Archaeological evidence indicates that small seafaring communities existed throughout the Philippine Archipelago for at least 2000 years, prior to the arrival of the Spaniards. The chief means of trading was barter. Records show that Chinese merchants came to the Philippines to trade porcelain, silk and metal ware in exchange for gold, pearls, beeswax and medicinal plants, which the Philippines is naturally rich in.
Excavations also unearthed gold ingots, known as piloncitos, the first recognized form of coinage in the country. Piloncitos are small and bead-like pieces of solid gold that (and weigh from 0.09 to 2.65 grams of fine gold AND A Large piloncitos weighing 2.65 g approximate the weight of one mass) , magnified in photographs, look very impressive. The term piloncito comes from the word pilon, a local sugar container that resembles the coin. They are engraved with the Brahmanic character "ma" which looks like an upside down "R". We can only guess that this character refers to the pre-colonial kingdom of Ma-yi which is roughly the Philippines we know today.
Barter rings in different sizes, gold ornaments and beads were the other objects used as medium of exchange during the period.
Piloncitos have been excavated from Mandaluyong, Bataan, and the banks of the Pasig River, Batangas, Marinduque, Samar, Leyte and some areas in Mindanao. They have been found in large numbers in Indonesian archeological sites leading to questions of origin. Were piloncitos made in the Philippines or imported? That gold was mined and worked here is evidenced by many Spanish accounts, like one in 1586 that said: “The people of this island (Luzon) are very skillful in their handling of gold. They weigh it with the greatest skill and delicacy that have ever been seen. The first thing they teach their children is the knowledge of gold and the weights with which they weigh it, for there is no other money among them.”
Manila became the...