The Philippines on the Eve of Spanish Contact
An illustration of Visayan mountain natives
from Mallat/Bayotes, Bisayas Sauvages ou des Montagnes
- Prior to the arrival of the Spaniards in the mid 1500s,
the barangay (which consisted of 30-100
families that were interrelated by blood or marriage and debt bondage) existed as a basic
social unit in more than 7,000 scattered islands of what is now known as the Philippines
- A barangay is
ruled a datu whose political power rested on heredity, military prowess, or magical
- In other parts of the archipelago, there were also
territories ruled by a sultan whose
sultanate were linked with neighboring territories such as Brunei and Borneo.
- Trade was extensive between autonomous barangays and neighboring territories in Southeast
Asia (such as the autonomous sultanates in Borneo) and China.
- Islamic influence had spread in coastal areas of the
Visayan islands, including parts of what became Manila, as well as major sultanates of
Sulu and Mindanao.
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