Looking Back

Kalantiaw lives in textbooks

Arguments for and against the changing of the name of the country from Pilipinas to Filipinas prove that old habits truly die hard. We are a young country with many names: Islas Filipinas, Philippine Islands, P.I., (not the bad word), Republica Filipina, Republic of the Philippines, RP, The Philippines, Philippines, PH, Pilipinas, and Pinas.

In 1521, Magellan sighted Homonhon and called them Islas de San Lazaro. Had we kept that name we would be Lazareans or Lazaroans today.  Some sources refer to the Philippines as Islas del Poniente (Isles to the West); that would make us “Ponientas!” In 1543, Villalobos named Samar and Leyte in honor of the Spanish crown prince, the future Felipe II, hence “Felipenas,” which became the better sounding Filipinas. Felipe is Philip in English resulting in Philippines. It took two Ilocanos from Batac to suggest changing the name of the country: Artemio Ricarte preferred Islas Rizalinas or Rizaline Islands, while Ferdinand Marcos preferred Maharlika. How can we be a nation if we cannot even agree on the name of the country, or on a standardized recipe for adobo?


Another old (bad) habit that dies hard is the Code of Kalantiaw. Allegedly promulgated in Aklan in 1433, it was proven to be a 20th-century forgery by Jose E. Marco. Torn to shreds in 1968 by historian William Henry Scott and by a National Historical Institute declaration in 2004, Kalantiaw still lives as a Quezon City street name, and the fake code is still found in textbooks that tell students to decide for themselves! Here is the complete code, read and laugh:

Article I Ye shall not kill, neither shall ye steal nor shall ye hurt the aged, lest ye incur the danger of death. All those who this order shall infringe shall be tied to a stone and drowned in a river or in boiling water.


Article II Ye shall punctually meet your debt with your headman. He who fulfills not, for the first time shall be lashed a hundredfold, and if the obligation is great, his hand shall be dipped threefold in boiling water. On conviction, he shall be flogged to death.

Article III Obey ye: no one shall have wives that are too young, nor shall they be more than what he can take care of, nor spend much luxury. He who fulfills not, obeys not, shall be condemned to swim three hours and, for the second time, shall be scourged with spines to death.

Article IV Observe and obey ye: Let not the peace of the graves be disturbed; due respect must be accorded them on passing by caves and trees where they are. He who observes not shall die by bites of ants or shall be flogged with spines till death.

Article V Obey ye: Exchange in food must be carried out faithfully. He who complies not shall be lashed for an hour. He who repeats the act shall, for a day be exposed to the ants.

Article VI Ye shall revere respectable places, trees of known value, and other sites. He shall pay a month’s work, in gold or money, whoever fails to do this; and if twice committed, he shall be declared a slave.

Article VII They shall die who kill trees of venerable aspect; who at night shoot with arrows the aged men and the women; he who enters the house of the headman without permission; he who kills a fish or shark or striped crocodile.

Article VIII They shall be slaves for a given time who steal away the women of the headmen; he who possesses dogs that bite the headmen; he who burns another man’s sown field.


Article IX They shall be slaves for a given time, who sing while travelling at night, kill manaul  birds, tear documents belonging to the headmen; who are evil-minded liars; who play with the dead.

Article X It shall be the obligation of every mother to show her daughter secretly the things that are lascivious, and prepare them for womanhood; men shall not be cruel to their wives, nor should they punish them when they catch them in the act of adultery. He who disobeys shall be torn to pieces and thrown to the crocodiles.

Article XI They shall be burned, who by force or cunning have mocked at and eluded punishment, or who have killed two young boys, or shall try to steal the women of the agurangs (old men).

Article XII They shall be drowned, all slaves who assault their superiors or their lords and masters; all those who abuse their luxury; those who kill their anitos by breaking them or throwing them away.

Article XIII They shall be exposed to the ants for half a day, who kill a black cat during the new moon or steal things belonging to the headmen.

Article XIV They shall be slaves for life, who having beautiful daughters shall deny them to the sons of the headman, or shall hide them in bad faith.

Article XV Concerning their beliefs and superstitions: they shall be scourged, who eat bad meat of respected insects or herbs that are supposed to be good; who hurt or kill the young manaul bird and the white monkey.

Article XVI Their fingers shall be cut off, who break wooden or clay idols in their olangangs and places of oblation; he who breaks Tagalan’s daggers for hog killing, or breaks drinking vases.

Article XVII They shall be killed, who profane places where sacred objects of their diwatas or headmen are buried. He who gives way to the call of nature at such places shall be burned.

Article XVIII Those who do not cause these rules to be observed, if they are headmen, shall be stoned and crushed to death, and if they are old men, shall be placed in rivers to be eaten by sharks and crocodiles.

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TAGS: artemio ricarte, Code of Kalantiaw, Ferdinand Marcos, Filipinas, Jose E. Marco, Maharlika, National Historical Institute, Philippine history, Pilipinas, William Henry Scott
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