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The Laguna Copperplate Inscription: An Ancient Text That Changed the Perception of the History of the Philippines

The Laguna Copperplate Inscription: An Ancient Text That Changed the Perception of the History of the Philippines


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The Laguna Copperplate Inscription is the name of an inscription written on an artifact that has great significance for the understanding of the history of the Philippines during the 10th century AD – a time when many scholars believed that the area was isolated from the rest of Southeast Asia.

Political Entities in Southeast Asia in the 10th Century

During the 10th century, a number of political entities were in existence in Southeast Asia. One of the most famous of these was the Khmer Empire, which dominated much of the Southeast Asian mainland. To its east, the modern country of Vietnam was divided between the Chinese in the north, and the Kingdom of Champa in the south. The seas below the Southeast Asian mainland were beyond the reach of the Khmers and were largely controlled by a maritime empire known as Srivijaya.

The maximum extent of the Srivijaya Empire during the 8th century. ( CC BY SA 3.0 )

However, there is little information on the area in the part of this region where the modern country of the Philippines is now situated. This lack of information led many scholars to believe that it was isolated from the rest of the region. Thus, the Laguna Copperplate Inscription is an important artifact, as it has allowed scholars to re-evaluate the situation in this part of Southeast Asia during the 10th century AD.

Characteristics of the Laguna Copperplate

The Laguna Copperplate is a thin piece of copper sheet measuring about 20 x 20 cm (7.9 x 7.9 inches), which was discovered around 1987. It has been reported that this artifact was found during dredging activities with a mechanical conveyor in the Lumbang River, which is situated in the Province of Laguna. This province is located to the east of Manila, the capital of the Philippines.

It is interesting to note that the Laguna Copperplate only came to the attention of scholars in 1990, when it was offered for sale to the National Museum in Manila, after attempts to sell it in the antiques market had been met with little interest.

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An Incomplete Artifact

Investigations by Antoon Postma, a Dutch anthropologist, have revealed that the inscription on the Laguna Copperplate is incomplete, and it is highly likely that there was another similar piece of copperplate with inscriptions on it that has been lost. In an article published in 1992, Postma wrote that:

“Moreover, certain persons, after viewing a photo of the LCI (Laguna Copperplate Inscription), alleged, without being asked, that they had seen a similar piece of copperplate with inscriptions around the same time (1987). Its importance, however, was not realized then, and the possible second page of the LCI might have ended up in a local junk yard and been irretrievably lost to posterity.”

Origins of the Inscription on the Laguna Copperplate

The inscription on the surviving copperplate is in itself intriguing, and has provided enough material for scholars to analyze. For instance, the type of script used in the Laguna Copperplate Inscription has been identified as the so-called ‘Early Kawi Script,’ a writing system that originated in the Indonesian island of Java, and was used across much of maritime Southeast Asia during the 10th century AD.

In fact, this script is said to have been derived from the Pallava script, which has its origins in India. As for the language of the inscription, it has been found to be heavily influenced linguistically by Sanskrit, Old Malay, and Old Javanese. Both the type script, and the language of the Laguna Copperplate Inscription, therefore, shows that this area was not actually isolated from the rest of Southeast Asia, as had been previously assumed.

Places mentioned in the Laguna Copperplate Inscription. ( Hector Santos )

The Inscription

The inscription begins by providing a date:

“Hail! In the Saka-year 822; the month of March-April; according to the astronomer: the fourth day of the dark half of the moon; on Monday.”

The Saka era has its origins in India (supposedly marking the ascension of the Kushan emperor Kanishka), and the year 822 is said to correspond with the year 900 AD in the Gregorian calendar. The use of this calendrical system is further evidence that there were cultural links between this area of Southeast Asia and its neighbors, which at that time, were largely under the cultural influence of India.

As for the subject matter of the Laguna Copperplate Inscription, it has been suggested that the inscription is a “semi-official certificate of acquittal of a debt incurred by a person in high office, together with his whole family, all relatives and descendants.”

A high-contrast copy of the Laguna Copperplate Inscription.

