Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Bohol's Pre- Colonial Trade History with China


Here’s a priceless & interesting FB post that I chanced upon yesterday from Carino Rey Varon Antequisa of Bohol

Here’s the article in its entirety as shared by Mr. Antequisa:

The picture below is the Katihan, small wooden scale with Chinese-like characters. The stone serves as the weight and the boar-tusk is used as sab-itanan. This very old weighing scale is still kept by my family in Bohol and it has a very long history.

Photo Credits: Varon-Antequisa family
When I was a boy, the scale was still used to weigh meat during fiesta and during marriage negotiation. I asked my grandfather who made the scale. My grandfather told me that it was handed to him by his grandmother who also said that it was handed to her by her grandfather because our ancestors were traders. 

Photo Credits: Varon-Antequisa family
When I studied Asian History, I discovered that one of the ancient Chinese units of measure was a Kati or spelled in English as catty. This is still used in China today. 
 I was surprise to know that the Kati was used by the Chinese way back around 14 AD - mind you, when Christ was just a boy! It was also widely used throughout Asia and Southeast Asia in the beginning around 10th century! 
 After knowing this, I visited relatives in Bohol and ask if they still keep my grandfather's Katihan. I was very lucky to find that it was still kept. I examined it and indeed I noticed some Chinese-like markings in it. Perhaps this Katihan was made by one of my ancestors who was a trader.  The simple use of the Katihan could be a proof that Bohol was once a part of what historians called the China trade. 
Owing to its strategic location, Bohol could have been a vibrant center.  The presence of the flourishing town in Panglao and Mansasa ruled by Datu Dailisan in the 1560's illustrates the role played by Bohol. The account of Fr. Combes in 1667 mentioned that the immediate cause of the Ternatan and Portuguese attack of Datu Dailisan was in retaliation to what happened to Ternatan traders punished by Datu Dailisan. 
 (Note: The Ternatans were from the Island of Ternate in the Moluccas.)
According to the story narrated to Fr. Francisco Combes, members of the Ternatan trading delegation abused or insulted one of Datu Dailisan's wives or concubines. After knowing this, he arrested the abusive Ternatans, chopped off their noses and ears then sent them back to their ships. Among those punished were members of the Ternatan elite. 
When the noseless and earless Ternatans arrived, the Sultan of Ternate was angered. He assembled a War Fleet that pretended to be friendly traders in order to penetrate Datu Dailisans protected town. When the warriors, pretending to be traders, entered the town, they attacked and killed Datu Dailiasan. 
His brother, Datu Pagbuaya, escaped together with his followers and settled in what is now Dapitan City in Zamboanga del Norte. The presence of the Ternatans, one of the powerful trading nations in the 15th century and their activities in Bohol and their tactic in surprising Datu Dailisan, all illustrated that Bohol, particularly Panglao and part of Tagbilaran were active trading towns.  
Carino Rey Varon Antequisa 

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