10 Datus sailed from Borneo

The story of the 10 Datus was adopted into Philippine history from the book Maragatas written by Visayan historian Pedro Alcántara Monteclaro in 1907. The story of the Datus landing on Panay goes something like this, In the year 1212 a fleet of small boats (Balangays) sailed from Borneo through the Sulu Sea in search of a new home. They left to escape the tyrant Rajah Makatunaw of the powerful Majapahit Empire that overthrew the Sri Vijaya kingdom and took full control of trade through the Mulacca and Sumatra straits.

Decendents of the over throne Sri Vijaya kingdom, the ten datus sailed to the central part of the Philippines. Those islands are now known as the Visayan Islands. Visaya being derived from the name Sri Vijaya. The 10 Datus and their people landed on the island of Panay where they were met by the inhabitant Aetas. The Datus bartered with the leader of the Aetas for a wide strip of land along the coast. The gifts most noticeably popular were a string of gold beads called a Manangyad that when worn would touch the ground, and a native salakot hat covered with gold.  There were also a variety of beads, combs, fine cloth for the women and elaborately decorated weapons for the men.

Upon the Aetas acceptance of the newcomer's proposal a feast is celebrated every year to this date to commemorate that moment of friendship between the Aetas and the newcomers. Soon a settlement would be built and new villages would spread to other locations in the Visayan islands.

To have been a Datu one must have shown great warrior prowess and the ability to lead the people of his barangay. Chinese traders who came to the Philippine islands during the Song and Ming dynasty referred to the Datus as nobility.


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You can say Balangay or
you can say Barangay


Barangay and Balangay, were probably the first native words the Spaniards learned in the Philippines. The correlation between the two words, only separated by one letter, seems to indicate the mutual relationship of home, one by sea and the other on land. Where there are multiple dwellings and boats implies an organized neighborhood community.

Balangay
(Austronesian word for "sailboat")
The balangay is the most common wooden watercraft in the Philippines and throughout Southeast Asia. The building of this boat was passed down from generations of seafaring. A wooden sea craft is built with a system of intricately carved out planks joined together with pegs, no nails. The oldest excavation of a balangay was carbon dated back to 320 AD., evidence of pre-hispanic Philippines craftsmanship.

There is a celebration commemorating the coming of the early migrants that sailed on Balangay boats and settled in the central region of the Philippines. The festival is called the Balanghai Festival in Butuan,Agusan del Norte.



Barangay
(barangay originated from balangay)
A barangay is simply a group of dwellings governed by a leader, more than likely a Datu. Populations were recorded to be as large as 20,000 and were flourishing centers of trade along the coastal waterways. Contact with other cultures for trade consisted of the Japanese, Asian Indians, Arabs, and Chinese. Silk for spices was a popular trade between the Chinese and the indigenous natives of these islands.