This acquittal is also said to be confirmed by other officials/leaders, some of whom have been mentioned by name, along with their area of jurisdiction. These officials include “His Honor the Leader of Puliran, Kasumuran; His Honor the Leader of Pailah, representing Ganasakti; (and) His Honor the Leader of Binwangan, representing Bisruta.” The recording of these names suggests that there was some sort of political and social organization in the Philippines of the 10th century AD.

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To conclude, the Laguna Copperplate, which would probably not attract instant public attention as gold or silver artifacts would, is in fact an immensely important object. This seemingly insignificant artifact has sparked a re-assessment of the history of the Philippines prior to the coming of the Spanish, in particular the 10th century AD, and the archipelago’s relationship with the rest of Southeast Asia.

Featured image: The Laguna Copperplate Inscription. Photo source: ( Paul Morrow )

By: Ḏḥwty


History of the Philippines (900–1565)

The history of the Philippines between 900 and 1565 begins with the creation of the Laguna Copperplate Inscription in 900 and ends with Spanish colonisation in 1565. The inscription records its date of creation in the year 822 of the Hindu Saka calendar, corresponding to 900 AD in the Gregorian system. Therefore, the recovery of this document marks the end of prehistory of the Philippines at 900 AD. During this historical time period, the Philippine archipelago was home to numerous kingdoms and sultanates and was a part of the theorised Indosphere and Sinosphere. [1] [2] [3] [4]

Pre-colonial-era Philippines
HorizonPhilippine history
Geographical rangeSoutheast Asia
Periodc. 900–1560s
Datesc. Before 900 AD
Major sitesTundun, Seludong, Pangasinan, Limestone tombs, Idjang citadels, Panay, Rajahnate of Cebu, Rajahnate of Butuan, Kota Wato, Kota Sug, Ma-i, Dapitan, Gold artifacts, Singhapala
CharacteristicsIndianized kingdoms, Hindu and Buddhist Nations, Islamized Indianized sultanates Sinicized Nations
Preceded byPrehistory of the Philippines
Followed byColonial era

Sources of precolonial history include archeological findings, records from contact with the Song Dynasty, the Bruneian Empire, Japan, and Muslim traders, the genealogical records of Muslim rulers, accounts written by Spanish chroniclers in the 16th and 17th century, and cultural patterns which at the time had not yet been replaced through European influence.


Prasasti Plat Tembaga Laguna: Teks Purba Yang Mengubah Persepsi Sejarah Filipina

Prasasti Plat Tembaga Laguna merupakan nama bagi sebuah prasasti Filipina yang ditulis pada kurun ke-10 Masehi, era yang sebelum ini dianggap oleh sejarahwan sebagai era di mana Filipina masih terasing dari dunia luar.

TAMADUN-TAMADUN UTAMA DI ASIA TENGGARA PADA KURUN KE-10

Keluasan Empayar Srivijaya pada kurun ke-8M

Pada kurun ke-10 Masehi, banyak kerajaan terkemuka wujud di Asia Tenggara. Antara yang paling masyhur adalah Empayar Khmer yang mendominasi kebanyakan wilayah di daratan besar Asia Tenggara. Di belahan timurnya pula, Vietnam moden dibahagikan antara China di utara dan Kerajaan Champa di selatan. Jauh di selatan tanah besar Asia Tenggara pula, empayar maritim Srivijaya mendirikan kekuasaannya.

Namun, di rantau kepulauan Filipina, tidak banyak maklumat yang diketahui oleh sejarahwan pada kurun tersebut. Kekurangan maklumat ini mendorong sejarahwan untuk menyimpulkan bahawa rantau itu terpencil dari dunia luar. Makanya, kehadiran Prasasti Plat Tembaga Laguna dianggap signifikan kerana ia menggesa sejarahwan untuk menilai-semula sejarah di Asia Tenggara secara umum dan sejarah Filipina secara khusus, pada kurun ke-10M.

