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The Maragtas is written by Pedro Alcantara Monteclaro.

Maragtas is all about the History of


Panay from the first inhabitants of the Bornean immigrants from which are descended (to go or
change of state) to the arrival of the Spaniards. The work is written in mixed Hiligaynon and Kinaray-
languages. Monteclaro have been a native border between the two Visayan Dialects. The maragtas
second edition was published by the Makinaugalingon Press in 1929, and a third edition in 1957 by
Sol Gwekoh under the copyright held by the author’s son Juanito L. Monteclaro, which deffers form
the original only in certain orthographic reforms and a more colloquial version.

Pedro Monteclaro was born in Miag-oa, Iloilo on October 15, 1850. Graduated from the
Seminario College de Jaro in 1865, was twice married and had 5 children, He served as Teniente
Mayor in 1891, and Gobernadorcillo in 1892-1894 and become a local hero during Revolution and the
American Invasion. He serves as Liaison Officer during the American occupation of the a, and was
first president of Miag-ao (1901-1903), during which period he began to search which resulted in his
publication of The Maragtas.

THE MARAGTAS

The word Maragtas is equivalent of the Spanish word “Historia”. Present dayspeakers of
Visayan, know only the word as the title od the book or some prehispanic manuscript believed to be
its origin. It is consideration of the latter opinion that the provenance and contents of the book must
be examined in detail.

The provenance of maragtas begin with the author’s own statement in his “Foreward to the
Readers”

He wrote maragtas, first inhabitants of Panay. He even refrained from writing it but for his
burning desire to reveal to the public the data which he gathered from the records. The first
inhabitants of Panay is the arrival of the Datus from borneo and their settlement in the lands, their
spread to different parts of the island and their customs and habits until the Spaniards came and
ruled to the Philippines.

In order for the reader of maragtas not accuse him of having merely composed the book from
just imagination. He wish to mention two manuscripts he found. One is given to him ny an 82 year old
man, who had been the first teacher in the town. It was given by the old man’s grandfather. The long
years which the manuscript must have passed of thtory a wore out the paper so much that it is
impossible to handle. The other manuscript he found in a bamboo tube where monteclaros
grandfather used to keep his old papers. The manuscript was so brittle that he could hardly handle it
without tearing it to pieces. He copied these records in a book on june 12 1901 as a memoir for the
town of Miag-oa, but did not publish them for the reasons stated. Besides he is waiting for someone
better qualified to write a history of the Island of Panay form the time of its inhabitants.

He would like his readers know that his purpose in writing the Maragtas in not to gain honor for
himself but to transmit to others what he read in the records he collected.

The Contents of Maragtas

They are about the ten datus or chiefs who escaped the tyranny of Datu Makatunaw of Borneo
and immigrated to the island of Panay. Once there, they supposedly bought the lowland plains of the
island from Marikudo, the leader of the indigenous Aytas, for the price of a solid gold salakot (hat).
According to the legend, these ten chiefs and their families are the very ancestors of the entire
Visayan population. This is the legend that has been celebrated yearly in the Ati-atihan festival since
the late 1950s when it became a part of the annual feast of the Santo Niño in Kalibo, Aklan. The 10
Datus are namely: Puti, Sumakwel, Bangkaya, Palburong, Padohinog, Dumangsol, Dumalogdog,
Lubay, Balensuela amd Umangsil.

There are six chapters and an epilog. The 1st chapter describes the fprmer customs, clothes,
dialect, heredity, organization and others of the Aetas of Panay, with special mention of Marikudoz
son of old Chief Polpulan. Second Chapter begins a narrative of ten datus flight from Borneo and the
Tranny of Datu Makatunaw there, and their purchase of the island of Panay from Marikudo. The Third
Chapter tells of the romance of Sumakwel, Kapingan and her lover Gurung-gurung. The forth chapter
concludes the tale of ten datus, telling of their political arrangements and their circumnavigation of the
island. The fifth chapter describes language, commerce, lothing, customs, marriages, funerals,
mourning habits, cockfighting, timekeeping techniques, calendars and personal characteristics. The
sixth and Final chapter gives a list of Spanish officials between 1637 and 1808. And Epilog contains a
few eighteenth century dates.

