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The Code of Kalantiaw was a legendary legal code in the epic story Maragtas. It is said to have been written in 1433 by Datu Kalantiaw, a chief on the island of Negros in the Philippines. It was actually written in 1913 by Jose E. Marco as a part of his historical fiction Las antiguas leyendas de la Isla de Negros (Spanish, "The Ancient Legends of the Island of Negros"), which he attributed to a priest named Jose Maria Pavon.
In 1917, the historian Josué Soncuya wrote about the Code of Kalantiaw in his book Historia Prehispana de Filipinas ("Prehispanic History of the Philippines") where he moved the location of the Code's origin from Negros to the Panay province of Aklan because he suspected that it may be related to the Ati-atihan festival. Other authors throughout the 20th century gave credence to the story and the code.
In 1965, then University of Santo Tomas doctoral candidate William Henry Scott began an examination of prehispanic sources for the study of Philippine history. Scott eventually demonstrated that the code was a forgery committed by Marco. When Scott presented these conclusions in his doctoral dissertation, defended on 16 June 1968 before a panel of eminent Filipino historians which included Teodoro Agoncillo, Horacio de la Costa, Marcelino Foronda, Meceredes Grau Santamaria, Nicolas Zafra and Gregorio Zaide, not a single question was raised about the chapter which he had called The Contributions of Jose E. Marco to Philippine historiography. Scott later published his findings debunking the code in his book Prehispanic Source Materials for the Study of Philippine History. Filipino historians later removed the code from future literature regarding Philippine history. When Antonio W. Molina published a Spanish version of his The Philippines Through the Centuries as Centuries as historia de Filipinas (Madrid, 1984), he replaced the Code with one sentence: "La tésis doctoral del historador Scott desbarate la existencia misma de dicho Código" (The doctoral dissertation of the historian Scott demolishes the very existence of the Code).
Philippine historian Teodoro Agoncillo describes the Code as "a disputed document". Some history texts continue to present it as historical fact. Struggle for Freedom (subtitled A textbook on Philippine History) says, "Reproduced herein is the entire Code of Klaintiaw for your critical examination and for you to decide on its veracity and accuracy."
The story is still believed by people in the central provinces. Some maintain the opinion that this is due to mis-education. But taking into consideration that after the Spanish colonization, local literary achievements in culture and government in the former territories of the Confederation of Madya-as were eclipsed by the emphasis of the Spanish colonial regime on Catholic Christian faith, and the fact that Ilonggo litearary heritage was primarily orally passed from one generation to another, as in the case of the oldest and longest epic in Hiligaynon Hinilawod that survive in the Sulod society in the hinterlands of Panay, the local beliefs inherited by the Ilonggos from their ancestors cannot be just be hastily dismissed as fabricated. In fact, Maragtas and the Code of Kalantiaw are something that serious historians have to study more carefully. What Walter Scott failed to consider in his jusgement is the nature of the transmission of Ilonggo local literature. He just limited himself with evaluating a relatively recent attempt to into writing what Ilonggos have bequeathed to their descendants through generations by means of oral tradition.
You shall not kill, neither shall you steal, neither shall you do harm to the aged, lest you incur the danger of death. All those who infringe this order shall be condemned to death by being drowned in the river, or in boiling water.
You shall obey. Let all your debts with the headman be met punctually. He who does not obey shall receive for the first time one hundred lashes. If the debt is large, he shall be condemned to thrust his hand in boiling water thrice. For the second time, he shall be beaten to death.
Obey you: let no one have women that are very young nor more than he can support; nor be given to excessive lust. He who does not comply with, obey, and observe this order shall be condemned to swim for three hours for the first time and for the second time, to be beaten to death with sharp thorns.
Observe and obey; let no one disturb the quiet of the graves. When passing by the caves and trees where they are, give respect to them. He who does not observe this shall be killed by ants, or beaten to death with thorns.
You shall obey; he who exchanges for food, let it be always done in accordance with his word. He who does not comply, shall be beaten for one hour, he who repeats the offense shall be exposed for one day among ants.
You shall be obliged to revere sights that are held in respect, such as those of trees of recognized worth and other sights. He who fails to comply shall pay with one month's work in gold or in honey.
These shall be put to death; he who kills trees of venerable appearance; who shoot arrows at night at old men and women; he who enters the houses of the headmen without permission; he who kills a shark or a streaked cayman.
Slavery for a doam (a certain period of time) shall be suffered by those who steal away the women of the headmen; by him who keep ill-tempered dogs that bite the headmen; by him who burns the fields of another.
All these shall be beaten for two days: who sing while traveling by night; kill the Manaul; tear the documents belonging to the headmen; are malicious liars; or who mock the dead.
It is decreed an obligation; that every mother teach secretly to her daughters matters pertaining to lust and prepare them for womanhood; let not men be cruel nor punish their women when they catch them in the act of adultery. Whoever shall disobey shall be killed by being cut to pieces and thrown to the caymans.
These shall be burned: who by their strength or cunning have mocked at and escaped punishment or who have killed young boys; or try to steal away the women of the elders.
These shall be drowned: all who interfere with their superiors, or their owners or masters; all those who abuse themselves through their lust; those who destroy their anitos (religious icons) by breaking them or throwing them down.
All these shall be exposed to ants for half a day: who kill black cats during a new moon; or steal anything from the chiefs or agorangs, however small the object may be.
These shall be made slave for life: who have beautiful daughters and deny them to the sons of chiefs, and with bad faith hide them away.
Concerning beliefs and traditions; these shall be beaten: who eat the diseased flesh of beasts which they hold in respect, or the herb which they consider good, who wound or kill the young of the Manaul, or the white monkey.
The fingers shall be cut-off: of all those who break anitos of wood and clay in their alangans and temples; of those who destroy the daggers of the catalonans(priest/priestess), or break the drinking jars of the latter.
These shall be killed: who profane sites where anitos are kept, and sites where are buried the sacred things of their diwatas and headmen. He who performs his necessities in those places shall be burned.
Those who do not cause these rules to be obeyed: if they are headmen, they shall be put to death by being stoned and crushed; and if they are agorangs they shall be placed in rivers to be eaten by sharks and caymans.
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