CIRI-CIRI PLAT TEMBAGA LAGUNA

Plat Tembaga Laguna berbentuk sekeping tembaga berukuran kira-kira 20吐 cm (7.9࡭.9 inci) dan ia ditemui pada tahun 1987. Dilaporkan bahawa artifak ini dijumpai semasa aktiviti-aktiviti pengorekan sedang dijalankan di Sungai Lumbang, Wilayah Laguna. Wilayah tersebut terletak di bahagian timur Manila, ibu negara Filipina.

Namun, Plat Tembaga Laguna hanya meraih perhatian sejarahwan pada tahun 1990, iaitu tahun di mana ia cuba dijual kepada Muzium Kebangsaan di Manila setelahmana sebelumnya ia terlebih dahulu cuba dijual dalam pasaran antik.

PLAT TEMBAGA LAIN SEBAGAI PELENGKAP

Penyelidikan yang dilakukan oleh seorang ahli antropologi Belanda yang bernama Antoon Postma mendapati prasasti Plat Tembaga Laguna tidak sempurna dan terdapat kemungkinan wujud sebuah lagi kepingan plat tembaga lain yang melengkapkan kedua-dua prasasti berkenaan. Dalam sebuah artikel yang diterbitkan pada tahun 1992, Postma menulis:

“Tambahan pula, terdapat beberapa individu yang setelah melihat gambar LCI (Laguna Copperplate Inscription) menyatakan tanpa ditanya bahawa mereka pernah menyaksikan kepingan plat tembaga sekitar waktu yang sama (tahun 1987). Namun, kepentingan plat tembaga berkenaan belum lagi disedari pada masa itu dan makanya, terdapat kemungkinan kepingan kedua LCI berakhir di tempat pembuangan sampah dan hilang tanpa dapat dijejak.”

LATAR BELAKANG PRASASTI PLAT TEMBAGA LAGUNA

Kandungan inskripsi pada plat tembaga ini cukup menarik untuk diselidiki. Misalnya, jenis tulisan yang digunakan pada prasasti berkenaan dikenal pasti sebagai sistem tulisan Kawi Awal, iaitu sejenis sistem tulisan yang berasal-usul dari Pulau Jawa dan digunakan secara meluas di Asia Tenggara pada kurun ke-10M. Sistem tulisan ini sendiri mengambil inspirasi daripada sistem tulisan Pallava yang berasal-usul dari India.

Berkenaan bahasa yang digunakan pada Plat Tembaga Laguna itu pula, didapati ia banyak dipengaruhi oleh bahasa Sanskrit, Melayu Lama, dan Jawa Lama. Kedua-dua sistem tulisan dan bahasa yang digunakan pada Prasasti Plat Tembaga Laguna membuktikan bahawa Kepulauan Filipina tidaklah terasing dari tamadun-tamadun luar di Asia Tenggara sepertimana yang diandaikan sebelum ini.

Tempat-tempat yang disebutkan dalam Prasati Plat Tembaga Laguna

KANDUNGAN PRASASTI

Kandungan prasasti ini dimulakan dengan pernyataan tarikh:

“Sejahtera! Tahun saka 822 bulan Mac-April, menurut ahli astronomi hari keempat dari bulan separa yang kelam hari Isnin.”

Tahun Saka berasal-usul dari India (menandakan penabalan maharaja Kanishka dari Kerajaan Kush). Tahun 822 saka dipercayai bersamaan dengan tahun 900 Masehi dalam kalendar Gregorian. Penggunaan sistem kalendar ini merupakan bukti lanjut tentang wujudnya hubungan kebudayaan antara Kepulauan Filipina dan tamadun-tamadun Asia Tenggara yang lain, yang pada masa itu berada di bawah pengaruh kebudayaan India.

Berkenaan kandungan Prasasti Plat Tembaga Laguna, sejarahwan mendapati prasasti itu adalah ‘sijil separa-rasmi tentang pembebasan hutang yang ditanggung oleh seorang pegawai tinggi, berserta seluruh keluarga, kerabat, dan keturunannya.”

