Get Even More Visitors To Your Blog, Upgrade To A Business Listing >>

Research Center of Iloilo: The History Of Iloilo Chapter 1 - The Arrival Of Malays

  Chapter 1
   The Arrival of Malays

* highlighted in violet is the approximate timeline or date

The Malay Migration

The Quest for the roots of Language of Iloilo

While it is difficult to determine the earliest history of Iloilo due to non-availability  of surviving ancient  literatures or archaeological evidence , there are  some points to ponder  on reconstructing the earliest history of Iloilo using ethnolinguistic history and ethnographic implication of Spanish historiographers.

Questions about human origins have an enduring fascination. Languages, like genes, are archives of history. They provide vital evidence to help unravel the  mysteries of our past. Languages evolve in remarkably similar ways to biological species. They split into new languages, mutate, and sometimes go extinct. I analyzed basic vocabulary of 3 Major Islands of Indonesia. The results clearly show that the origin of the entire Hiligaynon language can be dated back from those Islands around 500 AD's.

Ethnolinguistic History of Iloilo

The beginning of ancient places all over the world was traceable to the study of ethnolinguistic history of the land. Britain because it was settled by English-speaking Anglo Tribes, Latin-America because Spanish-speaking colonized them. The same story happened.

Migration of Malayan people was not a single event nor from single place of  origin. It came from a diverse linguistic background from the islands of Sumatra, Indonesia and Borneo. The ancient seafaring Malays love to journey in the sea going to other adjacent Islands. Dangerous beast is lurking in very thick vegetation. Any navigators can claim its own and cultivate them. Migration was intermittent in  longer interval. During a period of  pauses, new technology were developed - better canoes, farming, social techniques to deal with the inter- island expedition . Several Islands were settled. New comers are  welcomed by pioneers but they were given new lands that is not yet settled. It is here were Malays found their sanctuary from months of sailing. It was mostly not inhabited.

Sri-Vijaya Empire during Ming Dynasty

The scattering of SriVijaya to Sulo , Malacca and Visayas
Ancient Malays scatterred when Javanese Majapahit warriots waged destructive conquest in Sri Visaya Coastal Kingdoms .

Sri-Vijaya to Sulu and founded a new Kingdom

1390 AD - Srivijayan Raja Baguinda, a minor ruler of Minangkabau, arrived in Sulu from Swarna Dwipa and founded the town of Bwansa in Jolo Island; His other compatriots, fleeing incoming Majapahit warriors, settled in Negeri Sembilan (a state in present-day Malaysia).

Sri-Vijaya to Malaca and founded a new Kingdom

1402 AD - Majapahit dispatched a fleet of three hundred main warships and hundreds of smaller vessels, carrying no less than 200,000. Temesek  Parameswara, last King of Sri Vijaya - Melayu Kingdom leaves from  invading Majapahit warriors, moved north to Muar and founded a Melaka settlement; He also embraced Islam on marrying a princess from Samudara Pasai and named himself Sultan Iskandar Shah of the Sultanate of Melaka to honor his ancestor Raja Iskandar Zulkarnain (the Macedonian greatman Alexander the Great). On 1521 , Magellan hired a boy from Malacca to act as interpreter when he sailed to Philippines.

Irong-Irong was born

500 AD Pioneers in Salog River Settlement and it's Linguistic Expansions

Malay families navigated the strait .  They designate  the river  with malay word " Yrong-irong"   means nose because the shape of the mouth Batiano river  resembles a " nose" . These pioneering settlers  speak western proto Kinaray-a languge . A Sri-Vijayan dialect.

Note: They were the first settlers who visit Irong-irong because of the extensive dispersal of their language as far as 70 kilometers away in Calinog .That extent of expansion should take a longer period of time  and centuries  of population growth.  It's very unlikely they are the secondary settlers because the extent of their expansion along the Salog River. If they arrived late, then Hiligaynon  should have penetrated  the hinterlands.  If their point of entry was Jalaud River , they should have left their residual  linguistic feature there and  have expanded through Jalaud River retaining their original intonation.

