Models of migration to the Philippines

There have been several models of early human migration to the Philippines. Since H. Otley Beyer first proposed his wave migration theory, numerous scholars have approached the question of how, when and why humans first came to the Philippines. The current scientific consensus favors the "Out of Taiwan" model, which broadly match linguistic, genetic, archaeological, and cultural evidence.

Older theories

Beyer's Wave Migration Theory

The most widely known theory of the prehistoric peopling of the Philippines is that of H. Otley Beyer, founder of the Anthropology Department of the University of the Philippines. Heading that department for 40 years, Professor Beyer became the unquestioned expert on Philippine prehistory, exerting early leadership in the field and influencing the first generation of Filipino historians and anthropologists, archaeologists, paleontologists, geologists, and students the world over.[1] According to Dr. Beyer, the ancestors of the Filipinos came in different "waves of migration", as follows:[2]

  1. "Dawn Man", a cave-man type who was similar to Java man, Peking Man, and other Asian Homo erectus of 250,000 years ago.
  2. The aboriginal pygmy group, the Negritos, who arrived between 25,000 and 30,000 years ago via land bridges.
  3. The seafaring tool-using Indonesian group who arrived about 5,000 to 6,000 years ago and were the first immigrants to reach the Philippines by sea.
  4. The seafaring, more civilized Malays who brought the Iron Age culture and were the real colonizers and dominant cultural group in the pre-Hispanic Philippines.

There is no definite evidence, archaeological or historical, to support this migration theory, and the passage of time has made that more unlikely. Key issues with this theory include Beyer's reliance on 19th-century theories of progressive evolution and migratory diffusion that have been shown in other contexts to be overly simplistic and unreliable and his reliance on incomplete archaeological findings and conjecture.[3]

His claims that the Malays were the original settlers of the lowland regions and the dominant cultural transmitter now seem untenable, no subsequent evidence has emerged to support his "Dawn Man",[3] and improved bathymetric soundings have established that there was almost certainly not a land bridge to Sundaland,[4] although most of the islands were connected and could be accessed across the Mindoro Strait and Sibutu Passage. Writing in 1994, Philippine historian William Scott concluded that "it is probably safe to say that no anthropologist accepts the Beyer Wave Migration Theory today."[5]

A German scientist who has studied the Philippines, Fritjof Voss, has even argued that the present soundings are probably a generous overestimate of the earlier situation, as the Philippines have steadily risen over known geologic history.

Core Population Theory

The Sahul Shelf and the Sunda Shelf today. The area in between is called "Wallacea".

A less rigid version of the earlier wave migration theory is the Core Population Theory first proposed by anthropologist Felipe Landa Jocano of the University of the Philippines.[6] This theory holds that there weren't clear discrete waves of migration. Instead it suggests early inhabitants of Southeast Asia were of the same ethnic group with similar culture, but through a gradual process over time driven by environmental factors, differentiated themselves from one another.[7][8][9]

Jocano contends that what fossil evidence of ancient men show is that they not only migrated to the Philippines, but also to New Guinea, Borneo, and Australia. He says that there is no way of determining if they were Negritos at all. However, what is sure is that there is evidence the Philippines was inhabited tens of thousands of years ago. In 1962, a skull cap and a portion of a jaw, presumed to be those of a human being, were found in Tabon Cave in Palawan.[10]

The nearby charcoal from cooking fires have been dated to c.22,000 years ago. While Palawan was connected directly to Sundaland during the last ice age (and separated from the rest of the Philippines by the Mindoro Strait), Callao Man's still-older remains (c.67,000 B.P.) were discovered in northern Luzon. Some have argued that this may show settlement of the Philippines earlier than that of the Malay Peninsula.[10]

Jocano further believes that the present Filipinos are products of the long process of cultural evolution and movement of people. This not only holds true for Filipinos, but for the Indonesians and the Malays of Malaysia, as well. No group among the three is culturally or genetically dominant. Hence, Jocano says that it is not correct to attribute the Filipino culture as being Malayan in orientation.[6]

According to Jocano's findings, the people of the prehistoric islands of Southeast Asia were of the same population as the combination of human evolution that occurred in the islands of Southeast Asia about 1.9 million years ago. The claimed evidence for this is fossil material found in different parts of the region and the movements of other people from the Asian mainland during historic times. He states that these ancient men cannot be categorized under any of the historically identified ethnic groups (Malays, Indonesians, and Filipinos) of today.[6]

