Popular Science Monthly/Volume 59/August 1901/The Peopling of the Philippines II


When, on the 18th of March, 1897, I made a communication on the population of the Philippines, a bloody uprising had broken out everywhere against the existing Spanish rule. In this uprising a certain portion of the population, and indeed that which had the most valid claim to aboriginality, the so-called Negritos, was not involved. Their isolation, their lack of every sort of political, often indeed of village organization, also their meager numbers, render it conceivable that the greatest changes might go on among their neighbors without their taking such a practical view of them as to lead to their engaging in them. Thus it can be understood how they would take no interest in the further development of the affair.

Since then the result of the war between Spain and the United States has been the destruction of Spanish power, and the treaty of Paris brought the entire Philippine Archipelago into the possession of the United States of America. Henceforth the principal interest is centered upon the deportment of the insurgents, who have not only outlived the great war between the powers, but are now determined to assert, or win, their independence from the conquerors. These insurgents, who for brevity are called Filipinos, belong, as I have remarked, to the light-colored race of so-called Indios, who are sharply differentiated from the Negritos. Their ethnological position is difficult to fix, since numerous mixtures have taken place with immigrant whites, especially with Spaniards, but also with people of yellow and of brown races—that is, with Mongols and Chinese,[2] Perhaps here and there the importance of this mixture on the composite type of the Indios has been overestimated; at least in most places positive proof is not forthcoming that foreign blood has imposed itself upon the bright-colored population. Both history and tradition teach, on the contrary, as also the study of the physical peculiarities of the people, that among the various tribes differences exist which suggest family traits. To this effect is the testimony of several travelers who have followed one another during a long period of time, as has been developed especially by Blumentritt.

In this connection it must not be overlooked that all these immigrations, howsoever many they be supposed to have been, must have come this way from the west. Indeed, a noteworthy migration from the east is entirely barred out, if we look no farther back than the Chinese and Japanese. On the contrary, all signs point to the assumption that from of old, long before the coming of Portuguese and Spaniards, a strong movement had gone on from this region to the east, and that the great sea way which exists between Mindanao and the Sulu islands on the north and Halmahera and the Moluccas on the south was the entrance road along which those tribes, or at least those navigators whose arrival peopled the Polynesian Islands, found their way into the Pacific Ocean. But also the movement of the Polynesians points to the west, and if their ancestors may have come from Indonesia there is no doubt that in their long journeys eastward they must have touched at the coasts of other islands on their way, especially the Philippines. Polynesian invasions of the Philippines are not supposed to have closed when a migration of peoples or of men passing out to the Pacific Ocean laid the foundation of a large fraction of the population of the archipelago. It is known that now and then single canoes from the Palawan or the Ladrone islands were driven upon the east coast of Luzon, but their importance ought not to be overestimated. The migration this way from the west must henceforth remain as the point of departure for all explanations of this eastern ethnology.

[These statements are well enough for working hypotheses, but actual proofs are not at hand. Ratzel, Berl. Verhandl., etc.; Phil. Hist. Class, 1898, I, p. 33.—Translator.]

Now, how are the local differences of various tribes to be explained, when on the whole the place of origin was the same? Is there here a secondary variation of the type, something brought about through climate, food, circumstances? It is a large theme, which, unfortunately, is too often dominated by previously-formed theories. The importance of ‘environment’ and mode of life upon the corporeal development of man can not be contested, but the measure of this importance is very much in doubt. Nowhere is this measure, at least in the present consideration, less known than in the Philippines. In spite of wide geological and biological differences on these islands, there exists a close anthropological agreement of the Indios in the chief characteristics, and the effort to trace back the tribal differences that have been marked to climatic and alimentary causes has not succeeded. The influence of inherited peculiarities is also more mighty here, as in most parts of the earth, than that of ‘milieu.’

