F.A.Q.

Here you will find all my frequently asked questions that are sent to me via the blog and via Tumblr. If you have a question you want to ask please refer to this page first and browse through the questions down below to see if someone else has asked your question or similar and it’s already been answered. If you don’t find an answer here then proceed to the contact page and send in your questions.

Present day Metro Manila as we know from records were divided by two kingdoms, The Kingdom of Tondo on the northern side of the Pasig River and the Kingdom of Maynila on the Southern side. We know the existence of the Kingdom of Tondo based on the inscription in the oldest written record we have found to date, The Laguna Copperplate that dates back to 900 A.D. There are also several other written accounts of the Kingdom of Tondo by the Chinese in the Ming Shilu Annuals, and from Brunei, who we shared strong relations with until the Spaniards arrived which ended our relations. As for the existence of the Kingdom of Maynila we also know from the Spaniards as when they first arrived.

Now I’ll give a short summary.

When the Spaniards came in the late 1500’s the ruler of the Kingdom of Tondo was Lakan Dula, (Lakan was the equivalent of Rajah in some groups), whose full name was Banaw Lakan Dula and was the cousin (or brother? The accounts don’t match up from what I read because they both say they were both. But they were definitely either cousins or brothers. I’m still looking into it) of Rajah Ache, known as Rajah Matanda to his people, who ruled the Kingdom of Maynila. It was an Indianized state in the 10th Century already having ties with China in the Ming Dynasty and having later relations with the Sultan of Brunei. When China closed off from the world in trading from 1371 to 1567 it was only in the Kingdom of Tondo and other parts of the Philippines that trading were allowed to exist. If others parts of Southeast Asia or elsewhere wanted Chinese goods they would have to go to here to get them.

In the 1500’s there was merging of royal families from Brunei with Gat (Lord) Lontok, the son of the fifth sultan of Brunei, Sultan Bolkiah,  and Dayang (Lady) Kalangitan the daughter of Rajah Gambang who was a previous ruler of the Kingdom of Tondo. It was an Islamized state along with the mix of the indigenous Animistic beliefs.

The Kingdom of Maynila was ruled by Rajah Ache taking the role of Rajah from his cousin (brother?) Sulayman II. He then passed leadership down to his nephew, Rajah Sulayman III, who was the son of Sulayman II. He was the ruler at the time of the Spaniards arrival. It was an Islamized state at the time when the Spaniards came.

Again I’m still trying to figure out if Rajah Ache, Lakan Dula, and Rajah Sulayman II were first cousins or brothers. William Henry Scott mentions they were first cousins and in the records from the Spaniards they were first cousins. From the records from the royal family of Brunei however they state that they were brothers. So I’m still trying to figure out which one, but everything else is the same. We do know that the royal families from various parts of the Luzon region and parts of Mindanao as well as Brunei and Moluccas in Indonesia were all related.

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Pre-colonial or current? Queers were accepted in society before the Spaniards and they weren’t treated any differently. And actually even a few of our deities were transgendered like the Tagalog deity Lakapati who was the deity of fertility for the fields and crops and was the one of the most worshiped and respected. Also when it came to the priestesses, our katalonans, babaylans, etc. though it was generally seen as a role for women, there were reports of those who were queer, and if a man wanted to be a babaylan they had to crossdress, so crossdressing wasn’t something new to the islands. Along with crossdressing they also had to in a sense of the word “gender cross”, as they not only looked like a woman but they were seen as a woman with all the social standings of a woman, which in pre-colonial times women held a high standing in society and were treated as equals to men. The only difference between the two was that the male crossdresser/gendercrosser, the “bayoguin” couldn’t have kids.

Back then it wasn’t only babae and lalaki that made up genders as only being two, in pre-colonial times we had terms for various genders. So it’s not like how people view it today, with bayoguin, bakla, bayot, bantut, asog, etc. as different types of sexuality (in English terms I mean by the use of identifying those who are bi, lesbian, gay, etc., but they were viewed as different genders.) So those who showed these “gender crossing” behaviors, they didn’t identify themselves as gay or lesbian in views of sexuality, but transgendered or transexual, or simply another gender. Of course these views changed when Catholicism came.