Other prominent anthropologists like Robert Bradford Fox, Alfredo E. Evangelista, Jesus Peralta, Zeus A. Salazar, and Ponciano L. Bennagen agreed with Jocano.[9][11] Some still preferred Beyer's theory as the more acceptable model, including anthropologist E. Arsenio Manuel.[9]

Modern theories

Chronological map of the Austronesian expansion[12]

Modern theories of the peopling of the Philippines islands are interpreted against the wider backdrop of the migrations of the Austronesian peoples. They comprise two major schools of thought, the "Out of Sundaland" models and the "Out of Taiwan" model. Of the two, however, the most widely accepted hypothesis is the Out-of-Taiwan model, which largely corresponds to linguistic, genetic, archaeological, and cultural evidence.[13] It has since been strengthened by genetic and archaeological studies that broadly agree with the timeline of the Austronesian expansion.[12][14][15][16]

Out of Sundaland

The various "Out of Sundaland" hypotheses, posited by a minority of modern authors and differing slightly in the details, is similar to F. Landa Jocano's "Core Population" hypothesis. However, instead of the Philippines, they assume the origin of the Austronesian peoples as being the now sunken Sundaland landmass (modern Sumatra, Java, Borneo, and the Malay Peninsula). These models have been criticized as relying only on mtDNA genetic data without accounting for admixture events, thus having results that mistakenly combine the much older Paleolithic Negrito populations with the newer Neolithic Austronesian peoples.[17][18]

Nusantao Maritime Trading and Communication Network

A notable model among the "Out of Sundaland" hypothesis is Wilhelm Solheim II's "Nusantao Maritime Trading and Communication Network". It posited an alternative model based on maritime movement of people over different directions and routes. It suggests that people with distant origins from 50,000 years ago in the area of present-day coastal eastern Vietnam and Southern China had moved to the area of the Bismarck Islands south and east of Mindanao and developed into the Austronesian cultures. They supposedly later spread among seafarers from the area to the rest of Island Southeast Asia and areas along the South China Sea. In support of this idea Solheim notes there is little or no indication that Pre- or Proto Malayo-Polynesian was present in Taiwan. According to Solheim, "The one thing I feel confident in saying is that all native Southeast Asians are closely related culturally, genetically and to a lesser degree linguistically."[19][20][21][22]

Out of Taiwan

The most widely accepted hypothesis today is the "Out of Taiwan" model, first proposed by Peter Bellwood. Although originally largely based on linguistic evidence, it has corresponded to archaeological, cultural, and genetic findings later on;[23] including whole genome sequencing data, rather than the mtDNA sequencing relied upon by "Out of Sundaland" proponents.[23][22]

In this hypothesis, the first Austronesians reached the Philippines at around 2200 BC from Taiwan, settling the Batanes Islands and northern Luzon. From there, they rapidly spread downwards to the rest of the islands of the Philippines and Southeast Asia, as well as voyaging further east to reach the Northern Mariana Islands by around 1500 BC.[12][24][23] They assimilated the earlier Negrito groups which arrived during the Paleolithic, resulting in the modern Filipino ethnic groups which all display various ratios of genetic admixture between Austronesian and Negrito groups.[22]

Multiple waves

A 2021 genetic study, which examined representatives of 115 indigenous communities, found evidence of at least five independent waves of early human migration. Negrito groups, divided between those in Luzon and those in Mindanao, may come from a single wave and diverged subsequently, or through two separate waves. This likely occurred sometime after 46,000 years ago. Another Negrito migration entered Mindanao sometime after 25,000 years ago. Two early East Asian waves (Austroasiatic and possible Austric) were detected, one most strongly evidenced among the Manobo people who live in inland Mindanao, and the other in the Sama-Bajau and related people of the Sulu archipelago, Zamboanga Peninsula, and Palawan. The admixture found in the Sama people indicates a relationship with the Lua and Mlabri people of mainland Southeast Asia, and reflects a similar genetic signal found in western Indonesia. These happened sometime after 15,000 years ago and 12,000 years ago respectively, around the time the last glacial period was coming to an end.[25]