The document Translated by Father Santeran tells the same story of the ten datus, their
purchase of the island from Negritos, and one of their leaders marital problems, names of the deities,
slaves and descendants to the fifth generation, and list of more than 158 placenames connected with
their settlement of Panay. Father Santeran added the translation of some additional information which
he took from a second document, to a third much longer but wholly genealogical in content, which he
does not translate. There is no informationgiven about the language of the original or the condition of
the manuscript except that it was old and the last page got lost, but by its style is characterized by the
repetitions, abrupt changes of subject, incomplete plot development, and lack of planning which are
the earmarks of oral history taken down from the lips of reminiscing elders.

All of these stylistic shortcomings are missing from Monteclaro’s more polished literary work.
The maragtas, for example, introduces new characters with necessary biographical identification,
while the Historia in the manner of folk history, often mentions their names only after they have
already played some part in the narrative. The Historia presupposes the readers’ prior knowledge of
the places mentioned but the Maragtas cites municipality and province.

It is difficult to doubt a common source. Considering the internal evidence, there is no reason
why the Historia de los primeros datos could not have been written or dictated by a Filipino as late as
the first half of the nineteenth century, or why the entire maragtas with no exceptions could not have
been written between 1901-1907 with reference to no other written sources than a list of government
officials and Father Santeran’s translations.

The Confideration of Mediaas. Following the romance which ends Monteclaros chapter 3,
Father Santeran’s Translation adds some disconnected geographic and genealogical data, most of
which appears in monteclaros chapter 4, but in between, the maragtas has an account of seven
resolutions formally adopted by the seven panay datus as a kind of political constitution.

The author of maragtas unfortunately gives no information about any of his sources, oral or
written, except to say that two of them where rotten and almost unreadable. He makes no comment
or speculation on their date or provenance, no direct quotaions or hints of incorporation them into the
text and disavows any claims to “clarity or comprehensiveness”. The Maragtas therefore, gives no
reasonable grounds for supposing the existence of any prehispanic Confederation of medias.

The Maragtas Code. The other exceptional passage of historic significance which does not
occur in the Historia de los primeros datos compromises the 4 th, 5th, 6th, and 7th paragraphs of chapter
5 of The Maragtas. This chapter is description of a variety of general cultural information such as
social customs, Visayan equivalents of the days of the ween and dialect differences. Among the
customs, there are four stringent sanctions. 1. Those too lazy to work were bonded over to the
wealthy until they reformed, failing which they were cast out of society to live with negritos and breed
halfcaste offspring. 2. Polygamy was practiced until population control became necessary, it was
restricted to the well-to-do and the children of those too poor to support them were drowned. 3 rd.
unredeemed adultery was punished by death or disinheritance. 4th. Fingers of thieves were cut off.
These statements can be authenticated as an actual Spartan way of life practiced by prehispanic
Filipinos, at least they are not phrased in the maragtas as “laws”.It is stated that The most serious
and most severely punished offence was lainess which is technically untrue since other offences
were punished by death.

Although the author did not provide any data or clue by which the authenticity of this code
could be established. The available evidence suggest that the Maragtas code should be dated in the
forth decade og the twentieth century at the earliest.

SUMMARY

The maragtas is an original work by Pedro Monteclaro published in mized Hiligaynon and Kin-
iraya in Iloilo in 1907 which claims to be nothing more than that. It was based on written and oral
sources then available, and contains three sort of subject matter-folk customs still being practices or
remembered by olf folks, the description of an idealized political confederation whose existence there
are reasonable grounds in 1858 of a migration of Bornean settlers, some of hom are still remembered
as folk heroes, pagan deities, or progenitors of part of the present population of panay. There is no
reason to doubt that this legend preserves the memory of some actual event, but it is not possible to
date the event itself or to decide which of its details are historic facts and which are the
emblellishments of generations of oral transmission.

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