What is a Barangay?


Barangay originated from the word “balangay”, a kind of sailboat that originally brought settlers of Malay stock from Borneo to the Philippines. It is known as the oldest watercraft found in the Philippines, carbon dated to 320 AD.

Balangay_Replica The balangay replica docked at CCP Harbor, Manila after its South East Asian expedition.

In the early Filipino settlements, the real social unit in the Philippine society is the barangay. It is a kinship group which evolved out of the manner the archipelago was colonized by early people.

The individual boatloads that settled in the Philippines consisted of a kinship group, a large family group whose head, the master of the boat, retained power as leader of the village established by his family. He was called datu who ruled them and led them in war and who they obeyed and respected.

Barangay villages sometimes grew to include some 30 to 100 families…

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The Coming of Islam in the Philippines


Islam was referred to as mohammedanism when I was growing up in the Philippines. There were several religious sects in the country and one of them was mohammedanism, not Islam. Mohammedans (Muslims) practiced mohammedanism. Most of the muslims lived in Mindanao and Sulu Archipelago. Spaniards called them moros because of their perceived resemblance to the Moors of North Africa.

The first Arab merchants to reach the Philippines were non-Muslims, but it’s believed that foreign Muslims had established a trading settlement on Jolo before 1300. Muslim missionaries had come from Arabia to Southeast Asia during the 13th century and were then aided by converted traders and adventurers.

Unlike the Chinese settlers who exercised substantial commercial power but little political influence, the traders that came from the south 200 years later introduced Islam, an influence that swept through the Sulu Archipelago.

By the mid-14th century, Islam had spread from Sumatra…

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Knollwood: The Estate and Its Owners

Long Island Past and Present

Knollwood 1 Knollwood with Garden Facade

“Knollwood”, one of architects ‘Hiss & Weekes’ most beautiful country-house commissions, was owned by a number of interesting personalities. It was built between 1906 and 1910 for Charles I. Hudson, a New York City stockbroker of the Gilded Age, at Muttontown on Long Island’s North Shore. The 60-room mansion had elements of Greek Revival, Italian Renaissance and Spanish styling with towering Ionic front columns with terraced garden and a dairy farm to satisfy his passion for raising Jersey cattle.

The house was palatially scaled and elegantly faced with smooth-dressed Indiana limestone, with design details borrowed from a variety of sources, including palaces and country estates by Palladio and Vignola built for Italian princes, and royal residences erected in France during the 17th and 18th centuries.

Inside, the house contained 30 rooms with paneling imported from England and marble fireplaces brought from Italy, as well…

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Philippine PreHispanic Relations With Neighboring Countries


Far East Ma[

The Philippines was ruled by various Asian empires during its early history. Trade with Indonesia, Borneo, mainland Southeast Asia, Japan, Persia and India developed shortly after the Ice Age and many merchants made the Philippines their base.

Between 1500 BC and 1440 AD, the Philippines traded with several Asian empires and from 200 to 1565, parts of the Philippines may have been ruled by Hindu-Malay empires, the Javanese Madjapahit empire, and the Ming Dynasty of China. From 1440 to 1565, Japan controlled northern Luzon, while Borneo and Brunei controlled the south.

By the time Magellan came in 1521, the Filipino people had evolved a distinct culture of their own, influenced in many ways by contact with Hindus, Chinese, Arabs and other neighboring countries.

Indian influence probably filtered into the Philippines indirectly, through Sumatra and Java. Some historians believe the first contact dates back to 800 BC, while others believe that…

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Languages of the Philippines


Philippine Alphabet Two kinds of ancient Filipino writing with approximate English equivalents 

About 87 different languages and dialects are spoken in the Philippines. The ten main ones are:

  1. Tagalog, spoken in Batangas, Manila, Mindoro, and most of Luzon;
  2. Sugbuhanon, in Cebu, and parts of Mindanao;
  3. Hiligaynon, in Negros Occidental and Iloilo;
  4. Samarnon, in Samar and Leyte;
  5. Bikol, in Camarines North and South;
  6. Pampangan, in Pampanga and Tarlac;
  7. Ilocano, in La Union and Ilocos;
  8. Maguindanao, in Cotabato;
  9. Maranao, in Lanao; and
  10. Tausug, spoken in Jolo, parts of Zamboanga City, Basilan, other parts of Mindanao, and the Sulu Archipelago.

The languages are basically of Austronesian or Malay-Polynesian origin, but many have assimilated words from Indian, Arabic, Chinese, Spanish and English. All these influences can be seen in many words of the Tagalog language. Nowadays, Filipinos use Taglish which is a mix of Tagalog and…

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The Lovers’ Rose


To all the romantics out there, here is one for you:

Love grandiflora rose
‘Love’ Grandiflora Rose – Photo Credit: Jackson & Perkins 


The Lovers’ Rose


The sweetest flower that blows

I give you as we part.

For you it is a rose,

For me it is my heart.


By Frederick Peterson (1859-1938)


Happy Valentine’s Day!


Until next time. Stop and smell the roses.





Battle of Bankusay Channel and Macabebe

A brave hero nearly forgotten!


Battle of Bankusay Battle of Bankusay, Painting by Dan Dizon. Courtesy of JDN Center for Kapampangan Studies. 

Bankusay refers to the Bankusay creek located off the north shore of Manila Bay. It was here where the bloody Battle of Bankusay took place in 1571, a battle which would immortalize the heroism and extraordinary courage of a young warrior whose name continues to elude the Filipino consciousness.

While several Filipino patriots sacrificed their lives and performed heroic deeds to free the Filipinos from foreign oppressors, some events and people remained unsung, not given proper credit or merely forgotten. Among the battles fought by Filipinos that seemed unremembered was the Battle of Bankusay on June 3, 1571. It was a naval engagement that marked the last or if not one of the last resistance of the natives against the Spanish Empire’s occupation and colonization of the Pasig River delta which had been the site of…

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