Muro-ami or kayakas is a Japanese-inspired fishing technique that once devastated the fragile marine life of the country. The procedure comprises groups of swimmers particularly children that are harnessed to a waiting net loaded down with scarelines like cononut leaves or plastic streamers attached to it at 1 meter intervals to create the illusion of a wall and dragged accross the ocean floor as it slowly traps in on the fish. Through vigorous smashing of the reef, fish are forced to come out of their corals. Although banned by the Philippine Law nowadays, this brutal and desperate way of fishing are still practiced secretly in Mindanao and some areas of Palawan.
Did you know that aside from using yoyo as a toy it was also used as a weapon? Yes, and these people who utilized it as a weapon were no other than our pre-Hispanic Filipinos who lived in cycles of war between each tribe. Yoyos back then were not made of glaring plastic or colorful wood; they were made of steel characterized with heavy weight and bigger size.
Back then; this deadly yoyo was not able to do tricks such as walk the dog, the loop and etc. It could only do up and down motions to aim and strike its target. In the recent years, a man named Pedro Flores was not satisfied with the way yoyos just keep rolling down and then rolls back up. He invented a more interesting version where instead of knotting the ring inside the yoyo, he made a loop with the axes in it, and then twisted the strings. This enabled the yoyo to remain in place while spinning, and thus, “walking the dog” became a walk in the park. It was patented the “Flores YoYo”, but was bought and introduced by a foreign company.
Several Philippine flags emerged earlier than what it is now. The first flag was designed by Andres Bonifacio, which then called Bonifacio flag and followed by some versions of the revolutionary flags called Katipunan flags. Llanera’s flag came out and eventually followed by Pio del Pilar’s flag. Gregorio del Pilar’s flag came out and then the Magdiwang flag.
The present design of the flag was implemented by Emilio Aguinaldo, who, during his exile in Hongkong, requested Marcela Agoncillo to sew it. She was assisted by her daughter Lorenza and Delfina Herbosa de Natividad in the task. When finished, the flag was raised during the proclamation of Philippine Independence in Kawit, Cavite on June 12, 1898. Its last public display was during the death of Emilio Aguinaldo in 1964.
Manuel L. Quezon standardized the Philippine flag’s size and color through an executive order in March 25, 1936. The flag has two sides, blue for peace and red for courage that merge into a white triangle with a sun and three stars. The eight rays of the sun represent the provinces that led the revolution of 1896, while the stars stand for the main islands of Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao.
On 23 of August 1896, Bonifacio and his fellow katipuneros tore their cedulas (residence certificate) during their revolution: “Long live the Philippines”. This was marked as the historic “Cry of Balintawak”, which actually occurred in Pugadlawin. Thus it is also called “Sigaw ng Pugadlawin”.
On September 28, 1901, the residents of Balanggiga south of Samar killed American soldiers using only their swords (tabak). In retaliation for the destruction or confiscation of their food stocks, and their mission to free their fellowmen who had been held for forced labor and detained for days starving in congested conditions, the locals surprised the American troops at their breakfast table with an outraging attack using only their bolos.
The Americans retaliated by burning the whole town and by killing all civilians from 10 years old and above. The one year campaign to take back Samar turned the whole island into an area of inhospitable surroundings.
Historians claim that Muslims from Malaysia came to Mindanao in the 14th century through the southern islands, Jolo, Tawi-tawi and Basilan. This migration resulted to welding its small tribal units into several sultanates. Jolo, located in the southeastern tip of Mindano, became the center of an extensive training network from Java in the west to China in the north, and the Mindanao sultanates were linked politically to Muslims states in Borneo to the Moluccas. For many years the sultanate of Sulu ruled much of the Philippines and Borneo. These political and economic relations were believed to have continued even long after the arrival of the Spaniards in the 16th century. During this time, the Spaniards attempted but didn’t achieve its goal to fully convert the Mindanao Muslims to Christianity. It started a Muslim region and stayed unchanged since then.
