some being propelled by oars or paddles, and others were provided with masts and sails.
Canoes were made of large trees, and were often fitted with keels and decks, while larger vessels, called virey and barangayan were constructed of planks fastened with wooden bolts. The rowers, with busey (paddles) or oars (gayong), timed their work to the voices of others, who sung words appropriate to the occasion, and by which the rowers understood whether to hasten or retard their work. Above the rowers was a platform (bailio) on which the fighting men stood without embarrassing the rowers, and above this again was the carang or awning. They sometimes used outriggers (balancoire) on both sides of the vessel.
The lapi and tapaque were vessels of the largest kind, some carrying as many as two hundred and fifty men. The barangan, a type of vessel used from the earliest times, was singularly like those of the ancients described by Homer. Society among the Tagalo-Bisaya tribes was divided into three classes, the chiefs and nobles, the common people (timagua), and the slaves. The principal of every social group”styled maguinoo among the Tagalo, bagani by the Manobo, and dat02 by the Bisaya”was the only political, military, and Judicial authority.
These chieftainships were hereditary, and the same respect was shown to the women as to the men of the ruling families. Their power over the people was despotic, they imposed a tribute upon the harvests, and could at any time reduce a subject to slavery, or dispose of his property and children. The slaves were divided into two classes: the sanguihuileres, who were in entire servitude, as also were their children”lived and served in the houses of their masters; while the namamahayes lived in houses of their own, and only worked as slaves on special occasions, such as at harvesting and housebuilding.
Among this latter class there obtained a peculiar half-bond system, and their having an only son, that child would be half free and half enslaved”that is, he would work one month for his owner and the next for himself. If they had more than one child, the first-born would – 124 follow the condition of the father, the second that of the mother, and so on. If there were uneven numbers, the last born was half free and half bond. Slaves were bought, sold, and exchanged like ordinary merchandise. In their social manners these people were very courteous, more especially the Luzon tribes.
They never poke to a superior without removing the turban. They then knelt upon one knee, raised their hands to their cheeks, and awaited authority to speak. The hongi, or nose-pressing salutation of the Polynesians, was an ancient custom in the Philippine Group, and on the island of Timor. It also obtained among the Chamorr03 of the Ladrones, who termed it tshomiko. The Philippine natives addressed all superiors in the third person, and added to every sentence the word po, equivalent to senor.
They were given to addresses replete with compliments, and were fond of the music of the cud, a guitar with two strings of copper wire. In regard to Judicial matters, all complaints were brought before the dato of the barangay (district) for examination. Though they had no written laws, they had established rules and customs by which all disputes were settled, and the chiefs recovered their fees by seizing the property not only of the vanquished party, but also of his witnesses.
Trial by ordeal was common, the usual mode being that of plunging the arm into a vessel of boiling water and taking out a stone from the bottom; or a lighted torch was placed in the hands of the accused, and if the flame flickered towards him he was pronounced uilty. Theft was sometimes punished by death, in which case the condemned was executed by the thrust of a lance. In some cases the thief was punished by being reduced to slavery. Loans with excessive interest were ordinary, the debtor and his children often becoming enslaved to the lender. Verbal insults were punished with great severity.
It was also regarded as a great insult to step over a sleeping person, and they even objected to wakening one asleep4. This seems to refer to the widespread belief of the soul leaving a sleeping body. Their worse curse was, “May thou die sleeping. The male children underwent a species of circumcision at an early age, which was but preparatory to further rites. Their oaths of fidelity, in conventions of peace and friendship, were ratified by the ceremony of blood- brotherhood, in which a vein of the arm being opened, the flowing blood was drunk by the other party.
Among these people was sometimes seen that singular mania for imitation called by the Javanese sakit latar, on the Amoor olon, in Siberia imuira, and in the Philippines malimali. This peculiar malady, presumably the result of a deranged nervous system, manifests itself as far as I can gather, in the following anner, the afflicted person is seized with a desire to- 125 copy or imitate the actions and movements of others, and will do the most extraordinary and ridiculous things to attain his object.
The despair induced by this strange mania and its consequent ridicule, urges the unfortunate to end his life in the dreaded Amok. These unfortunates were sometimes attacked by the amok frenzy. Is is certain that gold and copper mines have been worked in the islands from early implements, and the gold was formed into ornaments, or used as a medium of exchange. The ruder mountain tribes brought much gold from the interior, and raded it to the lowland people in exchange for various coveted articles.
Several of the tribes were in the habit of tatooing the body, the Bisaya being the most noted for the practice. The Catalangan Iraya used for tatoo patterns, and as decorations for sacred places certain marks and characters which appeared to be of Chinese or Japanese origin. The Iraya proper used only straight and simple curved lines like those of the Aieta. The Ysarog (Issar¶), a primitive race of mountaineers who have been isolated for centuries, are said by later writers to resemble the Dyaks of Borneo.
Time was reckoned in former days by suns and moons, and feasts were held on the occurrence of certain astronomical phenomena. Brass gongs were much used at these feasts, and also on war expeditions. Such are some of the notes collected in reference to this interesting race. These Tagalo, these Bisaya, these Pampango, and Cagayane were despised by their Iberian conquerors as being ignorant savages; but, as the good old padre says in his MS. , they were worthy of being placed on a superior level to certain ancient people who possess a more illustrious fame. And who shall say it was not so ?