Kate S. Magpoc
Pre Spanish Art in the Philippines
Long before the arrival of the Spaniards, ancient Filipinos were living in scattered barangays and
ruled by different chieftains. Although, they were living separately, they were similar in many
ways, their religion, mode of dressing, houses, system of government and marriage practices and
economic activities, in short, they wee refined and civilized; they possessed a distinct culture that
distinguish them from other race.
Houses were made of light materials like wood, bamboo and nipa
palm. A ladder was placed to prevent strangers from intruding when
the owner was not around. Strong post at the lower part of the house
was enclosed. A jar of heart was placed in a gallery called “batalan”.
Some of them built tree houses to protect themselves against their
enemies or from being attacked by wild animals.
- consisted of the upper and lower
parts. The upper part was a jacket with
short sleeves called “kangan” while the
lower part was a strip of cloth wrapped
around the waist and in between the legs
called “bahag”. Males used a piece of
cloth or a headgear called “putong”.
- Putong symbolized the number of
persons the wearer had killed.
- they wore “baro or camisa”, a jacket
with leeves. The lower part was called
The natives wore ornament made of gold and precious
stones. Women including men wore armlet, leg lets,
bracelets, gold rings and earring. Putting tattoos in their
body was practiced.
Males having many tattoos were admired because it
signified bravery in war. They also inserted gold between
their teeth as an ornament.
Natives were without a doubt, music lovers. Each
community had their own sets of musical instrument. In
the account of Pigafetta, the official historian of
Magellan expedition, women from Cebu were
- cymbals (plantiles)
- nose flutes, bamboo mouth organs (aphiw)
- brass gong (gansa)
- flute (bansic)
- long drum (colibao)
- bamboo harp (subing)
- water whistle (paiyak)
- guitar (bugtot)
- xylophone (agong)
- drum (tugo)
The early form of literature during pre-Spanish period was a classified into written or oral. Examples of oral
literature consisted of;
Boat song (talindaw)
Biag ni Lam-Ang (Ilocano epic)
Victory songs (tagumpay)
Indarapatra at Sulayman and
Bidasari (Muslim Epics)
Wedding song (ihiman)
War song (kumintang) etc.
examples of written literature are;