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The peopling of the Philippines: A cartographic synthesis

Jean-Christophe Gaillard[1] and Joel P. Mallari[2]

Abstract: This paper aims to plot cartographically the different theories proposed to explain the peopling of the Philippines. The first map locates the existing Pleistocene and Paleolithic archaeological sites while the next seven figures compile the different theories dealing with the evolution or dispersal of the Austronesian speakers. A final figure tends to summarize and formalize the different approaches of the Austronesian dispersal.


The way the Philippine islands have been peopled has long been a controversial ground. As soon as they set foot on this “dust of islands” at the western edge of the Pacific Ocean, the Spaniards tried to explain the presence of different kinds of people that they respectively called Negrillos (now known as Negritos), Indios (non-Negritos pagans) and Moros (Muslims) (Colin 1903-09). During the 19th century a new classification of people came out. This includes Negritos, Proto-Malays (or Indonesians) and Deutero-Malays (or Malays), for whom J. Montano (1886) and F. Blumentritt (1882) were among the main defenders. Noteworthy is that, in his reference work on the Malay Archipelago, Wallace (1890) only referred to Malay and Negrito people. This above-mentioned arrangement first included the notion of waves of migrations that would have come successively into the Philippines. In 1897, R. Virchow (1899) made the first critical assessment of the existing data about the peopling of the Philippines and explored new ways in physical anthropology using skull analysis data. Two years later, in 1899, Wilhelm Schmidt first referred to the family of languages spoken from Taiwan to New Zealand and Madagascar to Eastern Islands as “Austronesian” – a term which marked the beginning of a new era of research and which is being used up to this time. Indeed, with the rapid development of sciences like archaeology,

References: 1999 Southeast Asia Before History. In Tarling, N, Ed., The Cambridge History of Southeast Asia – Vol. 1: From Early Times to c. 1500. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, pp. 55-136.

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