On the Visayan Society

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NATURAL SCIENCE
Visayan society knew no schools or classrooms and because of this children became functioning adults through informal instructions within the family. In the fields of morals, most communities recognized some wise and persuasive elder as a king of pastor, PARAWALI-probably from Malay-Arabic WALI, “saint” who gave advice in household gatherings. Knowledge about the physical environment was learned from the parents. o the movement of heavenly bodies and change of seasons

o the direction of winds and recognition of storm signals o the nature and habits of different species in the animal kingdom (All such knowledge might be called NATURAL SCIENCE.)

ENVIRONMENT
The Visayas called their natural environment banwa, which meant mountains, countryside, terrain, climate, and homeland. During the colonial time the meaning was extended to mean town. Ex: “Naga binawa kami pag pakaon sa Hokom”

[We supply the alcalde (The mayor or chief judicial official of a Spanish town) with food, town by town in turn] o banwaan- overgrown
o napabanwa- gone to the hills
o binmanwa- a man who could take care of himself in the wild o banwaanun or tagubanwa- mountain dwelling spirit
The banwa covered every island from sea to sea including mangroves growing in salt water. Spanish explorers were often unable to see costal villages for the trees. A small Visayan population cut its settlement rather precariously out of this banwa but neither destroyed nor tamed it voracious vegetation was always ready to reclaim their fields and gardens as its crocodiles and pythons were ready to prey on their children and live stock. The Visayan child probably learned names and characteristics of wildlife from comparisons with human behavior. People who affected gaudy clothes were said to be like the brilliant big kakanog butterflies, evil omens that brought swiddening activities to a halt and abandonment of the site. Men who strutted around in blood-red pudong were red-headed piyak woodpeckers who pecked any branch they happened to light on, and this with an extra turn in their G-strings like piyas baby monkey, because monkeys tied their young to the breasts with rattan. Women who were not good mothers to their babies were like tabon birds or sea turtles which did not hatch their own eggs but buried them in the san to be incubated by the sun. A promising youth who died young was like the balitnung tree whose leathery bark was easily removed: a boastful man who promised much but delivered little was like a biribog crab that moved backwards; and if a man said he was like a giant tridacna clam in a certain place, he meant he would never move. And both the greedy or voracious, and the powerful that “swallowed up everything” were naturally called crocodile (buwaya) Later lessons included the information that all albinos- like a deer or turtle- were pangasa, bad luck, since their unnatural color must mean they were bewitched, and a person could be transformed into a best just by looking at an albino, or even by entering the house of somebody else who has seen one. It was taught too that a crocodile’s age could be determined from the number if pebbles found in is craw since it swallowed one a year as ballast, and they never hurt villagers on the same stream where they lived. Nevertheless, the actual danger of crocodiles was an everyday fact of village life. Many of these phenomena which would be rejected by modern science were accepted by well-educated missionaries in their day. Like all people in the 16th century, Visayan believed in an extensive menagerie of fabulous beasts, or ordinary beasts with fabulous qualities. Sampling below: VISAYAN BESTIARY

HEALTH & HYGIENE

• A feature of Filipino life which always attracted Spanish attention was their personal cleanliness, especially the frequency with which they took a bath. • Dr. Antonio Morga, considered it...
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