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Author Topic: Literacy in Pre-Hispanic Philippines  (Read 3272 times)

  • Guest
Literacy in Pre-Hispanic Philippines
« on: July 07, 2008, 08:13:41 PM »
For those interested in Philippine history & language, I stumbled across this & it may be of interest to some:

Literacy in Pre-Hispanic Philippines

by Hector Santos
© 1995-96 by Hector Santos
All rights reserved.


Why does the world consider China, Japan, and Thailand as countries that have a tradition of writing and assume that the Philippines owes its literacy to the West? It is because these countries use their own writing systems while Filipinos read and write in the Latin alphabet. Although outsiders may be forgiven for such a belief, many Filipinos unfortunately also do not know that a writing system was in place in the Philippines long before the Spaniards arrived.

Spanish accounts

Antonio Pigafetta, Magellan\'s meticulous chronicler, came in 1521 to the Visayas but did not notice any evidence of writing skills in the places he visited. Instead, he noted that the natives were impressed that he could repeat things that they had said earlier by reading back his notes.

However, when Legazpi came to Manila in 1571 he observed that the inhabitants knew how to read and write. This was documented by Pedro Chirino, a Jesuit historian, who wrote in his 1604 Relacion de las Islas filipinas,

    All these islanders are much given to reading and writing, and there is hardly a man, much less a woman, who does not read and write.

Chirino was not alone in his observation. Many other historians had similar conclusions, including Dr. Antonio Morga, Senior Judge Advocate of the High Court of Justice and commander of the ill-fated galleon-turned-warship San Diego that was sunk by the Dutch Admiral van Noort. He wrote in his 1609 Sucesos de las Islas filipinas,

    Almost all the natives, both men and women, write in this language. There are very few who do not write it excellently and correctly.

What the Spaniards found
The Spaniards found the people in Manila and other places writing on bamboo and specially prepared palm leaves using knives and styli. They were using the ancient Tagalog script which had 17 basic symbols, three of which were the vowels a, i, and u.

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  • Guest
Re: Literacy in Pre-Hispanic Philippines
« Reply #1 on: July 07, 2008, 09:02:40 PM »
I found that very interesting, when I get a bit more free time, if ever  :(, I will further into it.

Colin

Offline John Amend-All

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Re: Literacy in Pre-Hispanic Philippines
« Reply #2 on: July 07, 2008, 09:18:30 PM »
Uzi

That was quite superb, where did you dig it up from?

Ancient scripts, precious golden ornaments, there was obviously so much going on here when the Spanish arrived. I loved the part about writing being used for poetry and communicating with friends rather than glorifying a ruler or priest as in nearby cultures.

John

  • Guest
Re: Literacy in Pre-Hispanic Philippines
« Reply #3 on: July 07, 2008, 09:37:09 PM »
Uzi

That was quite superb, where did you dig it up from?

Ancient scripts, precious golden ornaments, there was obviously so much going on here when the Spanish arrived. I loved the part about writing being used for poetry and communicating with friends rather than glorifying a ruler or priest as in nearby cultures.

John

One of the things I love with the internet is, the unexpected. Sometimes while searching for one thing, the search throws up an rare snippit that you would never have found because you never knew it existed. 8)

  • Guest
Re: Literacy in Pre-Hispanic Philippines
« Reply #4 on: July 08, 2008, 07:51:01 AM »
Uzi

That was quite superb, where did you dig it up from?

Ancient scripts, precious golden ornaments, there was obviously so much going on here when the Spanish arrived. I loved the part about writing being used for poetry and communicating with friends rather than glorifying a ruler or priest as in nearby cultures.

John

One of the things I love with the internet is, the unexpected. Sometimes while searching for one thing, the search throws up an rare snippit that you would never have found because you never knew it existed. 8)

There is an add-on to Firefox called StumbleUpon that throws up all sorts of interesting web sites. You can tailor it to suit your interests and it learns from your assessment of the sites.

Colin