Sunday, July 1, 2012

The Ancient Civilization of the Philippines

Long before the Muslim, Chinese and Spaniards came to the Philippines, the Filipinos were already civilize and literate.  It was common to them to use gold as ornaments in their clothing and jewelry.  The Philippines is known as the island of gold.



"...a document was found in 1989 that was written in a much older and more complex writing system than the baybayin.  On that day in 1989, a man in the concrete business was dredging sand at the mouth of the Lumbang River near Laguna de Ba’y when he uncovered a blackened roll of metal. Usually he would just throw away such junk, as it tended to get jammed in his equipment, but when he unfurled the roll he saw that it was a sheet of copper with strange writing on it, about the size of a magazine.  He offered the copper sheet to one of the antiques dealers in the area who bought it for next to nothing. The dealer, in turn, tried to sell it for a profit but when he found no buyers, he eventually sold it to the Philippine National Museum for just 2000 pesos.  In 1990, Antoon Postma, a Dutch expert in ancient Philippine scripts and Mangyan writing, and a long-time resident of the Philippines, translated the document that came to be known as the Laguna Copperplate Inscription (LCI). When he saw that the writing looked similar to the ancient Indonesian script called Kavi, and that the document bore a date from the ancient Sanskrit calendar, he enlisted the help of fellow Dutchman, Dr. Johann de Casparis, whose area of expertise was ancient Indonesia.  Casparis confirmed that the script and the words used in the Laguna document were exactly the same as those that were used on the island Java at the time stated in the document, which was the year 822, in the old Hindu calendar or the year 900 C.E. (Common Era) on our calendar.  In 1996, a Filipino history buff in California, Hector Santos, precisely converted the Sanskrit date over to our calendar by using astronomical software and some historical detective work. He determined that the Sanskrit date written on the plate was exactly Monday, April 21, 900 C.E.  In spite of the similarities to Javanese documents, the copper plate had some peculiarities that led scholars to believe that it was not from the island of Java. First: the LCI did not mention the king of Java at that time, King Balitung. It was the custom at that time to always mention the name of the king in official documents. Second: the language used in the document was not only Sanskrit. It was a mixture of Sanskrit, Old Javanese, Old Malay and Old Tagalog. And third: the method of writing was different. At that time in Java the characters were impressed into heated copper, but the characters on the Laguna plate seemed to have been hammered into cold copper.  In his examination, Postma learned that the inscription was a pardon from the Chief of Tondo that erased the debt of a man named Namwaran. His debt was one kati and eight suwarna, or about 926.4 grams of gold. Today in 2006, this is equal to about $18,600 Canadian.  The document mentioned a few towns that still exist today: Tundun, which is now Tondo in Metro Manila and three towns in Bulakan; Pailah or Paila, Puliran or Pulilan, and Binwangan. A town in Agusan del Norte on Mindanao called Dewata or Diwata also appears in the text. Diwata is near Butuan, which has been a rich source of ancient artefacts. A place called Medang was mentioned, too, which is possibly Medan in Sumatra, Indonesia. Also, the name of Namwaran’s son was given as Bukah, a name that may have some relation to the town of Gatbuka in Bulakan. Gat is a title similar to “Sir” for a knight.  So, because of the places mentioned in the text and because of the plate’s differences to typical Indonesian documents, it was Postma’s opinion that it was an inhabitant of the ancient Philippines who made the LCI and that it was most likely not the work of a hoaxer.  As is often the case, though, this discovery has raised more questions than answers.  It is only one document but it seems to have revealed a widespread culture with Hindu influences in the Philippines before the arrival of the Spaniards and even before the Muslims. Did ordinary Filipinos share this culture or were the people mentioned in the document just members of a small ruling class of foreigners? Was their culture pushed out of the islands when the Muslims arrived in the 12th or 13th century?  Did Filipinos once speak Sanskrit or was it reserved for important documents written by an elite minority? There are certainly some Sanskrit influences in Philippine languages but nobody was speaking it by the time the Spaniards arrived.  And what happened to this Kavi style of writing? It was a far more advanced and accurate way to write than the baybayin script that Filipinos were using 500 years later. Perhaps only that elite minority used it and so it disappeared with them.  Whatever the answers, it hints at some exciting discoveries to come in the future."

Is Philippines ancient name is ophir?

