The earliest Filipinos of whom we have historical record are the little black men whom the Spaniards called negrillos or negrito. They, however, called themselves simply dwellers, or lords of the lands; itself as indication of the antiquity of their settlement. When this was cannot say exactly, but it may we’ll have been when land bridges still connected the Philippines with the continent of Asia. It is reasonable to assume that their way of life has not changed much over the centuries. Certainly they are today as the Italian traveller Gemlli Caren described them towards the end of the seventh century.
1The blacks, by the Spaniards called negrillos, who live on the mountains and in thick woods, whereof there is plenty in Manila, differ quite the rest. They are meer barbarians, on feed on such fruit and roots as the mountains afford, and upon they can kill, even to monkeys, snakes and rats. They go naked except their privities, which they cover with the bark of trees, by them called bahaques, and the women with a clot woven of the fibers of trees, called tapisse. They use no other ornament but bracelets made of rushes and Indian canes of several colours. They have no laws, letters or government but that which kindred makes, for they all obey the head of the family. The women carry their children in wallets made of barks of trees and ty’d about them with a cloth, as some women of Albania do in Italy, or like the Irish women.
But if the earliest Filipinos had not, as Gemelli Careri says, “laws, letters or government save that which kindred makes,” they had that which in time, among more fortunate peoples, give rise to all these things: a worship. Earliest in the seventeenth century, missionaries on the island of Mindoro observed the Mangyans performing their religious rites.
They wander through the forest fastness naked, save that nature prompts them to cover their private parts with the barks of trees… Gold and silver coins they esteem as nothing worth, but consider themselves wealthy if they own knives and cooking pots… If fortune smile on them and they bring down a buffalo, they spread a feast in which they piously make libations to their dead forbears, for being barbarians they consider all the good things that they receive to be a gift to their ancestors. If anyone falls sick, the others, to affect his cure, cook chicken and other foods and assemble the clan. The native who has power over ancestral spirits summons them with strange cries and bids them to the feast, in order that they might make the sick man well again. The banquet over, they collect the choicer morsels which remain, take them to the river, and wading waist-deep into the plunge the morsels into the water. They then stir up the sand [of the river bed] this way and that, for so they think-poor misguided people-to restore to the sick man the health which the spirits had taken away.
Much later, perhaps when the Han were founding an empire in China and the Romans an empire in the Mediterranean (200 B.C.-300 A.D.), another people came to the Philippines, this time by sea. The seafaring Malayas took the lowlands and rich river valley for themselves, driving the little black people to the hills of the hinterland. Having done so they called the, logically enough, Aelas; hill men. But if cannot have been war between them always. Occasionally they must have come to terms in the immemorial way, by intermarriage. Thus, the new “lord of the land,” or some of them at any rate were Aeta-Malay half casies: the first mestizos in the land whose history would be shaped largely by mestizos. This at lease is what the oral traditions of Batangas, is collected by Fray Agustin Maria de Castro, suggest.
This town [of San Pablo] used to be called Sampaloc (which means “tamarind”) because of many tamarind trees which grew here. The chieftain or cassique, who ruled Sampaloc, or San Pablo, was the old gat Pagil, that is to say, Don Pagil. The cassique Gat Pulintan ruled over the settlements of Balaquin to Masalocot, and from the river Labasin to Panghaya-an, which is now within the borders of Batangas… The cassique was long remembered for his deeds of valor. From Makopa to Galamus the cassique Gat Sungayan held sway, a great hunter of deer and wild boar. From the settlement of Lomot and Palapaquin, and from Bitin-Olila to Cococ, which now is territory of Santo Tomas, the cassique gat Salaceb was the ruler. These four cassiques were lords of the said lands by right of war and conquest. They were of mixed Bronean and Negrito (or Aeta) blood, a mixture which in their old speech was called Dayhagan.
Where did they come from, these Malays? Form nearby Borneo, no doubt; but surely also from the islands of Indonesia further south and the Malay Peninsula to the southwest. Diverse currents of migration over a period of time would at lease serve to explain the diversity of Philippine languages; why the Tagalog of Batangas in the southern Luzon have a different speech from the Pampangos only a few miles away in the great central plain of the island. Perhaps there was something, after all, to the curious story which a far-wandering Pampango who had the Sumatra told Father Colin.