Now what is mentioned above mainly applies to those who were born physically as a male. There are no records (at least I know of) of those who were born as a female so we don’t know about them. However it is generally assumed that they were accepted as well seeing as how women were respected and were able to take on the roles of men if they wished such as daughters of Datu’s being able to take the leadership roles of their father (or mother) and fight alongside other warriors. So it was easy for a women to take on roles men generally did and if a transman or queer woman wanted to take on generally viewed male roles they can. However again, we don’t know about that because there are no records, we can only assume based on the tolerance and acceptance of homosexuality, crossdressing, and transgender in pre-colonial times.

Also on another note, there is a passage in the Boxer Codex under the section titled “Account of the Pagan Rites and Ceremonies of the Indians of the Philippines Islands” referring to the bayoguin (the male to female gender crossers/transgendered) who did marry another male. Here is the passage translated in English.

“Ordinarily they dress as women, act like prudes, and are so effeminate that one who does not know them would believe they are women. Almost all are impotent for the reproductive act, and thus they marry other males and sleep with them as a man and a wife with carnal knowledge.”

This passage is different from those described by missionaries seeing as there is no judgement such as saying how much of a sin it was, etc. and just said stated as is which has convinced many scholars identifying the anonymous author as not being a missionary. Also what’s interesting to note is that the author of the manuscript described them as being a women if you did not know them. This has hinted that the claims by others such as Loarca and Loaisa that the babaylans, katalonans, were mostly women, that most of those women could have actually been bayoguin seeing as how they were viewed and believed to be a women so much they were seen as actual biologically born women.

If you want to know more, both pre-colonial and current you can read the book Philippine Gay Culture: Binabae to Bakla, Silahis to MSM by J. Neil C. Garcia.

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Before I begin let me point that our KKK has no relation to the racist KKK group as it has caused some misunderstandings in the past for us especially when we wear shirts, hats, carry around flags, etc. with KKK written on it. For us Filipino’s and in the Philippines KKK stands for Kataastaasang Kagalanggalang Katipunan, with the full title being Kataastaasang Kagalanggalang Katipunan Ng Mga ng Anak Bayan which means “Highest and Most Honorable Society of the Children of the Nation”. It was a revolutionary, anti-imperialist movement against Spanish colonization and rule that was founded in 1892. It was actually a secret organization formed to try and get rid of Spain and to become an independent nation until the organization was discovered in 1896 which eventually led to the outbreak of the Philippine Revolution.

So for us KKK and its symbols stand for our revolution and national liberation from Spain. Today it is also used for todays revolutionary movements in regards to liberation and socialism.

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No, definitely not.

I mean I do know many Filipino’s who are trying to reclaim their heritage. And no I’m not talking about Filipino’s who were brought up in a general Filipino household who eat Filipino food, went to Filipino parties, etc. and are just learning about our history, dances, etc.

I’m talking about those who were adopted into white families and had absolutely no ties with other Filipino’s and raised in the general culture of Filipino’s at all until later on in life did when they met Filipino’s who helped them reclaim their heritage. Some, their Filipino parent/’s never brought them up in a Filipino household (to the point where they didn’t even introduce any foods). Some they had a grandparent who was one but family members didn’t want to associate with that side of their heritage because they found it to be inferior (in an example of one follower I’ve talked to on this blog).

There can be various reasons why one of Filipino heritage was never brought up in our culture and a Filipino household. And when they want to reclaim their heritage they have every right to.

Now when it comes to the spiritual and indigenous beliefs and practices of the Philippines that is where it may be a bit more closed off, but only to those who aren’t Filipino by blood (or in other cases if it’s someone who isn’t Filipino but was adopted into a Filipino family as through adoption you are Filipino and the ancestors of your adopted family are yours as well, which this goes back to pre-colonial times).

