*EARLY PHILIPPINE CULTURE
Philippines, before the conquest, was a nation of flourishing civilization. The inhabitants’ culture had the elements of a civilized society: organized policies and laws; an elaborate system of writing and language; religion; independent governmental units (barangays); markets/trading posts; and weapons, tools, and utensils necessary for existence.
By the first century A.D., Philippines shared with its Southeast Asian neighbors a Neolithic-based culture which consisted of the following elements: (1) materially, kaingin (swidden) farming, domestication of ox and buffalo, use of metals and navigational skills; (2) socially, respect for elders and constituted authority, and the importance of women; (3) religiously, animism, anito worship, ancestor worship, jar burial; and, (4) culturally, some music and dance patterns, and tattooing (batik painting)(Evangelista, 2002).
The contact between Philippines and the so-called Great Civilizations of Asia (India, China and Islamic Arabia) contributed much to the development of the culture of the former.
PHILIPPINES AND THE GREAT CULTURAL TRADITIONS OF ASIA
Indianization of Southeast Asia
The entry and proliferation of Indian tradition in Southeast Asia resulted to the Indianization of the region, giving birth to Hindu and/or Buddhist kingdoms like those in Funan, Champa, Sri-Vijaya, Majapahit, among others. These states recognized “divine rulers”. Interestingly; however, Philippines was spared from such development. This is because our country was bypassed by Indian traders exclusively traded with Burma, the Malay Peninsula, Thailand, Indo-China Peninsula and China as the terminal of Indian products. Indianized Southeast Asians then brought Indian influences to the Philippines at a later date (Evangelista, 2002).
An example would be the Orang Dampuans (men of Champa), which, according to Sulu tradition, between 900 A.D. and 1200, these immigrants from the Indianized kingdom of Champa (in Indochina) traded with the Buranons of Sulu (Zaide, 1999).
*Some Indian Influences
1. Sanskrit terms in the Tagalog language [e.g. ina, asawa (swamin), likha (lekha), balita(vartta), katha, ahas (ahi), hari, ganda, mana]
2. In clothing, the waist loom of the Igorots resemble the looms, cloth and color schemes woven by the women of Assam, India; Barong Tagalog had the same cut as that of the “Kutra” of Lucknow, India; use of cord and veil in marriage ceremonies
3. Among the natives of Sulu, there was the adoration of Vedic deities like Indra (sky god), Agni (fire god), and Surya (sun god) (Zaide, 1999)
4. Fables of Indian origin like: the monkey and the turtle; and, the Visayan anecdote of the hawk and the hen (Zaide, 1999)
*Relations with China
During the reign of the Sung (960-1127 A.D.) and Ming (1368-1644 A.D.) dynasties in China, Chinese traders established settlements along coastal towns and in the hinterlands of the archipelago. Hence, there was a continuous flow of goods from the port of Canton to the different trading ports in Lingayen Gulf, Masbate, Manila Bay, Mindoro, and Sulu in the Philippines.
Filipinos bartered their products, such as yellow wax, gold, hemp, cotton, betel nut, tortoise shells, and pearls, for the Chinese goods—silk, porcelain wares, iron, tin, bronze gongs, umbrellas and fans (Zaide, 1999.).
Clearly, Filipino-Chinese relations were more economic in nature than political. China’s political influence (Confucian system of government) to Southeast Asia was limited to Vietnam due to the conquest of the said country from 111-939 A.D. Moreover, Chinese traders had low social status in Chinese society and therefore could not be bearers of Confucian political ideas (Evangelista, 2002).
*Some Chinese Influences
1. In language, particularly Tagalog, reveals a good number of loaned words (e.g. ate (a-chi), katay (ka-tai), hukbo (hok-bo), pansit (pansit), sangla (sangle), lumpiya (lun-pia), kuya (ko-a)
2. Use of umbrella, porcelain, gongs, lead,
3. Wearing of white dress when mourning
4. Manufacture of gunpowder
5. Mining methods and Metallurgy
6. Parental-arrangement (in marriage)