Three of these artifacts that showcase early Filipino writings are: 1) The Laguna Copperplate; 2) The Calatagan Pot; and 3) The Butuan Silver Strip. What is exciting is two of these three artifacts have recently been deciphered.
Found in 1989 in the mouth of the Lumbang river, a subsidiary of the Laguna de Bay, the Laguna copperplate is very exciting because the text mentions dates, names of people and towns that still exist today. This crushes arguments that the artifacts with writings are rare because they were just brought to the Philippines during trade. Obviously, the Laguna Copperplate was made by the inhabitants of old Philippines. It was determined that the date written in the text corresponds to Monday, April 21, 900 C.E.. The translation of the text was facilitated because the writing is related to an ancient Indonesian script called kavi. The text itself is a mixture of Sanskrit, Old Malay and Old Tagalog hinting to Hindu influences even before the muslims arrived. Obviously, there is a lot of the Philippines prehispanic history that is not known.
The Laguna Copperplate was translated in 1990 by Antoon Postma, a Dutch expert in ancient Philippine scripts and Mangyan writing, and Dr. Johann de Casparis, an expert in ancient Indonesian scripts.
Long Live! Year of Siyaka 822, month of Waisaka, according to astronomy. The fourth day of the waning moon, Monday. On this occasion, Lady Angkatan, and her brother whose name is Buka, the children of the Honourable Namwaran, were awarded a document of complete pardon from the Commander in Chief of Tundun, represented by the Lord Minister of Pailah, Jayadewa.
By this order, through the scribe, the Honourable Namwaran has been forgiven of all and is released from his debts and arrears of 1 katî and 8 suwarna before the Honourable Lord Minister of Puliran, Ka Sumuran by the authority of the Lord Minister of Pailah.
Because of his faithful service as a subject of the Chief, the Honourable and widely renowned Lord Minister of Binwangan recognized all the living relatives of Namwaran who were claimed by the Chief of Dewata, represented by the Chief of Medang.
Yes, therefore the living descendants of the Honourable Namwaran are forgiven, indeed, of any and all debts of the Honourable Namwaran to the Chief of Dewata.
This, in any case, shall declare to whomever henceforth that on some future day should there be a man who claims that no release from the debt of the Honourable...If you want to read more about the Laguna Copperplate, visit A Philippine Leaf
The Calatagan pot is the first pre-hispanic artifact with writing to be found (Hector Santos, A Philippine Leaf). The authenticity of the pot has been questioned ever since it was found in the 1960s in Calatagan, Batangas. Noone had been able to decipher it for a long time, all they know is that it shows a similarity to older scripts used in Indonesia, suggesting that Philippine scripts may have evolved earlier than what was originally thought. Recently, the pot has been deciphered by Dr. Ramon Guillermo of UP Diliman. This success is a significant step in understanding the Philippines vague prehispanic history.
Calatagan Pot translation:
Sinikap sabihin ni ina
Para sa iyo mahal kong anak
Kumain ka sa aking dulang
Dibdib ko ‘tong mabango
Doon ika’y mabasa
Tulad ng bulaklak
Click here if you want to read the paper of Dr. Ramon Guillermo and here if you want to read more about the Calatagan pot.
Butuan Sliver Strip
Found in Butuan in the mid seventies inside a wooden coffin by treasure hunters. The script is also similar to the ancient Indonesian script, Kavi. Unlike the first two artifacts mentioned, the Butuan Silver Strip have not yet been deciphered. But isn't it exciting to think that there were many different kinds of scripts used before the spanish arrived suggestive of a rich prehispanic culture?
Click here if you want to read more about the Butuan Silver Strip.
Butuan Silver strip photo from www.bibingka.com
Laguna copperplate photo from Wikipedia
Catalagan pot photo from A page of Philippine Prehistory
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