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Barangay: Sixteenth Century Philippine Culture and Society

PART ONE The Visayas

CHAPTER 1 Physical Appearance
Color descriptions of Filipinos by Spaniards CONTRADICTORY
o Homonhon, Limasawa, Butuan
Medium stature
o Accdg. to Pigafetta olivastri meaning olive-skinned/tanned
o Color of cooked quince (brownish red???)
Father Alcina Filipinos = not that dark
o Contradictions
o Sympathetic accounts regularly refer to Filipinos as light-skinned
Color + approving adjectives (e.g. well-built, good-looking, not very dark)
o Even more than physical appearances: braver, more spirited
Women lighter due to less exposure to the sun
o Daughters of datus as light as European ladies
o Slave girls who danced naked to entertain royal visitors
To Visayans most distinctive feature of foreigners = plain white teeth
o Like monkeys, dogs, pigs
o Like a chaw of coconut meat
Decorative Dentistry
Only wild animals had white teeth a concept in SEA
Many things are done to their teeth
o Leveling
o Grinding until saw-toothed points
o Correcting natural misalignment
o Coloring (anipay root, tapul, lakha ant eggs, kaso)
Main goal: render them EVEN and SYMMETRICAL
Goldwork (Pusad) Visayan dentistry
Dentist manunusad
Accdg. to Spaniards, Visayans = Pintados bc they were very tattooed
Batuk means tattoos
Tattoos = symbols of male valor
o Applied only after men performed in battle with fitting courage +
o IF DID NOT WIN, counterfeit
Compared to a halo lizard which has many markings but is
really timid

Warfare initiation rite into manhood

Tattoos: public esteem for both men and women
Tattoos = painful enough to be a test of manhood
Used to cause high fever and occasionally infection and death
Different regions = different patterns
Boxer Codex pantalones instead of a g-string
o Visayans wore long robes which covered neck to ankle (cut from
expensive textile imported from mainland Asia)

Skull Moulding
Conforms to the local canons of beauty
Skulls of newborn infants very soft; if laid in the same position, their
heads become flat on one side
Device: Tangad
o Prevented the forward growth of the frontal bone and directed it
backward so that the head grew higher at the rear
Puyak flatness of the back of the head
Penis Pins
Men pin (tugbuk) through their penis for: greater stimulation of their sex
Startled foreigners, scandalized missionary clergy
Satanic and not a device invented by man
Pins requires manipulation by the woman to insert; cannot be
withdrawn until male organ = relaxed (kinamakawing)
Produce pain, draw blood, could cause crippling complications for both
Circumcision (Tuli)
Widespread practice
Technically supercision cut lengthwise rather than around
Uncircumcised = pisot (unripe fruit/green youth)
For hygienic purposes
Spanish missionaries: this practice was introduced by Muslim competitors
o Visayans: no, even before contact with Islam
Went way back Aztecs in Mexico, African tribes, native Australians
Pierced Ears
Present in both men and women (women had more)
Frequently requested by women
o When 2 women got in a fight, they would go for each others ears
Without pierced ears = bingbing


Different hairstyles between communities

Great Spanish influence Filipinos cut their hair
Women took pride in their long hair
o Men touching hairdos of women terrible offense
Impressive amount of time and care in their hair

Varied accdg. to cost and current fashion
Basic garments: g-string (bahag) and tube skirt (malong)
o Colors of the clothes are symbolisms
Natural colored g-string normal
Deep red colored men who had personally killed an
For public appearances and formal occasions: more prestigious clothes
Watid: g-string dragging on the ground symbolizes mourning
Different lengths depending on the formality of the occasion or the people
they will be meeting with/presented to
Men and women wore earrings, necklaces, rings, anklets, sequins
Made from different kinds of materials but mostly made of gold
Spaniards were astonished to find out not only the amount and wide
distribution of gold but also that it is a part of the normal attire
CHAPTER 2 Food and Farming
Staple crops
o Rice preferred
Only in a few places could a years supply of rice be
Spaniards tribute was collected in rice from the start
o Millet
o Taro
o Yams
o Bananas
o Wild yams
o Sago
o Root crops
Food shortages/famines severe up to the point that parents would sell
their children for food
o Would be able to provide for other children

o Other children nourished to adulthood either as slaves/foster

Late 20th century
o Forest plants and honey part of normal diet
o Wild game was plentiful
o Pigs grew fat = easy prey for hunting dogs
o Fertility of soil = larger + better corn, cacao, sweet potatoes
(original specimens from Mexico)

Rice Farming
16th century
Rice was not grown in water
o Had just one term for wet rice: gani seedbed for rice to be
transplanted to swampland/floodplain of rivers, where it drowned
most of the time
Dry rice in hillside swiddens with natural drainage
o = symbiotic relationship bet. uplanders and lowlanders
o Uplanders exchange rice for seafood, salt, pottery from the
Swidden farming close attention to the weather
o Fields need to be dry to burn
o Rice needed moisture
Changing of the seasons through:
o Appearance of the stars
o Shifting direction of the winds
o Flowering of plants
o Songs of birds
Agricultural cycle not the same for islands and coasts
o Due to varying exposure to monsoon winds
Unlimited swidden land
Termites nest, snails