They were among the first to make permanent settlement . The settlement was enclosed by three big river, Batiano river , Salog in north and Dungon in the south. They concentrated in hunting ,  farming,  rice cultivation and crops. A hundred years has elapsed that every families have already three generation.  As population grows, they spread by building homes along Salog River in western hinterlands of ancient villages which is now Pavia, Angoy (San Miguel), Catmon (Santa Barbara ). People of Catmon (Santa Barbara) was dispersed further. They established hamlets of Cabatuan,  Himanban ( Lucena) and  Pototan. Then people of Cabatuan spread to Maasin westerward. People of Himanban travelled to Mina and Janiuay. Northward , they established Lambunao, Calinog and Bingawan.  ( Yellow Towns)

Source: Bisayan Accounts of Early Bornean Settlements in the Philippines”  Original Manuscript was written by  Spanish Augustinian , Father Santaren : 1858

Siruagan River Settlements,  the far South

Some communities in Antique slowly populated the  southern land near Siruagan River ( now San Joaquin)they spread to many hamlets now Miag-ao , Igbaras , Tubungan area . They speak kinaray-a language similar to Antique. 

"In  the mountain region of Ogtong a very harsh language is spoken"
 - ( Fray  Juan  de Medina , Ecclesiastical Affairs, 1630-1640)

Sibalom River Settlements

Another communities settled in a river called Sibalom . Thick growth of a species of giant grass or tall reeds grows abundantly on riverbanks. So the settlers called it "Ka-tigbaun". Facilitated by flat terrain, many families easily migrated upward following the Sibalom river and begun to populate present towns of Alimodian and Leon . They share the same intonation.  ( Green Towns)

600 AD's  Second wave of Migration - The Hiligaynon expansion  through Northern Coast

Mass migration took place by large number of families who speak Hiligaynon settled on wider geography in Visayas, several families head to Iloilo. First, the most northern part was Estancia was settled, people moved to Batad , Balasan and Carles. The Ajuy was settled, communities spread to inhabit the present Conception and San Dionesio area. In time, communities of Ajuy spread upland to populate hamlet of Sara. Families of Sara spread to Lemery. Other families inhabit coast of Bobog (Banate-Viejo) and traversed the mountain now San Rafael. Some families founded near the river Jalaud, meaning near the sea. Others moved further South and settled in Irong-irong and finally stopped at Ogtong. These indipendent coastal settlements were devoted in fishing and  settled in a river 

Note : The failure of Hiligaynon demographic dispersion in Southern Western and Central part of Iloilo suggest a strong proof they arrived only later. Their closest ancestry is  Cebuano Language  due to close affinity with  their  vocabolary and distinct phonetical sound  of "u" such as inum. Thus, separating them from western  communities of Iloilo who pronounced " u" like English pronounced " earn"

“The people of the coast, who are called the Yligueynes” - (Miguel De Loarca , 1582 )

"along the coast another, more polished and elegant, which is called  Hileygueina"
 - (Fray Juan de Medina , Ecclesiastical Affairs, 1630-1640)

700 AD's - Jalaud River and  creation of new distinct dialect.

Some families of Jalaud settlement followed the river up, established ancient villages of Malutac. They continue to pushed upward and inhabit Pototan (Pototan has been populated by western group). They interbreed with families there who belong to the western Iloilo creating  a new dialect into new feature. It retained much of Kinaray-a vocabolary, however the intonation is heavily influenced of Hiligaynon of Araut. As population of Pototan  grow, communities expanded into Baong (Dueñas), Laglag ( Dingle), Anilao and Passi. People of Passi spread to hamlets of San Enrique and Calinog, while some families of Baong ( Dueñas) followed the Ulian River up and intermarriage with people of Lambunao.  (Red Towns)


              Irong-irong  shifted to Ilong-ilong

800 AD's  - The conglomeration of  Hiligaynon and Kinaray-a  through trade

The mouth of Irong-irong river became a center place of  trading activity. Various new Hiligaynon families and  from the north especially in Araut and Ogtong continue to pour into area of Irong-irong where they can sell their produce to the remnant families of western settlers of Iloilo. They sailed through boats because its easy to go to Irong-irong by sea, than through land.