A member of one of these tribes, an observant Pampango (who told me all this himself), having been driven far from his course and wandering about in that land, noticed that the people spoke faultless Capampangan and wrote the ancient dress of the Pampangos. And an old man whom he questioned about in this replied, “You must be the descendants of the lost people, those who in times past set out from here to settle in other lands, and who were never heard from again,”
Nothing about the early Filipinos struck the first Spanish settlers more forcibly, coming as they did from a Europe of centralized monarchies, than that they had no kings. Except as a few trading ports like Manila and Cebu, were rajahs held sway in a manner-more familiar to the subject of Philip II, the Filipinos lived in small scattered settlements under the patriarchal rule of the independent chieftains The followings of several chieftains might live together in a single village or town, but they would remain distinct, the chieftains acting together for common purposes of war or peace, but always as equals. These kinship groups were called barangays. Now barangay was also the name of the sailing vessel in common use throughout the island. This gave Fray Juan de Plasencia, for many years for missionaries among the Tagalog’s, a clue to the probable origins of their social organizations.
The people have always had chiefs called datos who ruled them and led them in war, and whom they obeyed and respected; the subject who wronged a chief or spoke amiss to his wife of child was grievously punished.
These chiefs did not have large followings: a hundred households at the most, and even less than thirty. Such a group is called in Tagalog a barangay. My understanding of why it is so called is as follows. It is clear from their language that these people are Malays [and hence immigrants]; and when they landed in this country the master of barangay (which is properly the name of a ship) must have retained rule as dato. Thus even today it is understood that the term barangay mean originally a family consisting a parents, children, kinsmen and slaves.
A large number of these barangays would from a single town, or at lease would settle not far from each other, for the sake of mutual defense in case of war. They were not, however, subject one to another, but bound together by friendship, kinship and the chiefs, each with his barangay, fought side by side in the wars they waged.
Doubtless the datu was in the beginning the patriarchal head of a family and its dependents, passed his headship on to his descendants. But as the family grew into clans and tribes and wars broke up over farms and fishing rights, prowess and cunning must have become much more important considerations in the choice of chief and blood. Indeed Father Colin suggest that by the sixteenth century the rank of datu had become pretty much a “career open to talent”
Most of the chiefs are such not by blood but by ability and prowess. A man may ne of lowly birth; but if he exerts himself, if by dint of hard work and shrewdness he accumula- tes wealth, whether it be by farming or husbandry, whether it be by trade or the practice of some craft known to them, such as that of blacksmith or silversmith or carpenter, or whether it be by robbery and oppression (and it is usually this), such a man acquires ascendancy and renown, all the more so, the more over bearings and ruthless he shows himself to be. On the strength of such beginnings he assumes the title of dato, and gathers round a following of kinsmen and even of strangers who acknowledge him their chief, through this authority and title is conferred on him not by anyone superior to himself, but solely by his own ability and prowess.
Thus whatever one conquered one must guard, and he who the greater robber and tyrant was the greater chief. If his son followed in his footsteps, they inherited his power. But they were fainthearted men who allow themselves to be stepped on, or if calamity or misfortune of illness of loss deprived them of their fortune, they lost power along with wealth (as anywhere in the world) and it availed them noting that their parents and kinsmen were men of rank. And so it has happened that a man who has a chief would have a son or brother a slave; and even worse than this, a slave of his own brother.
When the Spaniards were able to examine the barangay society at close quarter, they found that it had much more in common with European society than they thought at first. Not with European society as they knew it, but with an earlier stage in its development, that of the early Middle ages, when a warier class bound by fealty to the warlord lived on the labor of serfs and slaves, and gave them, in exchange, protection and a rough sort of justice. So much was this the case that Fray Juan de Plasencia, in describing the social structure of the Tagalog barangay, fell easily and naturally into the language of Spanish Feudalism.
Besides the chiefs, who may be considered as composing the nobility, there were three estates: gentlemen, commoners and slaves?