When the Spanish came they discovered an abundance of gold used among the people of the Philippine islands. Here are some relevant quotes: 

Pieces of gold, the size of walnuts and eggs are found by sifting the earth in the island of that king who came to our ships. All the dishes of that king are of gold and also some portion of his house as we were told by that king himself...He had a covering of silk on his head, and wore two large golden earrings fastened in his ears...At his side hung a dagger, the haft of which was somewhat long and all of gold, and its scabbard of carved wood. He had three spots of gold on every tooth, and his teeth appeared as if bound with gold. --- Pigafetta on Raja Siaui of Butuan during Magellan's voyage 

For brass, iron and other weighty articles, they gave us gold in exchange...For 14 pounds of iron we received 10 pieces of gold, of the value of a ducat and a half. The Captain General forbade too great an anxiety for receiving gold, without which order every sailor would have parted with all he had to obtain this metal, which would have ruined our commerce forever.  --- Pigafetta on gold trade in Cebu 

Sailing in this manner, for some time, in 16° of north latitude, they were obliged by continual contrary winds, to bear up again for the Philippine islands, and in their way back, had sight of six or seven additional islands, but did not anchor at any of them. They found also an archipelago, or numerous cluster of islands, in 15 or 16 degrees of north latitude, well inhabited by a white people, with beautiful well-proportioned women, and much better clothed than in any other of the islands of these parts; and they had many golden ornaments, which was a sure sign that there was some of that metal in their country.  --- Antonio Galv√£o in 1555 describing the journey of Bartholomew de la Torre in 1548 

"...the ore is so rich that I will not write any more about it, as I might possibly come under a suspicion of exaggerating; but I swear by Christ that there is more gold on this island than there is iron in all Biscay."  --- Hernando Riquel et al., 1574 

In this island, there are many gold mines, some of which have been inspected by the Spaniards, who say that the natives work them as is done in Nueva Espana with the mines of silver; and, as in these mines, the vein of ore here is continuous. Assays have been made, yielding so great wealth that I shall not endeavor to describe them, lest I be suspected of lying. Time will prove the truth.  --- Hernando Riquel et al. on island of Luzon, 1574 

There are some chiefs in this island who have on their persons ten or twelve thousand ducats' worth of gold in jewels--to say nothing of the lands, slaves, and mines that they own. There are so many of these chiefs that they are innumerable. Likewise the individual subjects of these chiefs have a great quantity of the said jewels of gold, which they wear on their persons--bracelets, chains, and earrings of solid gold, daggers of gold, and other very rich trinkets. These are generally seen among them, and not only the chiefs and freemen have plenty of these jewels, but even slaves possess and wear golden trinkets upon their persons, openly and freely. --- Guido de Lavezaris at al., 1574 

About their necks they wear gold necklaces, wrought like spun wax, and with links in our fashion, some larger than others. On their arms they wear armlets of wrought gold, which they call calombigas, and which are very large and made in different patterns. Some wear strings of precious stones--cornelians and agates; and other blue and white stones, which they esteem highly. They wear around the legs some strings of these stones, and certain cords, covered with black pitch in many foldings, as garters. -- Antonio de Morga, 1609 

"... the natives proceed more slowly in this ,and content themselves with what they already possess in jewels and gold ingots handed down from antiquity and inherited from their ancestors. This is considerable, for he must be poor and wrethced who has no gold chains, calombigas, and earrings." -- Antonio de Morga, 1609 

The Tagalog Script

In 1571, the Spaniards found the people in Manila and other places writing on bamboo and specially prepared palm leaves using knives and styli. They were using the ancient Tagalog script which had 17 basic symbols, three of which were the vowels a, i, and u. Each basic consonantal symbol had the inherent a sound: ka, ga, nga, ta, da, na, pa, ba, ma, ya, la, wa, sa, and ha.

Experts estimate that the archaelogical gold and jewelries unearthed at Sitio Magruyon, Surigao del Norte were made between the 10th and 13th centuries or 300 years before Magellan reached the Philippines.  
One of the objects in the gold collection is called Kinari, a goddess in Hindu religion, which was uniquely designed because of its three-dimensional features.  Another is the pure gold sash called the sacred thread which was was known only in royal ceremonies in ancient India.  There are three different layers of gold with different designs intricately woven to each other which was made 1,000 years ago by advanced civilization in the ancient Philippines. 

The discovery of golden tara and of very old cave artifacts called Maitum Anthropomorphic Potteries. Ancient burial jars were discovered by archaeologists, artifacts found thereat prove settlements of pre-historic civilization in Maitum, Sarangani Province.