Austronesians, either from Southern China or Taiwan, were found to have come in at least two distinct waves. The first, occurring perhaps between 10,000 and 7,000 years ago, brought the ancestors of indigenous groups that today live around the Cordillera Central mountain range. Later migrations brought other Austronesian groups, along with agriculture, and the languages of these recent Austronesian migrants effectively replaced those existing populations. Papuan ancestry was also detected among the ethnic Blaan and Sangir people of Mindanao, suggesting that there was westward expansion of peoples from Papua New Guinea into the Philippines. In all cases, new immigrants appear to have mixed to some degree with existing populations. The integration of Southeast Asia into Indian Ocean trading networks around 2,000 years ago also shows some impact, with South Asian genetic signals present within some Sama-Bajau communities.[25] After these initial migratory waves that occurred in the precolonial era, there were also modest scales of immigration from Europe and Latin America.[26][27][28] among Filipinos.

See also


  1. Zaide 1999, p. 32, citing Beyer Memorial Issue on the Prehistory of the Philippines in Philippine Studies, Vol. 15:No. 1 (January 1967).
  2. Zaide 1999, pp. 32–34.
  3. Zaide 1999, pp. 34–35.
  4. Scott 1984, pp. 1 and Map 2 in Frontispiece
  5. Scott, William H. Barangay: Sixteenth-century Philippine Culture and Society, p. 11. Manila University Press (Manila), 1994. ISBN 971-550-135-4. Accessed 14 May 2009.
  6. Antonio; et al. (2007). Turning Points I. Rex Bookstore, Inc. p. 65. ISBN 978-971-23-4538-8.
  7. Halili, Maria Christine N. (2004). Philippine History. Rex Bookstore. pp. 34–35. ISBN 978-971-23-3934-9. Retrieved 2011-03-03.
  8. Rowthorn, Chris, Monique Choy, Michael Grosberg, Steven Martin, and Sonia Orchard. (2003). Philippines (8th ed.). Lonely Planet. p. 12. ISBN 978-1-74059-210-9. Retrieved 2011-03-03.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  9. Samuel K. Tan (2008). A History of the Philippines. UP Press. p. 30. ISBN 978-971-542-568-1.
  10. Rosario S. Sagmit & Nora N. Soriano (1998). Geography in the Changing World. Rex Bookstore, Inc. p. 68. ISBN 978-971-23-2451-2.
  11. S. Lily Mendoza (2001). "Nuancing Anti-Essentialism: A Critical Genealogy of Philippine Experiments in National Identity Formation". In Lisa C. Bower; David Theo Goldberg (eds.). Between law and culture: relocating legal studies. University of Minnesota Press. p. 230. ISBN 978-0-8166-3380-7.
  12. Chambers, Geoff (2013). "Genetics and the Origins of the Polynesians". eLS. John Wiley & Sons, Inc. doi:10.1002/9780470015902.a0020808.pub2. ISBN 978-0470016176.
  13. Flessen, Catherine T. (November 14, 2006). Bellwood and Solheim: Models of Neolithic movements of people in Southeast Asia and the Pacific (Paper) (PDF). Trondheim, Sør-Trøndelag, Norway: Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU). Retrieved February 5, 2009. citing Bellwood 1997
  14. Melton, Terry; Clifford, Stephanie; Martinson, Jeremy; Batzer, Mark; Stoneking, Mark (December 1998). "Genetic Evidence for the Proto-Austronesian Homeland in Asia: mtDNA and Nuclear DNA Variation in Taiwanese Aboriginal Tribes". The American Journal of Human Genetics. 63 (6): 1807–1823. doi:10.1086/302131. PMC 1377653. PMID 9837834.
  15. Spriggs, Matthew (May 2011). "Archaeology and the Austronesian expansion: where are we now?". Antiquity. 85 (328): 510–528. doi:10.1017/S0003598X00067910. S2CID 162491927.
  16. Peter Bellwood; James J. Fox; Darrell Tryon, eds. (2006). The Austronesians: Historical and Comparative Perspectives. ANU E Press. ISBN 9781920942854.
  17. Simanjuntak, Truman; Pojoh, Ingrid H.E.; Hisyam, Mohammad, eds. (2006). Austronesian Diaspora and the Ethnogeneses of People in Indonesian Archipelago: Proceedings of the International Symposium. Indonesian Institute of Sciences. p. 107. ISBN 9789792624366.
