Indigenous Philippines

The history of the Philippines is rich with migrations from neighbouring countries, tribal wars, and colonisation. Indigenous Filipinos were depending on the terrain nomadic, semi-nomadic, and village dwellers.  Luzon was a melting pot of various migrant communities interacially mingling. Prior to colonisation the Philippines never had a centralised ruling government over all the 7000+ islands. The institution of barangay chiefs in Indigenous Filipino tribes was borrowed from the ‘Indians’ (possibly Indonesian), who at the time of conquest were found established in the Philippines. The barangays numbered no more than a few hundred people for economic stability. 

Within the barangay system there were three broad classes:

  1. Datu, his family, and nobility known as tumao.

  2. Freeholders and feudal warrior class known as timawa, timagua or maharlika.

  3. Dependents: sharecroppers, debt peons, and war captives/slaves known as uripon.

Filipinos held onto a strong connection to people within their communities as according to their core value known as Kapwa where people were either ‘outsiders’ ibang tao or ‘one-of-the-tribe’ hindi ibang tao.




A.J. Broomhall, Philippine Tribes: Fields for Reaping, 1955, The Camelot Press, pg. 8, 13 

Britannica, Accessed 2018, Cultural Life,


J. Mallat, Les Philippines, histoire, geographie, moeurs, agriculture, industrie et commerce des Colonies espagnoles dans l'oceanie, Paris: 1846, p. 356

Junker, Laura Lee (1990). "The Organization of IntraRegional and LongDistance Trade in PreHispanic Philippine Complex Societies". Asian Perspectives. 29 (2): 167–209