The gentlemen were free men, and were called maharlikas. They paid neither tax nor tribute to the dato, but were bound to follow him to war bringing their weapons and gear. The chief, for his part, gave them a feast before setting out, and dividing the spoils with them at the end of the campaign. So, too, when the dato set out to sea they manned the oars, those whom he chose for this service; if he had a house to build they help him, during which time he fed them; and this too was the understanding when the entire barangay set a day aside to help him plant a rice field.
The commoners are called the aliping mamamahay. They are householders who serve a lord-whether it be the dato or someone else- with half the yield of their farm, this being what had been agreed upon the beginning; and they row for him when he has a mind to set out to sea. They have houses of their own; their good and gold are their private property, which they children inherit; and they have the free disposal of their chattelrs and their lands. Moreover, this estate is permanent and hereditary, and hence neither they nor their children can be made slaves (saguiguilir) nor can their lord sell them. The slaves are those called aliping saguiguilir, who serve their lord in his house of farm; these can be sold. The lord allows them some share of the harvest, what he wills. This he does to make them work better; they thus derive some profit from their labor. For a slave born and reared in the lord’s own house to be sold are extremely rare; but slaves captured in war, or born or raised as field hands, are more easily sold.
There was one feature of the barangay society which was new to Europeans, but which is had in common with Malay peoples everywhere; debt slavery. Doubt slavery resulted from the high rates of interest charged for loans according to Malay customs. The process by which the debtor became a slave is described by father Colin.
The most common cost of slavery was the desire of gain & practice of usury, a practice to which they so addicted that even in cases of extreme need a father did not lend to a son, a son to his father, a brother to a brother, and much less a kinsman to a kinsman, save on condition that repayment would be doubled the loan. And if the debt was not paid in the time agreed upon, the debtor was reducing to slavery until he paid it. This was a common assurance, because the interest on the loan increased in proportion to the delay of settlement until it exceeded in value that entire debtor owned, where upon his person became forfeit and the poor fellow became a slave, along with all his children and descendants.
How this custom originate? Was it, as Father Colin suggests usury motivated by greed? In later practice, no doubt it was. But customs which degenerate into oppression often have quite reasonable beginnings. Money is barren, as the moralists of medieval Europe pointed out, and hence it was wrong to take interest on a money loan. And even this rule held good only until the revival in Europe made money once again productive. But in the subsistence economy of the early Filipinos money was unknown; what was lent and borrowed is rice. Now rice is not barren. It is food, a consumable commodity; but it is also seed, a factor of production. Planted, it yields much more than doubled its original quantity. It must have seemed equitable; therefore, that anyone who borrowed rice should repay at least double what he borrowed, and that the interest on the loan should grow with each planting season that he failed to give it back. Observations of the conquistador Miguel do Loarce hints at this origin of what later became unjustifiable usury.
If one lends another rice and a year passes without the debt being paid, since rice is something that is planted, if it is not repaid in the first year of sowing, double the amount of the loan must be paid in the second year, and four times the third, and so on at this rate. This alone is their year of taking interest. Some indeed give a different account of it, but they have not well understood the matter.
Like the Germans described the Tacitus, the early Filipinos settled their differences by trial of battle or ordeal. A man’s life was demanded not only for the slayer but from the slayer’s kindred. Blood feuds arose between barangay and barangay, like those among the Scottish clans or the aristocracy of archaic Greece; murder cycles which appears to us merely barbarous they found no Shakespeare Aeschylus to transmute the into poetry. And yet there is another side to this bloodstained coin. They kept, in peace, a rough and ready sort of justice which more enlightened people may well envy.
Their polity and laws, which, for barbarians, were not so very barbarous, consisted entirely of traditions and usages which they kept strictly that they did not even admit the possibility of their being broken. They impose among other things, such reverence of parents and elders that among them once did not mention one’s father by name, just as, among the Hebrews, one did one mention God by name; as also that private persons, even children, must submit to the will of the community. In civil suits and criminal cases the sole judge was the chief, assisted by certain elders of his barangay. Sitting in council, they heard a suit in the following manner. They summoned the parties to the suit and tried to make them come to an amicable agreement.