Salinan Prasasti Plat Tembaga Laguna

Pembebasan hutang ini juga disahkan oleh pegawai/pemimpin lain, yang sebahagiannya ada disebutkan nama serta kawasan yang ditadbir oleh mereka. Antara yang disebutkan di dalam prasasti berkenaan adalah ‘Yang Mulia Pentadbir Puliran, Kasumuran Yang Mulia Pentadbir Pailah, Ganasakti (dan) Yang Mulia Pentadbir Binwangan, Bisruta.” Perekodan nama-nama ini mengisyaratkan wujudnya organisasi politik dan sosial di Filipina pada kurun ke-10M.

Sebagai kesimpulan, Plat Tembaga Laguna mungkin tidaklah menggamit perhatian khalayak seperti artifak-artifak emas mahupun perak. Akan tetapi, prasasti ini menyimpan signifikan yang sangat besar kerana ia berpotensi untuk menggesa sejarahwan meneliti semula sejarah Filipina pada era pra-kolonial, khususnya pada kurun ke-10M dan meninjau kembali interaksi antara kepulauan itu dan tamadun-tamadun Asia Tenggara yang lain.

Wu Mingren. (20 November 2015). The Laguna Copperplate Inscription: An Ancient Text that Changed the Perception of the History of the Philippines. Ancient Origins.
https://www.ancient-origins.net/artifacts-ancient-writings/laguna-copperplate-inscription-ancient-text-changed-perception-history-020630

Belia biasa-biasa yang cintakan bahasa ibunda dan sejarah dunia. Amir Zayyanid, atau nama sebenarnya, Saidi Saiful Bahri, merupakan seorang penulis dan penterjemah bebas yang menyimpan impian mahu menabur bakti kepada anak pertiwi menerusi penterjemahan sebanyak mungkin bahan bacaan, sama ada fiksi mahupun bukan-fiksi.


DEBATE

-Christianized?
*see Religion: What is Christianity? goodnewseverybodycom.wordpress.com

Spanish Influence on Language, Culture, and Philippine History filipinokastila.tripod.com
“..The Filipino populace embraced Spanish Roman Catholic Christianity almost unquestioningly. The Spanish authorities congregated the scattered Filipino population into clustered village settlements, where they could more easily be instructed and Christianized under a friar’s eye. This policy paved the way for the emergence of the present system of politico-territorial organization of villages, towns, and provinces. At the same time, the compact villages which were literally under the bells of the Roman Catholic Church permitted the regular clergy to wake up the villagers each day, summon them to mass, and subject them to religious indoctrination or cathechismal instruction. This process enabled the Church to play a central role in the lives of the people because it touched every aspect of their existence from birth to growth to marriage to adulthood to death. Whether the natives clearly understood the tenets and dogmas of the Roman Catholic Church is of course another matter. Some scholars claim that the Spaniards only superficially Christianized the Filipinos, most of whom learned to recite the prayers and chants by rote, without any idea as to their meaning. Some native inhabitants became only nominal Christians. At any rate, there is no denying the fact that many Filipinos defended the Catholic faith devotedly. ..”
CHRISTIANITY IN THE PHILIPPINES Professor Susan Russell
Department of Anthropology seasite.niu.edu

“…Christianity in the Philippines Today:

Christianity in the Philippines today, unlike during the Spanish period, is a mixture of nationalistic efforts by local peoples to ‘Filipinize’ Roman Catholicism and the efforts of a variety of Protestant missionizing successes. In the American colonial period, 1900-1946, a lot of Protestant teachers and missionaries came to the Philippines to ‘purify’ what they viewed as the incorrect or ‘syncretic’ characteristics of charismatic blends of Filipino Roman Catholicism. The Aglipayans were among the first to try to Filipinize Roman Catholicism and were popular in the early part of American colonial rule. The Iglesia ni Kristo is another Filipino-founded sect that has found strong support among well-to-do Filipinos.

