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Tracing The Migration of Our Ancestors

Migration map of our ancestors
The distribution and migration of Austronesian speaking people. Beyond the Solomon Islands, the Austronesian speakers appear to have been the first human populations.

The Philippine archipelago has always been underestimated in its role on the early migrations and movement of the peoples in Island Southeast Asia and the Pacific. Until the current archaeological work that done in the Batanes areas (Dizon 2007; Hung et al. 2007; Bellwood and Dizon 2005; Bellwood, Anderson, Dizon and Stevenson 2003), it was believed that the early peopling of the Philippines was through a “wave of migrations” coming from Indonesia and Malaysia from about 10,000 years ago (Beyer 1947;1948), although some other researchers had earlier disagreed with this, such as (Jocano 1967; Fox 1970; Solheim 1981), however, without further substantial archaeological evidence. Generally, it is still taught in the Philippine textbooks and schools that the early Filipinos were Aetas, and the more recent populations were coming from Indonesia and Malays (the Aetas have another story). Recent archaeological and other scientific studies now points to the reverse of this idea. The present peoples of the Philippines were of Austronesians in origin where the homeland could probably be Southern China and Taiwan who migrated first around 5,000 years ago and reaching Itbayat and other islands of the Batanes at least some 4,500 years ago and continuing their voyage to the rest of Luzon ie. Lallo area in Cagayan Valley . Austronesian is a very large language family formerly known as the Malayo-Polynesian language. This language is comparable to the Indo-European language family, like French, Spanish, Italian etc., only that it has more speakers and more wide spread in Southeast Asia and the Pacific, ie. Ilocano, Kapampangan, Tagalog, Bahasa (Malay, Indonesia ), Bisaya, etc., including Chamorro spoken in the Marianas (Saipan, Guam, Rota , Tinian etc.). There are about more than 350 million Austronesians speakers now in the world! The Polynesian language is related to the Austronesian languages.

In order for people to move and occupy the vast islands of both Southeast Asia and the Pacific, one very important and significant technology is needed, and this is the Boat-Building capacity and technology. Researchers believe that after the initial crossing of the Austronesians from Taiwan to Batanes and the rest of Luzon, their boat-building technology was greatly developed and improved here in the Philippines, learning from their experience and so building better boats that would allow them to move further in all directions, southward, eastward, westward and also to go back northward where they came from. Following this argument, it can be said that the early people who occupied the Philippine archipelago were the one responsible in moving to Indonesia, Malaysia, the Marianas and to some extent in the south-easterly islands of Polynesia by around 3,500 to 3,000 years ago. This should be a big pride for the present Filipinos, who are still great voyagers until the present time. Perhaps, the Filipinos have the most seamen in the world among with the Indonesians.

By: Dr. Eusebio Z. Dizon