If this was not reached, each party was made to swear to accept whatever decision might be handed down. This done, they were asked to present their witnesses, who were examined then and there. If the testimony was evenly balanced, the property in question was equally divided among the parties; if it inclined to one side more than the other, the court decided accordingly. If the losing side more than the other, the judge became a party to the suit, and all present rose in arms to compel the defeated party to pay what the court had decided. Of this sum the judge took the lion’s share, fees were paid to the witnesses for the winning side, and the party who had won the suit received the little that was left.
In the punishments of crimes of violence the social rank of slayer and slain made a great deal of difference. If the slain was a chief, all his kinsfolk took the warpath against the slayer and hid kinsfolk, and this state of continued until arbiters were able to determine the amount of gold which have to be paid for the killing. This they did in accordance with the assessments which the elders declared to be in accordance with custom. Half of this blood price went to the chiefs; the other half was divided among the window, children and kinsmen of the slain.
The death penalty was not imposed by public authority save in cases where both the slayer and the slain were commoners, and the slayer could not pay the blood-price, In such cases, if the dato of lord of the slayer did not kill the man himself, the other chiefs did it for him by binding the offender to a stake and dispatching him with spears.
For the early Filipinos, as for primitive people everywhere, hill, field and stream were full of spirits more powerful than men. Some of them
were good, some evil but all needed to be propitiated or appeased by sacrifice.
Each town has a god of its own. All these gods are generally called diwata, but with an additional name to indicate of which each is god. There are also sea gods and river gods. The people sacrifice pigs to these gods. They keep especially for these purposes those of a reddish color, which they feed until they are of a great size and very fat. To offer the sacrifice they have priests who are called baylanes, whom they regard as able to converse with their gods. When they have a mind to offer sacrifice they adorn the place for it as best they can as many branches of trees and colored cloths.
The baylan play a large reed pipe, about a fathom in length, which is a kind of trumpet which they have in this country, and this, they say, is how he speaks with their god. Having done this, he kills the pig with the lance-trust. All this wife-indeed, long before the ceremony begins-the women are ringing bells and playing on little drums and striking pieces of porcelain with sticks and making such loud music that they can barely hear one another. The pig having been killed, they roast it and all eat of it. Part of it they place on rafts, roasted, and lunch on the river or the sea; but of the flesh around the lance-thrust no one eats btut the baylan alone.
But behind this cloud of spirits buzzing like foes around the sacrifice was a greater god whom the early Filipinos dimly remembered, a god who stood at the beginning of things and whose days no man could number.
The manner of worship which these Moros kept in olden time was they adored a god who was known among them as the god Batula, this word itself properly meaning god; & they said they adored this Batula because he was the lord of all, and had made men and peoples. They said further that this batula had many ministries, or anitos, whom he sent to this world to bring about whatever came to pass therein…
And being questioned why they offend sacrifice to the anito but not to batula, they replied that Batula is the lord so great that no one may speak to him; that he is in heaven, whereas the anito is of such a nature that he comes down from heaven to speak to them as Batula’s messenger, and to intercede for them.
They believed that they did not wholly die, but that for the brave and good there was a life after in which they would continue to live the pretty much as they did on earth, though with greater zest, with unlimited leisure, and under a much kinder sun.
They are of the opinion that their souls [after death] go down [instead of up]; they say that this is better because it is much cooler down than up, where it is very hot. They are buried with all their riches: their clothing, gold and porcelain; the chiefs cause slaves to be killed and buried with them that they might serve in the life beyond. And if the dead is a seaman and great chief, they bury him in the ship he sailed in, with many slaves at the oars, in order that over there he might have wherewith to go out to sea.
But the early Filipinos did not wait until the next life to enjoy themselves. Grain grew easily in their fertile land, fish and flesh abounded, and the sap on the nipa palm distilled into potent liquor
They were wont in their feastings to eat and drink to excess, although they certainly drank a great deal more than they ate. Their occasions for feasting were. If someone was ill; or a time of mourning; likewise betrothals, weddings, sacrifice, the arrival of guests or visitors. On such occasions their doors were open to all who wished to come and drink with them; for this, incidentally, was their idea of a feast, a time for drinking rather than eating.
