The Philippines, scientists believe, once was a part of Mainland China. According to the scientists, during the Ice Age, the waters surrounding the Philippines dropped to about 156 feet below the present levels, exposing large bodies of land. These became land bridges connecting the Philippines to the Asian mainland.
The Philippines, Out from the Bottom of the Sea?
In February 1976, Dr. Fritjof Voss, a German scientist who studied the geology of the Philippines, questioned the validity of this theory of land bridges. He maintained that the Philippines was never part of mainland Asia. He claimed that it arose from the bottom of the sea and, as the thin Pacific crust moved below it, continued to rise. It continues to rise today. The country lies along great Earth faults that extend to deep undersea trenches. The resulting violent earthquakes caused what is now the land masses forming the Philippines to rise to the surface of the sea.
Dr. Voss also pointed out that when scientific studies were done on the earth’s crust from 1964 to 1967, it was discovered that the 35-kilometer-thick crust underneath China does not reach the Philippines. Thus, the latter could not have been a land bridge to the Asian mainland.
When They Came, How They Came?
The traditional teaching of Philippine history in Filipino schools today has early Philippine habitants coming in waves.
In 1962, it was concluded that about 250,000 years ago, primitive men came to the Philippines from the Asian mainland. Then about 25,000 years ago came the pygmies, the small, black-skinned, squat-nosed, thick-lipped, and kinky-haired people from the south over the still remaining land bridges. (They are considered the ancestors of the Negritoes, who are, in turn, regarded as the aborigines of the Philippines.)
Around 12,000 to 15,000 years ago, another Negrito (or Aeta) migration occurred. They reached Luzon from Borneo over land bridges in Palawan and Mindoro. The submergence of the land bridges when the ice melted with the passing of time did not prevent other people from inhabiting the Philippines.
5,000 to 6,000 Years Ago?
The first Indonesians arrived by boat from Southeast Asia some 5,000 to 6,000 years ago. Much later, around 1500 B.C., a second wave of Indonesians arrived. Then came the Malays in two successive waves, the first between 800 and 500 B.C. and the second, between 300 and 200 B.C. From Borneo, they traveled by sailboats and settled in the three major islands of the Philippines: Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao. Subsequent peoples who came from the start of Christianity until the present time include the Indians (Hindus), the Arabs, the Chinese, other Eastern Asians, the Europeans, and the Americans.
Who Came First?
The matter of who the first settlers were has not been really resolved. This is being disputed by anthropologists, as well as the theory of Professor H. Otley Beyer that the first inhabitants of the Philippines came from the Malay Peninsula.
The Malays now constitute the largest portion of the populace and what Filipinos now have is a Malayan culture. Anthropologist F. Landa Jocano of the University of the Philippines contends that what fossil evidence of ancient men show is that they not only migrated to the Philippines, but also to New Guinea, Borneo, and Australia. He says that there is no way of determining if they were Negritoes at all. However, what is sure is that there is evidence the Philippines was inhabited as early as 21,000 or 22,000 years ago. In 1962, a skull cap and a portion of a jaw, presumed to be those of a human being, were found in a Tabon cave in Palawan Province.
The discovery proved that man came earlier to the Philippines than to the Malay Peninsula; therefore, the first inhabitants of the former did not come from the latter.
Jocano further believes that present Filipinos are products of the long process of evolutions and movements of people. This not only holds true for Filipinos, but for the Indonesians and the Malays of Malaysia, as well. No group among the three is culturally or racially dominant. Hence, Jocano says that it is not correct to attribute the Filipino culture as being Malay in orientation.
According to Jocano’s findings, the peoples of the prehistoric islands of Southeast Asia were of the same population as the combination of human evolution that occurred in the islands of Southeast Asia about 1.9 million years ago. The proofs of this are fossil materials found in different parts of the region and the movements of other peoples from the Asian mainland during historic times.
He states that these ancient men cannot be categorized under any of the historically identified ethnic groups (Malays, Indonesians, Filipinos) of today.
Some Filipino ethnic groups were pagans while others were Muslims. The pagans were converted to Christianity by the Spaniards. The Americans later arrived and introduced further cultural changes, which made the Filipinos more and more different from the peoples of other Southeast Asian countries.