Where can I find traces of Pre-hispanic culture, life and architecture in the Philippines?

Prior to hispanization and westernization the Philippines was part of the austronesian empire, hindu-sphere and islamosphere. Unforunately wreckless emperialism seemed to have destroyed pre-colonial ways of life. Where in the Philippines can I still experience non-hispanic/western influenced culture, life and architecture?

5 Answers

  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago
    Favorite Answer

    Well.. how will you know when you find it?

    But, I would suspect that the closest you can come is Jolo. Jolo is as it was. Sadly this is not a compliment. In the (using my memory because I don't want to look it up) 16th century I believe the Spanish complained about problems with Jolo (that's why Zamboanga fort), and with slave trade. There's a tremendous push for a sort of independence down there but the problem is that there is no interest in paying for it.

    Another place where you can get a glimpse of our past is probably some of the very remote barrios. Find a town, any town, that is as far from the highways as possible, and then go to the farthest most remote barrio. That's about it.

    Parts of Bandjarmasin and Sandakan are still very much unchanged. I've seen some nice video documentaries by the history and discovery channels and to be honest it's not gonna shock you. It's very much like it is in the PI in the barrios. Typically the way it was, is that people lived in close communities, and lived in Nipa huts huddled together. They worked, and on ocassion played as a family unit and as a community. The land was their land because they were there, and they got what they needed from the earth as it gave it. There's no actual custom like Christmas, or Halloween, or even a prfound sense of organized religion, just simply existance.

    Prior to the Spanish the Philippines was not a unified nation. Each Barangay or Balangay was headed by a chief or a Datu who led his or her social group, but had no infereior or superior relationship to orther chiefs. Barangay's and Balangay's were limited in manpower but had reltatively unlimited wealth. So it was quite common for wars to be fought not for land but for people, to be enslaved and returned to the conqueror's land to work and serve. The most impressive culutre (organization wise) pre spanish was the Maguindanao, Butuan, and Bisaya (we kind of lost where Bisaya was, no one really knows). Butuan was very wealthy with gold, and Maginuindanao was extermely well governed with the only real Sultan the Philippines had. The Sultan of Maginuindanao modeled his state after those to the south in Malaysia and Banjarmasin (ie Burnei). The Sultan governed Datu's who goverened their own Barangay's (by the way Barangay is Visayan, and Balingay in tagalog in origin). The Sulton controlled treaties, the ability to go to war, and wielded the power of state.

    At time of arrivial, as Magellan quickly learned, the Visayans, who were not Islamic but rather Animists were divided into classes with the datu leading a Barangay, and other members called either timawa or oripun. Up in Maynila (Manila's original meaning from lilly pads -- see them at Fort Santiago bastioned moat), they were called Maginoo (Chief), timawa and alipin. By the way Tagalogs were Islamic. The way a Datu expanded their production was to simply raid and capture slaves from other areas. The Philippine Barangay's and villages were typically along the coastal plains, and as the raiders arrived, the folks would run for the interior, sometimes not returning which is one way the interior of the PI was developed. Slave raiding in pre-spanish and even during Spanish times was very endemic to the Philippines, and even Southeast Asia as a whole. Even the Chinese Pirates would come across to capture slaves and plunder. Fray Juan de Oliver, wrote in 1580 that wealth for the Tagalogs was either ginto (gold), bukid (use of land), and alipin (slaves). Datu's and Maginoo's expressed their wealth by the amount of ginto, bukid and alipin they had.

    While the Spanish were dominating and did control and enslave the Visayans and Tagalogs, they typically did not relocate them from their land. So when the Friars moved through the Philippines they simply at worst had the local natives build churches, water works, and roads. In the 17th Century, the Spanish had to file a formal complaint with the Dutch because the slave traders were pillaging the south and bringing Visayans to Batavia where a large slave market was forming. The fureza (fort) at Tandag in 1609, present day Surigao was at the flank of Minanao. At this time Mindanao was referred to as Caragas, like Visayans and Tagalogs. Caragas took time for the Spanish to take control of and mostly this was fueled by a desire to minimize slave attacks on Visaya.