In remoter parts of the Philippines, where Spanish colonialism and Roman Catholicism never penetrated until the beginning of the 20th century, a variety of Christian missionaries compete for new converts. Seventh Day Adventists and Jehovah’s Witnesses typically go door-to-door, spreading the specific messages that their sects support. In traditional, staunchly Roman Catholic areas, their missionizing efforts and attacks on syncretic forms of Roman Catholicism are often unwelcome. In areas where Roman Catholicism is still fairly recent, the missionaries carry messages that are more carefully listened to by local Filipinos. What was once a truly Roman Catholic country in terms of the population has given way to a variety of forms of Christianity.

In the Luzon highlands, for example, where many indigenous ethno-linguistic groups resisted Spanish rule, Roman Catholic or Anglican priests today have a fairly comfortable accommodation with indigenous forms of ritual and belief. Local peoples follow traditional customs related to burial rites, but often invite Christian priests to celebrate the last rites or formal burial rites in addition. The advantage of this kind of syncretism is that people’s beliefs and support for their traditions are not lost, but simply accommodated with beliefs and practices associated with the newer religion. Many recent Protestant missionaries, in contrast, fail to recognize the value of supporting indigenous customs, and simply attack local religious practices as evil. Their meager success in attracting converts speaks to the need for understanding the context in which American religious practice can flourish…”


Chinese trade (982 onwards)

The earliest date suggested for direct Chinese contact with the Philippines was 982. At the time, merchants from "Ma-i" (now thought to be either Bay, Laguna on the shores of Laguna de Bay, [7] or a site on the island of Mindoro [8] [9] ) brought their wares to Guangzhou. This was noted by the Sung Shih (History of the Sung) by Ma Tuan-lin who compiled it with other historical records in the Wen-hsien T’ung-K’ao at the time around the transition between the Sung and Yuan dynasties. [8]


Copper plate found in Indonesia with Sanskrit and Kavi inscription

Very little of what we know about the Philippines before the Spanish invasion came from written records. Aside from some documents in China that refer to the islands, there have only been a few artefacts found in the Philippines that actually have writing on them.

There was a clay pot found in Calatagan, Batangas, a small strip of silver and an ivory seal, both found in Butuan, Agusan del Norte, but until now, the writing on these objects has not been reliably deciphered. There have also been several forged documents over the years that have been exposed as fakes. And even though Filipinos were writing with their own baybayin script when the Spaniards arrived, no baybayin documents have survived from before the Spanish era.

So, until recently, we have never had the chance to read the actual words and thoughts of an ancient Filipino without the obscuring effects of foreign interpretations, centuries of unreliable hearsay and even outright lies and fabrications. That is, until a document was found in 1989 that was written in a much older and more complex writing system than the baybayin.


On that day in 1989, a man in the concrete business was dredging sand at the mouth of the Lumbang River near Laguna de Ba’y when he uncovered a blackened roll of metal. Usually he would just throw away such junk, as it tended to get jammed in his equipment, but when he unfurled the roll he saw that it was a sheet of copper with strange writing on it, about the size of a magazine.

He offered the copper sheet to one of the antiques dealers in the area who bought it for next to nothing. The dealer, in turn, tried to sell it for a profit but when he found no buyers, he eventually sold it to the Philippine National Museum for just 2000 pesos.

In 1990, Antoon Postma, a Dutch expert in ancient Philippine scripts and Mangyan writing, and a long-time resident of the Philippines, translated the document that came to be known as the Laguna Copperplate Inscription (LCI). When he saw that the writing looked similar to the ancient Indonesian script called Kavi, and that the document bore a date from the ancient Sanskrit calendar, he enlisted the help of fellow Dutchman, Dr. Johann de Casparis, whose area of expertise was ancient Indonesia.

Casparis confirmed that the script and the words used in the Laguna document were exactly the same as those that were used on the island Java at the time stated in the document, which was the year 822, in the old Hindu calendar or the year 900 C.E. (Common Era) on our calendar.

In 1996, a Filipino history buff in California, Hector Santos, precisely converted the Sanskrit date over to our calendar by using astronomical software and some historical detective work. He determined that the Sanskrit date written on the plate was exactly Monday, April 21, 900 C.E.