  18. Blench, Roger (2016). "Splitting up Proto-Malayopolynesian: New Models of Dispersal from Taiwan" (PDF). In Prasetyo, Bagyo; Nastiti, Tito Surti; Simanjuntak, Truman (eds.). Austronesian Diaspora: A New Perspective. Gadjah Mada University Press. ISBN 9786023862023.
  19. Solheim II, Wilhelm G. (January 2006). Origins of the Filipinos and Their Languages (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2011-07-28. Retrieved 2011-03-03.
  20. Rochmyaningsih, Dyna (28 October 2014). "'Out of Sundaland' Assumption Disproved". Jakarta Globe. Retrieved 24 December 2018.
  21. Lipson, Mark; Loh, Po-Ru; Patterson, Nick; Moorjani, Priya; Ko, Ying-Chin; Stoneking, Mark; Berger, Bonnie; Reich, David (19 August 2014). "Reconstructing Austronesian population history in Island Southeast Asia". Nature Communications. 5 (1): 4689. Bibcode:2014NatCo...5.4689L. doi:10.1038/ncomms5689. PMC 4143916. PMID 25137359.
  22. Lipson, Mark; Loh, Po-Ru; Patterson, Nick; Moorjani, Priya; Ko, Ying-Chin; Stoneking, Mark; Berger, Bonnie; Reich, David (2014). "Reconstructing Austronesian population history in Island Southeast Asia" (PDF). Nature Communications. 5 (1): 4689. Bibcode:2014NatCo...5.4689L. doi:10.1038/ncomms5689. PMC 4143916. PMID 25137359.
  23. Bellwood, Peter (2014). The Global Prehistory of Human Migration. p. 213.
  24. Mijares, Armand Salvador B. (2006). "The Early Austronesian Migration To Luzon: Perspectives From The Peñablanca Cave Sites". Bulletin of the Indo-Pacific Prehistory Association (26): 72–78. Archived from the original on July 7, 2014.
  25. Larena, Maximilian; Sanchez-Quinto, Federico; Sjödin, Per; McKenna, James; Ebeo, Carlo; Reyes, Rebecca; Casel, Ophelia; Huang, Jin-Yuan; Hagada, Kim Pullupul; Guilay, Dennis; Reyes, Jennelyn (2021-03-30). "Multiple migrations to the Philippines during the last 50,000 years". Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. 118 (13): e2026132118. doi:10.1073/pnas.2026132118. PMC 8020671. PMID 33753512.
  26. Yambazi Banda (2015). "Characterizing Race/Ethnicity and Genetic Ancestry for 100,000 Subjects in the Genetic Epidemiology Research on Adult Health and Aging (GERA) Cohort". Oxford Academics. 200 (4): 1285–1295. doi:10.1534/genetics.115.178616. PMC 4574246. PMID 26092716. Subsection: (Discussion) "For the non-Hispanic white individuals, we see a broad spectrum of genetic ancestry ranging from northern Europe to southern Europe and the Middle East. Within that large group, with the exception of Ashkenazi Jews, we see little evidence of distinct clusters. This is consistent with considerable exogamy within this group. By comparison, we do see structure in the East Asian population, correlated with nationality, reflecting continuing endogamy for these nationalities and also recent immigration. On the other hand, we did observe a substantial number of individuals who are admixed between East Asian and European ancestry, reflecting ∼10% of all those reporting East Asian race/ethnicity. The majority of these reflected individuals with one East Asian and one European parent or one East Asian and three European grandparents. In addition, we noted that for self-reported Filipinos, a substantial proportion have modest levels of European genetic ancestry reflecting older admixture. A modest subgroup (3.4%) had evidence of European/West Asian genetic ancestry (majority are self-reported Filipinos), while small proportions had evidence of African or Native American genetic ancestry (0.1 and 0.5%, respectively)."
  27. Mawson, Stephanie J. (June 15, 2016). "Convicts or Conquistadores? Spanish Soldiers in the Seventeenth-Century Pacific". Past & Present. Oxford Academic. 232: 87–125. doi:10.1093/pastj/gtw008. Retrieved July 28, 2020.
  28. Intercolonial Intimacies: Relinking Latin/o America to the Philippines. 1898-1964 By Paula C. Park (Chapter 3: On the Globality of Mexico and the Manila Galleon)


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