They eat sparingly, drink hugely, and are a long time about it. Having well eaten and drunk, they whisk away the tables, sweep the house, and unless it is a funeral feast they fall to singing, playing stringed instruments, and dancing, and in this manner spend days and nights making a tremendous rackets and shouting until they fall down from sheer exhaustion and lack of sleep. But we never see them so inflamed and exited by drink as to become disorderly. On the contrary, they retain much of their ordinary manner, and address one another with the same courtesy and decorum as before, except that they are a great deal more lively and talkative and exchange many witticisms.
It is a common saying among us that none of them, no matter how drunk he departs from a feast or how late at night, ever failed to found his own house, and if some business awaits him there, whether of purchase or sale, he is not fully equal to the transaction, but if there is need of weighing to price of silver or gold ( a practice so common that every ones carries his set of weighs around with him) he does it with such steadiness that his hand never trembles nor misses the exact point of balance.
Not only did they eat and drink well; their taste ran to bright blues and reds, gold chains round the neck and burnished bangles on wrist and ankle. What a riot of color the market square of a seaport like Manila must have been! 15The costume and dress of this inhabitants of Luzon, before the Spaniards entered the country, usually consisted of, for men, coast cangan without collars, sewed together in front, with short sleeves, coming a little below the waist, some blue, others black, and a few of colours for the chief men, these they call chininas: and a coloured wrapper folded at the waist and between the legs, so as to cover their middles, and half-way down the thigh, what they call bahaques; their legs bare and their feet unshod, the head uncovered and a narrow cloth wrapper round it with which they bind the forehead and temples, called potong.
Chains of gold wound round neck, worked like spun wax and with links in or fashion, some larger than others. Bracelets on the arms which they call colombigas, made of gold, very thick and different patterns, and some with strings of stones, cornelias and agates, and other of blue and white stones which are much esteemed among them. And for garters on their legs some strings of those stones and cords pitched and black, wound round many times…
The women in the whole of this island were little frocks with sleeves of the same stuffs, and of all colours, which they call varos; without shifts, but some white cotton wraps folded from the waist downwards to the feet; and other colour garments fitting the body like cloaks, which are very graceful. The great ladies wear crimson, and some silk and other stuff woven with gold and edged with fringed and other ornaments. Many gold chain round the neck, calombigas (bracelets) on the wrists and thick earrings of gold in the ears, rings on the fingers of gold and precious stones…
Men and women, and specially the great people, are very cleanly and elegant in their persons and dress, and of a goodly mien and grace… In their visits and in going about the streets and to the temples, both men and women and specially the principal ones walk very slowly and pay attention to their steps, and with a large following of male and female slaves, and with silk parasols which they carry as a precaution against sun rain.
All this suggests that among the early Filipinos the arts of weaving and dyeing were fairly well developed, while craftsmanship in the precious metals had reached a surprisingly high level of virtuosity. Industry, however, was chiefly of the household type, with each village and clan community producing most of what it needed. And yet, we cannot altogether rule out the existence of production for the market. The people of Catanduanes, for instance, seem to have supplied the coastal towns of southern Luzon with sailboats.
16They were shipbuilders by profession. They made a great quantity of very light craft, which they took for sale throughout the region in a very curious way, very much like the nests of boxes they make in Flanders. They build a large vessel, undecked, without using either nails or futtock timbers; then they build a smaller vessel which fitted exactly inside the first; then a third which fitted inside the second; and so on, so that the large biroco might in the end have ten or twelve other vessels inside it of four specific types which they called biroco, virey, barangay, and binitan. When they reach a port where they hope to make a sale ̶and they go as far as Caligaya, Balayan, Mindoro, and other places more than a hundred leagues from their shipyards̶ they take out the smallest vessel and then the rest in order, so that he who saw but one ship enter harbor would in an hour be puzzled to see ten or more craft in the water…
While we are still pretty much in the dark with regard with the purely domestic trade of the early Filipinos, we are somewhat better informed as to their foreign trade. Certainly, the Chinese carried on trade with the islands from a very early period. The pottery being unearthed by archaeologists in southern Luzon, Mindoro, Palawan and elsewhere provides striking conformation of the evidence from Chinese historical sources. These suggest that by the thirteen century Chinese merchant ships were calling regularly at Palawan and the Calamianes group, and that fair trading practices had been established by common consent.