Footnote:  Travelling to  Irong-irong by land from Araut  is geographically difficult and hostile . The distance between Araut and Irong-Irong is approximately 30 KM ,  you first have to cross big river of Jalaud , a vast muddy swamp land , and presense of thick vegetation and wild boars inhabit the area  which is now area of Zaraga and Leganes. This is  explanation why Zaraga speaks Kinaray-a rather than Hiligaynon even they are very close to Dumangas because families of Santa barbara easily pushed into that area.

Hiligaynon emerged  into 3 distinct intonation.

The frequency of economic activity on Salog Settlement (Lapaz Area) or in Tabucan (a place next to Dungun Creek presently Mandurriao) between Kinaray-a and Hiligaynon resulted to profound shift of linguistic development. Hiligaynon became the  dominant language in the area. Kinaray-a speakers  was becoming extinct. However, Hiligaynon original intonation slowly changed and contained in that village of Irong-irong. The name of place was gradually changed into Ilong-ilong to accomodate the Hiligaynon-speakers. Few kilometers south, the Hiligaynon of Oton was gradually influenced by the intonation of Tigbaun due to their frequent and constant contact (White Towns). As a result, within the respective social space, The Hiligaynon speakers have emerged into 3 separate groups of varying intonation, first those original of  Araut and northern communites, second the Irong-Irong groups and third the Ogtong groups.

Iloilo and it's ancient socio-cultural and political set-up

"They were divided into barangays, as Roma into districts, and our cities into parishes or collations. They are called barangays, which is the name of a boat, preserving the name from the boat in  which they came to settle these islands. Since they came subject to one leader in their barangay, who acted as their captain or pilot—who was accompanied by his children, relatives, friends, and comrades—after landing, they kept in company under that leader, who is the datu seizing the lands, they began to cultivate them and to make use of them."
   - (Native Races and their Customs by Francisco Colin, S.J.; Madrid, 1663 From his Labor evangélica )

Ancient Ilonggo social  structure was ruled by Malay quasi-nobility called Datu, a similar rank as Lord  in Medieval Europe feudalism in which he owns a vast  agricultural lands and the same time  protects of the village especially from marauding pirates thus a sense of society. Then a class composed of freeman called the timawa,  then  the lowest rank are slaves called " ulipon". Ancient Ilongo communities enjoyed the  certain freedom from Datu. Each barangays were independent from each other however the chieftains can be summoned in matters of judicial decision or settling disputes. Each barangay is independent from each other.

" each tiny community was practically independent, and the power of a dato very limited. There were no great princes, with large forces of fighting retainers whom they could call to arms, such as the Portuguese had encountered among the Malays south in the Moluccas."
   - (History of Iloilo , authored by Vic of Iloilo )

Religious Culture of Settlers

When Spanish reached Iloilo, they found that the native Indians do not profess any established religion, let alone paganism. If the swarm of Malay migration took place around 7-13th century, they most likely to have retained their Hindu-Buddhism culture. None of their spiritual beliefs reflects any residual Hindu-Buddhism theme.

I proposed that intermittent migration took place before 7th century A.D. That's the time when paganism swept various islands in South East Asians.

Onwards, Sri Vijaya established kingdom in Sumatra. In Laguna, there's a copperplate discovered with inscription dating 822 AD referring to Javanese Medang Kingdom, the Srivijaya Empire, and the Middle kingdoms of India

Maragtas - The Dawning of Ilonggo Civilization

Pedro Monteclaro with his work "Maragtas" narrates the genesis of Iloilo. It was based on oral tradition (tradition in Greek means handed down by word of mouth) as recorded by Fray Tomas Santaren in 1800's. Many accounts can be corroborated with discipline of archaeology, others by ethnographic implication of Spanish Histeriographers.  It can be authoritative account of the past and it is un-scholarly to discredit its sense.