In spite of the similarities to Javanese documents, the copper plate had some peculiarities that led scholars to believe that it was not from the island of Java. First: the LCI did not mention the king of Java at that time, King Balitung. It was the custom at that time to always mention the name of the king in official documents. Second: the language used in the document was not only Sanskrit. It was a mixture of Sanskrit, Old Javanese, Old Malay and Old Tagalog. And third: the method of writing was different. At that time in Java the characters were impressed into heated copper, but the characters on the Laguna plate seemed to have been hammered into cold copper.

In his examination, Postma learned that the inscription was a pardon from the Chief of Tondo that erased the debt of a man named Namwaran. His debt was one kati and eight suwarna, or about 926.4 grams of gold. Today in 2006, this is equal to about $18,600 Canadian.

The document mentioned a few towns that still exist today: Tundun, which is now Tondo in Metro Manila and three towns in Bulakan Pailah or Paila, Puliran or Pulilan, and Binwangan. A town in Agusan del Norte on Mindanao called Dewata or Diwata also appears in the text. Diwata is near Butuan, which has been a rich source of ancient artefacts. A place called Medang was mentioned, too, which is possibly Medan in Sumatra, Indonesia. Also, the name of Namwaran’s son was given as Bukah, a name that may have some relation to the town of Gatbuka in Bulakan. Gat is a title similar to “Sir” for a knight.

So, because of the places mentioned in the text and because of the plate’s differences to typical Indonesian documents, it was Postma’s opinion that it was an inhabitant of the ancient Philippines who made the LCI and that it was most likely not the work of a hoaxer.

As is often the case, though, this discovery has raised more questions than answers.

It is only one document but it seems to have revealed a widespread culture with Hindu influences in the Philippines before the arrival of the Spaniards and even before the Muslims. Did ordinary Filipinos share this culture or were the people mentioned in the document just members of a small ruling class of foreigners? Was their culture pushed out of the islands when the Muslims arrived in the 12th or 13th century?

Did Filipinos once speak Sanskrit or was it reserved for important documents written by an elite minority? There are certainly some Sanskrit influences in Philippine languages but nobody was speaking it by the time the Spaniards arrived.

And what happened to this Kavi style of writing? It was a far more advanced and accurate way to write than the baybayin script that Filipinos were using 500 years later. Perhaps only that elite minority used it and so it disappeared with them.

Whatever the answers, it hints at some exciting discoveries to come in the future.

The LCI in English

In 1994 Hector Santos asked me to write a Filipino translation of the Laguna Copperplate Inscription. I wrote two. The first was based on his English translation. The second was based on his glossary, called the LCI Dictionary, and on my own research. It closely followed the word order of the original document. My latest translation (which can be seen in the Filipino version this article) changed the sentence structure to make it more readable. Here is my rough English translation of that Filipino version.


Fatherhood, Duterte, and the Majapahit Empire

In the last 100 days, my perception of the presidency has changed, from being a formal leader to a loving father who is at the same time tough, strict, stringent, and sometimes harsh. Some of us grew up with a father with these qualities, one with a heavy hand driven by a big heart. This is the President we have, a true father and leader of state that is on the way to becoming a nation.

A father protects us from the afflictions and disorders of family life. He insulates the innocent young from the problems of the older ones in the family. Take drug addiction, a common problem more and more families have to deal with. Rich or poor, urban or rural, famous or unknown, no family is spared from the scourging misery of having a drug-dependent at home.

A decisive father who wants to defend and restore his family that is being destroyed would act quickly, harshly even, in a tough but loving way for the greater good, to avoid reaching the tipping point of societal obliteration and, thus, restore social order.

A true father protects his family from atrocious, abusive, and dreadful neighbors, 24/7. He makes sure we get to where we want to go and make it back home, safe and sound. A father worries about his children’s whereabouts, fearing they might be swamped by the temptations of modern life that do more harm than good. He understands youthful curiosity, crafting lifelong lessons out of brutal real world experiences. And a father warns strongly that using drugs is dangerous: to you and me, our family, and our country.

