A thousand years of Philippine history before the coming of the Spaniards

Sunday November 27, 2011 ()

   A thousand years of Philippine history before the coming of the Spaniards
This is a work of Austin Craig. Craig was an Associate Professor of History at the University of the Philippines. This work was presented to the Philippine Academy at its open meeting in University Hall, Manila, October 13, 1914.

We are presenting this document here as it is found in the University of Michigan Special Collections Library, except for the first page and the last page (page 14).

We have also provided a downloadable PDF version of this document, in case you want to have a copy to read offline. It can be found near the bottom of this article.

(Page 1)

The Philippine History of which one is apt to think when that subject is mentioned covers hardly a fourth of the Islands' bookrecorded history.

A thousand years of Philippine history before the coming of the Spaniards

These records are not the romantic dream of a Paterno that under the name Ophir the Philippines with their gold enriched Solomon (10th century B. C.). They are solider ground than any plausible explanations that Manila hemp (abaka) was Strabo's (A. D. 21) "ta seerika," the cloth made of "a kind of flax combed from certain barks of trees." The shadowy identification of the Manilas with Ptolemy's Maniolas (c. A. D. 130) is not in their lass. Nor, to accept them, is recourse needed to farfetched deductions like Zuñiga's that the American Continent received Israel's ten lost tribes, and thence, through Easter Island, Magellan's archipelago was peopled. Their existence saves us from having to accept such references as how Simbad the sailorman (Burton: The Arabian Nights, Night 538 et seq.) evidently made some of his voyages in this region, though it would not be uninteresting to note that the great Roe is a bird used in Moro ornament, the "ghoul" of the Thousand and One Nights is the Filipino Asuang and that the palm-covered island which was believed to be a colossal tortoise because it shook might well have been located where the Philippine maps indicate that earthquakes are most frequent.

The records hereinafter to be cited are for the most part of the prosaic kind, all the more reliable and valuable because they are inclined to be dry and matter-of-fact. They make no such demand upon imagination as Europe's pioneer traveller's tales, for instance the sixteenth century chart which depicted America as inhabited by headless people with eyes, nose and mouth located in the chest.

The British Museum's oriental scholar (Douglas: Europe and tlHe Far East, Cambridge, 1904) states that by the beginning of the Chou dynasty (B. C. 1122-255) intercourse had been estalblished at Canton with eight foreign nations. Duties as early as 990 B. C. were levied, and among the imports figure birds, pearls and tortoise shell, products of the Philippines, but the origin of these has not been investigated. "Reliable history," says Dr. Pott (A Sketch of Chinese History, Shanghai, 1908), "does not extend further back than the middle of the Chou dynasty (B. C. 722)

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(Page 14) (The same as page 14 above)

Here are over 26 date vertabrae whereon to frame our pre Spanish Philippine history of which the Chinese references are the backbone.

Other workers are in the field. Dr. Saleeby speaks with autlority on the Moro region; Judge del Pan has cultivated Javan associations; Mariano Ponce knows the influence of Indo-China: Chancellor Robertson has brought to light valuable Bisayan bark writings and Negros manuscripts; Luther Parker traced the ancestry of King Lakandola; Commissioner de Veyra and Manuel Artigas have written of the ancient days of their native Leyte. Otley Beyer is looking for resemblances between the hill people and southern border Chinese; Judge Romualdez is seeking out the remains of the ancient alphabets; and the University history club numbers a host of future academicians zealous to know of their country's past. For all there is room. Not from one man's line but by the combined wisdom of all will the history of the ancient Philippines be restored.

The philologist will find interesting language coincidences fromn the Dravidian structure of Korean stretching along a suggestive island route which reaches through the Mon Khymer of the western Indo-China coast to India itself.

The naturalist will reveal further evidence of long land separation such as the dissimilar neighboring Mindoro and Lubang suggest, the anthropologist will re-write for us the story of the Philippines' former peoples by discovering relationships with the Borneans and Formosan tribes, and perhaps with northern Japanese, whose development has been less rapid so that they are now in stages from which the Filipinos have emerged. The geologist may, too, recognize here the monuments of unhewn stone which make the world-route of that wonderful ancient people whose difficultly distinguished memorials have been found on every continent.

Yet for all these, because scientific speculation is liable to err, the man-made records of civilized China, wherein are many other references obtainable through intelligent research, must be the balance and check to keep our restoration of the forgotten past within due bounds.

A thousand years of Philippine history before the coming of the Spaniards / by Austin Craig
Presented before the Philippine academy at its open meeting in University hall, Manila, October 13, 1914.
Author: Craig, Austin, 1872-
The United States and its Territories, 1870 - 1925: The Age of Imperialism
University of Michigan Digital Library


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