    Slavery continued into the 17th cetnury from Maguindanao, and until the 18th and 19th centuries from Jolo. To some degree slavery has been a problem in Jolo even in the 20th century. Nonethelss the Spanish did not create slavery in the PI, that was already here and in full force. So in talking about old cultural ways before the Spanish it's tough as each Barangay was itself.

    Before the Spanish arrived, there were forts called Batanes ijang very much like the 14th century Okinawan fortifications. There were also Kuta which are like the Islamic forts found in South east asia. The Spanish found native forts about every where they went, as they seemed to mark Barangay's the way the Spanish marked towns with churches.

    Another issue the Spanish faced were "Moro" pirates. They were just pirates, but the Spanish called them Moro's beccause they thought they were either Islamic or owed allegiance to Muslim leaders. Nonetheless, this issue with piracy up to the 19th century is still an issue in south PI, and through SE Asia. So again, some of the cultural phenomenons are still embraced to day that affect the early Tagalogs, Visayas and Caragas.


    Now if your more of an archaelogist at heart, there are some interesting sites in the PI that hint at it's early beginnings and life:

    Specifically, the sites in the Lal-lo and Gattaran along the Cagayan River which range from the Neolithic into the Contact period. The shell middens found show a link to China and SE Asia, and early agriculutral beginnings in the PI. Also in Palawan Palawan, on the southwestern side of the archipelago is a northeast, southwest trending long island that during the glacial periods served as a natural bridge to Borneo, and from Borneo to the mainland of Asia. In Nueva Vizcaya, 68 sites in the Cagayan Valley near Solano and Penablanca from the Paleolithic period and the mid-Pleistocene period. These studies use radio-metric tests have confirmed early man and woman were in Luzon Cagayan's valley .92 to 1.2 million years ago. We know now the first Cagayan's were Hunters and Gatherers who lived off the land at opportunity, Homo Erectus roamed central Luzon a million years ago. The areas of these findings is speciffically called the Awidon Formations. By the way this gives rise to your idea that Chocolate Mountains are man made as the Awidon Formations are smaller but similar.

    Petroglyphs were found near Manila, 3 km from Angono in a cave from the late Neolithic Age, ragining the site 6000 BC to 2000 BC and represents images of infants.

    Palawan is geologically an island of Borneo, with flora and fauna indigenous to Borneo and not the PI. Fauna and flora to enter the archipelago. Archaeological sites found by Dr Guthe in 1922 in El Nido (Bacuit) discovered the Tabon Cave Complex which showed eviden of the "Iron Age" and continuted into the Neolithic period. The site is south of Brookes' Point on the eastern side of Palawan. Researchers found trade ceramics dating between the 14th to the 16th centuries, coming from China, Thailand and Vietnam, and later they found a golden garuda image dating from the Indonesian Madjapahit period (13th-14th AD)--again probably all trade items. Later in 19562, Lipuun Point was also excavated. Altogether these sites have shown us that man and women lived in modern Philippines some 50,000 years ago and likely came across in the Glacial period. Chromosomal studies done by UCLA with the National Museum have also given us a clue as to where the first Filipino's came from, and their most common ancestor.


    In tracing the prehistory of the PI its important to note it's only the Philippines because of the Spanish. Each island and grouping was developed differently at diferent times, and by different groups who traded and interacted differently. For example at one point Taiwan was part of the Philippines until the Dutch took it and later the Chinese Pirates took it from the dutch.

  • Juan C
    Lv 6
    1 decade ago

    Mt. Province, Abra, Apayao (mostl CAR region)... in the remote areas... especially the Igorots... although, they don't speak 'Tagalog', they'll communicate you in English...

    different places where the Native Tribes reside in Palawan...

    Parts of Batanes, parts of ARMM (pre-dominantly Muslim regions), and some remote islands...

  • 1 decade ago

    maybe you can check any of the tribal communities in mindanao. bukidnon will be a very good place to go; lake sebu area will be another place.

  • 1 decade ago

    in the cordilleras, specifically in ifugao, abra, and some parts of benguet

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  • 1 decade ago

    mangyans in mindoro

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