Thursday, November 08, 2007

The Philippines' Ancient Culture

A. Education

There was education in the Philippines in ancient times. The children were taught by their parents or by the old men of the barangay. The subjects taught were reading, writing, arithmetic, tribal traditions and custom and some vacation, such as agriculture, carpentry, metal work, poultry, fishing and weaving.

B. Arts

Our forefathers had both oral and written literature, consisting of poems, songs, and laws. Unfortunately, only a few relics of our ancient literature was preserved to the present. Oral literature was handed down from generation to generation, most of them consisting of poems, songs, legends, proverbs, riddles, fables and myths.

Their best known songs were the kundiman, the komintang, the balitaw, and the talindao.

Our ancient painting consisted of figures tattooed on the bodies of the warriors. Sculpture was done on stone, clay, wood and gold. Many figures were representations of spirits and gods whom they worshiped.

There was also architecture. Houses were constructed out of wood, bamboo. coconut palm and nipa leaves. Although small, the houses were cool and adapted to the tropical conditions of the country.

C. Language

Our ancestors spoke many languages and dialects as there were tribes.

When the Spaniards arrived, our forefathers already had known how to read and write in their own ancient alphabet that came from India. Our ancient alphabet consisted of seventeen letters. Almost all these ancient writings are lost today, but some relics can still be seen in the archives of the Dominican fathers in Manila and in private collections.

D. Science

Astronomy was known to our ancestors. They had names for the heavenly bodies, like tala for stars, buan for moon, monbunkol for the dipper, and kumaliit for shooting stars.

They knew some practical medicine and the use of medicinal plants. they knew poisons and their antidotes.

Our ancestors could add, subtract, multiply and divide. They had a system of weights and measures.

They also knew practical engineering and built irrigation ditches. The world wonders, our Ifugao Rice Terraces in the Mountain Province, are really a masterpiece of ancient Filipino engineering science.

E. Social Classes

There were three classes of people; namely, the chiefs, the freemen or timaguas, and the slaves. Both chiefs and timaguas could have slaves. The slaves were of several kinds. "Some were for all kinds of work and slavery, and they were called saguiguilirs. They served inside the house, like the children born of them.

There were others who lived in their own houses with their families, and came to help their lord in his farming, in rowing, in construction, and to serve in his house at special occasions. These slaves were called namamahays and their children and descendants were slaves of the same class.

F. Good Manners

Our Malay ancestors were courteous in their speech and respectful in their actions. Children were taught early to be obedient and respectful to their elders.

G. Religious Beliefs

Our ancestors believed in a supreme being whom they called Bathala Maykapal. They also beleived in lesser gods or spirits called anitos whom they also invoked. There was anitos every place they went to-fields, forest, sea, home.

Malayan Filipinos believed that when a person died, his spirit went to another world. There were rewards for the good, and punishments for the bad.

Mohammedanism was brought to Mindanao by Kabungsuan, a Malay Muslim from Johore, Malay Peninsula.

H. Domestic and Foreign Trade

Our forefathers traded among themselves, barangay with other barangays, island with other island.

They traded with other countries, such as China, Arabia, Japan, Cambodia, Siam, Borneo, Java and other islands in the East Indies.

In trading, they usually used the barter system, exchanging products for the goods of other places. Sometimes they used units of trading like gold and colored shells.

Money was loaned at high interest rates. Business partnerships were formed for business purpose.

I. Industries

The major industries were agriculture, stock-raising, fishing, mining, ship-building, lumbering, metal work and wine manufacture. Some minor industries were weaving, gathering of bird's nests for exportation to China, and preparation of animal hides and horns.

J. Five Virtues of the Filipinos

In his book,"Cinco Reglas de Nuestra Moral Antigua," (Five Rules of Our Ancient Morals), Teodoro M. Kalaw, late director of the National Library and historian, discusses the social standards taught in the past by the Filipinos-1) bravery, 2) honesty; 3) courtesy, 4) self-control, and 5)unity of the family. These five virtues or characteristics have been greatly emphasized in our social education.

While there are characteristics common to all Filipinos the various peoples have developed traits peculiar to themselves, according to Maximo Kalaw. Thus the Tagalogs, Visayans, and Ilocanos are characterized by one writer in this way: "The Ilocano hides his emotions, represses his feelings; the Visayan a creature of emotion, the Tagalog looks at life from a distance. The Ilocano is a man of action, the Visayan a creature of emotion, the Tagalog a person of intellect." This is, of course, just a general opinion.

We find other social values and standards under Spain in the form of proverbs which are common among all Filipino people.

The native ideas of bravery are shown in many proverbs such as these:

"Valor without justice is dangerous." (Ang tapang na walang katwiran ay lubhang mapanganib)

"When the soldier is wounded his courage is increased twofold." (Ang bayaning nasugatan, nag-iibayo ang tapang)

"Modest bravery is better than boisterious bravery." (Ang lihim na katapangan, siyang pakikinabangan)

The desire of the Filipinos for learning and proper bringing up are shown in the following:

"Even if they inherit no property they should inherit good manners." (Di man magmana ng ari, magmamana ng ugali.)

"Straighten crooked plants when young and soft and not when they are big and hard."

"The sleeping shrimp is carried away by the current."


Junila19_leops said...

I like reading, your blog.. you are totally genius.. Goodluck!bro..

Juwairiahomar1 said...

Whoa! This is amazing! Im glad you wrote this :D It made my day! SALAMAT:D !!! I was born in America and have lived her all my life and im half Filipina and African. My mother never really taught me alot about my culture (native Filipina culture) and their isnt a big filipina community here in the state of Iowa , IA, U.S.A at all. They kind of exclude me out anyways because i am mixed and im Muslim. But thank you so much for sharing this! <3 Im so happy right now :D

maia said...

Thank you! Very helpful with kids' assignment! :)


thanks that really heped for my country report;)

Otep Gemina said...


J-gel Tolentino Soniega said...

I got nothing. -_- Where are the pictures?!?!?! I need them too!!!

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