The indigenous beliefs and practices in the Philippines is very revolved around the ancestors and spirits. Even before the deities the ancestors and spirits were more worshiped and given offerings to because they could influence the lives of their descendents. In pre-colonial times in the homes there would be small altars dedicated to the ancestors and the Spaniards found figures of tao-tao, which are human like figures similar to how the bulul looks like, which represented an ancestor or the ancestors. There were also altars outside along rivers where offerings were given in porcelain plates. Of course majority of these figures were all burned, but still, even today, you can see this practice of figures in our own form of Folk Christianity through figures of Saints and the Santo Nino and reverence of them.

Now since the indigenous spiritual beliefs of the Philippines, besides the worship of Gods and Goddesses, have to do with the ancestors, if you are Filipino, it’s not cultural appropriation to be incorporating those beliefs and practices into your spiritual path because you are pretty much just paying your respects to your ancestors and reclaiming a part of your heritage (as the indigenous beliefs is very much as cultural as it’s spiritual).

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Nope, none really except a few minor few and there aren’t any statues or anything like that depicting them that exists today. All we have on the ones we know is what group of people worshiped them and what they were worshiped and known for such as a deity for harvest, of lightning, war, the sea, of a certain mountain, etc. Any figures of deities that people had in their homes according to the written accounts were burned. The figures that were known to be placed along the roads, rivers, etc. (think of the Japanese stone figures placed in random areas by road sides) with their offerings in porcelain plates like what was recorded in Panay and Tondo were destroyed as well. So not a lot is known in specifics about the deities physical descriptions just the basics of their name and what they were worshiped for.

The only deity figurines to ever be found were the famous Golden Tara of Agusan figurine made out of gold, the Garuda, and though not really deities they are divine beings which are the Kinnari and some Padmapani images. All are images and beings from Hindu-Malayan and Vajrayana Buddhism which brings us to a time where certain groups in the Philippines like those in the Visaya’s and parts of Mindanao as well as area’s around Manila and Tondo (proven by the Laguna Copperplate) that the people and areas were a part of the outer Srivijaya empire and practiced a mix of Hinduism and Buddhism just like the people in Indonesia and other parts of Southeast Asia.

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Participate in it, learn and read on history both pre-colonial and colonial and up to now. Try looking at and learning about our native scripts like Baybayin, Kulitan, Tagbanwa, Hanunó’o, & Buhid and practice writing them with words, (this also helps in learning words and phrases). If there are Filipino cultural groups near you join it. If they perform traditional dances and music that’s even better and you should try learning it as well. Try asking your parents to start teaching you some Tagalog and if they happen to speak another language ask them to teach you. Try learning how to cook Filipino foods, learn about current issues in the Philippines, learn about our tattooing culture and our Filipino martial arts, Arnis, Eskrima, Kali, etc.

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Meh, I have mixed feelings. I don’t care if you know, a kababayan truly loves and marries a white person or interracial relationships in general. But if it’s say like an old white man coming into the Philippines to find a “bride” who is like how many years younger then him, or one of those shitty mail order brides crap, then ya I have a problem with. I also have a problem with white men who have these fetishes of Filipino women such as we are submissive, perfect brides here to worship them. Ya hell no.

That whole submissive, quiet, obedient, Maria Clara stereotype and perception of Pinays are a thing formed during Spanish colonial rule. If you look back before they arrived, women were highly respected in society, were equal to men, and were strong women who wouldn’t take crap from anyone, and that’s something the Spaniards didn’t like and tried to get rid of.

So generally I have no problem with it, unless of course in the instances above then yes I strongly do.

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No it’s not a traditional pre-colonial tradition, that tradition was influenced by Mexico from the Quinceañera. The only type of “debut” girls had in the Philippines was Dating, a celebration and ritual when a girl had her first menstruation and after being blindfolded and secluded for 4 days and nights and then ritually washed by the katalonan in a nearby body of water and another 2 day celebration with only women, she was finally introduced to her community as of marriageable age and as a woman. This ritual and rite of passage was practiced by the Tagalogs as far as I have found and is the closest thing to a modern debut.