If we assume, first, that the immigrants brought their peculiarities with them, which were fixed already when they came, we must also accept as self-evident that the Negritos of the Philippines do not belong to the same stock as the more powerful, bright-colored Indios. As long as these islands have been known, more than three centuries, the skin of the Negritos has been dark brown, almost black, their hair short and spirally twisted, and just as long has the skin of the Indios been brownish, in various shades, relatively clear, and the hair has been long and arranged in wavy locks. At no time, so far as known, has it been discovered that among a single family a pronounced variation from these peculiarities had taken place. On this point there is entire unanimity. In case of the Negritos there is not the least doubt; of the Indios a doubt may arise, for, in fact, the shades of skin color appear greatly varied, since the brown is at times quite blackish, at times yellowish, almost as varied as is the color of the sunburnt hair. But even then the practised eye easily detects the descent, and if the skin alone is not sufficient the first glance at the hair completes the diagnosis. The correct explanation of individual or tribal variations is difficult only with the Indios, while no such necessity exists in the case of the Negritos. But among the Indios these individual and tribal variations are so frequent and so outspoken that one is justified in making the inquiry whether there has not developed here a new type of inherited peculiarities. If this were the case, it must still be held that already the immigrant tribes had possessed them.

Now, history records that different immigrations have actually taken place. Laying aside the latest before the arrival of the Spaniards, that of the Islamites, in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, there remains the older one. If ethnologists and travelers in general come to the conclusion concerning Borneo—and it is to be taken as certain—that the differences now existing among the wild tribes of this island are very old, it ought not be thought so wonderful if, according to the conditions of the tribes which have immigrated thence, there should exist on the Philippines near one another dissimilar though related peoples. This difference is not difficult to recognize in manners and customs—a side of the discussion which is further on to be treated more fully. We begin with physical characteristics.

Among these the hair occupies the chief place. To be sure, among all the Indios it is black, but it shows not the slightest approach to the frizzled condition which is such a prominent feature in the external appearance of the Negritos and of all the Papuan tribes of the East. This frizzled condition may be called woolly, or in somewhat exaggerated refinement in the name may be attributed to the term ‘wool,’ all sorts of meanings akin to wool; in every case there is wanting to all the Indios the crinkling of the hair from its exit out of the follicle, whereby would result wide or narrow spiral tubes and the coarse appearance of the so-called ‘peppercorn.’ The hair of all Indios is smooth and straightened out, and when it forms curves they are only feeble, and they make the whole outward appearance wavy or, at most, curled.

But within this wavy or curled condition of the hair there are again differences. In my former communication I called attention to examinations which I made upon a large number of islands in the Malay Sea, and in which it was shown that a certain area exists which begins with the Moluccas and extends to the Sunda group, in which the hair shows a strong inclination to form wavy locks, indeed passes gradually into crinkled, if not into spiral, rolls. Such hair is found specially in the interior of the islands, where the so-called aboriginal population is purer and where for a long time the name of Alfuros[3] has been conferred on them. On most points affinity with Negritos or Papuans is not to be recognized. Should such at any time have existed, we are a long way from the period when the direct causes thereof are to be looked for. In this connection the study of the Philippines is rich with instruction. In the limits of the almost insular, isolated Negrito enclave, mixtures between Negritos and Indios very seldom surprise one, and never the transitions that can have arisen in the post-generative time of development. [The island of Negros, on the contrary, is peopled by such crossbreeds.—Translator.]

If there are among the bright-colored islanders of the Indian Ocean Alfuros and Malays close together there is nothing against coming upon this contrast in the Philippine population also. Among the more central peoples the tribal differences are so great that almost every explorer stumbles on the question of mixture. There not only the Dayaks and the other Malays obtrude themselves, but also the Chinese and the Mongolian peoples of Farther India. Indeed, many facts are known, chiefly in the language,[4] the religion, the domestic arts, the agriculture, the pastoral life which remind one of known conditions peculiarly Indian. The results of the ethnologists are so tangled here that one has to be cautious when one or another of them draws conclusions concerning immigrations, because of certain local or territorial specializations. Of course, when a Brahmanic custom occurs anywhere it is right to conclude that it came here from India. But before assuming that the tribe in which such a custom prevails itself comes from Hither or Farther India, the time has to be ascertained to which the custom is to be traced back. The chronological evidence leads to the confident belief that the custom and the tribe immigrated together.

Over the whole Philippine Archipelago religious customs have changed with the progress of external relations. Christianity has in many places spread its peculiar customs, observances and opinions, and changed entirely the direction of thought. On closer view are to be detected in the midst of Christian activities older survivals, as ingredients of belief which, in spite of that religion, have not vanished. Before Christianity, in many places, Islam flourished, and it is not surprising to witness, as on Mindanao, Christian and Mohammedan beliefs side by side. But, before Islam, ancestor worship, as has long been known, was widely prevalent. In almost every locality, every hut has its Anito with its special place, its own dwelling; there are Anito pictures and images, certain trees and, indeed, certain animals in which some Anito resides. The ancestor worship is as old as history, for the discoverers of the Philippines found it in full bloom, and rightly has Blumentritt[5] characterized Anito worship as the ground form of Philippine religion. He has also furnished numerous examples of Anito cult surviving in Christian communities.

