The Kalantiaw Code

Saturday August 03, 2013 ()

In the famous epic story of Maragtas, there was this mythical legal code called "The Code of Kalantiaw". It was named after its supposed author, Datu Kalantiaw, who allegedly wrote it in 1433. Datu Kalantiaw was a chief on the island of Negros. It was written about by Jose E. Marco in 1913 in his historical fiction "Las Antiguas Leyendes de la Isla de Negros" (The Ancient Legends of the Island of Negros). He ascribed its source to a priest named Jose Maria Pavon.

The Kalantiaw Code

The historian Josue Soncuya wrote about the Code of Kalantiaw in 1917 in his book "Historia Prehispana de Filipinas" (Prehispanic History of the Philippines) where he transferred the location of the origin of the Code from Negros to Panay because he contended that said Code may have been related to the Binirayan festival.

The story on this Code has been recognized through the ages by known authors. In 1968, however, historian William Henry Scott called this a "hoax" in his book "Prehispanic Source Materials for the Study of Philippine History". Consequently, Filipino historians agreed to expunge the Code of Kalantiaw in future materials on Philippine history.

Although the said Code ceases to be part of the texts of Philippine history, however, many still believe its validity.


You shall not kill, neither shall you steal, neither shall you do harm to the aged, lest you incur the danger of death. All those who infringe this order shall be condemned to death by being drowned in the river, or in boiling water.


You shall obey. Let all your debts with the headman be met punctually. He who does not obey shall receive for the first time one hundred lashes. If the debt is large, he shall be condemned to thrust his hand in boiling water thrice. For the second time, he shall be beaten to death.


Obey you: let no one have women that are very young nor more than he can support; nor be given to excessive lust. He who does not comply with, obey, and observe this order shall be condemned to swim for three hours for the first time and for the second time, to be beaten to death with sharp thorns.


Observe and obey; let no one disturb the quiet of the graves. When passing by the caves and trees where they are, give respect to them. He who does not observe this shall be killed by ants, or beaten to death with thorns.


You shall obey; he who exchanges for food, let it be always done in accordance with his word. He who does not comply, shall be beaten for one hour, he who repeats the offense shall be exposed for one day among ants.


You shall be obliged to revere sights that are held in respect, such as those of trees of recognized worth and other sights. He who fails to comply shall pay with one month's work in gold or in honey.


These shall be put to death; he who kills trees of venerable appearance; who shoot arrows at night at old men and women; he who enters the houses of the headmen without permission; he who kills a shark or a streaked cayman.


Slavery for a doam (a certain period of time) shall be suffered by those who steal away the women of the headmen; by him who keep ill-tempered dogs that bite the headmen; by him who burns the fields of another.


All these shall be beaten for two days: who sing while traveling by night; kill the Manaul; tear the documents belonging to the headmen; are malicious liars; or who mock the dead.


It is decreed an obligation; that every mother teach secretly to her daughters matters pertaining to lust and prepare them for womanhood; let not men be cruel nor punish their women when they catch them in the act of adultery. Whoever shall disobey shall be killed by being cut to pieces and thrown to the caymans.


These shall be burned: who by their strength or cunning have mocked at and escaped punishment or who have killed young boys; or try to steal away the women of the elders.


These shall be drowned: all who interfere with their superiors, or their owners or masters; all those who abuse themselves through their lust; those who destroy their anitos (idols) by breaking them or throwing them down.


All these shall be exposed to ants for half a day: who kill black cats during a new moon; or steal anything from the chiefs or agorangs, however small the object may be.


These shall be made slave for life: who have beautiful daughters and deny them to the sons of chiefs, and with bad faith hide them away.


Concerning beliefs and superstitions; these shall be beaten: who eat the diseased flesh of beasts which they hold in respect, or the herb which they consider good, who wound or kill the young of the Manaul, or the white monkey.


The fingers shall be cut-off: of all those who break idols of wood and clay in their alangans and temples; of those who destroy the daggers of the tagalons, or break the drinking jars of the latter.


These shall be killed: who profane sites where idols are kept, and sites where are buried the sacred things of their diwatas and headmen. He who performs his necessities in those places shall be burned.


Those who do not cause these rules to be obeyed: if they are headmen, they shall be put to death by being stoned and crushed; and if they are agorangs they shall be placed in rivers to be eaten by sharks and caymans.

Source: Chan Robles Virtual Law Library


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