Filipinos Before the Spanish Era
Long before the Spaniards came, the Philippines was already inhabited by natives. And among the natives of the Island were the Negritos. Characteristically, the Negritoes were short and dark skinned people. They had curly hair, small nose and were thick-lipped. These natives were barely clothed as clothing for them consists of the bahag and a jacket-like upper for men. They wore neither shoes nor slippers but go about barefooted. Their women adorn themselves with ornaments while their men usually tattoo themselves.
The natives of the Island lived in small huts more popularly known as bahay kubo. These small huts were usually made of bamboo and the roofs made of nipa, resources that are readily available and abundant in the Philippines. For their livelihood, the natives depended on fishing since the Philippines is mostly coastal. However, the natives also went hunting for food. This is because the Philippines is known for being rich in natural resources. Thus, food was never a problem for the natives as the island is abundantly endowed.
Like any tribe or group of people, the natives were very communal and thus lived in small communities known as the balangay. Each balangay was headed by a leader called the datu or raj. The Datu or the Raj was usually a brave and respected leader who is expected to protect his community from outside attack. It is also the leader’s responsibility to maintain peace and order within the community. Thus, the Datu or the Raj resolves whenever conflicts arise between and among his constituents.
This system is the earliest known form of government which has now been carried over to the present day Barangays. Even before the Spaniards came and who claimed to have civilized the inhabitants of the island, the natives were already literate and civilized people. Manifestations of their civilization and literacy can be seen from the rules that govern the balangay. And there have been many other indications especially in their communities that these natives were literate people.