Due to Mindanao’s lesser number of inhabitants, inevitable migration of settlers from Luzon and the Visayas regions created conflict between Muslim and Christian inhabitants. Despite the strong resistance of original residents who claimed to have owned the lands by rights of inheritance, Christian settlers registered the lands they found as their own. Tribal inhabitants particularly Muslims feel unjustifiably bitter about the loss of their lands while Christian settlers feel they and their descendants can claim legitimate to the property. This unsolvable conflict resulted to many bitter wars and never-ending hostility between Muslims and Christians. Some Muslim groups feel that law will not work for them; they created organizations to defend their people or claim power for themselves. This explains why some parts of Mindanao are considered dangerous for travelers.
In many forms, theater was and still an effective medium to promote social awareness, as a means of entertainment and a liberal way to express one’s opinion. Most places in the Philippines have their own town fiestas flaunted with festivities and shows. During holy week, people stage the cenaculo– a theatrical presentation of the passion of Christ, and the moro-moro or comedia that relates to Christian and Muslim conflict. Some towns perform zarzuela, a Philippine version of Spanish light operetta, others present their poetic debate called duplo and karagatans. Another theatre form, the carillo, a shadow drama is usually shown after harvest. Cavite has Sanghiyang, Batangas has Subli and Laguna presents their Turumba and Pasyon. These traditional plays exemplify the union of folk religion and Catholicism.
On the first Sunday of January, Marinduque present its Three Kings’ Pageant and during the Lenten season, the same town performs its famous Moriones Festival. In the streets of Baliwag, Bulacan and Kawit, Cavite, Panunuluyan is staged on Christmas eve- a re-enactment of Mary and Joseph’s struggling search for shelter for the birth of Christ.
Before the arrivals of the Spaniards, tribes in this region practiced very distinct cultures and lived within cycles of war and peace between each neighbors. These are the Igorots- the Apayao, Benguet, Bontoc, Ifugao, Kalinga and Tinguian. They were always in conflict between the lowlanders, whom they have considered enemies since thousands of years. Head hunting was considered an honorable trait. They interpreted it as a symbol of courage, skill and power. Sometimes a tribe required a man who wanted a woman to present her with a head to prove his skills and manliness. If a person died of losing his head from a battle, he was considered to have died in shame and would not deserve a decent burial. His death, however would be considered worthy of revenge, if not, his spirit would not rest in peace but would return to his people and make mischief. Thus, his battle will be continued to the extent of his family.
Slash and burn farming made the Igorots survive in the rocky hills of the central mountains. But the remarkable rice terraces that were assumed done before the arrival of the Spanish, were in fact built through hard labor of people carrying rocks, digging down to bedrock and building walls up from there. In places where bedrock could not be reached, the hard trunk of the tree fern was buried and used as a base for the wall. The irrigation system which channels precious water from the highest terraces gradually into lower and the lowest areas is truly a work of natural geniuses.
The Spaniards didn’t succeed at converting them to Christians. Their interest was mainly focused on the gold mines of the Igorots. They tried to get into the mountains but every foothold they obtained was eventually retaken. And although they asserted to have come to civilize, they avenged head taking with reciprocal decapitation.
During the American occupation, the natives have managed to adapt easily. This time, outside culture begun to have impact on mountain living. Schools, roads, and hospitals were built and gave them access to a more civilized environment. Head hunting was officially banned and the incidence of it declined. Despite of the vast changes in the region, many tribes still practice their ancestral religions, with its pantheon of spirits and rituals personally tied to the land and their ancestors.
As the result of an archeological excavation performed by Robert Fox at the Hacienda of Juan Escuetura in Bato, Sorsogon was assumed inhabited by prehistoric settlers. The project revealed relics of stone tools, burial jars and crowns. Some items indicated civilization from 91 B.C. to 79 A.D. Much of these evidences were also found in Bulan and Juban.