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Well I suggest you first start off with asking your parents what they are ethnically. Are they Tagalog? Are they Kapampangan? Cebuano? Ilocano? Etc. Then ask them about their childhood. Yes it seems weird, but if your parents were born and grew up in the Philippines believe me they will have stories to tell if they are willing to. Part of what I know of my heritage is by asking my parents and how they grew up. If not your parents try asking your grandparents or any relatives that was born in the Philippines. Once you know research about your ethnic group, where your ancestral lands are, your local food, language, history, customs, etc. and start from there.

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Here are a few books you can look at.

– Brown Skin, White Minds: Filipino -/ American Postcolonial Psychology by E.J.R. David
– The Forbidden Book: The Philippine-American War in Political Cartoons by Abe Ignacio, Enrique de la Cruz, Jorge Emmanuel
– Barangay: Sixteenth-Century Philippine Culture and Society by William Henry Scott
– Way of the Ancient Healer: Sacred Teachings from the Philippine Ancestral Traditions by Virgil Mayor Apostol
– Filipino Tattoos: Ancient to Modern by Lane Wilcken
– Babaylan: Filipinos and the Call of the Indigenous by Leny Mendoza Strobel & Perla Daly
– Philippine Gay Culture: Binabae to Bakla, Silahis to MSM by J. Neil C. Garcia.
– Benevolent Assimilation: The American Conquest of the Philippines, 1899-1903 by Stuart Creighton Miller
– An Introduction to Baybayin by Christian Cabuay

That’s just a list I can think of at the top of my head.

And to read information from primary sources (mainly to do with pre-colonial times and at the very early days of the Spaniards arrival where our indigenous cultures, practices, customs, etc. didn’t die out yet) online you can look at a list I posted months back here. Those primary sources are from the writings of Pigafetta, Morga, Loarca, Legazpi, Plasencia, Salazar, Chirino, Alcina, etc.

If you want to browse through a collection of books though in history I’d suggest looking through Arkipelago, the Filipin@ Bookstore (which is located at the Bayanihan Community Center in San Francisco, CA) at their website here. You can actually buy Barangay by William Henry Scott (which I highly recommend when starting out on learning about our indigenous selves and pre-colonial times) on there for like $30.

 

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It’s not called Bathalism. There is no name for our indigenous beliefs, except maybe perhaps Anito, but that is only what Western scholars have called all the indigenous belief systems in the Philippines as a whole. For now that is what I choose to call my beliefs like a few others who I have seen practicing our old beliefs, until there comes a time where a group of people who practice the old beliefs come together and think of a name for our religious beliefs.

And I don’t necessarily worship Bathala all alone and he isn’t one I do on a daily basis. I work more with Visayan deities such as Kaptan, Magwayen, & Laon, but who I honor and pay tribute the most is the ancestors. Bathala is just one deity out of many from the Philippines.

Anyway ya I have been practicing our indigenous beliefs for the past 3 years, but I have always been Pagan since I was 10.

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If you are talking about Filipino’s being mixed in terms of we are all a mix of Spanish, the indigenous people here, Chinese, etc. no we aren’t. There are more than 100 different ethnic groups in the Philippines with their own history and cultures and only a very small percentage is of actual Spanish descent who are mainly found in the Tagalog and Cebu regions, and then we have our Filipino-Chinese who are either descendants of the already settled Chinese from before the Spaniards arrived or new families from families recently coming from Mainland China.

So we as a people aren’t mixed (in terms of Spanish, Chinese, Japanese, etc.) and we all are not the same. So if you hear the term Filipino’s (which isn’t what we should be calling ourselves anyway), you are talking about the diverse ethnicities in the country under one name. A Tagalog is different from a Kalinga. A Cebuano is different from a Kapampangan, etc. Before the Spaniards arrived we saw each other as different communities and kingdoms. It wasn’t until under the colonization of Spain that we were unified. We go by the name Filipino (colonial as it is and much to my and many others dislike), when referring to all of us as a whole, but individually we refer to each other based on our ethnic group.

