The Philippine Prehistory
While pre-Spanish Filipinos did not
have formal schools, they were taught
reading and writing in their homes. The
children of school age were taught in
their homes by their mother, who, in the
Filipino homes even today, were the first
teachers. The fathers trained their sons
to be warriors, hunters and fishermen.
There are more than a hundred
languages and dialects that exist in the
country today. Of these, eight are
considered major languages, namely:
o Sugbuhanon (cebuano)
They are sister-languages and
belong to one family of languages called
Austronesian or Malayo-Polynesian.
When the Spaniards set foot on
Philippine soil, they found the Filipinos
writing in their native syllabary or
alphabet. The philippine alphabet is
called syllabary because every letter is
pronounced as a syllable. The tagalog
script was called baybayin, sometimes
erroneously called alibata. It considered
of three vowels and fourteen
consonants, whith a total of 17 letters.
The writing system was horizontal, from
left to right.
They also had literature that may be
classified into written or oral. Among the
tagalogs, the oral literature consisted of :
o Sabi (maxims)
o Bugtong (riddles)
o Talindaw (boat song)
o Tagumpay (victory song)
o Uyayi and Hele (cradle song)
o Ihiman (wedding song)
o Kumintang (war song)
Filipinos have also written literature.
Ifugao Hudhud and Alim
Ilokanos Biag ni Lam-ang
Muslims Bantugan, Indaraptra and
Sulayman, Bidasari, Parang
Filipinos are considered born
musicians. They play several musical
instruments although they have not
studied music formally. The natives of
cebu played instruments made of
bamboo and wood like a stringed
instrument called the kudyapi. Among
the Negritos of Zambales and Bataan,
the favorite musical instrument were the
bansic, a sort of a flute and the gangsa,
a kind of guitar.
The Ilocanos have their musical
instrument like the kutibeng, a sort of
guitar with five strings; the flute ; and the
kudyapi. They also dances. Among the
bisayans, the favorite were the balitaw
and dandansoy. The ancient Filipinos
from all regions had dances and songs
for all occasions.
The art of the earliest Filipinos
may be seen in their tools and
weapons. These tools were at
first rough, but as time went on,
the Filipinos began to polish
them. Later, beads, amulets,
bracelets and other ornaments
were used to improve their
The pre-Spanish Filipinos practiced
agriculture, which was the main source of
livelihood. They also practiced irrigation.
They increased their crop production by
irrigating ditches. This is proven by the
rice terraces in Banawe. Aside from
agriculture, they went into such industries
such as fishing, mining, shipbuilding,
poultry, stock-raising, lumbering and
weaving. Mining was another important
industry. Gold is obtained from rivers and
in some places, from mines, which the
Shipbuilding and lumbering were
thriving industries. The filipino
shipbuilders built all kinds of boats for
travel, war, and commerce. Domestic
and foreign trade existed long before the
Spaniards arrived in the Philippines.
Domestic commerce between
barangays and islands was carried on
through the waterways.
On the other hand, foreign trade was
carried on with countries like
China, Japan, Siam
(Thailand), Cambodia, Sumatra, Borneo, J
ava, and other islands of Malaysia.
Because currency was not in use, the pre-
Spanish Filipinos used the barter system in
their commercial transactions. The Chinese
traders testified that the Filipinos were
honest and paid their debts to the traders
even after many months had passed.
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