Malay tribes left Sumatra"Kingdom of SriVisaya"

On a year 1212, a number of  families along their children left the declining kingdom of  Sri-Vishaya in Melayu Sumatra, a Hindu-Malay Empire from  Borneo and Sumatra. Under the leadership of Datu Puti, they undertook a long and dangerous  maritime voyage , moving upward in a boat called "Balangay ".  After months of sailing, they arrived in an island called "Aninipay." Bringing their language, culture, religion and way of living. **

Footnotes :
1. Language : Close resemblance of Ilongo words with proto-Malay survived.

2. Creation Account: First man and woman was burst inside the reed in Sumatra. This solidify the hypothesis that people who settled here most likely to infer Sumatra, a place where they came from is a place where first people had begun.

3. Spanish Histeriographers: They are mostly divided , some say it came from Solomon Island others from Malacca

"It is probable that the inhabitants would come to Borney immediately from Sumatra, which is a very large land quite near the mainland of Malaca and Malayo. In the midst of that great island of Sumatra there is a large and extensive lake whose marge is settled by many different nations, whence, according to tradition, the people went to settle various islands. "
 - (Francisco Colin, S.J.; Madrid, published in 1663 , from his Labor Evangélica)

4. Ming Dynasty: porcelain wares has been unearthed suggesting that there has been settlement that flourished before 1363 AD.

Finally, using those road-map of deductive reasoning and pertinent documents  , we will able to re-construct the pre-Spanish history of Iloilo with confidence of certitude. Thus , it goes like this ;

" People of Sumatra traveled to Iloilo headed by Datu somewhere before 1300's and meet the black chiefstein living in Panay . They eventually made permanent settlement called barangay. "

Astonishingly, Pedro Monteclaro " Maragtas " was pretty close . The only thing left is, how historic the names he had mentioned in his book such as " Datu Puti or Marikudo ". That puzzle is too hard to address and be only confirmed whenever proofs will surfaced .

Malay civilization arrived in Aninipay

The seafaring malays meet the negrito chieftain named Maricudo who has been living and claiming the Island as his own  . The Malay  who wants peaceful entry  and dwell the land offered " gift-deal" by giving golden saduk (headpiece or helmet), and a golden necklace to  Marikudo and  to his wife   Maniwang-tiwang , among other barter. After a friendly deal , they  were permitted to navigate the Island.

"  Its inhabitants are the Bisayas, a white people, who have among them some  blacks—the ancient inhabitants of the island, who occupied it before the  Bisayas did. They are not so dark or ugly as are the natives of Guinea, but are  very diminutive and weak; but in their hair and beard they closely resemble the
  - ( Father Pedro Chirino, a Jesuit priest in Tigbauan , Iloilo - Relationes De Las Islas Filipinas 1604)

Datu Paiburong founded Irong-irong

The 10 Datus agreed to partition the new  land collectively called as Panay.  Datu Sumakwel stayed and founded the town of Malandog and called the village as " Hamtik " (Antique) . The  sea-horse shaped isolated province was a  disadvantaged topography of arid land base, mountainous terrain, lined by narrow coastal plain and unfavorable climatic condition ( hostile to agriculture).  In Northern Part , its called "Akean" .

Datu Paiburung, along with his relatives and many other Malay families, sailed  in  the southern cost and established permanent settlement. Unknowingly, it's the most fertile and larger. It has 150 rivers, large plains, rich marine life and a fertile soil. It has strategic port which foreign merchants frequently docks and do trades in the succeeding centuries. They found a dominant river and designated a name for a place as " Irong-irong", their proto-Malayan word of " Irung" meaning nose in English.***

"Before the conquest of those  islands by the Spaniards, the natives of the country were subject to the  chiefs among them, who were recognized as  nobles, and all the others obeyed  them. Those chiefs possessed a great  amount of gold, and slaves in proportion to their nobility"
  - (1638-1640 - Manucript of Padre Diego De  Bobadilla's " Relacion" )

** Paiburong is a shadowy figure and verefiable.
*** Spanish begun to call it Yloylo for convenience. For a more detailed linguistic history. Please visit the other page with a tile " Languages of Iloilo ".