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I have no problem with Catholicism in general and I think it’s a beautiful religion like any other but I do have issues with the church. One of the issues that is currently going on is the RH Bill (this has already passed as I make this faq page but its still being argued over), which the church and those who follow it without even looking at the actual teachings of Jesus but blindly following what the church says (and this applies to the Vatican as well), have strong views against it saying it’s encroaching on their religion and blah blah. If they actually read the bill they would know that it’s not destroying any life but for education on safe sex. To put it simply it’s a bill that is a push to help fight the overpopulation in the Philippines. If one does not have the funds to support a child, especially more than one, you shouldn’t have a kid, end of story. Hell our ancestors would be frowning upon what’s going on today because they even knew this and stuck to only a few kids to one or two depending on how wealthy they were and shared the inheritance with the children. They didn’t like nor had more children than they could support and its a teaching that needs to be educated on but the church insists its against their religion. Ya right.

Another thing is I don’t like how they claim the the Philippines is a Catholic country. It’s not, stop thinking it is, there are other major religions in the country like Islam as well as the Animistic indigenous beliefs still practiced by some groups and Buddhism practiced by the Filipino-Chinese and the growing number of Filipino’s who have converted. So the church yes I have a problem with it like many others, but the religion itself I have no problem with.

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Pre-colonial clothing? No where, at least I know of. Majority of Filipino’s don’t know our history, especially the pre-colonial, because they aren’t really taught it. Also due to that, there really is no market for them except for those who do know about our traditional clothing and pre-colonial cultures and history, however as far as I know no one has attempted to bring them back. You can see clothes similar to the traditional clothes being worn and made for festivals but that’s about it. I’m actually working on making some though and hopefully others will as well. Not to mention if this did happen it could bring in some potential jobs for people back home.

It’s still possible, especially if more people are more aware of our indigenous cultures before the Spaniards arrived. And for me I long for the day we do. But that will be awhile and a lot of decolonization would have to take place in the country and in Filipino’s before any of that can happen.

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It’s not very Indian, because it’s not Indian. There are records of us having worn what was worn in Amaya. Look at the Boxer Codex and the descriptions from the early Spaniards as well as what William Henry Scott has mentioned.

tagalog

tagalog1

tagalog2

visayans

visayans1

visayans2

visayans cagayan

As for the cropped open tops the men wore, though there are no visuals of that in the Boxer Codex, they are in the written records along with other forms of dress and what they were called. Also, the various parts of the Philippines was an Indianized state, along with Indonesia, such as the Tagalog region and the Visaya’s. And yes parts of the Philippines were under the Srivijaya empire.

So yes what is depicted in Amaya is what we actually wore. What was actually practiced such as the gods and goddesses and the beliefs is what we actually believed in and practiced. The tattoo’s, the babaylan, the Datu’s and Rajah’s, the raids, the karaokoa’s, the house structures, the slaves, most of what is depicted on that show is based on historical records.

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Well the lingling-o symbol, though mainly seen in the Igorot groups today and thats where the term comes from (specifically with the Ifugao as other ethnic groups have their own names), the symbol itself has also been found in other places in the Philippines from Batangas to Palawan and it’s also been found in other parts of Southeast Asia like in Vietnam, Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia, and Borneo and also being found in India.

It’s been suggested by Virgil Mayor Apostol author of Way of the Ancient Healer: Sacred Teachings from the Philippine Ancestral Traditions, that the symbol used to be found in the coastal areas of the Philippines prior to colonization but was eventually lost especially when it came to the Spaniards taking gold to melt them, both from the people and especially by digging up graves where it was a custom to be buried with your gold. Along with that the wide range of the symbol being used as jewelry which some have been made out of jade it suggests a trade between people from the Philippines, Vietnam, Borneo, etc. with people from Taiwan as all the jade ornaments they have found from the various areas all trace back to Taiwan though the ornaments themselves weren’t made in Taiwan but locally.

