A Page For Philippine Prehistory


Henry Otley Beyer
       Probably the oldest theory about how ancient man came to the Philippines, the wave theory of migration (1947) is also one of the most attacked theories. Dr. Dizon, for one, says that the theory is not based on facts. It is, however, the one most known to FIlipinos because the grade school textbooks still use this as a means of explanation as to how ancient man came to the country. According to Beyer, there was a core population who lived 250,000 years ago. They were primitive humanssimilar to the Java Man. This group was the ancestors of the two pygmy groups who came to the Philippine Islands via the land bridges 30,000-25,000 years ago (Pleistoscene Era). From the south these people, who were of a boat found in Butuan, MindanaoAustraloid-Sakai type, came to the islands. They were hunters and gatherers. Then 6,000-5,000 years ago, another group, which Beyer branded as Indonesian A, came in boats. They were of tall and slender stock, and were inhabitants of the north. This group was followed by another wave of migrants 2,500 year ago, the Indonesian B. Shorter and stockier than their predecessors, this group were more advanced. They were horticulture people who, Beyer surmised, came from South China and Indochina towards Luzon and Formosa (now Taiwan). The last group of people who migrated to the Philippines, the Malays, were, for Beyer, the most advanced of all the races. They were also from the south, with mongoloid features--a mixture of ancient Indonesians and mongoloid elements. They had knowledge in pottery, glassmaking, iron making, weaving, and had their own political system. They also came in boats, which Beyer called the Baranggay. The samwe name was used to connote the unitary political system of the race. The name was retained and is still being used up the present time.

Landa Jocano
       Jocano's theory (1975) is that the Philippine society developed as a single unitary system. This theory is not without criticisms. According to Dr. Dizon, it is improbable that the Philippines be considered as a single whole during this time because the influences in the different islands vary, depending on what other islands they are near to. Dizon cites that artifacts dug from Mindanao could be very different from those dug up in the Batanes region. For Jocano, the Filipino culture developed from within the country and not as a part of the Southeast Asia cultural milieu. He gives three major time categories, the Formative period, further divided into the old and new stone age, the Incipient period, and the Emergent period. The Formative period, which is from 500,000 to 250,000 years ago, began when the first hominids arrived in the Tabon Caves in Palawan. The old stone age reveals core and flaked stone tools while the new stone age sees the dawn of the development of techniques in grinding and polishing stone tools. It was also during this time that pottery making and horticulture was introduced. The Incipient period was marked by the local manufacture of metal artifacts, the improvement of earthenware pottery, the acquisition of the form and decorative techniques, and the beginning of long distance trade, as evidenced by the recovery of jade and glass ornaments in burial sites. Trade further flourished during the Emeregent period. There was expansion of the Southeast Asian population contact which ended when the Indian influence reached the Philippines in 100 AD, rendering the exclusivity of Southeast Asian neighbors to the Philippines invalid. It was also during this time that the Filipino social organization became defined interms of politics, economics, religion, and others. Patterns of cultural behaviour began to show.

Wilhelm Solheim II
       Solheim's theory of how the ancient people populated the country is based on Jocano's theory, and is a revision of the latter. In 1981, Solheim came up with a theory marked by four different periods: the archais period, the Incipient Filipino, the Formative Period, and the Established Filipino. Solheim clarified, however, that details in the theory, especially the dates, were subject to change upon acquisition of new data that may prove his theory false. Solheim gives a further disclaimer that his theory is not a detailed discussion of all available Philippine Prehistoric data. The Archaic period of Solheim began from the arrival of man in the islands up to 5,000 BC While the Incipient Filipino period began from where the Archaic period ended and stopped in 1,000BC. Here, Solheim talks about the Nusantao, the maritime people who travelled, according to him, from southern Philippines in the Mindanao Island and Indonesia to the north, ending in South China and passing through Taiwan. Dr. Dizon agrees that this theory might be the closest since artifacts found in South China seem to have come later than those found in the Philippines. The Formative Filipino Period came in 1,000 BC to 500AD, and the established Filipino came after 500AD up to 1521. The people in the last phase of Solheim's time frame were mostly traders.