17Whenever foreign traders arrive at any of the settlements, they live on board before venturing to go on shore, their ships being anchored in mid-stream, announcing their presence to the natives by beating drums. Upon this the savage traders race for the ship in small boats, carrying cotton, yellow wax, native cloth, cocoanut-heart mats, which they offer for better. If the prices cannot be agreed upon, the chief of the [local] traders must go in person in order to come to understanding, which being reached the natives are offered present of silk umbrellas, porcelain, and rattan baskets; but the foreigners still retain on board one or two [natives] as hostages. After that they go on shore to traffic, which being ended they return the hostages…
The following articles are changed in barter: porcelain, black damask and various silks, beads of all colours, eaden sinkers for nets, and tin.
The trade in the north of the archipelago seems to have been most active and extensive at Ma-i, which is commonly identified as the island of Mindoro.
The country of Ma-i is to the north of Po-ni. Over a thousand families are settled together along both banks of a creek…
When trading ship enter the anchorage, they stop in front of the official’s place, for that is the place for bartering of the country. After a ship has been boarded, the natives mix freely with the ship’s folk. The chief are in the habit of using white umbrellas, for which reason the traders offer them as gifts.
The custom of the trade is for the savage traders to assemble in crowds and carry the goods away with them baskets; and even if one cannot at first know them, and can but slowly distinguish the men who remove the goods, there will yet be no loss. The savage traders will after this carry these goods on to other islands for barter, and, as a rule, it takes them as much as eight or nine months till they return, when they repay the traders on shipboard with what they have obtained [for the goods]. Some, however, do not return within the proper term, for which reason vessel trading with Ma-i are the latest in reaching home…
The product of the country consist of yellow wax, cotton, pearls, tortoise-shell, medicinal betel-nuts, and yuta cloth; and the foreign traders barter for these porcelain, trade-gold, iron censer, lead, coloured glass beads, and iron needles.
At Sulu, the Chinese traders also found it both safe and profitable to put out their goods to native traders on consignment.
Trade is carried on in the following way. When a ship arrive there, natives take all the goods and carry them for sale into the interior, whilst they sell to the neighboring count- ries, and when they come back the native articles are delivered to our merchants as payment. When many pearls have been found during a year and our traders get large ones, they make a profit of a hundred per cent; but even if there are only a few pearls, still a profit of a hundred per cent is made.
By the early fifteen century the trade between Sulu and China was of sufficient importance to justify a tribute mission to Peking. It was one of the more solemn fictions of Chinese diplomacy that foreigners could have only one object in coming to China; to swear fealty to the emperor and pay the tribute of vassalage. It was, however, generally recognized on both sides that such “tribute” mission were really trade missions, and that while the emperor and the foreign envoys exchanged gifts, their respective followers engaged in rather more mercantile transactions.
In the year 1417 the eastern king of this country, Paduka Pa-ha-la, the western king Ma-ha-la-chi, & the king of the mountain of Ka-la-ba-ting, called Paduka Prabu, brought their families and their chiefs, altogether more than 340 persons, and came over the sea to Court in order to carry tribute. They presented a latter of gold with the characters engraved upon it, and offered pearls, precious stones, tortoise-shell and other articles. They were treated as those of Malacca, and after some time they were each appointed king of their country and presented with a seal, a commission, a complete court-dress, a cap, a girdle, a horse with trappings, insignia of their rank and other rank and other things; their followers also got caps and girdle according to their rank. The three kings remained twenty-seven days and when they were about to return each of them got a girdle adorned with precious stones, a hundred taels of gold, two thousand taels of silver, two hundred pieces of plain silk, ten thousand taels in paper money, two thousand strings of cash, one roe embroidered with golden snakes, one with dragons and one with kilins.
It is the tradition among the people of Magindanao that the religion of Islam was brought to them by a nobleman of Johore named Kabungsuwan, toward the end of the fifteen century.
