They also have written and customary or oral laws. The oral laws were tribal customs andtraditions handed down from generation to generation. One example of written laws was The MaragtasCode. In terms of judicial process, their court was composed of the chieftains as the judge and thecommunity elders as the jury. Trials were usually done in public. If the court could not clearly determinethe guilt or innocence of both parties in a case, they will end up to a trial by ordeal or pagsubok. In case of theft, the suspects were ordered to retrieve a stone in a boiling pot of water. The one whose hand was themost scalded was the alleged guilty. In some instances, the suspects were ordered to chew uncooked rice.He whose saliva was thickest was adjudged guilty. We can see clearly the big difference in judicialprocess during the pre-Spanish times. Nowadays, trials were done in a court room. Judges make theirdecisions based on the evidences and written laws to make it fair to both parties.The early Filipinos believed in the immortality of the soul. They also believed in life after death.They worshipped a Supreme Being they called Bathalang Maykapal. The pre-Spanish Filipinosworshipped nature, the sun, the moon, the animals, the birds, and even old trees.Their marriage customs are also far from what we are used to. Traditionally, early Filipinosmarried within their own class. Thus, a noble married a woman of his rank; a freeman married that of hisclass and a slave married that of his status. But, there was no restriction whether a noble wants to marry afreeman or between a freeman and a dependent. As a condition to marriage, the man must give the bigay-kaya or dowry to the family of the bride.
The groom also served the bride’s parents for months. He must
etch water, chop woods for the girl’s family
and help the girl’s father in his farming chores. The ancient
Filipinos also allowed divorce. But this is only limited to the just causes such as adultery on the part of the wife, childlessness, loss of love, and abandonment on the part of husband.Early Filipinos, because of their belief in life after death and in the immortality of soul, were veryrespectful of their dead. They embalmed their dead like the Egyptians and buried them near their houses,complete with gold, cloth and other objects of value, for they believed that if they departed rich, theywould be well received in the other world, but coldly if they departed poor.The early Filipinos were also music and dance lovers. Some of their native instruments could stillbe seen nowadays as part of Filipino culture. Some of these are the Kudyapi, tultogan, silbay, and thekutibeng. The favorite dances of Visayans were the Balitaw and Dandansoy. Tagalogs have Kumintang astheir love dance. Their songs and music were expressed in all aspects of their lives. They had songs andmusic in celebration of victory in war, for good harvest; for religious rituals; and for each death andburial.Pre-colonial Filipinos are obviously far too different from the Filipinos after the Spanish Era.This shows that even before the Spanish came to the Philippines, we already have established our originalway of living.
That is why I truly agree about Prof. Landa Jocano’s
statement: that the Filipinos possessedan elaborate civilization in the past, but because of the colonization of different countries, our perceptionabout pre-colonial Filipinos are distorted, and somehow erased.Through history, we can trace the way pre-colonial Filipinos lived. We can actually compare andsee how far we have been developing. I believe that every Filipinos have an inherent desire for what isgood, that is the reason why our culture and way of living changes. Everything that seems bad and unjustin the past, we correct or change.These characteristics, traits, rituals and way of living of Early Filipinos only show that theoriginal Filipino culture is rich and simple. Although imperfect, they paved the way to unlocking the truenature of Filipinos: brave, strong and powerful yet hospitable, respectful and cheerful.