A father is a symbol of strength in a family. He provides stability, assurance, tenacity, and certainty. He gives his children with the moral courage to be strong in what is right. Members of the family race to him for support, encouragement, and advice even if they know they have done something wrong. They know that the father only wishes the best for his children: he believes in their capacity to learn from their mistakes.

A good father is a great provider. He is a breadwinner, concerned with the income of the family. He works hard to get us the money we need, ensuring it continues to flow. A large and growing family has large and growing needs. A good and wise father knows he could do better if he seeks the help of his neighbors, those who live on the same side of the world, rather than acting like a beggar stretching his arms halfway around the world.

The father who is now the President is very Asian in thinking and demeanor. This is difficult for western types (just look at our West-financed and -biased media) to grasp. After more than a century of dependence on the current world power, DU30 wants to change the game: let’s work more seriously with our neighbors. After all, we belong to one great region, ASEAN, with a population of more than 622 million people, and a gross domestic product of 2.573 trillion US dollars per year. 1

ASEAN is a huge emerging market that continues to attract foreign investors from East Asia, North America and Western Europe whose population growth is stagnating. And as icing on the cake, this huge market is just beside two of the largest-populated nations on earth: China and India.

From this perspective, we can better understand why our President is breaking away from our colonial past and reconnecting the country with our pre-colonial history. Centuries ago, the ASEAN nations (Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam, Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, and the Philippines) 2 used to belong to a great empire called the “Majapahit”.

The Majapahit Empire ruled this part of the world from 1293 to its eventual decline in 1527. .3 This massive empire spanned 2,700,000 square kilometers. 4 During this period, the Philippines already started trade with China as early as 982 AD. 5 The Chinese were trading with no less than Kings, not just chieftains. During the same period, we were mining gold in Butuan, also known as the Rajahnate of Butuan. 6 Evidence of printing technology was supported with the discovery of the Laguna Copperplate inscription in 1987, an important archeological discovery, evidence that we were part of 10th century Southeast Asia. 7

Many great things happened during the Majapahit Empire’s rule. There was evidence of a modern civilized world with sophisticated forms of governance, legislation, justice, agriculture, mining, trade, and architecture that already existed. 3

Perhaps Duterte’s instinct to reconnect and forge stronger alliances with our Malay neighbors is a strategic master plan for economic development, peace, and prosperity in the Philippines and the ASEAN region.

And, of course, our colonizers (until now, we are still heavily dependent on them) would not want that.

Lessons of History (from Prof. DU30)

Since the colonization of the Philippines, we never reconnected with our glorious past without our colonizers’ permission. Mainland Southeast Asia, the Pacific Islanders and other archipelagic countries like the Philippines and Indonesia established strong connections with their colonial masters instead of establishing interdependence among neighboring Southeast Asian countries.

The western nations do not want us to grow stronger, be more independent and progressive. According to the economist and Nobel laureate Joseph Stiglitz:“… the United States (is) opposed to the creation of the Asian Infrastructure Bank, a new institution designed to finance their investment…One of the most successful groupings of countries is ASEAN both economically and politically. That part of the world has been doing very well.” 8

Clearly, it is not the priority of western nations to help ASEAN countries unify themselves into one formidable grouping of nations.

As DU30 steps up his rhetoric of expletives against the UN, the EU, and the US, I am led to believe that he is communicating, not only to the West and to us, but to the rest of Asia, his long-term vision: for countries to become nations, they need to cut their ties from their colonial masters and to establish strong partnerships of equals with our neighbors.

All nations, without exception, did the same, often with the untold brutality that pales in comparison with the verbal tirade (that our overly-sensitive media unrelentingly exaggerates) the father of our (soon-to-be) nation dishes out on a nightly basis.

Duterte’s strong sense of “Fatherhood” should strengthen our resolve to help him achieve a better Philippines, as a father would who wants only the best for his children. We can achieve this, but only if we stay united as a people and desist from being swayed by the twisted logic implanted by every colonizer: we cannot survive without their help.