Sarip Zayna-1-Abidin came to Juhur and that the sultan of Juhur, Sultan Sulkarnayn, had a daughter called Putri Jasul Asikin. The sarip married Putri Jasul Asikin and begot Sarip Kabungsuwan. As Sarip Kabungsuwan grew up and reached maturity he obtained his father’s permission and set out on a sea voyage with a large number of followers from Juhur. As they got out to the open sea they unfurled their sails to make speed, but a very strong wind blew and scattered them in all directions, so that they lost track of one another. As a result Sarip Kabungsuwan arrived at Magindanao. The scattered to Balunary, Kuran, Tampasuk, Sandakan, Palimbag, Bangjar, Sulug, Tubuk and Malabang.
The Magindanao records make mention of a mysterious power which Kabungsuwan and his men possessed of killing someone from a distance by “beckoning” to him. It is quite possible that the stranger brought with them not only a new religion but a new weapon: the gun.
22Sharif Kabungsuwan… anchored at Tinundan. There was nobody there then; but the sharif saw a taro plant and a cornstalk floating down, and said, “There must be some people at the river; let us wait until they come down.” Later there came down the river Manumbali, the date of Slangan, with seven men, to fish at Tinundan. They saw Sharif Kabungsuwan. The sharif called them but they could not understand him. He beckoned to them, but one of them died on that account, and they were frightened and returned. Later the people of Katitwan, having heard of this, came down the river to see the sharif, but they also could not understand him, and one of their men died of the same cause. They again returned and told Tabunway and Mamalu who both understood him and came into his boat.
The migrants from the Malay Peninsula do not seem to have come in any large numbers; but by virtue of superior weapons and organization they were able to impose on the indigenous population both their religion and their rule. This process, which must have taken several generations to complete, is telescoped in story from in the traditions of the Magindanaos.
23Tabunaway sent Mamalu up the river to bring down all the men of Magindanao. After the arrival of the men Tabunaway invented Kabungsuwan to accompany him to Magindanao. Kabungsuwan refused to accompany them unless they become Moslems. Tabunawan and Mamalu then repeated their invitation and all of them promised to become Moslems. Kabungsuwan insisted that he would not land at all unless they came together then and there and were washed and became Mohammedans. This they did, and on account of the bathing at that place they changed its name to Paygwan.
Kabungsuwan then accompanied Tabunawan and Mamalu, and then men towed them up all the way from Tinundan to Magindanao. Thus Kabungsuwan converted to Islam all the people of Magindanao, Matampay, Slangan, Simway and Katitwan.
While MAgindanao and Sulu were developing into sultanates under the sway of Muslim princes from Malaysia, the Profits of Chinese trades were slowly bringing forth in the northern islands more sophisticated forms of political and social organization. In 1544, an aged inhabitant of Abuyog in Leyte told one of Villalobos officers where these trading towns were to be found.
24I asked him [writes Escalante] whether there was a big town anywhere on the island to the of Abuyo and he said yes, on the other side of the island to the northwest there was a big town called Sugut whither Chinese junks come every year and where there are resident Chinese who have a house for their merchandise. He said that what they buy there is gold and slaves. He also told me about the island of Ҫubu… that the Chinese are wont to call there to buy gold and precious stones, because there are to be found in that island. And he said that near Ҫubu there is another big island called Bulane, rich in gold, to which junks come from many places to trade. He said that north of Tendaya there was an island called Albay where there were mines of gold…
By the second half of the sixteenth century Butuan in northern Mindanao was a port of call not only for Chinese but for Muslim Malay merchants. It had also advanced sufficiently beyond the clan organization of the barangay to be ruled by what to a Westerner was recognizably a king.”
