Coordinates: The Kedatuan of Madja-as or the Confederation of Madja-as (Kinaray-a: Kapunuan kang Madyas; Aklanon: Kapunuan it Madyas; Hiligaynon: Kahugpungan sang Madyas; Cebuano: Kahugpongan sa Madyas; Baybayin: ᜋᜇ᜔ᜌ᜵ᜀᜐ᜔), also known as Sri-Bisaya (Malayo-Sanskrit), was a pre-Hispanic Mandala in Panay, within the Visayas islands in what is now the Philippines, and was the oldest Srivijayan vassal in the archipelago, next to the Sulu Archipelago.
It was established by 10 leaders called Datus (then reduced to 9, since Datu Puti, their leader, disappeared). Datus were high officials (just rendered high-official during the invasion but before the Hindu invasion, Datus were considered co-equal Paramount Rulers of a Kedatuan). They were connected with the court of Indianized native kingdoms of Brunei and Srivijaya, who were forced to leave that land on account of enmity with the Rajah, who was ruling the land at that time. The Datus, together with their wives and children, as well as a few faithful servants and followers; monks, scholars, soldiers were secretly escorted out of the country by the Rajah's Chief Minister, whose name was Datu Puti. The local folklore says that the name of the Bornean Rajah was Makatunao.
They embarked on sailing rafts of the type used by the Visayans (the term used in the Malay settlements, of what is now Borneo and Philippines, to refer to Srivijayans) in Sumatra and Borneo. According to tradition, which survive in the local culture of Western Visayas, this seafaring vessel is called Balangay, from which Barangay, the smallest social unit in the present-day Philippines came from.
The semi-democratic confederation or Kedatuan was integrated to the Spanish Empire through pacts and treaties (c. 1569) by Miguel López de Legazpi and his grandson Juan de Salcedo. During the time of their hispanization, the principalities of the Confederation were already developed settlements with distinct social structure, culture, customs, and religion. Among the archaeological proofs of the existence of this Hiligaynon nation are the artifacts found in pre-Hispanic tombs from many parts of the island, which are now in display at Iloilo Museum. There are also recent discoveries of burial artifacts of eight-foot inhabitants of Isla de Gigantes, including extra-large Lungon (wooden coffins) and pre-Hispanic potteries. Another testimony of the antiquity of this civilization is the longest and oldest epic in the region, the Hinilawod, which must have been commonly known to the Visayans of Panay before the conquest, since its main protagonists, like Labaw Donggon, were noted in the accounts of the Islanders' beliefs by early Spanish colonizers. One of these Westerners' accounts says that the tales regarding adventures of this ancient hero of Panay were being retold during wedding celebrations in form of songs.
The term Bisayà was derived from the name of the 7th-century thalassocratic Srivijaya Empire in Sumatra. In Sanskrit, sri (श्री) means "fortunate," "prosperous," or "happy" and vijaya (विजय) means "victorious" or "excellence". (Sri-Bisayá) Sulu Archipelago and the Visayas Islands were once Buddhist and Hindu and were either subject states or tributaries of the empire.
Madja-as was a pre-colonial Indianized kingdom. According to ancient tradition recorded by P. Francisco Colin, S.J., an early Spanish missionary in the Philippines, the inhabitants of Panay island were originally from North Sumatra; especially from the polity of Pannai, after which the Island of Panay (called Ananipay by the Atis) was named (i and y being interchangeable in Spanish).
The polity of Pannai was a militant-nation allied under the Sri-Vijaya Mandala that defended the conflict-ridden Strait of Malacca. The small kingdom traded-with and simultaneously repulsed any unlicensed Chinese, Indian or Arab navies that often warred in or pirated the strait of Malacca and, for a small country, they were adept at taking down armadas larger than itself - a difficult endeavour to achieve in the strait of Malacca, which was among the world's most hotly contested maritime choke-point where, today, one half of world trade passes through. The naval power of Pannai was successful in policing and defending the straights of Malacca for the Mandala of Srivijaya until the Chola invasion of Srivijaya occurred, wherein a surprise attack from behind, originating from the occupied capital, rendered the militant polity of Pannai vulnerable from an unprotected assault from the back flank. The Chola invaders eventually destroyed the polity of Pannai and its surviving soldiers, royals and scholars were said to have been secreted-out eastwards. In their 450 years of occupying Sumatra, they refused to be enslaved to Islam, Taoism or Hinduism after the polity's dissolution. The people who stayed behind in Pannai, themselves, have an oral tradition wherein they said that the high-borne scholars, soldiers and nobles of Pannai, "fled to other islands."
|Pre-Colonial History of the Philippines|
|Ten datus of Borneo|
|States in Luzon|
|Rajahnate of Maynila|
|States in the Visayas|
|Kedatuan of Madja-as|
|Kedatuan of Dapitan|
|Rajahnate of Cebu|
|States in Mindanao|
|Rajahnate of Butuan|
|Sultanate of Sulu|
|Sultanate of Maguindanao|
|Sultanates of Lanao|
|History of the Philippines|
The following is the personal account of P. Francisco Colin, S.J., a historian during the early Spanish colonization of the Philippines, regarding his visit to Sumatra:
"In the middle of Sumatra, there is a spacious and extensive lake (presumably Lake Toba near Pannai), around the shore of which many and several ethnic groups settle, [and] from where, in the past, there was a forced exodus of inhabitants [constraining them] to sail to and to settle in various islands. One of these ethnic groups was subjugated there and they were unable to flee for various circumstances. Someone speaking pampango (which I heard before) found out that they were not speaking pampango among themselves, but they (the Malays of Sumatra) donned the old pampango ethnic costume. And when he addressed an old man among them, the [old man] replied: You are descendants of the lost, that in times past left this place to settle in other lands, and nothing was heard about them again." So, Colin concluded that the Tagalogs and Pampangos, and other political or ethnic groups (meaning: Visayans and other relatively civilized groups), by symbols used in expressing language, by color of dress and costume, one can believe that these came from parts of Borneo and Sumatra.
The phrase "subjugated ethnic groups" gives hint to the encroaching of the Majapahit Empire into the falling Srivijayan Empire, or perhaps to the Islamization of Sumatra, forcing the inhabitants to look for safer territories where they could preserve their freedom and culture.
This account of Fr. Colin's experience in Sumatra resonates the local tradition in the Visayan island of Panay, recorded in the Maragtas (book) and popularly known as the journey of the ten Datus from Borneo. It is good to note that the word "maragtas" in the Hiligaynon language means "history". Most probably, these high-borne scholars, soldiers and nobles of Pannai as well as the Datus and their families must have settled temporarily in parts of Borneo before finally reaching and deciding to settle in the Visayan Island, which later took the name of their original homeland. The local Panay tradition recounts that sailing northward from Borneo along the coast of Palawan, the ten Datus from Borneo crossed the intervening sea, and reached the island of Panay. They landed at the point, which is near the present town of Hamtik, Antique. Where they started the first settlement along the river of Malandog. They were able to reach the place directly because their small fleet was piloted by a sailor, who had previously visited these regions on a ship engaged in commerce and trade.
Some historians also affirm this Sumatran origin, observing that the Visayans derived their writing system from those of Toba, Borneo, Celebes, Ancient Java, and from the Edicts of the ancient Indian emperor Ashoka.
Soon after the expedition had landed, the Malay migrants from Borneo came in contact with the native people of the Island, who were called Atis or Agtas. Some writers have interpreted these Atis as Negritos. Other sources present evidence that they were not at all a dwarfed primitive people of Negrito type, but were rather tall, dark-skinned Indonesian type. These native Atis lived in villages of fairly well-constructed houses. They possessed drums and other musical instruments, as well as a variety of weapons and personal adornments, which were much superior to those known among the Negritos.
Negotiations were conducted between the newcomers and the native Atis for the possession of a wide area of land along the coast, centering on the place called Andona, at a considerable distance from the original landing place. Some of the gifts of the Visayans in exchange of those lands are spoken of as being, first, a string of gold beads so long that it touched the ground when worn and, second, a salakot, or native hat covered with gold. The term for that necklace (which survive in the present Hiligaynon language) is Manangyad, from the Hiligaynon term sangyad, which means "touching the ground when worn". There were also a variety of many beads, combs, as well as pieces of cloth for the women and fancifully decorated weapons (Treaty-Blades) for the men. The sale was celebrated by a feast of friendship between the newcomers and the natives, following which the latter formally turned over possession of the settlement. Afterwards a great religious ceremony and sacrifice was performed in honor of the settlers' ancient gods, by the priest whom they had brought with them from Borneo.
The Atis were the ones who referred to the Borneans as mga Bisaya, which some historians would interpret as the Atis' way of distinguishing themselves from the white settlers.
Following the religious ceremony, the priest indicated that it was the will of the gods that they should settle not at Andona, but rather at a place some distance to the east called Malandog (now a Barangay in Hamtik, Province of Antique, where there was both much fertile agricultural land and an abundant supply of fish in the sea. After nine days, the entire group of newcomers was transferred to Malandog. At this point, Datu Puti announced that he must now return to Borneo. He appointed Datu Sumakwel, the oldest, wisest and most educated of the datus, as chief of the Panayan settlement.
Not all the Datus, however, remained in Panay. Two of them, with their families and followers, set out with Datu Puti and voyaged northward. After a number of adventures, they arrived at the bay of Taal, which was also called Lake Bombon on Luzon. Datu Puti returned to Borneo by way of Mindoro and Palawan, while the rest settled in Lake Taal.
The descendants of the Datus who settled by Lake Taal spread out in two general directions: one group settling later around Laguna de Bay, and another group pushing southward into the Bicol Peninsula. A discovery of an ancient tomb preserved among the Bicols refers to some of the same gods and personages mentioned in a Panayan manuscript examined by anthropologists during the 1920s.
The original Panayan settlements continued to grow and later split up into three groups: one of which remained in the original district (Irong-irong), while another settled at the mouth of Aklan River in northern Panay. The third group moved to the district called Hantik. These settlements continued to exist down to the time of the Spanish regime and formed centers, around which the later population of the three provinces of Iloilo, Capiz, and Antique grew up.
The early Bornean settlers in Panay were not only seafaring. They were also a riverine people. They were very keen in exploring their rivers. In fact, this was one of the few sports they loved so much. The Island's oldest and longest epic Hinilawod recounts legends of its heroes' adventures and travels along the Halaud River.
An old manuscript Margitas of uncertain date (discovered by the anthropologist H. Otley Beyer) give interesting details about the laws, government, social customs, and religious beliefs of the early Visayans, who settled Panay within the first half of the 13th century. The term Visayan was first applied only to them and to their settlements eastward in the island of Negros, and northward in the smaller islands, which now compose the province of Romblon. In fact, even at the early part of Spanish colonialization of the Philippines, the Spaniards used the term Visayan only for these areas. While the people of Cebu, Bohol, and Leyte were for a long time known only as Pintados. The name Visayan was later extended to them around the beginning of the 1800s because, as several of the early writers state (especially in the writings of the Jesuit Lorenzo Hervás y Panduro published in 1801), albeit erroneously, their languages are closely allied to the Visayan "dialect" of Panay. This fact indicates that the ancient people of Panay called themselves as Visayans, for the Spaniards would have otherwise simply referred to them as "people of the Panay". This self-reference as Visayans as well as the appellative (Panay - a riminescence of the State of Pannai) that these people give to the Island manifest a strong sign of their identification with the precursor civilization of the Srivijayan Empire.
Grabiel Ribera, captain of the Spanish royal infantry in the Philippine Islands, also distinguished Panay from the rest of the Pintados Islands. In his report (dated 20 March 1579) regarding a campaign to pacify the natives living along the rivers of Mindanao (a mission he received from Dr. Francisco de Sande, Governor and Captain-General of the Archipelago), Ribera mentioned that his aim was to make the inhabitants of that island "vassals of King Don Felipe... as are all the natives of the island of Panay, the Pintados Islands, and those of the island of Luzon..."
Before the advent of the Spaniards, the settlements of this confederation already had a developed civilization, with defined social mores and structures, enabling them to form an alliance, as well as with a sophisticated system of beliefs, including a religion of their own.
The Datu Class was at the top of a divinely sanctioned and stable social order in a Sakop or Kinadatuan (Kadatuan in ancient Malay; Kedaton in Javanese; and Kedatuan in many parts of modern Southeast Asia), which is elsewhere commonly referred to also as barangay. This social order was divided into three classes. The Kadatuan (members of the Visayan Datu Class) were compared by the Boxer Codex to the titled Lords (Señores de titulo) in Spain. As Agalon or Amo (Lords), the Datus enjoyed an ascribed right to respect, obedience, and support from their Ulipon (Commoner) or followers belonging to the Third Order. These Datus had acquired rights to the same advantages from their legal "Timawa" or vassals (Second Order), who bind themselves to the Datu as his seafaring warriors. "Timawas" paid no tribute, and rendered no agricultural labor. They had a portion of the Datu's blood in their veins. The above-mentioned Boxer Codex calls these "Timawas": Knights and Hidalgos. The Spanish conquistador, Miguel de Loarca, described them as "free men, neither chiefs nor slaves". In the late 17th century, the Spanish Jesuit priest Fr. Francisco Ignatio Alcina, classified them as the third rank of nobility (nobleza).
To maintain purity of bloodline, Datus marry only among their kind, often seeking high-ranking brides in other Barangays, abducting them, or contracting brideprices in gold, slaves and jewelry. Meanwhile, the Datus keep their marriageable daughters secluded for protection and prestige. These well-guarded and protected highborn women were called Binukot, the Datus of pure descent (four generations) were called "Potli nga Datu" or "Lubus nga Datu", while a woman of noble lineage (especially the elderly) are addressed by the inhabitants of Panay as "Uray" (meaning: pure as gold), e.g., Uray Hilway.
The Visayans' supreme god was called Laon, which the colonizers identified with the Christian God, who is the Creator of all things. The Visayans believed that Laon lives in Mount Madja-as in Antique, which is his Ologan or abode and, therefore, which corresponds to the Christian heaven. From this religious perspective and worldview, the appellative of the Confederation is contextualized and understood.
Aside from the Supreme God, the Visayans also adored (either for fear or veneration) lesser gods called Diwatas (A local adaptation of the Hindu Devata). Early Spanish colonzers observed that some of these deities of the Confederation of Madja-as, have sinister characters, and so, the colonizers called them evil gods.These Diwatas live in rivers, forests, mountains, and the natives fear even to cut the grass in these places believed to be where the lesser gods abound. These places are described, even now (after more than four hundred years of Christianization of the Confederacy's territory), as mariit (enchanted and dangerous). The natives would make panabi-tabi (courteous and reverent request for permission) when inevitably constrained to pass or come near these sites. Miguel de Loarca in his Relacion de las Yslas Filipinas (Arevalo: June 1582) described them. Some are the following:
1. Deities invoked before going to war, or before plundering expeditions
-Balangaw or Varangao - Rainbow God
2. Macaptan or Captan- the god who dwells in the highest sky, in the world that has no end. He is a bad god, because he sends disease and death if has not eaten anything of this world, or has not drunk any pitarillas. He does not love humans, and so he kills them.
3. Lalahon - a goddess, who dwells in a volcano in Negros Island (Mt. Canlaon), from where she hurls fire. She is invoked for harvests. When she does not grant the people good harvest, she sends them locusts to destroy and consume the crops.
4. Gods of the lower regions or the abode of the dead:
5. Pandaque - the god to whom the natives made sacrifices and offerings in order to redeem the souls of the dead from Simuran and Siguinarugan.
6. Magwayan or Maguayen- the soul ferry god.
7. Sumpoy - the god sallies forth and take away the souls of the dead from Maguayen, once they arrive to the abode of the dead. Sumpoy leads these souls to the god Sisiburanen.
8. Sisiburanen - the god who keeps all the souls of the dead people from the coast lands of Cebu, Bohol and Bantay in the island of Burney (Borneo).
9. Sidapa - another god in the sky, who measures and determines the lifespan of all the new-born by placing marks on a very tall tree on Mt. Madja-as, which correspond to each person who come into this world. The souls of the dead inhabitants of the Confederation go to the same Mt. Madja-as.
Some Spanish colonial historians, like Isabelo de los Reyes y Florentino, would classify some heroes and demi-gods of the Panay epic Hinilawod, like Labaw Donggon, among these Diwatas.
In the above-mentioned report of Miguel de Loarca, the Visayans' belief regarding the origin of the world and the creation of the first man and woman was recorded. The narrative says:
The people of the coast, who are called Yligueynes, believed that the heaven and earth had no beginning and that there were two gods, one called Captan and the other Maguayen. They believed that the breeze and the sea were married; and that the land breeze brought forth a reed, which was planted by the god Captan. When the reed grew, it broke into two sections, from which came a man and a woman. To the man they gave the name Silalac, and that is the reason why men from that time on have been called lalac; the woman they named Sicavay, and henceforth women have been called babaye...
One day the man asked the woman to marry him for there were no other people in the world; but she refused, saying they were brother and sister, born of the same reed, with only one know between them. Finally, they agreed to ask the advice from the tunnies of the sea and from the doves of the earth. They also went to the earthquake, which said that it was necessary for them to marry, so that the world might be peopled.
The Visayans believed that when the time comes for a person to die, the diwata Ynaguinid visits him to bring about death. Magwayan, the soul ferry god, carries the souls of the Yligueynes to the abode of the dead called Solad. But when a bad person dies, the diwata Pandakesita brings him to the place of punishment in the abode of the dead, where his soul will wait to move on to the Ologan or heaven. While the dead is undergoing punishment, his family could help him by asking the priests or priestesses to offer ceremonies and prayers so that he might go to the place of rest in heaven.
Another god named Mangalo was worshipped by the natives, out of fear that he would inflict on them invisible lashes causing early unexplained death (hilaw nga kamatayon), other than sickness or old age.
The spiritual leaders of the confederation were called Babaylanes. Most of the Babaylanes were women who, for some reasons, the colonizers described as "lascivious" and astute. On certain ceremonial occasions, they put on elaborate apparel, which appear bizarre to Spaniards. They would wear yellow false hair, over which some kind of diadem adorn and, in their hands, they wielded straw fans. They were assisted by young apprentices who would carry some thin cane as for a wand.
Notable among the rituals performed by Babaylanes was the pig sacrifice. Sometimes chicken were also offered. The sacrificial victims were placed on well adorned altars, together with other commodities and with the most exquisite local wine called Pangasi. The Babaylanes would break into dance hovering around these offerings to the sound of drums and brass bells called Agongs, with palm leaves and trumpets made of cane. The ritual is called by the Visayans "Manganito".
To the Chinese, the people of Confederation of Madja-as were known as the Pisheya. This is a transliteration of the term Visaya or Bisaya, which gives a general reference to the people of the geographical location of the Confederation of Madja-as, the Visayan islands mentioned in the previous section of this article. In 1612, the Chuan-chou gazetteer specifically reported that the Pisheya consistently made raids against Imperial commerce and even warred against China's navy.
Antecedent to this raids, somethime between A.D. 1174 and 1190, a traveling Chinese government bureaucrat Chau Ju-Kua reported that a certain group of "ferocious raiders of China’s Fukien coast" which he called the "Pi-sho-ye," believed to have lived on the southern part of Formosa.
In A.D. 1273, another work written by Ma Tuan Lin, which came to the knowledge of non-Chinese readers through a translation made by the Marquis D’Hervey de Saint-Denys, gave reference to the Pi-sho-ye raiders, thought to have originated from the southern portion of Formosa. However, the author observed that these reaiders spoke a different language and had an entirely different appearance (presumably when compared to the inhabitants of Formosa).
A linguist, Terrien de Lecouperie, tried to resolve the inconsistency of attributing the Pi-sho-ye to the people of Formosa.In his writing of 1887, he posited the notion that Pi-sho-ye referred to nothing else than the Visayans.
The interpretation of de Lecouprie was later supported by another study made by Efren Isorena. This Filipino author uses language to show that of all the peoples south of Taiwan, it is only the Visayans have a long tradition of raiding. In fact, the Visayan word "mangayaw" or "pangayaw" literally means "to go raiding".
Asides from waging wars against the Chinese empire's navy and the Hinduized polities among their immediate neighbors, Madja-as was also in a state of intermittent conflict with the Kingdom of Tondo in Luzon and the Sultanate of Sulu in Mindanao. Sulu and Tondo (Both Vassals of the Bruneian Empire) considered Madja-as a formidable nation that, after some time, a certain Timway Orangkaya Su'il was mentioned by the second page of tarsila (of the Sulu Sultanate), said that he received four Bisaya slaves (People from the Confederation of Madja-as) from Manila (presumably Dynasty of Tondo) as a sign of friendship between the two countries. Evidently, both the Kingdom of Tondo and the Sulu Sultanate formed a coalition to wage war upon belligerent Madja-as, which they punished by conducting numerous slave raids into.
When the Spaniards came to the Visayas, they noted that the pirates among them are more terrifying than the Mohammedans of Jolo and Mindanao. All year long, after the harvest, they would sail toward faraway places to hunt slaves and make surprise attacks on settlements. Those who do not live along the rivers, would make their raids in the months of February, March, April, October and November, going deeper into the interior parts of the islands, sacking the villages. This raiding expeditions are called "Panggubat" (noun) or "Manggubat" (gerund verb form). Nevertheless, Madja-as has always been a naval power back when their predecessor polity, Pannai defended and policed the conflict-ridden strait of Malacca or their current incarnation as the Confederation of Madja-as which was almost always in a state a war with most of its neighbors and had reciprocated the kidnapping and enslaving of its people by disrupting the inter-island commerce of its enemies. The migration to Panay from Sumatra is verified with linguistic evidence. However, despite all the warlike exploits of Visayans, they are also known to be soft, graceful and noble in mien and speech. Subsequently, Visayan participation in Spanish colonization, which supplied the bulk of the auxiliary and mercenary forces affixed to the Spaniards that conquered Manila (at that time closely connected with the Sultan of Brunei), was crucial in hispanizing the Philippine archipelago. Since both Luzon and Mindanao where already enemies of Madja-as, in a way, the hispanization of the whole Philippine archipelago was a triumph for the Visayans against their age-old enemies (the polities in Luzon and Mindanao).
When the Spaniards transferred the seat of the colonial government from Cebu to Panay, the principales received Miguel Lopez de Legaspi with extraordinary demonstration of affection. Immediately, he embarked to punish the Muslim Moro pirates of Jolo and Brunei who were attacking and causing outrages to the coastal towns of the Island.
Shortly after, two Datus from Aklan and Ibajay presented themselves to Legaspi and complained about the violence and outrages that the inhabitants of Mindoro, who were given to piracy, had caused upon their territories. Having assumed the responsibility to put his allies under his protection, the Spanish conquistador dispatched a group of his soldiers under the command of his grandson Don Juan de Salcedo, who sailed twenty leagues northward together with five hundred selected local warriors, in order to give a lesson to the pirates of Mindoro. He sought to land by night, cancelling his ships from the enemies' sight and, under the guide of a Datu of Panay who knows the way to the village of the pirates, he diligently maneuvered a surprise attack bringing along only two hundred native warriors. The siege was met with a vigorous resistance, but many inhabitants of Mindoro fell under Salcedo's hands. To those who survived the attack and lived, he granted liberty, after they paid a certain amount of gold. He chased others who were able to escape, as far as Lubang Island.
Loarca also observed the following concepts of the people in the domain of the Confederation with respect to the use of force:
According to the ancient inhabitants of the Confederation, the first man who waged war was Panas, son of Anoranor, who was grandson of the first human beings. He declared war against Mañgaran, on account of inheritance; and from that time date the first wars, because the people were divided into two factions, and hostility was handed down from father to son. They say that Panas was the first man to use weapons in fighting.
There are three cases, in which the natives regard war as just:
1. When a person goes to another village and there is put to death without cause.
2. When wives are stolen from their husbands.
3. When persons go in friendly manner to trade at any village, and there, under the appearance of friendship, are wronged and maltreated.
After conquering Manila, Miguel Lopez de Legaspi noted that aside from the rulers of Cebu and Manila, the other principales existing in the archipelago were either heads or Datus of the barangays allied as nations; or tyrants, who were respected only by the law of the strongest. From this system of the law of the strongest sprung intestinal wars, with which certain dominions annihilate one another. Attentive to these existing systems of government, without stripping these ancient sovereigns of their legitimate rights, Legaspi demanded from these local rulers vassalage to the Spanish Crown.
During the early years of Spanish colonization of the Philippines (c. June 1582), Miguel de Loarca, one of Legaspi's men made a brief reference to one of these alliances of sovereign barangays, the Confederation of Madja-as. Writing a report about the people of the Philippines, Loarca was describing the various beliefs in the archipelago regarding the dead. After indicating where the Pintados say they would go when they die, he went on to note that "... the "Arayas" (which is a certain alliance of villages), they say, go to a very high mountain in the island of Panay, called "Mayas", where their god Sidapa "possesses a very tall tree"... "There he measures the lives of all the new-born, and places a mark on the tree; when the person's stature equals this mark, he dies immediately."
Sidapa is indeed one of the deities in the pantheon of gods and goddesses of ancient Panay, whose memories are preserved in the folklore of the secluded Suludnon of this island. "Mayas" is nothing but a corrupted name of Mt. Madja-as used by early Spanish settlers in the Archipelago; and the word Arayas is most probably a Spanish misconception (as they often misinterpreted what they heard from the natives) of the Hiligaynon words Iraya or taga-Iraya, or the current and more popular version Karay-a (highlanders - people of Iraya [highlands]), in contrast with the people of the coasts or people of the Ilawod ("los [naturales] de la playa"), whom Loarca called Yligueynes (or the more popular term Hiligaynon, currently referred to as "Siná").
By this time, the Hiligaynons (people of the coasts) were mostly reduced as vassals of Spain, either by the so-called "pacts of peace" or by force. In the hinterlands or "Sulod" of Panay (Ilaya), the "Karay-a" or "Araya" people (Karay-a-speaking) of the remnant villages of the Confederation managed to preserve their autonomy and culture, far from the reach of the Spanish canons and muskets.
The fact presented by the observations of Loarca is: there was indeed a confederation of barangays that was existing when the Spaniards began to take control of Panay, which centuries earlier the first settlers from Borneo referred to as the island of "Madya-as".
In the oral tradition and epics of the people of Panay hinterlands, there still remain traces of the times of their close interaction with their confederate allies in the coastlands, especially in the revered cultural treasure of the Tumandok of Panay hinterlands, the Hinilawod.
At the beginning of the Spanish conquest, the inhabitants of the island numbered 50,000. But it was observed that this number was immediately reduced to half upon the coming of the Spaniards. Although the phenomenon was attributed to terrible famine, nothing was said about islanders dying in great number. The coincidence of this phenomenon with another observation about the existence of the mundos, a third race in Panay (aside from the Visayans, and the Agtas or negritos), supports the fact regarding the massive evacuation of the Visayans of Panay to the hinterlands. Isabelo de los Reyes y Florentino, historian during the later part of the 20th-century colonial Philippines, described the mundos as Visayans, who committed crimes and went to the mountains for fear of punishment or of being reduced to cruel slavery. It was noted that these mundos would descend and attack the towns of the valleys. This colonial historian's description of the local inhabitants contradicts the initial observation of the first Spanish conquerors regarding the Visayans of Panay as "peaceful people, open to conversion". The fact that a large number of them (forming another race) would go to the mountain because of "crimes committed" and, later, would attack the valleys leads to a plausible explanation that a considerable portion of the citizens of the Confederation, who would not give up their independence and culture, chose to preserve what they had in the mountains of Panay, and would, for some time, fight to regain their homeland.
Later, the derogatory appellation (mundo) has come into disuse and gave way to the more suitable term Bukidnon. In 2014, researchers from a university in Iloilo discovered certain secluded villages of Iraynon tribes of Panay Bukidnon in the hinterlands of Antique, which have maintained their centuries-old capacity for self-reliance and self-sufficiency, having minimal contact with the people of Ilawod (people of the coastal towns and villages). A good number of these tribes developed capabilities of utilizing the harsh conditions of remote mountains transforming them into productive settlements, also building centuries-old rice terraces, which is perhaps a cultural instinct they share with the people of Sumatra.
The Spaniards landed in Batan (in Panay's northeastern territory, which is currently called Province of Aklan), in 1565. The Chief of this place, Datu Kabnayag, relocated his capital to what is now called "Guadalupe". Afterwards, however, the datus were overpowered by the Spaniards. Following the Spanish conquest, the locals became Christians. Father Andres Urdaneta baptized thousands of Aklanons in 1565, and consequently these settlements of the Confederation was renamed Calivo.
Legazpi then parceled Aklan to his men. Antonio Flores became encomiendero for all settlements along the Aklan River and he was also appointed in charge of pacification and religious instruction. Pedro Sarmiento; was appointed for Batan, Francisco de Rivera; for Mambusao, Gaspar Ruiz de Morales; and for Panay town, Pedro Guillen de Lievana.
Later (in 1569), Miguel López de Legazpi transferred the Spanish headquarters from Cebu to Panay. On 5 June 1569, Guido de Lavezaris, the royal treasurer in the Archipelago, wrote to Philip II reporting about the Portuguese attack to Cebu in the preceding autumn. A letter from another official, Andres de Mirandaola (dated three days later - 8 June), also described briefly this encounter with the Portuguese. The danger of another attack led the Spaniards to remove their camp from Cebu to Panay, which they considered a safer place. Legazpi himself, in his report to the Viceroy in New Spain (dated 1 July 1569), mentioned the same reason for the relocation of Spaniards to Panay. It was in Panay that the conquest of Luzon was planned, and launched on 8 May 1570.
In 1716, the old Sakup (Sovereign Territory) of Aklan completely fell under the Iberian control, and became Spanish politico-military province under the name of Capiz. And so it remained for the next 240 years. 
During the early part of the Spanish colonization of the Philippines, the Spanish Augustinian Friar Gaspar de San Agustín, O.S.A. described Panay as: "...very similar to that of Sicily in its triangular form, as well as in its fertility and abundance of provision. It is the most populated island after Manila and Mindanao, and one of the largest (with over a hundred leagues of coastline). In terms of fertility and abundance, it is the first... It is very beautiful, very pleasant, and full of coconut palms... Near the river Alaguer (Halaur), which empties into the sea two leagues from the town of Dumangas..., in the ancient times, there was a trading center and a court of the most illustrious nobility in the whole island."
Miguel de Loarca, who was among the first Spanish settlers in the Island, also made one of the earliest account about Panay and its people according to a Westerner's point of view. In June 1582, while he was in Arevalo (Iloilo), he wrote in his Relacion de las Yslas Filipinas the following observations:
The island is the most fertile and well-provisioned of all the islands discovered, except the island of Luzon: for it is exceedingly fertile, and abounds in rice, swine, fowls, wax, and honey; it produces also a great quantity of cotton and abacá fiber.
"The villages are very close together, and the people are peaceful and open to conversion. The land is healthful and well-provisioned, so that the Spaniards who are stricken in other islands go thither to recover their health."
The Visayans are physically different from the Malays of Luzon, and can be distinguished by the fact that Visayans are fairer in complexion. Because of this trait, there was an old opinion about these Visayans originating from Makassar.
"The natives are healthy and clean, and although the island of Cebu is also healthful and had a good climate, most of its inhabitants are always afflicted with the itch and buboes. In the island of Panay, the natives declare that no one of them had ever been afflicted with buboes until the people from Bohol - who, as we said above, abandoned Bohol on account of the people of Maluco - came to settle in Panay, and gave the disease to some of the natives. For these reasons the governor, Don Gonzalo Ronquillo, founded the town of Arevalo, on the south side of this island; for the island runs north and south, and on that side live the majority of the people, and the villages are near this town, and the land here is more fertile."
"The Ilongga women distinguish themselves in courage, exhibiting feats that are beyond the expectations of their gender.
"The island of Panay provides the city of Manila and other places with a large quantity of rice and meat... As the island contains great abundance of timber and provisions, it has almost continuously had a shipyard on it, as is the case of the town of Arevalo, for galleys and fragatas. Here the ship Visaya was launched."
Another Spanish chronicler in the early Spanish period, Dr. Antonio de Morga (Year 1609) is also responsible for recording other Visayan customs. Customs such as Visayans' affinity for singing especially among their warrior-castes as well as the playing of gongs and bells in naval battles.
Their customary method of trading was by bartering one thing for another, such as food, cloth, cattle, fowls, lands, houses, fields, slaves, fishing-grounds, and palm-trees (both nipa and wild). Sometimes a price intervened, which was paid in gold, as agreed upon, or in metal bells brought from China. These bells they regard as precious jewels; they resemble large pans and are very sonorous. They play upon these at their feasts, and carry them to the war in their boats instead of drums and other instruments.
The American anthropologist-historian William Henry Scott, quoting earlier Spanish sources, in his book "Barangay: Sixteenth Century Philippine Culture and Society", also recorded that Visayans were a musically minded people who sang almost all the time, especially in battle, saying:
Visayans were said to be always singing except when they were sick or asleep. Singing meant the extemporaneous composition of verses to common tunes, not the performance of set pieces composed by musical specialists. There was no separate poetic art: all poems were sung or chanted, including full-fledged epics or public declamations. Singing was unaccompanied except in the case of love songs, in which, either the male or female singers accompanied themselves with their respective instruments, called kudyapi or korlong. Well-bred ladies were called upon to perform with the korlong during social gatherings, and all adults were expected to participate in group singing on any occasion.
According to local oral legends and the book entitled Maragtas, early in the 13th century, ten datus of Borneo (Sumakwel, Bangkaya, Paiburong, Paduhinog, Dumangsol, Dumangsil, Dumaluglog, Balkasusa, and Lubay, who were led by Datu Puti) and their followers fled to the sea on their barangays and sailed north to flee from the oppressive reign of their paramount ruler Rajah Makatunaw, at the time of the destruction of the Srivijayan Empire. They eventually reached Panay island and immediately settled in Antique, creating a trade treaty with the Ati hero named Marikudo, and his wife Maniwantiwan, from whom they wanted to purchase the land. A golden salakot and long pearl necklace (called Manangyad) was given in exchange for the plains of Panay. The Atis relocated to the mountains, while the newcomers occupied the coasts. Datu Bangkaya then established a settlement at Madyanos, while Datu Paiburog established his village at Irong-irong (Which is now the city of Iloilo) while Datu Sumakwel and his people crossed over the Madja-as mountain range into Hamtik and established their village at Malandong. Datu Puti left the others for explorations northwards after ensuring his people's safety. He designated Datu Sumakwel, being the eldest, as the commander-in-chief of Panay before he left.
By 1213, Datu Sumakwel invoked a council of datus to plan for common defense and a system of government. Six articles were adopted and promulgated, which came to be known as Articles of Confederation of Madja-as.
The confederation created the three sakups (Sovereign territories) as the main political divisions, and they defined the system of government, plus establishing rights of individuals while providing for a justice system.
As a result of the council, Datu Paiburong was formally installed as commander-in-chief of Irong-irong at Kamunsil, Sumakwel of Hamtik at Malandog, and Bangkaya of Aklan at Madyanos.
Bangkaya ruled his sakup from Madyanos according to local customs and the Confederation of Madja-as' articles. The first capital of Aklan was Madyanos. Commander-in-chief, Datu Bangkaya then sent expeditions throughout his sakup and established settlements in strategic locales while giving justice to this people.
After his election as commander-in-chief of Aklan, Bangkaya transferred his capital to Madyanos, for strategic and economic reasons and renamed it to Laguinbanwa.
Bangkaya commissioned his two sons as officers in the government of his sakup. He appointed Balengkaka in charge of Aklan, and Balangiga for Ilayan. Balangiga had twin sons, Buean and Adlaw, from which Capiz (Kapid) was originally named, before the Spaniards came.
The center of government of the Confederation was Aklan, when Sumakwel expired and Bangkaya succeeded him as leader of Panay. Bangkaya was then replaced by Paiburong. Aklan returned to become the center of Confederation again, when Paiburong expired and was replaced by Balengkaka.
|Datu Puti||Aklan||13th century||1212|
|Datu Sumakwel||Malandong (in Antique)||1213||?|
|Datu Paiburong||Irong-Irong (now Iloilo)||?||?|
|Datu Lubay||San Joaquin||?||?|