Pre-Colonial Philippines

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Our ancestors were economically self-sufficient. They produced what they needed. They engaged in various industries. Many of their products reached neighboring countries such as Siam, Cambodia, India, China, Japan, Borneo and the Moluccas.

Agriculture. There used to be two systems of farming--- the dry or kaingin method (also known as slash-and-burn agriculture) and the wet or irrigation method. The development of the intricate rice terraces (as in Ifugao) remains a hydraulic engineering marvel to many.

Our ancestors not only raised crops but also medicinal herbs. They raised poultry and domestic animals.

They recognized the existence of public and private property. The mountainsides and less arable lands were the property of the barangay or public property, which meant that they were open to everyone who wanted to till them. The cultivated lands were the property of private individuals (most of which are nobles and datus). These private lands were acquired by inheritance, purchase and occupation.

Industries. While farming was the primary industry, early Filipinos engaged in other industries.

Some were still engaged in hunting and fishing--- the latter being a gainful occupation because of the geography of the country. The inland seas, rivers and lakes abounded in marine life.

Our forefathers knew a great deal in shipbuilding. They obtained timber from the virgin forests (lumbering) and made small fast sailing boats called barangays and virreys and large vessels called tapaques, caracaos, and lapis. (Figure to the right- boat found in Butuan, Mindanao.)

Handicrafts, such as earthen pottery (figure below), weaving and blacksmithing were well developed. Mining was an important industry. The people were skillful artisans in jewels and gold. They also knew metalwork as seen in the manufacture of their tools and weapons. They also spun and wove cloths out of abaca, cotton, maguey, banana... Continue Reading