Home Featured Article Ing kasalesayan ning Kapampangan (The history of Pampanga) Part 19

Ing kasalesayan ning Kapampangan
(The history of Pampanga)
Part 19

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TESTIMONIES OF Colin and Marsden

One of the earliest hints on the close relationships between Sumatrans and Pampangans was given by the famous seventeeth-century Jesuit missionary in the Philippines, Fr. Francisco Colin. Talking about a native of this province who found himself in Sumatra, Colin writes:

A member of one of these tribes, an observant Pampango (who told me all this himself), having been driven far from his course and wandering about in that land, noticed that the people spoke faultless Capampangan and wore the ancient dress of the Pampangos. And an old man whom he questioned about this replied, “You must be the descendants of the lost people, those who in times past set out from here to settle in other land. And who were never heard again”. (Colin-Pastells 1900: vol. 1: 16. De la Costa 1965: 2).

Recent anthropological findings have cast a dark shadow on the theory of that Sumatran old man. (Agoncillo & Guerrero 1977: 22-4). This article will therefore prescind from it. What is important here is the similarity in language and dress observed by the above-mentioned wanderer. And he was not alone in making this observation.

A British author, William Marsden, published a book on pre-Western Sumatra in 1783, where he makes the following perceptive remarks:

“The manners of the natives of the Philippines or Luzon Islands correspond in so many striking particulars with those of inland Sumatrans, and especially where they differ most from the Malays, that I think no doubt can be entertained, if not of a sameness of origin, at least of an intercourse and connection in former times which now no longer exists.” (Marsden 1966: 302). [Note: Marsden was in West Sumatra between 30 May 1771 and 6 July 1779 and was therefore in a position to write about “ the genuine Sumatran character” which, he says in his book, is “the immediate objects of my [Marsden’s] investigation.” (Ibid: 41)].

This context mentions the natives of Luzon in general. However, in line with the limited scope of the present discussion, the Philippine comparand is here narrowed down to the Pampangans, although, as will be noticed, some of what is said about them is sometimes also true with one or more of the other Filipino ethnic groups. As regards the Indonesian comparand, although the excerpt specifies only the Sumatrans, the present study will include the Javans.

(Abatan ya ing kasuglung)

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