We’ve sort of settled into Manila and after a couple of walks around the Makati City area I thought I would do what I always do when arriving in a new country long term, I had a look for a book on Philippine history. Two bookshops, both large and the only book I could find was on Philippine History after the Cross.
Now I know that there is a rich history in these 7,000 odd islands stretching back a number of years but published works in English on the period between pre-history and the Spanish arrival seem to be rare – or at least hard to find.
Given my hobby and love of Ancient and Medieval History in particular, this is kind of frustrating so I can see I will have a decent chunk of research to keep me amused as I learn more and travel these islands.
So, what do I know about the pre-Spanish history of the Philippines. I can summarize is as follows:
- Negritos are believed to have migrated to the Philippines around 30,000 years ago (yes, I know, that is pre-history)
- They apparently came from Borneo, Sumatra, and Malaya
- More Malayans followed over the years
- the Igorots display today some of that older Malayan culture
- a bunch of Austronesians also migrated in and generally took over from the Negritos
- the ancient Philippines (say, from about 1 C.E. to 1,000 C.E.) were influenced by the Hindu kingdoms, then perhaps by the Chinese and Indonesian states they were trading with. This lead to:
- the Rajahnate of Butuan and Cebu
- the dynasty of Tondo
- the august kingdoms of Maysapan and Maynila
- the Confederation of Madyaas
- the Country of Mai
- the Sultanates of Sulu and Maguindanao
- these were small maritime states trading with China, India, Japan, Thailand, Vietnam, and Indonesia
- the remainder of the settlements were independent Barangays allied with one of the larger states
- the period of Philippine history I am most likely to be interested in is that period following the creation of the Laguna Copperplate Inscription which is the first written document found in a Philippine language
The first interest in the local history will end about the time to the Spanish colonization and settlement, which began with the arrival of Miguel López de Legazpi’s expedition on 13 February 1565. He established the first permanent settlement of San Miguel on the island of Cebu. We will soon (I hope) be moving into an apartment in Legazpi Village, in Makati City, Metro Manila.
So, a lot of history to research. I expect the military history of the area is likely to mirror that of the Indonesia archipelago.
The hunt begins.