Chronology has a good groundwork and it will have to observe every footprint of vanishing creeds. Only, it must not be overlooked that the beginning of the chronology of religion has not been reached, and that the origin of the generally diffused ancestor worship, at least on the Philippines, is not known. If it is borne in mind that belief in Anitos is widely diffused in Polynesia and in purely Malay areas, the drawing of certain conclusions therefrom concerning the prehistory of the Philippines is to be despaired of.

Next to religious customs, among wild tribes fashions are most enduring. Little of costume is to be seen, indeed, among them. Therefore, here tattooing asserts its sway. The more it has been studied in late years the more valuable has been the information in deciding the kinship relations of tribes. Unfortunately, in the Philippines the greater part of the early tattoo designs have been lost, and the art itself is also nearly eliminated. But since the journey of Carl Semper[6] it has been known that not only Malays but also Negritos tattoo; indeed, this admirable explorer has decided that the ‘Negroes of the East Coast’ practise a different method of tattooing from that of the Marivales in the west, and on that account they attain different results. In the one case a needle is employed to make fine holes in the skin in which to introduce the color; in the other long gashes are made. In the latter case prominent scars result; in the former a smooth pattern. But these combined patterns are on the whole the same, instead of rectilinear figures. Schadenburg has the operations commence with a sharpened bamboo on children 10 years of age.[7] Among the wild tribes of the light-colored population tattooing is not less diffused, but the patterns are not alike in the different tribes. Isabelo de los Reyes reports that[8] the Tinguianes, who inhabit the mountain forests of the northern Cordilleras of Luzon, produce figures of stars, snakes, birds, etc., on children 7 to 9 years old. Hans Meyer describes the patterns of the Igorrotes.[9] There appears to exist a great variety of symbols; for example, on the arms, straight and crooked lines crossing one another; on the breast, feather-like patterns. Least frequently he saw the so-called Burik designs, which extended in parallel bands across the breast, the back, and calves, and give to the body the appearance of a sailor's striped jacket. It is very remarkable that the human form never occurs.

What is true concerning tattooing on so many Polynesian islands holds also completely here. But reliable descriptions are so few, and especially there is such a meager number of useful drawings, that it would not repay the trouble to assemble the scattered data. At least it will suffice to discover whether among them there are genuine tribal marks or to investigate concerning the distribution of separate patterns. Those known show conclusively that in the matter of tattooing the Filipinos are not differentiated from the islanders of the Pacific; they form, moreover, an important link in the chain of knowledge which demonstrates the genetic homogeneity of the inhabitants. The tattooings of the eastern islanders are comparable only to those of African aborigines, with which last they furnish many family marks, made out and recognized. It is desirable that a trustworthy collection of all patterns be made before the method becomes more altered or destroyed.

Next to the skin, among the wild tribes the teeth are modified in the most numerous artificial alterations. The preferable custom, common in Africa, of breaking out the front teeth in greater or less number has not, so far as I remember, been described among the Filipinos; I only mention that while I was making a revision of our Philippine crania, two of them turned up in which the middle upper incisors had evidently been broken out for a long time, for the alveolar border had shrunk into a small quite smooth ridge, without a trace of an alveolus. It is otherwise with the pointing of the incisors, especially the upper ones, which, also, is not common. I must leave it undecided whether the sharpening is done by filing or by breaking off pieces from the sides. The latter should be in general far more frequent. In every case the otherwise broad and flat teeth are brought to such sharp points as to project like those of the carnivorous animals. I have met with this condition several times on Negrito skulls and furnished illustrations of them.[10] On a Zambal skull, excavated by Dr. A. B. Meyer and which I lay before you, the deformation is easy to be seen. I called attention at the time to the fact that among the Malays an entirely different method of modifying the teeth is in vogue, in which a horizontal filing on the front surface is practised and the sharp lower edge is straightened and widened. Already the elder Thévenot has accentuated this contrast when he says:

“These cause the teeth to be equal, those file them to points, giving them the shape of a saw.”[11]

This difference appears to have held on till the present; at least no skull of an Indio is known to me with similar deformation of the teeth. This custom of the Negritos is so much more remarkable since the chipping of the corners of the teeth is widely spread among the African blacks.