So the symbol itself isn’t just found with the Cordillera groups its found throughout Southeast Asia, however those groups are the only ones besides a few in Borneo, who are known to have it today.

Now the lingling-o symbol today with its fertility meanings and representations of both feminine and masculine, and of creation, (which has been said to be traced back to the yoni-linga symbols in India) has also become a symbol of cultural pride, not just with the youth from the various Cordillera groups, but among many other Filipin@’s from Luzon to the Visayas to Mindanao as well who have started to wear them as pendants and others having a tattoo of it knowing the symbolism and meanings behind them. I myself have a tattoo of the symbol on my left wrist to represent its meanings and I am also Visayan as well as a Tagalog from Mindoro.

As long as you know the meanings behind them and their significance and not getting it to look cool (like how many get a baybayin tattoo to look cool without knowing how the script even works and often write it incorrectly where sometimes its laughable) then its fine as like I said above, today it has become a cultural symbol among Filipin@’s especially those decolonizing.

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You mean something like this? Like a rite of passage for men? I know that back then a part of a young man’s rite of passage was getting his first tattoo as the more one was tattooed the more it showed how brave he was and strong. For a specific ritual and event like the one when a girl has her first menstruation which was celebrated as her transition to a woman, for men I’m not sure I would have to research and look into it more. All I know is that tattooing was a big part in their rite of passage as well as making their first kill of an enemy, though of course we don’t do things like that and raids anymore, but tattooing men can still do especially since our tattooing culture is reviving.

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There are several factors as to probably why, unlike our neighbors in other parts of Asia, there aren’t any significant old pre-colonial architecture and structures.

First and foremost though before I begin, I would like to point out that just because we don’t have anything like say for example, Angkor Wat in Cambodia or the Borobudur temple in Indonesia, it doesn’t mean we didn’t have a civilization. We had it alright. I mean if you have been following this blog long enough you probably already know about our pre-colonial cultures and how diverse and rich it is. We had our own social classes, our Datu’s and Rajah’s, myths, customs, rituals, were a part of the maritime trade, were know for our goldwork, etc.

Now several factors come into play on why the archipelago of islands now known as the Philippines most likely has no old monuments or structures prior to colonization.

One major factor is that we didn’t build with stones, we built with wood. Our structures were built traditionally with wood materials such as bamboo and rattan and basically how our traditional nipa hut houses are made today. Since it’s made out of wood, they don’t last very long especially in the environment in the Philippines where we have annual rain and monsoons.  The only people who really built stone houses are the Ivatans all the way up north in Batanes but they have their own climate and environment that’s a bit different than the rest of the country, thus the use of stone.

Next factor is the fact that despite the evidence we have from artifacts and written documents from our neighboring countries that a mix of Hinduism and Buddhism did arrive in the archipelago, it wasn’t widespread, mainly only found in the communities that were right by the lakes, rivers, and sea (for example the areas of Manila and Tondo and in islands in the Visayas). For that reason by living by the water they immersed themselves in trade and fishing, then those communities in the mountains and away from large bodies of water provided rice and other crops. (It was a relationship between the people up in the mountains and those in the coasts)

Now even though there was a presence of Hinduism and Buddhism, again, it wasn’t wide spread, mainly it was practiced by the elite and ruling class. The spirituality of the majority of people were mainly indigenous animistic beliefs, which comprised of ancestral veneration, a mythology of each ethnic groups own Gods and Goddesses, and the respect of spirits in nature that resided along side us.

There were no temples toward these deities, the Spaniards noted. Why? Because their places of worship was either in the house of a Datu or Rajah, who provided their home and set up a place for worship which was called “simbahan”, or “place of worship”, which today people associate the term with a church. That or it was outdoors, in the fields, rivers, caves, mountains, and in the forests.