Several antique wares, porcelain, with impressions of Ming Dynasty were uncovered. It has certainty that Chinese merchants docked and conducted commercial trade with Ilonggos.**** .

**** Footnote:  Burial grounds are  found in many  towns of Iloilo such as Cabugao Sur , Pavia  and Oton  These burial grounds contained  antique porcelain burial jars and coffins made of hard wood,  where the dead  were put to rest with abundance of gold mask , crystal beads,  Chinese potteries, and golden masks. Currently showcased in Museo de Iloilo and in the  collections of many Ilongo old families. However , they do not confirm about the historicity of 12 Bornean Datus.

Chinese Merchant mentions of Poni in 12th century (believed to be  Panay)

From Toupo, it takes "two weeks before reaching Poni by sea "then you resume a northwest heading arriving in a about a week at Mai (Mindoro), from here the journey still continues northwest before reaching Sanfotsi in a few days"

1349 - Wang Ta-yuan  account in ‘Tao I  Chih Lueh’ (Summary Notices of the Barbarians of the Isles)

It's a Chinese account about the native folk of an Island called Pi-she-ya as being tattooed up to their neck. (Photo above). In Iloilo where Loarca called Islas de Los Pintados.

                                      Iloilo Democratic Society ****

Whenever the Spanish navigators anchored  in any major islands in Philippines,  historiographer, biographies and letters will note names of certain chieftains that welcome their arrival . The Spaniards have encountered  Raha in Limasawa , to Datu Tupaz in Cebu and Bohol and Lakan Dula in Manila. However , none of Spanish monks , navigators or soldiers revealed certain nobility  or the like when they had lived and converse the people in Dumangas to Oton, Jaro or Tigbauan, Iloilo. Strangely , they all in a habit of declaring the names of  chieftains in every place they visited too.

"There were no kings or rulers worthy of mention, throughout this archipelago; but there were many chiefs who dominated others less powerful. "

*****  Footnote- poorly-sourced claims

A Malay Civilization thrives in rivers of Iloilo

Population grew in next centuries. Iloilo is frequented by trading Chinese vessels, Indians, Japanese, Thailand, and those from Java . Some of these Chinese merchants preferred to stay and dwell near the mouth of the river in Salog. The locals called the location Yrong-Yrong, or Yloylo. Malay settlements in "Binanwahan" ( Malay term meaning a place settled upon), Guimbal. It was ideal location because it is close the river. A recent excavation reveals round boxes with the lid decorated with a finial are Sawankhalok  covered boxes with a black under-glaze most probably done in the  Sisatchanelai kilns in Thailand of a short-lived kiln production (14th  to 15th century). According to Ming-Jung Kim, curator of the Asian Arts  and Design Exhibit of the Powerhouse Museum in Brisbane, Australia  (November 2009)the design of the covered round boxes followed the form  of Indian stone and metal Buddhist reliquaries. These are part of the  export trade Thailand  was involved with in the Philippines and Indonesia.

The Golden Culture of Ilongos

In Oton, Alfredo  Evangelista and F. Landa Jocano excavated in the later part of the 1960s several burial sites yielding artifacts of gold, carnelian beads, and porcelain. Among the rare items recovered were a gold leaf mask for the eyes of the dead, a cone-shaped gold leaf-covering for the nose, and a gold-facing for and ear plug.  Necklaces of gold and other semi-precious stones were also recovered. 

Out of their knowledge, people of Iloilo living in community, a  new foreign power is heading towards them in the waters of Pacific Ocean that will going to change their history  .




This post first appeared on Ocean Breeze, please read the originial post: here

Share the post

Research Center of Iloilo: The History Of Iloilo Chapter 1 - The Arrival Of Malays


Subscribe to Ocean Breeze

Get updates delivered right to your inbox!

Thank you for your subscription