The other part of the body used most for deformation—the skull—is in strong contrast to the last-named custom. Deformed crania, especially from older times, are quite numerous in the Philippines; probably they belong exclusively to the Indies. If they exist among the Negritos, I do not know it; the only exception comes from the Tinguianes, of whom J. de los Reyes reports their skulls are flattened behind (por detrás oprimido). Such flattening is found, however, not seldom among tribes who have the practise of binding children on hard cradle boards—chiefly among those families who keep their infants a long time on such contrivances. A sure mark by which to discriminate accidental pressure of this sort from one intentionally produced is not at hand; it may be that in accidental deformation oblique position of the deformed spot is more frequent; at any rate, the difference in the Philippines is a very striking one, since there not so much the occiput as the front and middle portions suffer from the disfigurements, and thereby deformations are produced that have bad their most perfect expression among the ancient Peruvians and other American tribes.

I have discussed cranial deformation of the Americans in greater detail, where I exhibit the accidental and the artificial (intentional) deformation in their principal forms.[12] The result is that in large sections of America scarcely any ancient skulls are found having their natural forms, but that the practise of deformation has not been general; moreover, a number of deformation centers may be differentiated which stand in no direct association with one another. The Peruvian center is far removed from that of the northwest coast, and this again from that of the Gulf States. From this it must not be said that each center may have had its own, as it were, autochthonous origin. But the method has not so spread that its course can be followed immediately. Rather is the supposition confirmed that the method is to be traced to some other time, therefore that somewhere there must have been a place of origin for it. On the Eastern Hemisphere, and especially in the region here under consideration, the relations are apparently otherwise. Here exist, so far as known, great areas entirely free from deformation; small ones, on the other hand, full of it. There are here, also, deformation centers, but only a few. Among these, with our present knowledge, the Philippines occupy the first place.

The knowledge of this, indeed, is not of long duration. Public attention was first aroused about thirty years ago concerning skulls from Samar and Luzon, gathered by F. Jagor from ancient caves, to furnish the proof of their deformation. Up to that time next to nothing was known of deformed crania in the oriental island world. First through my publication[13] the attention of J. G. Riedel, a most observant Dutch resident, was called to the fact that cranial deformation is still practised in the Celebes, and he was so good as to send us a specimen of the compressing apparatus for infants (1874).[14] Compressed crania were also found. But the number was small and the compression of the separate specimens was only slight. In both respects what was observed in the Sunda islands did not differ from the state of the case in the Philippines. Through Jagor's collections different places had become known where deformed crania were buried. Since then the number of localities has multiplied. I shall mention only two, on account of their peculiar position. One is Cagraray, a small island east of Luzon, in the Pacific Ocean, at the entrance of the Bay of Albay;[15] the other, the island of Marinduque, in the west, between Luzon and Mindoro. From the last-named island I saw, ten years ago, the first picture of one in a photograph album accidentally placed in my hands. Since then I had opportunity to examine the Schadenberg collection of crania, lately come into the possession of the Reichsmuseum, in Leyden, and to my great delight discovered in it a series of skulls which are compressed in exactly the same fashion as those of Lanang. It is said that these will soon be described in a publication.

It is of especial interest that this method has been noted in the Philippines for more than three hundred years. In my first publication I cited a passage in Thévenot where he says, on the testimony of a priest, that the natives on some islands had the custom of compressing the head of a newborn child between two boards, so that it would be no longer round, but lengthened out; also they flattened the forehead, which they looked upon as a special mark of beauty. This is, therefore, an ancient example. It is confirmed by the circumstance that these crania are found especially in caves, from the roofs of which mineral waters have dripped, which have overlaid the bones partly with a thick layer of calcareous matter. The bones themselves have an uncommonly thick, almost ivory, fossil-like appearance. Only the outer surface is in places corroded, and on these places saturated with a greenish infiltration. It is to be assumed, therefore, that they are very old. I have the impression that they must have been placed here before the discovery of the islands and the introduction of Christianity. Their peculiar appearance, especially their angular form and the thickness of the bone, reminds one of crania from other parts of the South Sea, especially those from Chatham and Sandwich Islands. I shall not here go further into this question, but merely mention that I came to the conclusion that these people must be looked upon as proto-Malayan.

