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Butuan / P'u-tuan

The name Butuan already existed long before the Spanish conquistadores arrived in the Philippine archipelago. Once an ancient kingdom by the river, is reportedly the site of the oldest civilized settlement in the Philippines. Its history, culture, arts and people dates back to as early as 4th century AD as showcased in its museums and archeological sites.

Located at the Northeastern part of Agusan Valley sprawling across the Agusan River is Butuan City, known for its colorful history and culture. Butuan is a term believed to have originated from the sour fruit Batuan. Others opined, it came from a certain Datu Buntuan, a chieftain who once ruled Butuan. Scholars believed, it came from the word But-an, which literally means a person who has sound and discerning disposition. Whichever theories appear credible depends on the kind of people residing in Butuan, for whatever is said about them, Butuan continues to live on.

A milestone in the history of the Archaeology Division and Philippine prehistory happened with recovery of two ancient Philippine boats called "balanghai" from Butuan, Agusan del Norte which were found to have a C-14 date of 4th and l3th-l4th centuries AD. The Butuan Boats, wooden boats excavated and dated to as early as 320 AD, reveal that the ancient Philippine maritime technology predated European boat construction. Called Balangay, these boats are evidence that early man in the Philippines was seafaring and was relatively technologically advanced.

As early as the 10th century, according to the Chinese Song Shi (history), people from Butuan had already established trading relations with the kingdom of Champa in what is now South Vietnam.The Chinese annal Song Shih recorded the first appearance of a Butuan tributary mission at the Chinese Imperial Court on 17 March 1001 AD and it described Butuan (P'u-tuan) as a small Hindu country with a Buddhist Monarchy in the sea that had a regular connection with the Champa kingdom (a kingdom in Central Vietnam) and intermittent contact with China under the Rajah named Kiling.

Since trade missions were viewed by the Chinese as diplomatic initiatives, the Butuan missions can be viewed as the beginning of official relations between the Philippines and China. The residence of Paduka Bataras heirs in Techow, can be interpreted as the first Philippine embassy in China. More importantly, from the standpoint of the Philippine side, the Mai-i trade mission, the Butuan and Sulu missions were attempts by separate Philippine chieftains or polities not only to bypass Champa as a trade entrepot but to establish themselves as new centers of international trade. The P'u-tuan rulers were successful in obtaining formal recognition by the Chinese. However, the aggressive P'u-tuan chiefs vexed Chinese officials.

The Chinese seem to have initially had considerable difficulty in sorting out which Southeast Asian rulers actually held significant regional political sway, or which actually controlled the vast volumes of trade exports they invariably claimed in their visits to the Chinese court. This confusion was evidenced in the Sung Dynasty's dilemma about whether to grant the comparatively peripheral and small-scale early eleventh-century Filipino polity of Pu-man (at Butuan in Mindanao) tributary status commensurate with that of Champa, the powerful and immensely scaled Vietnamese state.

By the 11th century, Butuan was the center of trade and commerce in the Philippines. The best evidence to prove this fact is the discovery of the Butuan Boats and other archeological finds in the vicinities of Butuan City, particularly in Ambangan, Libertad near the old El Rio de Butuan and Masao River. This is proven by evidence of the discovery of the nine balangays - (The Butuan Boat) and the discoveries of other archeological facts like death masks, Chinese porcelain, weighing scale, gold and jewelries found in Ambangan, Libertad near the old El Rio de Butuan and Masao River.

Other evidences that support Butuans position in the ancient Asian trade are the numerous jars/artifacts [Chinese (tenth to fifteenth centuries AD) Khmer/Cambodian (ninth to tenth centuries AD) Thai (fourteenth to fifteenth centuries AD) Pre-Thai Satingpra (900-1100 AD) and Haripunjaya (800-900 AD) pre-trade Vietnamese (eleventh to thirteenth centuries AD) and Persian (ninth to tenth centuries AD)] dug within the vicinities of Ambangan, Archeological Site, in Libertad well attest to the historical account that Butuan traded with the Chinese and Southeast Asia countries in the past.

Agusans pre-hispanic history was greatly influenced by the Madjapahit Empire. This can be attested through the discovery of the Golden Tara in 1960, in one of its towns, which is Maasam, Esperanza. The 8-inches gold image, that was retrieved along the river of Esperanza, originated from the Madjapahit Empire. The aborigines of Agusan were the ancestors of the present-day Mamanwas who were driven to the hinterlands by the waves of Malay immigrants from nearby Borneo, Celebes and Malaysia. These people, in turn, sought the protection of the interior jungles because of the forays and the constant raids of Moros. Being a sea-faring people, they confined themselves to the coastal areas where they started settlements, leaving the forestall area to the other native tribes.

Butuan City was originally located in Pinamanculan by the banks of Masao River, about a kilometer from the barrio of Libertad. Finding the site less than ideal because of the floods, the people moved to Baog, now the Municipality of Magallanes, at the mouth of Agusan River. Later they again transferred to Lapaca, now known as Linungsuran in Banza, about five kilometers inland of Agusan River. Still troubled by floods, the people once more settled in the early 20th Century, this time permanently, in a higher place called Agao, which is the present site of the city proper. A description of Butuan is not complete without infusing it with the significance of the Agusan River. It is the Agusan River and its tributaries that provide the valley with rich soil from periodic floods and its serpentine route through the length of the province provided people with easy means of transportation for trade and commerce and encouraged settlements along its banks.

Declared as Caragas cleanest inland body of water, the Kalinawan River is 29.1 kilometer of pristine and picturesque river, and is Lake Mainits only outlet. It passes through the municipalities of Jabonga, Santiago, Tubay before it finally empties into Butuan bay. By history, it is one of the oldest trading and missionary routes in the Philippines. Its historical past (part of the Old Kingdom of Butuan even predates Philippine history. The river is fishing ground to the mamanwas since immemorial. The mamanwa tribe who inhabits around the lake and this river is the one of the oldest indigenous tribes of the Philippines.

It is very difficult to pinpoint the exact time when the name Butuan first emerged. Certainly the name Agusan came into being upon the creation of the province in 1914. Before this, the entire area had been known as Butuan and had always been known as such as can be borne out by old historical records. A chieftain known to have ruled Butuan during the pre-Spanish period was Rajah Siaui or Siagu. He was followed by more datus most known is Datu Silongan. He was the ruling chieftain by the time the Spaniards sometime came after the death of Magellan.

Pu-li-lu / Pulilan

Trade relations between the natives of the Polillo Islands and Chinese merchants existed long before the Spanish conquerors came to the archipelago. Trade was a conglomeration of Malay-Hindu-Chinese-Tagalog. Padre Morga wrote that Polillo originated from the Chinese word "Pulilu", which means beautiful island with plenty of food. The Chinese disliked Pu-li-lu [probably Mindanao] because most of the people there were described as cruel robbers. An archeological breakthrough finally disclosed the location of Pu-li-lu. In 1989, the Laguna Copperplate was unearthed, which dated back to 900 CE. Written in Old Javanese with vocabulary from Old Malay and Indian Sanskrit, it mentions Pulilan, Pila and Tondo vicinities in the Kingdom of Tondo which correspond to present day Bulacan, Manila and Laguna. It also had ties with the Hindu-Buddhist Kingdom of Medang in Java, Indonesia.

Modern Polillo is a 2nd class municipality in the province of Quezon, Philippines. It is located on Polillo Island in the Philippine Sea and separated by Polillo Strait from the main island of Luzon. According to the 2007 census, it has a population of 27,912 people. Polillo originated from the Chinese words PU LI LU which means "beautiful island with plenty of food" and was later changed PU LI LU to POLILLO. Among its prominent landmarks are the Pulong-ibon, Malabonbon Reef and Mt. Malulod to live up to its name aside from the natural beach resort.

When Juan de Salcedo, a Spanish conqueror came to Polillo in 1567, he saw a central government fully organized through the Balangay, with a datu who had a direct supervision and control over all the natives. The inhabitants lived in nipa huts. In 1571 the Spaniards took hold of the islands of Pu Li Lu. Through the leadership of Padre Domingo, a Spanish friar, a chapel was built, where the old Spanish church was later constructed.

After one and a half years, the people, through forced labor built a concrete wall to protect the "pueblo" of Pu Li Lu from moro pirate invaders. Watchtowers called "castillos" were erected in the four corners of the pueblo. The church was constructed in 1577 . Boulders, gravel and sand were mixed with lime produced out of seashells and coral stones. Padre Domingo instigated the planting of sugar cane in San Isidro, San Antonio and San Francisco. Production of molasses was put into full swing. Spanish conquistadores were assigned to the "pueblo" of Pu Li Lu to promote church construction. The church tower was constructed with priority, so that in 1587, in the early summer of May, two huge bronze bells rang atop. Due to language problems, Padre Domingo changed Pu Li Lu to Polillo.

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Page last modified: 31-03-2012 18:56:57 ZULU