Ang Kasaysayan ng Sinaunang Pilipinas — part 2

Ang Kasaysayan ng Sinaunang Pilipinas
A History of Pre-Spanish Philippines

~ part 2 ~

This series of articles will feature various topics related to the history of pre-Spanish Philippines.  Various topics are not mentioned in chronological order but these topics are ordered according to individuals, events and historical sources. (editor)

The Negritos were one of the earliest inhabitants of the islands

The Arrival of the Negritos

About 30,000 years ago, a new wave of people called Negritos have reached the Philippines from the more northerly abodes in Central Asia passing through the Indian Subcontinent and reaching the Andamanese Islands.  From thereon, the Negritos continued to venture on land bridges reaching Southeast Asia. While some of the Negritos settled in Malaysia, becoming what is now the Orang Asli people, several Negrito tribes continued on to the Philippines through Borneo.  They had a Paleolithic culture.  They live a nomadic lifestyle, roaming the forests and living in crude dwellings consisting of leaves and sticks.  But they were skillfully adept in using the bow and arrow as a primary defense weapon.  They also gathered wild plants for consumption.

European explorers called them Negritos as the diminutive for Negro, or little black person, referring to their small stature.  They were mistakenly thought to be originated from Africa because of their similar appearance with Africans.  However, the origins of the Negritos is still highly debated until now.

Possible origins of the Negritos

Many experts believe that the Andamanese islanders have a common ancestry with the Negritos and it is believed that they have been isolated by the waves of Asian and Indo-Aryan migrations for thousands of years.  The claim that Andamanese pygmoids more closely resemble Africans than Asians in their cranial morphology in a 1973 study added some weight to this theory before genetic studies pointed to a closer relationship with Asians.

A Negrito cave drawing in the Andaman Islands
may provide their probable origins

However, another school of thought believed that the Negritos have closed affinity with the African pygmies and Australo-Melanesians.  Other more recent studies have shown closer craniometric affinities to Egyptians and Europeans than to Sub Saharan populations such as that of African Pygmies.  Walter Neves’ study of the Lagoa Santa people had the incidental correlation of showing Andamanese as classifying closer to Egyptians and Europeans than any Sub Saharan population.  Multiple studies also show that Negritos from Southeast Asia to New Guinea share a closer cranial affinity with Australo-Melanesians.  Further evidence for Asian ancestry is in craniometric markers such as sundadonty, shared by Asian and Negrito populations.

The Manunggul jar features the typical proa used
as means of transportation (click picture for more info)

After the Ice Age, the land bridges melt down and the sea level has increased and that the only way of migration, thus the only way of migration left is through a dugout proa.  A typical proa can be seen at the Manunggul Jar, a burial jar found in Palawan.

The Nesiots reached the islands

About 3000 BC, a loose confederation of peoples known as ‘Nesiots’ ( Proto-Malays according to Jean Buxton), from what today is Indonesia, came to the Philippines.  They were to become the ancestors of the present-day Luzon and Mindanao hill tribes.  There were two waves of successive Nesiot immigration.  The first wave saw a people who have light complexions, aquiline noses, thin lips, and deep-set eyes.  The second wave of migration were shorter and heavier in physique, having darker complexion, thick lips, large noses, and heavy jaws.

The Proto-Malays came in two migration waves

The Austronesian Migration

Starting 4000-2000 BC Austronesian groups descended from Yunnan Plateau in China and settled in what is now the Philippines by sailing using balangays or by traversing land bridges coming from Taiwan.  Most of these Austronesians primarily used the Philippines as a pit-stop to the outlying Pacific islands or to the Indonesian archipelago further south.

The map shows the area migrated by Austronesian people

Those who were left behind became the ancestors of the present-day Filipinos.  The Cagayan valley of northern Luzon contains large stone tools as evidence for the hunters of the big game of the time: the elephant-like stegodon, rhinoceros, crocodile, tortoise, pig and deer.  The Austronesians pushed the Negritos to the mountains, while they occupied the fertile coastal plains.

Austronesian people traveled using balangays like this

Settlements throughout the islands grew with several populations centers became centers of trade and commerce.  As a matter of fact, the present barangays (smallest administrative units in the Philippines) were in fact originated from balangay.

~ to be continued ~

This entry was published on January 2, 2009 at 10:00 am. It’s filed under Filipiniana, History and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: