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The Maragtás kon (historia) sg pulô nga Panay kutub sg iya una nga pamuluyö, tubtub sg pag-abut sg mga taga Borneo nga amó ang ginhalinan sg mga bisayâ, kag sg pag-abut sg mga Katsilâ or Maragtas is a collection of pre-Hispanic Visayan legends written by Pedro Alcantara Monteclaro in 1907 and published in the same year by Kadapig sang Banwa (Advocate of the Town) Salvador Laguda. It was printed by El Tiempo Press, Iloilo.

In English, the book's title translates to "Maragtas or (history) of Panay Island from the first inhabitants, until the arrival of the Borneans from which the Bisayans are descended, to the arrival of the Spaniards."

Monteclaro wrote the book in Hiligaynon and Kinaray-á, the languages of his hometown Miag-ao in south Panay. The word "maragtas" was unfamiliar to many until he used it in the book; until the present, the word "maragtas" is primarily associated with his book, and his use of the word has led to confusion and controversy.



The legends in the Maragtas recount the tale of 10 datus who fled the tyrannical rule of Sultan Makatunaw of Borneo in the early 1200s. With their families, these datus set sail aboard balangays and found Panay, where they settled. Eventually, these datus conquered other territories outside Panay. These datus are traditionally held to be the ancestors of modern-day Visayans and, some historians argue, Batanguenos.

Monteclaro's book has seven chapters, excluding his foreword, Laguda's introduction, and an epilogue.

Chapter 1

This chapter describes the rich social and political culture of the Atis of Panay, including their customs, clothes, dialect, heredity, and organization. Monteclaro makes special mention of Marikudo, son of old Chief Polpulan.

Chapter 2

This chapter narrates the journey of the 10 Bornean datus who fled the rule of the tyrant Sultan Makatunaw. Datu Puti and his wife, Pinangpangan, and the nine other datus, namely Sumakwel, Dumangsil, Lubay, Balinsuna, Bangkaya, Paiburong, Dumangsul, Dumalugdog and Paduhinog boarded their balangays and landed on an island called Aninipay (Panay). The datus called it the island of Madya-as (Paradise).

As a sign of peace, the datus offered the Atis bales of cloth, jewels, and other tributes. To Marikudo's wife, Maniwangtiwang, the Borneans gave a golden salakot (hat) and trinkets. These seemed to please the Atis, who allowed the Borneans to settle in the lowlands. A big celebration soon followed wherein the foreigners painted their fair skin with soot to look like their hosts. This event was called the Barter of Panay, which is still celebrated to this day in the form of Ati-Atihan.

Chapter 3

This chapter focuses on Datu Sumakwel. When he went on a quest to find the local deity Bulalakaw, he left his belongings and the care of his wife, Kapinangan, to his right-hand man Gurung-Gurung. Unfortunately, he discovered that his wife was having an affair with Gurung-gurung. Instead of going on his quest, he hid in the ceiling of their house and killed Gurung-Gurung with a spear. He then watched his wife mutilate the body of Gurung-gurung so as to dispose of it. The next day, Sumakwel brought home some fish and asked his wife to prepare and slice it. His wife was insulted that he could ask her to do such thing. Sumakwel replied that he knew how well she could butcher a man.

Chapter 4

This chapter continues with the history of the datus after they settled in Panay. After the datus and their followers got settled in the lowlands, Datu Puti, his wife, and some of his followers sailed back to Borneo, leaving Datu Sumakwel in charge. Soon after, the datus made agreed to new political arrangements, which gave rise to the Confederation of Madya-as. Eventually, some of the datus sailed to find lands of their own, some reaching as far as Luzon.

Chapter 5

This chapter describes the language and culture of the Bornean settlers, including their clothing, customs, wedding rites, funerals, and cockfights, as well as the personal characteristics of the Bornean datus. It also describes the Bornean's timekeeping techniques and the calendars that they used.

Chapters 6 and 7

These chapters list Spanish officials in the Philippines between 1637 and 1808.


Monteclaro's use of the word "maragtas" in his title became the subject of controversy, as some historians considered his accounts to be true. These include Henry Otley Beyer, founder of the Anthropology Department of the University of the Philippines, who referred to Maragtas in his Outline Review of Philippine Archaeology of 1949, thus: "A remarkable ancient document known as the 'Maragtas', dating probably from about 1225, ...preserved in Panay and transliterated into romanized Visayan in the early Spanish days."

Others doubted the historical accuracy of the Maragtas, among them historian William Henry Scott. In his doctoral dissertation at the University of Santo Tomas, Scott stated that Maragtas was not an actual ancient document but a collection of legends that had been passed on from one generation to another. He suggested that some of these tales were concocted by Monteclaro himself.

Monteclaro stated in his foreword to Maragtas, translated by Scott in Prehispanic Source Materials for the Study of Philippine History (Revised Edition, 1984), that he had been reluctant to write the book. He also stated that the book was not a by-product of his imagination, but was based on old manuscripts that he found, including a manuscript from the old papers of his grandfather which had been hidden in a bamboo tube. The other manuscript was given to him by the first teacher of the town, an 82-year-old man who inherited a very old manuscript from his father, one that had supposedly been handed down in his family for generations.

Similarly, Monteclaro's publisher, Laguda, wrote in his Introduction of Maragtas that the book should not be considered "as containing facts all of which are accurate and true, because many of his data do not tally with what we hear from old men." He also mentioned that the book is based on scattered sources written by friars who tried to keep a record of what they had done and seen in the island of Panay.

A book, Historia de los primeros datos, written by Father Thomas Santaren in 1858 and published in 1902, could have very well been used by Monteclaro as one of his sources. Santaren's book was supposedly translated from documents dating back from the 1800s.

Maragtas Today

Due to Scott’s dissertation, many textbook writers changed the information presented in their books with regard to the Maragtas. Some, however, did not, including Gregorio Zaide, one of the historians present at Scott’s defense of his thesis. Zaide still included information from the Maragtas in such books as The Pageant of Philippine History (1979), History of the Republic of the Philippines (1983) and Philippine History (1984) which he co-authored with his daughter, Sonia Zaide.

Suggested Readings

  • "Visayan ethnography paper No. 25." Encarnacion J. Gonzaga, Natividad Rosado, Ramón P. Locsin and Ismael Golez, 1916. H. Otley Beyer Collection.
  • "Maragtas." Eva M. Bayoneta. In Supplementary readings on A short history of the Filipino people by Teodoro Agoncillo, 1960.
  • A pre-Spanish history of the Island of Panay, translated for the Research Commission from the vernacular version of Pedro Monteclaro. Manuel Carreon, 1943. Philippine Executive Commission, Department of Education, Health and Public Welfare, Manila. Typewritten.
  • "A pre-Spanish history of the Island of Panay." Manuel Carreon, July and August 1944. Philippines Review, vol. 2, No. 4 and No. 5. Reprinted as "Maragtas: pre-Spanish history of the Island of Panay" in Encyclopedia of the Philippines by Zoilo M. Galang, 2nd edition, revised, Vol. 15, 1950.




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