Friday, March 2, 2012


Before the arrival of the Spanish conquerors in the Philippines in the 16th century, Barangay is used to be their form of government.  During the pre-colonial period, it was the dominant pattern of organization of the indigenous communities. The name barangay originated from Balangay, a Malay word for sailboat. Balangay was use by our Malayans ancestors, for transportation when they came in our islands.

They used to be our Malayan ancestors with the Balangay boat that they used for their migration in the archepilago.
source: Retrieved from

Historically, early barangay were relatively started with 30-100 families, also known as a small community. As what I had learned, during my elementary days, the barangay originally started with the Malayan settlements in some coastal areas in the archipelago. In these coastal communities, it is ruled by a datu. The datu is not the king; he was the chieftain of the barangay, a wealthiest person in the community with “alipin” or slaves. He was the one responsible for the interests of his people. Historians believed that the people’s commandments during pre-colonial times are the written laws the Maragtas Code and the Code of Kalantiaw. Historians believed that Maragtas Code was written by Datu Sumakwel. The code was first ever written law that deals and focuses on the penalty for those who are lazy, while the Code of Kalantiaw was writtem by the Datu from Negros, Datu Kalantiaw.
This illustration is the shrine of Kalantiaw found
in Batan, Aklan.
source: retrieved from

In a develop Barangays in an area the Datu was on the top of all. The social order in a barangay was divided into three classes.
1.      As what I have said above the Datu belongs to the highest class in the society. The wealthiest person of the community. He has slaves and he is the leader. In terms of marriage, they only marry their own kind to maintain the purity of their bloodline. They search the whole community to find a deserving woman and the datu contracted her with golds and jewelries.
This is an illustration of a datu with his family.
Retrieved from
2.      Next, was the free man or the timawas. Term timawa refers to an intermediate social class among the various cultures of the Philippines before the arrival of the Spanish in the 16th and 17th centuries. These groups of people do or make things according to their will. They were not paid they work for themselves. They cannot be sold.

This is an illustration of the timawas before the colonialization of the
Spaniards in the archepilago.
Retrieved from
               3.      Lastly was the slaves or the alipin. Aipin has two categories,
a.      Aliping namamahay – it is the slave with a higher status. They were slaves but then they were ale to live on the house. They can’t be sold.
b.      Aliping saguiguilid –it is a slaves with a lower status. They were paid and they can be sold.

1.      CLOTHING
In terms of clothing our ancestors had been using clothes and ornaments. There we have the bahag for men and a putong. While for women, baro that was their upper garments, it was a sleeved jacket. Over their saya or patadyong  (skirt) there was a tapis, it is a strip of cloth that was wrapped at the saya. It looks like a malong with a checkered design. Primarily, women used it as a tucked-in skirt topped by a kimona.They also wear gold bracelets, earring and necklaces.
The illustration above is the patadyong that our female ancestors long time
ago was wearing, while the picture below was the illustration of the bahag that
being used by our male ancestors

2.      SHELTER
In terms of shelter, the nipa hut also known as the “ bahay kubo”. It is the native Filipino house usually made up of bamboos for structures and nipa leaves for its roof. The house was very simple, it has a single room enough for a couple to live in. Plants, vegetables and even flowers surrounded the house. It’s a good place and quiet place to live in. You can feel the fresh air inside the house even during summer times, because of its all-natural parts.
This illustration above was the house of our ancestors. A bahay kubo
wherein it is still existing and some people were still using it
especially those katutubos
Retrieved from:

In terms of Filipinos cultural awareness, there we have the bayanihan. It is the helping atittude whenever someone was is need. It is the helping attitude whenever someone was is need. It can be seen when someone will move their house which is a nipa hut in some places. Next was the strong family tie among each member. Like for instance, when a daughter gets married, instead of living on their own together with her husband and children, they will still live in their parents’ house. Then, Filipinos were very hospitable.
This illustration is the helping hand of very person in the community.
It is the Bayahihan attitude of the Filipinos that even until now
is still existing.
Retrieved from
 3.      LANGUAGE
Our ancestors back then where using their different dialects according to what ethnic groups they belong. Several ethnic groups were been living here. Some of them were the Manobo in Cotabato, B’laan in Davao, Agta in Camarines, Ifugao, Waray, Tasaday, Tagalog, Cebuano, Hiligaynon, Illongco and a whole lot more. They already had their own language and a form and techniques in writing. One of these was the baybayin script. It is the ancient script in the archipelago. A baybayin script is a pre-Spanish Philippine writing system. It is a member of the Brahmic family and is recorded as being in use in the 16th century. It continued to be used during the Spanish colonization of the Philippines up until the late 19th Century.

This is the ancient tagalog script the Baybayin script.
Retrieved from:

Our ancestors back then were used to worship all natural. I mean they’ve been worshiping anitos or the nature gods, like the God of the sun, wind, air, water, and even stones. Animism, is the term used to describe the indigenous spiritual traditions practiced in the Philippines during pre-colonial times. And also the priestesses (babaylan/katalonan), tribal historians and wizened elders that provided the spiritual and traditional life of the community.

This has been the representation of the anitos that our ancestors
worshipped on.
Retrieved from

On the 16th century, it was the beginning of the Spaniards colonization in Philippine archipelago. Ferdinand Magellan headed the first Spanish explorer to the Philippines on 1521, meeting untimely death in Cebu. The invasion of the Filipino did not begin in 1564; it was on the arrival of the 5th expedition that the Spain sent. Miguel Lopez de Legazpi commanded it.  During the Spanish colonization our natives’ set of government had been affected. The Cabeza de Barangay (Spanish for "head of the barangay") was the leader or chief of a barangay in the Philippines during the Spanish colonial period. The Cabeza de Barangay was now their form of government. It was also called a principalia, they were the Datu, Sultan and Lakan. The Spaniards gave the position in the cabeza de barangay to the datu in order to help them colonize our island. They used the datu to protect their country against the Filipinos. As the head, he promotes and collects the taxes from the community and gave it to the Spaniards. They didn’t even get paid to the service that they’ve been giving to them. They were just exempted of paying the tax. During the Spanish colonization the government had 2 branches the executive and judicial. The only laws of the Philippine were the laws created by the Governor-general who was the leader of the government.

The govenor-general during the Spanish Colonization
Retrieved from


1.      Principalia - nobility class was the social and educated class in the towns of colonial Philippines composed of the Gobernadorcillo (Town Mayor), or the Cabeza de Barangay (Chief of the Barangay) who governed the districts and the awardees of the medal of Civil Merit. They were exempted from force labor, can be elected to public office and allowed to vote.
2.      The Ilustrados - (Spanish for erudite, learned, or "enlightened ones) constituted the Filipino educated class during the Spanish colonial period in the late 19th century. They were the middle class educated and exposed to Spanish nationalist ideals.
This is the illustrados, Jose Rizal, Marcelo H. del Pilar, and Mariano Ponce
Retrieved from
3.      Native intellectuals 
a.       Indios- natives usually malays
b.      Insulares-those were born in the country that their parents were pure Spanish
c.       Meztisos – those were the filipinos having both Filipinos and Spaniards bloodline.
d.      Peninsulares – Spaniards born in Spain
During these times, some of our early culture has not been perished. The bayanihan attitude, the strong family ties and being hospitable were still here. Well, as the time progresses in the 16th century during the colonization period, the Spanish influenced us so much. The Spanish colonization of the Spaniards in the archipelago lasted for more than 300 years. At those times, we can see the presence of Spanish influence in many aspects in our culture. Like for example the Tagalog were language, there were plenty Spanish word that has been borrowed.  In terms of religion, back then our ancestors were worshiping anitos or animism. But at these times, it is the Christianism which was introduced to our ancestor by the Spaniards. While in traditions, they were introduced to a fiesta celebration, wedding ceremony, baptism, birthdays and a whole lot more. These traditions were originally came from the Spain brought in the archipelago and was accepted by some of our ancestors.