The only structures the Spaniards noticed and wrote down were structures, again made out of wood, one that was at the entrance of each village/community, where people would place their offerings and say their prayers to their ancestors and deities and the local spirits. Another was a house that held wooden and stone carvings of the anito, likha, tao-tao, or bata-bata (depending on what ethnic group used each term for example anito was used for the Tagalogs and tao-tao for the Bisayans), which are pretty much like the bulul figures in the Cordillera region. These carvings represented their dead ancestors, where whenever someone died they would carve a figure in honor of the dead person and place it in the house. The only other place of worship were small altars with these carved figures and offerings inside the individual homes of the people.

So, since places of worship was either

a) in the Datu or Rajah’s large house,
b) in the small shrines in ones home,
c) in the small platforms and houses at the entrance of the village, or
d) just outside in nature where we do have written records of specific rituals and offerings done by rivers, whether it was a big ceremony or individual, most having to do with asking the ancestor and deities for a good harvest, or for protection, etc.

And because of this you aren’t going to see anything standing today since

1) our traditional architecture is again made out of wood and other natural and perishable materials and
2) because worship outside and offerings were left for the elements.

(Of course, with recent archaeological finds like the 1,000 year old village found in Mt. Kamhantik near the town of Mulanay in Quezon, there might be some groups of people who did build with stone, considering with the discovery of this village it proves that at least in some parts of the archipelago there were people who used limestone for burials, which until this discovery, it was always believed that burials were through wood coffins or in secondary burial jars. So with this recent discovery, who knows, we might find other old villages like this in the many dense forests and uninhibited areas in the archipelago. Because believe it or not, a lot of the country is still undiscovered and not much is known about them.)

Next factor, is our geographical location. Let’s be honest here and look at a map. The Philippines is pretty much geographically isolated compared to the rest of Asia. Thailand, Vietnam, and Cambodia which are known for structures are on the mainland. A part of Malaysia is on the mainland and the rest is just a few miles away. Indonesia is so close to the mainland as well and each of the islands are close to one another and Malaysia. Then look at the Philippines. The only very close area we can get to easily is Borneo, and that is only through Southern Mindanao, Palawan, and with a bit more of a distance, Mindoro and Western Visayas. Then our next closest neighbor is Taiwan and Southern China but that is only in the Northern Philippines and its still a bit of a distance compared to Borneo.

So now when you look those factors, though we did participate in the maritime trade with the rest of Southeast Asia, China, and Japan, and to a small degree, India, for the most part besides them, the majority of our trading was locally throughout the archipelago. Mainland Southeast Asia like Vietnam and Thailand have more influences from China and other surrounding areas because it’s on the same landmass. Those influences can very easily spread quickly to nearby areas like Malaysia and Indonesia. Now since the archipelago of what is now known as the Philippines is more geographically isolated from the rest of Asia, those influences though did arrive and were present, it wasn’t in such a drastic and quicker rate.

Also again, we didn’t have big empires or anything of that sort like other parts of Asia. We had small kingdoms like Tondo, city states, and villages, with the Datu’s and Rajah’s, but nothing where we would build a place or dedication for a ruler or deities, etc.

Now, as for a place that’s like Vigan?

Intramuros. I think that is pretty much it but someone correct me if I’m wrong and if there is another place very similar to the architecture in those two well known places.

I mean, there are still some heritage houses built in the bahay no bato style, which is a style of influences from the traditional nipa hut and Spanish influences, but if you are talking about a whole town or city built the way Vigan and Intramuros is built, as far as I know there isn’t. Most of the houses and architecture built during the Spanish colonial era were either destroyed during World War II or were destroyed in recent years to make way for malls and skyscrapers based on American influences. A lot of old bahay no bato homes and heritage houses have been destroyed because of local officials not really caring and wanting to get rid of them simply for profit and their own self esteem’s. Many simply just don’t care for heritage sites and old architecture despite locals fighting to preserve them.

