Philippines Then as Isle of Gold

On one occasion, I also heard from a Christian Pastor that before Spain colonized the Philippines on 1521, the Filipinos then were already organized and wealthier.  Facts seem far different from what we were taught on schools.   It was even mentioned that Filipinos then are not primitive but with high standards on their crafts and commerce and possesses intelligence.  Expert even mentioned that Philippine ancient gold treasures are unbelievably more crafted than what was found in the Pyramids.

Philippines 100 BC onward

I believe there is still a need for more study on this, as there seem to be lacking for added information compared to existing on books.  In my own opinion, you not be an expert to know that some provided data are contradicting with other available information.  One known reason for the contradiction is the admission of some historians that there was an intended distortion during the colonization and martial law era.  Philippines were conquered by Spain, America, Japan, etc.  It was even told that Philippines was once conquered by Korea as briefly stated in the show Queen Shondok.  This needs verification.

On this era, a number of historians mentioned that Philippines was once called the island of Chryse, the “Golden One.”  Ancient Greek writers referred Philippines then as an island rich in gold, east of India.   These are some of the writers:  Pomponius Mela, Marinos of Tyre and the Periplus of the Erythraean Sea mentioned this island in 100 BC.  It was believed as equivalent to the Indian Suvarnadvipa, the “Island of Gold.”  It was even mentioned by Josephus as where Solomon brought back gold and other trade items through a ship of Tyre.  The Visayan island is known already in ancient times with Greeks traders around 21 AD, especially Cebu.   i.e. the Malaya Peninsula. North of Chryse in the Periplus was Thin, which some consider the first European reference to China.  Scholars however know that Thin or Gin as in Gintu – Suvarnadvipa originates from Chinese word for gold “jin.” Chinese knew Philippines thousands of years before known conquerors occupy the area.

In about the 200 BC, during the Qin dynasty and the Tang dynasty, China was well aware and telling of the golden lands they trade they describe far to the south.  One reason for this is their need of more gold due to practice trend of using gold eye covers, and then, gold facial orifice covers to adorn the dead.  Philippines was also somehow mentioned by the Buddhist pilgrim I-Tsing mentions Chin-Chou, “Isle of Gold” in the archipelago south of China on his way back from India.   Another one to mention Philippines was Medieval Muslims, calling it as the Kingdoms of Zabag and Wakwak as rich in gold.  They refer to Philippines then as eastern islands of the Malay archipelago, the location of present-day Philippines and Eastern Indonesia.

An Unverified Claim.

This must be the reason why a new claim has been raised that beneath Philippines is the lost city of Atlantis.  Funny but hope expert in exploration shed some light to this new claim.  Though the exact area is not revealed, an expert reiterated that unless the place is surveyed by experts and analyzed by modern equipment, the claim will remain unbelievable.  But if the claim is really there, it may be known already by nations or group with advance technology as America.  As we all know, their satellite are so advance it can even determine even the depths of the sea and underneath a land.

Another mystery is the archaeological findings unintentionally dug during present day constructions… some findings were bones of elephants.

What the Spaniards Discovered.

During the Spain colonization of Philippines, they discovered an abundance of gold both owned by its local inhabitants and at archaeological sites.  One proof of this can be viewed at Philippine Central Bank’s exhibited treasures.  Pedro Fidalgo in 1545, the Portugese explorer also narrated that they found gold so abundant on Luzon and they were trading it for silver.  Later they found out that the gold being trade in Brunei originated in Luzon Philippines.  The region was referred then as Lusung Dao or “Luzon Island” to the Chinese who also traded for gold in this region.

Communities.

As stated in many historical and social study books, small political units were already in existence then, known as barangay.  Each was headed by Datu or headman answerable to a Filipino King (Rajah). Trading links with Sumatra, Borneo, Thailand, Java, China, India, Arabia, Japan and the Ryukyu Kingdom flourished during this era. A thalassocracy had thus emerged based on international trade.

Each barangay has an estimate of around 100 families. Same as today, some were big, such as Zubu (Cebu), Butuan, Maktan (Mactan), Irong-Irong (Iloilo), Bigan (Vigan), and Selurong (Manila).  Around 2,000 inhabitants belong to big barangays.   They trade jars, metal, salt and tobacco. In exchange, the peoples would trade feathers, rhino horn, hornbill beaks, beeswax, birds nests, resin, rattan, etc.  Prosperity was believed come into view between the 7th century to the beginning of the 1400s in these regions:    Manila Bay, Cebu, Iloilo,[14] Butuan, the Kingdom of Sanfotsi situated in Pangasinan, the Kingdoms of Zabag and Wak-Wak situated in Pampanga and Aparri (which specialized in trade with Japan and the Kingdom of Ryukyu in Okinawa).

Another proof that Philippines has a developed society then prior to the Spanish colonization is the found Laguna Copperplate Inscription (circa 900 AD). It was found in the Laguna de Bay of Manila. In 1989, the National Museum acquired it. The inscription forgives the descendants of Namwaran from a debt of 926.4 grams of gold, and is granted by the chief of Tondo (an area in Manila) and the authorities of Paila, Binwangan and Pulilan, which are all locations in Luzon. The words are a mixture of Sanskrit, Old Malay, Old Javanese and Old Tagalog.

To my own opinion, there is a need to visualize these periods so as this and upcoming generation will know of their past rich culture.  The government should support a reconstruction both life size and museum material.  Better if this could be in a form of production design to be shown on TV and film.

I just have a question in my mind.  Where are the Philippine golds now?

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