The changes which will take place in the political condition of the Philippines may be of little service to scientific exploration at first; but the study of the population will be surely taken up with renewed energy. Already in America scholars have begun to occupy themselves therewith. A brief article by Dr. Brinton is to be mentioned as the first sign of this.[16] But should the ardent desire of the Filipinos be realized, that their islands should have political autonomy, it is to be hoped that, out of the patriotic enthusiasm of the population and the scientific spirit of many of their best men, new sources of information will be opened for the history and the development of oriental peoples. To this end it may be here mentioned, by the way, that the connecting links of ancient Philippine history and the customs of these islands, as well with the Melanesians as with the Polynesians of the south, are yet to be discovered.

As representatives of these two groups, I present, in closing, two especially well-formed crania from the Philippines. One of them, which shows the marks of antiquity that I have set forth, belongs to an Indio. It has the high cranial capacity of 1,540 cubic centimeters, a horizontal circumference of 525 millimeters, and a sagittal circumference of 386 millimeters; its form is hypsidolicho, quite on the border of mesocephaly: Index of width, 75.3; index of height, 76.3. Besides, it has the appearance of a race capable of development; only, the nose is platyrrhine (index, 52.3), as among so many Malay tribes, and in the left temple it bears a Processus frontalis squamae temporalis developed partly from an enlarged fontanelle. The other skull was taken from a Negrito grave of Zambales by Dr. A. B. Meyer. It makes, at first glance, just as favorable an impression, but its capacity is only 1,182 cubic centimeters; therefore 358 cubic centimeters less than the other. Its form is orthobrachycephalic; breadth index, 80.2; height index, 70.6. As in single traits of development, so in the measurements, the difference and the debased character of this race obtrude themselves. Only, the nasal index is somewhat smaller; on the whole, the nose has in its separate parts a decidedly pithecoid form.

  1. Sitzungsberichte der Königlichen Preussischen Akademie der Wissenschaften zu Berlin. Berlin, 1899, Vol. Ill, 19th January, pp. 14-26.
  2. Note.—A brief resume of these many mixtures is given in Tour du Monde, 27th May and 3d June, 1882; see also statement in this translation.—Translator.
  3. On this objectionable name, see supra. That the term does not connote hair characters cf. A. B. Meyer, Sitzungsb. d. Phil. Hist. Classe der kaiserlichen Akademie der Wissensch. Wien, 1882, Vol. CI, p. 550.—Translator.
  4. Don T. H. Pardo de Tavera, El sanscrito e la lengua tagalog. Paris, 1887.
  5. Der Ahnencultus und die religiosen Anschauungen der Malaien des Philippinen-Archipels. Wien, 1882, p. 2. (From Mittheil. der K. K. Geograph. Gesellschaft).
  6. Die Philippinen und ihre Bewohner. Würzburg, 1869, pp. 50, 137.
  7. Zeitschrift für Ethnologie, 1880, XII, p. 136.
  8. Die Tinguianen (Luzon). Translated from the Spanish by F. Blumentritt (Mitth. der K. K. Geograph. Ges. in Wien), 1887.
  9. Verhandl. der Berliner Gesellsch. für Anthropologie, 1883, p. 380.
  10. Abhandlung über alte und neue Schädel, in F. Jagor's Reisen in den Philippinen. Berlin, 1873, p. 374, Pl. II, figs. 4 and 5.
  11. G. A. Baer (Verhandl. d. Berliner Anthrop. Gesellschaft, 1879, p. 331) says that such an operation obtains only among Negritos of pure blood.
  12. Crania ethnica Americana. Berlin, 1892, p. 5, and figs.
  13. Zeitschr. für Ethnologie, 1870, Vol. II, p. 151.
  14. The same, III, p. 110, Pl. V, fig. 1; Verhandl. Anthrop. Ges., Vol. VI, p. 215; Vol. VII, p. 11; Vol. VIII, p. 69; Vol. IX, p. 276.
  15. Verhandl. der Berliner Anthrop. Gesellsch., 1879, Vol. XI, p. 422; 1889, Vol. XXI, p. 49.
  16. The Peoples of the Philippines, Washington, D. C., 1898. American Anthropologist.