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From historical accounts? No. Books? No. Just from information based on the Hindu-Malayan and Buddhist artifacts that have been found in the country as well as the famous Laguna Copperplate which is the earliest written account ever recovered so far that was written on Monday, April 21, 900 C.E. according to the Gregorian calendar. However the actual dated inscription is using a Hindu calendar during the Saka era during the year of Siyaka 822, the month of Waisaka, on the fourth day of the waning moon. From this we know that the person who wrote this inscription that pardons a person named Namwaran and their children, family, and descendants from a debt of gold, practiced Hinduism or at least a form of it based on the Hindu calendar date in the description. We also know that this isn’t something that could have been made somewhere else because descriptions and names of various places in the Philippines such as the Kingdom of Tondo, Binuangan that is now a part of Obando, the Barangay of San Lorenzo in Norzagaray, and a few other areas are mentioned as well as mentioning the Rajah of Tondo. Also to note that the date and period of the Laguna Copperplate is also the period in which some of the Hindu-Malayan and Buddhist gold artifacts have also been dated to. So from these artifacts they bring us a history, though still very well unknown, but a history regardless, that the parts of the Philippines along with indigenous Animistic beliefs practiced forms of Hinduism and Buddhism like other parts in Southeast Asia.

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after I graduated high school, so almost 4 years ago. I was first exposed to traditional dances back in 10 or 11th grade when my family joined this cultural group that the kids do traditional dances and perform them. That was around the time I started to question my Filipino identity and our culture but it wasn’t really until senior year that I actually started being more serious and doing plenty of research. Back then I knew nothing, now, I’m the most traditional person my family and friends know, and not in the Hispanic influenced traditional way. And when I say traditional I mean traditional, from learning and performing traditional dances and music, to memorizing epics, stories, poems, and myths, to starting to wear traditional dress, etc. It’s all a part of my decolonization process and going back to our roots before our colonization because without that we don’t know ourselves.

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Not that I know of, at least besides childrens books and the sort but none that really is dedicated to mythology from the Philippines. What I know of our various mythology is from the early written accounts by the Spaniards which tells us how our ancestors worshiped and practiced, there is one passage talking about the rituals that the Babaylans (our priestesses that are also know by other local names depending on the language such mumbaki, katalonan bailan, etc) did, talking about various deities, as well as some rites of passage, and some stories, epics, myths etc. But as far as for any books and anthologies dedicated to just that I haven’t come across any yet. I can give you links to those early written historical accounts though. You can find the post of references here.

I kinda actually want to write a book myself on mythology from the Philippines and some indigenous practices because there isn’t a whole lot dedicated to just that, especially regarding info prior to colonization. (Also because I am a Polytheistic Reconstructionist, with of course instead of European, Semitic, or Kemetic beliefs like the popular ones today my beliefs and practices revolve around indigenous beliefs and practices from the Philippines, in particular the Visaya’s and Tagalog region since that’s what I am.)

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Looking at old written accounts by the early Spaniards who did actually keep good records of us (as well as a few written accounts by our neighbors such as China and Brunei), reading William Henry Scott’s books, especially Barangay: 16th Century Philippine Culture and Society which is based on those records as well as a few from a few others, and looking at the early dictionaries. Browsing through written essays and reading some books written by other Filipino’s on certain topics from mythology to tattoo’s is also something I do in my past time. Pretty much if you know where to look you can find a wealth of information on our past despite what people say of a “lack of it” and “we had no history prior to the arrival of Magellan”.

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We are Asians, specifically Southeast Asians and specifically we are Austronesians. We aren’t Pacific Islanders. The only ones who tend to say we are, are those who live in the states especially in Hawai’i and California. Those in the Philippines generally have no problem with this issue.

We may be in the Pacific and our country is comprised of many islands however that statement would then fall to other island countries in the Pacific like Japan, Taiwan, Indonesia, and Malaysia. You don’t see them calling themselves Pacific Islanders do you?

Pacific Islanders only refer to those who are from these regions, Polynesia, Oceania, and Micronesia, and the Philippines is not in that region. If you really want to call us something other than Asian and Southeast Asian, you can say you are Austronesian which we are.

Here is a link.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Austronesian_people

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