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Beliefs

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THE SUPERNATURAL BELIEFS OF PRE-SPANISH FILIPINOS by Felix Fojas October 13, 2012

The supernatural beliefs of ancient Filipinos can be gleaned from the writings of Spanish conquistadores, historians, and missionaries. At the time of colonization, the population of the Philippines was estimated to be 700,000–based on the census of tributes implemented by Governor Gomez Perez Dasmariñas whose term of office only lasted three years from 15901593. According to Fr. Pedro Chirino, Antonio de Morga and other Spanish writers, the ancient Filipino believed in a supreme being called Bathala, the creator of heaven and earth, and all living things. Under this allpowerful god was a pantheon of lesser gods like the Visayan goddess of harvest and fire Lalahort; the Bagobo god of war Darago, and Apolaki, the Pangasinan god of war. Pre-Spanish Filipinos also worshipped the spirits of their ancestors called anitos. They carved wooden or stone idols to represent their gods and anitos, which they kept in their homes and propitiated with food, animals and other sacrifices to bring about success in war, a bountifuI harvest, or a happy marriage. However, not all anitos were benevolent. Bad anitos existed in the shapes of the spirits of dead tribal enemies. In A Short History of the Philippines, the Filipino historian Nicolas Zafra states: Besides the Supreme God, there were lesser gods or spirits. They were called anitos. There was an anito of the forests and mountains. They prayed to him whenever they went out to those places to hunt or get timber. There was an anito of the planted field who they invoked for good harvest. There was an anito of the seas. They prayed to him for good luck in their fishing expeditions and in their voyages. There was an anito of the house, too. They invoked him when someone was sick or when a child was born. Concerning the religious beliefs of early Filipinos another Filipino historian, Gregorio Zaide, in his book History of the Filipino People, notes:...