We went to the town called Butuan to speak to the king. As soon as we got there we went to the house of the king, and the first things they did to us in the house of the king was to make us sit down, after which there came out to us seven or eight women, pretty ones. I mention this because they were certainly pretty, and some of them were dressed in Indian silk. They told us that it was a custom of the names of the king and queen, and he said that the king was called Lumanpaon and the queen Bucaynin and the king’s son Lian and the king’s brother Sigoan. Then the king appeared and sat down. I told the interpreter to tell the king that I was the pilot of the ship out there and that had come at the captain’s order to bring him a present. He took it put it on immediately, I then told him that the captain had come at the behest of the King of castile in order that his treasury officials might bring merchandise to sell to the natives ; and I asked him if it was his pleasure that the cloth [we brought] be sold to his subjects. He said yes, adding that some of the natives had much gold and other little and so each will by what he can…
[After the royal audience] the Moor took me to see his ship, which was a big parao with a foremast and a mainmast. He showed me a swivel gun of bronze and asked me if we brought many rials. I said yes. He said that he had three quintals of gold which he would trade for rials. He asked me if we wanted beeswax. I said yes. He said that there was much beeswax in the country. I asked him if it came from China. He said no, on the contrary; the Chinese came to his country with porcelain, iron tips for spears, swords, and jars, which they sold throughout these island for gold to bring back to their country, and also beeswax, because it was or these things they came.
But by this time the Filipinos were no longer content to wait for trading vessels to visit them. They were striking out on their own. The first years of the sixteenth century saw merchant seamen from Luzon sailing their junks into Malacca Roads and establishing a settlement north of Selangor.
The Luҫoes are about ten days’ sail beyond Borneo. They are nearly all heathen; they have no king, but are ruled by groups of elders. They are a robust people, little thought of in Malacca. They have two or three junks at the most. They take the merchandise to Borneo and from there they come to Malacca.
The Borneans go to the land of the Luҫoes to buy gold and foodstuffs as well, and the gold which they bring to Malacca is from the Luҫoes and from the surrounding islands which are countless; and they all have more or less trade with one another. And the gold of these islands where they trade is of low quantity̶ indeed very low quality.
They Luҫoes have in their country plenty of foodstuffs, and wax and honey;and they take the same merchandise from here as the Borneans take. They are almost one people; and in Malacca there is no division between them. They never used to be in Malacca as they are now, but the Tomunguo’ whom the governor of India appointed here was already beginning to gather many of them together, and they were already building many houses and shops. They are a useful people; they are hardworking…
In Minjam there must be five hundred Luҫoes, some of them important men and good merchants, who want to come to Malacca and the people of Minjam will not grant them permission because now they have gone over to the side of the former king Malacca, not very openly. The people of Minjam are Malays.
Just before the arrival of the Spaniards, the rulers of Manila had accepted the faith of Islam. They have also evolved a feudal kingship not far removed from that of early medieval Europe.
27there used to be among these Moros, as among the Visayans, towns under feudal lordship. There were chiefs in their villages to whom they were subject, who punished offences and framed laws for them to keep. In those towns where there were ten or twelve chiefs, only one of them, the wealthiest, was obeyed by al. antiquity of lineage they made much of, and this was of great advantage to their lords.
This was how they made laws for the government of the commonwealth. The paramount chief whom all obeyed called all the other chief of the town together in his house, and when they were all assembled he made them a speech of this effect: Many crimes were being committed, to remedy which it was needful to impose penalties and frame ordinances; and since they were the lords, let them consult as to what seemed best and issue their decrees that all might live in peace. (This polity the Visayans did not have, because no chief was willing to acknowledge another as greater than he.)
The other chief thereupon made answer that what he proposed seemed good to them; and seeing that he was the greatest chief of them all, let him do what he considered according to justice, and they would stand with him on it. That chief then framed the laws which seemed to him necessary̶ for these Moros use writing, which the other natives of these island lack̶ and what he set down the other chiefs approved.
Thereupon a herald called amongst them viulahazan, which more properly means a steward, came, and taking a bell went through the town and to every village crying the ordinances which had been made; and the people made answer that they would obey them. Thus did the herald go and do from town to town within the district of that chief. And from that time fort, whoever incurred the penalty was brought before the chief, and if the penalty was death and the condemned man asked to be made a slave instead, he was reprieved and became a slave.
The other chief were judge likewise, each in his own village. If some important case came up for judgment the paramount chief called the other chiefs together to try it, passing sentence by their common vote. They used to charge court fees, but these were not fixed; they paid what the judge determined.