Sorsogon was discovered in 1569 by a group of Spanish missionaries named Father Alonzo Jimenez, Juan Orta and Captain Luis Entiquez de Guzman. They conducted their first mass in a small district of Bulan named Otavi and built the first chapel along the Ginangra River of Magallanes in 1571. The village, called Gibalong by its residents, became the first Christian settlement in Luzon. Later, the friars called the whole Bicol region “Tierra de Ibalong”.
When the Spaniards had settled in Gibalong, they set out to further explore the inner lands. Upon reaching a small river emptying into what is now Sorsogon Bay, they asked a native they met for the name of the place. The native, not understanding Spanish and thinking they were asking for directions, answered, “Solsogon” meaning “trace the river by going upstream”. Through constant use, Solsogon became Sorsogon.In the succeeding years they discovered more places and established their religious mission.
Due to its accessible location, Sorsogon was developed as a district for ship making and in 1669, the province became the center of cordage industry.
For many years, Sorsogon underwent many Muslim raids. To keep them away, Captain Pedro constructed The Fort of Sirangan and built more towers in the coastal districts of Bacon, Bulusan, Sta Magdalena and Gubat.
Sorsogon became an independent region on October 17, 1894 with Juan de la Guardia as the first governor. During the outbreak of the Philippine Revolution, Father Jorge Barlin and Vicar Forane assumed administration of the province. He subsequently turned it over to the revolutionary forces.
During the American occupation in 1900, General William Kobbe ruled Sorsogon under a military government; causing more resistance to arise. After the capture of Emeterio Funes, head of the rebel forces, a civil government was established in Sorsogon under the leadership of Bernardino Monreal.
Japanese forces succeeded at invading Sorsogon in 1942. Salvador Escudero and Major Licerio organized its guerilla units with the assistance of Americans. Sorsogon was liberated on April 29, 1945.
Bohol already had contact with other civilizations even before the discovery of the Philippines. This was evident in the remains of people found in Anda Peninsula indicating the use of gold, jewelry and death masks, buried their dead in wood coffins and “enhanced” their women’s appearance by flattening and shaping their skulls.
Trade between Chinese began in as early as 5th Century, bringing wares and porcelain goods for their return to their mainland. Boholanos served as distributors, taking the Chinese goods as far as the Mollucas to barter with honey, spices and other items. This practice made Boholanos reasonably stable than other islands.
Panglao Island is said to be connected with the mainland through stilts in the shallow harbor of the strait. According to legend, Portuguese sailors demolished the town and abducted one of the queens, pushing Sultan Sikatuna to move his people to Bool, an area just outside Tagbilaran City. Other sultans moved its people to Mindanao.
When Legazpi arrived in the island, he signed a peace treaty with Sultan Sikatuna, contrary to how he took other places. Sikatuna’s friendly acceptance resulted to a peaceful agreement. Legazpi was impressed of the native’s lenient character and but his attention focused more on Bohol’s established economy.
The treaty between the two leaders was recognized for 45 years. Sikatuna’s baptismal just before his death caused a serious conflict with other Muslims. Despite their conversion to Catholicism, however, Boholanos never really submit to friar’s abuses. That’s enough reason for Dagohoy’s successful revolt in 1744. For 85 years Bohol stayed an independent region under the Spaniards but diminished its importance as a trading center.
In contrary to the island’s open acceptance with the Spanish, Bohol was not easily suppressed by the occupation of the Americans. They succeeded on keeping their independence even with the strong forces of the Japanese. They printed their own money and have supplied their own people with abundant produce of livelihood without the help of other islands.
Since 1945 Bohol remained a peaceful island with inhabitants used to independent living and equality between each other. Even when the Spanish left the Philippines, people who acquired possessions on lands never took power over low class farmers. Having equal relationship among each other kept their island one of the safest places in the Philippines.