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Ronalyn Cuyco

on 7 February 2017

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Juan de Plasencia
Author's Background
Customs of the Tagalogs
(Las costumbres de los indios Tagalos de Filipinas)

Historical Background
of the Document
Relevance to
Contemporary Times
Juan de Plasencia
Converted natives, taught catechisms, and organized towns and barangays in the Philippines.
Promoted the understanding of both the Spanish language among the natives, and the local languages among the missionaries, to facilitate the task of spreading Christianity.
Arrival in the Philippines
Came with the first batch of Franciscan missionaries in the Philippines in 1577.
Born in the 16th century to the illustrious family of the Portocarreros in Plasencia in the region of Extremadura, Spain.
His real name is Joan de Puerto Carrero, del convento de Villanueva de la Serena
He was a Spanish Friar of the Franciscan order.
Said to have been inspired to be a Franciscan because of his upbringing spent during a spiritual and religious resurgence affected by Spain's siglo de oro.
Well reputed as the one who took the leading role in fostering the spread of primary education.
Initiated the Reduccion Policy - Policy to reduce or resettle natives in central locations
Some of his works aimed to put an end to some injustices being committed against the natives by certain government officials.

Life in the Philippines
Started preaching in Laguna de Bay and Quezon areas as early as two months upon arrival in Manila.
Also preached in provinces in Bulacan and Rizal.
Elected as the custos of the friars in May 23, 1584 and held it until 1588.
Passed away in Liliw, Laguna in the year 1590.
Literary Works

Arte de la Lengua (Art of Language)
Coleccion de frases tagala (Collection of Tagalog Phrases)
Catecismo de la Doctrina Cristiana (1581)
-Translated the Christian Doctrines in Tagalog
Diccionario Tagalog (1580)
La Santina (1585) - Opus on prayer and meditation
Relacion de las Costumbres de Los Tagalos (1589) - First Civil Code of the Philippines
Customs of the Tagalogs (Juan de Plasencia)

After receiving your Lordship’s letter, I wished to reply immediately; but I postponed my answer in order that I might first thoroughly inform myself in regard to your request, and to avoid discussing the conflicting reports of the Indians, who are wont to tell what suits their purpose. Therefore, to this end, I collected Indians from different districts – old men, and those of most capacity, all known to me; and from them I have obtained the simple truth, after weeding out much foolishness, in regard to their government administration of justice, inheritances, slaves, dowries. It is as follows: ………………………………………………………..
Others, perchance, may offer a more extended narrative, but leaving aside irrelevant matters concerning government and justice among them, a summary of the whole truth is contained in the above.

Customs of the tagalogs is a part (either chapters or subsections) of longer monographs written by the chroniclers of the Spanish expeditions to the Philippines during the early 16th and 17th centuries. They appeared initially in Blair and Robertson’s 55 volumes, The Philippine Islands (1903) and in the Philippine Journal of Sciences (1958).
• The original work itself is a product of observations and judgments. Therefore, it is probable that Juan de Plasencia’s work might contain partiality in presenting his observations and judgments.
It has continued to serve as the basis for historical reconstructions of Tagalog society.
• Many of the 16th century beliefs and practices are still present today.
• It affirms that during the pre-Hispanic period, Filipinos already have a government as well as set of beliefs and practices.
• Some of our perceptions on Filipino beliefs and practices are somehow no different from Juan de Plasencia's point of view.
– the chief who governed the
people and were captains in their wars
whom they obey and reverence.
– a family of parents and children, relations and slaves.



Situation 1:
Those who are maharlicas on both the
father’s and mother’s side continue to be
so forever, and if it happens that they should
become slaves, it is through marriage.
Situation 2:

If maharlicas had children among their slaves, the children and their mothers became free.

Situation 3:
If maharlicas had children by the slave-woman of another, the slave-woman was compelled when pregnant, to give her master half of a gold tael.
In this case, half of the child was free if the father (Maharlica) recognized him. If not, the child will become a whole slave.

Situation 4 :
If a free woman had children by a slave they were all free, provided he were not her husband.

Situation 5:
If two persons married, of whom one was a maharlica and the other a slave (namamahay or sa guiguilir) the children were divided.
• Odd birth order (1st, 3rd, 5th,…..)
- belong to the father
• Even birth order (2nd, 4th, 6th,…..)
- belong to the mother
• Only child
- Half free, half slave
• Maharlicas could not after marriage move from one village to another without paying a certain fine in gold (ranging from one to three taels and a banquet to the entire barangay) as arranged among them.
Special case
When one married a woman of another village, the children were afterwards divided equally between the two barangays.
• Investigations made and sentences passed by the dato must take place in the presence of those his barangay.
They had laws by which they condemned to death a man of low birth who insulted the daughter or wife of a chief; likewise witches, and others of the same class.

Dowries are given by men to the women’s parents before marriage. If the parents are both alive, they both enjoy the use of it.
Divorce and dowries
Death of wife or husband
Dowry and arranged marriage
I am sending the account in this clear and concise form because I had received no orders to pursue the work further. Whatever may be decided upon, it is certainly important that it should be given to the alcades-mayor, accompanied by an explanation; for the absurdities which are to be found in their opinions are indeed pitiable.
May our Lord bestow upon your Lordship His grace and spirit, so that in every step good fortune may be yours; and upon every occasion may your Lordship deign to consider me your humble servant, to be which would be the greatest satisfaction and favor that I could receive. Nagcarlan, October 21, 1589.

Fray Juan de Plasencia

Worship of the Tagalogs
 no temples
 simbahan- temple or place of adoration
 pandot or a festival celebrated
 sibi
 sorihile
 nagaanitos

 Bathala
 Lic-ha
 Dian masalanta (patron of lovers and of generation)
 Lacapati and Idianale (patrons of cultivated lands and of husbandry)
 Tala
 Seven little goats (the Pleiades)
 Mapolon (change of seasons)
 Balatic (greater Bear)
 Buaya
 Tigmamanuguin –bird
 No established division of years, months, and days
 Catolonan (officiating priest)
 offerings and sacrifices
 Belief on bearingchild


1. Catalonan
2. Mangangauay (witches)
3. manyisalat
4. mancocolam
5. Hocloban
6. Silagan
7. Magtatangal
8. Osuang
9. Mangagayoma
10. Sonat
11. Pangatahojan
12. Bayoguuin

 manner of burying the dead of the tagalogs
 manner of burying dead of the Aetas or Negrillos
 maca
 casanaan
 sitan
 tigbalaang
 patianac
Pre-conquest society were not swept by the advent of the Spanish regime
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