Zambal people

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Infobox Ethnic group Missing

The Sambal (Spanish: zambal) are the original Austronesian inhabitants of the province of Zambales and the city of Olongapo in the Philippines. They today comprise a tiny minority of the Zambaleño population, scattered across northern and central portions of the province. [1]



The Spanish, in their first encouters with the Sambal, supposedly found them to be highly superstitious and who worshipped the spirits of their ancestors. To this day, most Sambal still believe in superstitions and mysteries.

Like the Moros, the culture and customs of the Sambal are different from that of neighboring groups. This is evident in their traditional dress, which consists of a single-shoulder short-sleeved shirt, paired with short trousers. Usually worn at the chest and shoulder areas of the shirt are badges that resemble multicolored crosses. [2] The way they do their hair is also different. They shave off half of their head at the front, the remaining hair flowing from the top of the skull and hanging at the nape, and making their foreheads look wider.

The Sambal were known to be fierce warriors. [3] [4], notorious for their bloody raids on Christian settlements. [1] They have been occasionally recruited by Indio commanders (indio was the term used for the Austronesian inhabitants of the Philippines) in campaigns against the Spanish, who then governed the islands. The Sambal were also once known to have captured and enslaved Diego Silang as a child, eventually being ransomed by a Recollect missionary in Zambales. [5] [6]

It was recorded as customary for the Sambal to execute those who have taken another person’s life, unless done by decapitation. Their manner of execution was to bore a hole at the top of the skull and then scrape out the brains. [2]

During the first hundred years of Spanish rule, the Sambal, like most other non-Spanish groups in the Philippines during the colonial era, had their baranggay|village structures reorganized and were forced into reducciones in order to assimilate them into Catholicism and Spanish culture|Spanish cultural norms. [2]


Main article: Sambal language and Bolinao language

The Sambal speak Sambal or Bolinao, both of which are Sambalic languages. The Sambalic languages are most closely related to Kapampangan and to an archaic form of Tagalog still spoken in Tanay in the province of Rizal. This has been interpreted to mean that the Sambal originated from that area, later being displaced by migrating Tagalogs from Marinduque around 600 BC, pushing the original inhabitants northward to what is now the province of Zambales. [7], in turn, displacing the Aetas. Today, the vast majority of Sambalic-language speakers belong to the Ilocano and Tagalog ethnic groups, who predominate in the province.


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