Looking Back 6: Prehistoric Philippines

Last year as a commemoration of Philippine Independence I enjoyed the Looking Back 1 by Ambeth Ocampo. After finishing today I find this 6th book of the series equally enjoyable and insightful as a closer look into the Philippine history.

So what are the nuggets I learned from this book?
  • "History" as an academic term refers to the "written" records and documents, as compared to the term "Prehistory" that refers mostly to the artifacts, and relics predating the advent of the printed words (and symbols/ numbers).
  • The idea of a land-centered "territory" usually bounded by water is purely Hispanic and American. Our ancestor's idea of "territory" does not exclude bodies of water (i.e. rivers, lakes) but rather include them and even put them as an integral and central part of the territory because they serve as the main medium of travel. In contrast to "roads," our ancestors highly used "rivers" to transport from one "barangay" to another. Of course, they don't use carriages nor animals in those days yet, but boats.
  • The Merlion symbol of Manila's official coat-of-arms predates the Lion symbol branding of Singapore by centuries.
  • The Boxer Codex does not just showcase the detailed tattoo art of the Visayan Pintados but also the recurring local superstitions in the period of the Spanish Philippines.
  • Our earliest written record discovered so far is not a song nor a poem, but a receipt for payment of debt. It's the Laguna Copperplate Inscription of 900 A.D.
  • There are lots of Filipino artifacts scattered in museums around the world but we are thankful at least, they were able to protect them. The Philippine National Museum--the home of local artifacts and documents were destroyed from the Battle of Manila in 1945.
Manunggul Jar

Agusan Gold

Genre: Philippine History
Rating: 4 sturdy lantakas out of 5

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