Cultural Achievements of Pre-colonial Philippines - Art of War

Art of War

Further information: Filipino martial arts

High quality metal casting, artillery, and other metal works had been traditions throughout the ancient Philippines. The metal smith, or panday piray of Pampanga was skilled at making weapons, and many individuals with the surnames Viray and Piray are said to be descendants of people who were once members of the guild of smiths who followed the tradition of the panday pira.

Early Filipinos used small arquebuses, or portable cannons made up of bronze. Larger cannons, on the other hand, were made of iron and resembling culverins provided heavier firepower. The iron cannon at Rajah Sulaiman III's house was about 17 feet long and was made from clay and wax moulds.

Guns were also locally manufactured and used by the natives. The most fearsome among these native guns was the lantaka, or swivel gun, which allowed the gunner to quickly track a moving target. Some of the weaponry used by the natives was quite unusual. For instance, one weapon was the prototype of the modern-day yo-yo, and it returned to is owner after being flung at an opponent.

Swords were also part of the native weaponry. Making of swords involved elaborate rituals that were based mainly on the auspicious conjunctions of planets. The passage of the sword from the maker entailed a mystical ceremony that was coupled with superstitious beliefs. The lowlanders of Luzon no longer use of the bararao, while the Moros and animists of the South still continue the tradition of making kampilan and kris.

In addition to weaponry, the early Filipinos made good armor for use in the battlefield and built strong fortresses called kota or moog to protect their communities. The Moros, in particular, had armor that covered the entire body from the top of the head to the toes. The Igorots built forts made of stone walls that averaged several meters in width and about two to three times the width in height around 2000 BC.

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