Jocano refers to the time between the 1st and 14th Century AD as the Philippines' emergent phase. [18] It was characterized by intensive trading, and saw the rise of definable social organization, and, among the more progressive communities, the rise of certain dominant cultural patterns. The advancements that brought this period were made possible by the increased use of iron tools, which allowed such stable patterns to form. This era also saw the development of writing. The first surviving written artifact from the Philippines, now known as the Laguna Copperplate Inscription, was written in 900 AD, marking the end of what is considered Philippine prehistory and heralding the earliest phase of Philippine history - that of the time between the first written artifact in 900 AD and the arrival of colonial powers in 1521.

Filipino historians note an overlap in the history of pre-colonial Philippines and the Spanish colonial period, noting that while Magellan's arrival in 1521 marked the first arrival of European colonizers to this country, it was not until the arrival of Miguel López de Legazpi in 1565 that the Europeans had any marked impact on the lifestyle of the residents of the Philippine Archipelago.

Contrary to popular belief, the so-called “Spanish period” in Philippine history does not begin with Magellan’s arrival in Cebu and his well-deserved death in the Battle of Mactan in 1521. Magellan may have planted a cross and left the Santo Niño with the wife of Humabon, but that is not a real “conquista” [conquest]. The Spanish dominion over the islands to be known as “Filipinas” began only in 1565, with the arrival of Legazpi. From Cebu, Legazpi moved to other populated and, we presume, important native settlements like Panay and later Maynila (some thought the name was Maynilad because of the presence of Mangrove Trees in the area called nilad). [19]

When Who Ship(s) Where
1521 / Ferdinand Magellan Trinidad, San Antonio, Concepcion, Santiago and Victoria Visayas (Eastern Samar, Homonhon, Limasawa, Cebu)
1525 García Jofre de Loaísa Santa María de la Victoria, Espiritu Santo, Anunciada, San Gabriel, Santa María del Parral, San Lesmes and Santiago Surigao, Islands of Visayas and Mindanao
1526 Sebastian Cabot 4 unknown ships Sighted land near Philippines, Landed on Moluccas
1527 Álvaro de Saavedra Cerón 3 unknown ships Mindanao
1542 Ruy López de Villalobos Santiago, Jorge, San Antonio, San Cristóbal, San Martín, and San Juan Visayas (Eastern Samar, Leyte), Mindanao (Saranggani)
1564 Miguel López de Legazpi San Pedro, San Pablo, San Juan and San Lucas Almost entire Philippines


The LCI in English

In 1994 Hector Santos asked me to write a Filipino translation of the Laguna Copperplate Inscription. I wrote two. The first was based on his English translation. The second was based on his glossary, called the LCI Dictionary, and on my own research. It closely followed the word order of the original document. My latest translation (which can be seen in the Filipino version this article) changed the sentence structure to make it more readable. Here is my rough English translation of that Filipino version.

Long Live! Year of Siyaka 822, month of Waisaka, according to astronomy. The fourth day of the waning moon, Monday. On this occasion, Lady Angkatan, and her brother whose name is Buka, the children of the Honourable Namwaran, were awarded a document of complete pardon from the Commander in Chief of Tundun, represented by the Lord Minister of Pailah, Jayadewa.

By this order, through the scribe, the Honourable Namwaran has been forgiven of all and is released from his debts and arrears of 1 katî and 8 suwarna before the Honourable Lord Minister of Puliran, Ka Sumuran by the authority of the Lord Minister of Pailah.

Because of his faithful service as a subject of the Chief, the Honourable and widely renowned Lord Minister of Binwangan recognized all the living relatives of Namwaran who were claimed by the Chief of Dewata, represented by the Chief of Medang.

Yes, therefore the living descendants of the Honourable Namwaran are forgiven, indeed, of any and all debts of the Honourable Namwaran to the Chief of Dewata.

This, in any case, shall declare to whomever henceforth that on some future day should there be a man who claims that no release from the debt of the Honourable.

For more information about The Laguna Copperplate Inscription, visit Hector Santos' web page at A Philippine Leaf.


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