Code of Kalantiaw

This is actually not an urban legend. This is a hoax, just like The Coming of Borneans to Panay I had posted here.


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 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 Kalantiaw 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.

Laws of the Code of Kalantiaw:

[Taken from Internet:]

Article I
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.

Article II
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.

Article III
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.

Article IV
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.

Article V
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.

Article VI
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.

Article VII
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.

Article VIII
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.

Article IX
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.

Article X
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.

Article XI
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.

Article XII
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.

Article XIII
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.

Article XIV
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.

Article XV
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.

Article XVI
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.

Article XVII
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.

Article XVIII
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.

Kalantiaw The Hoax

The story of Datu Kalantiaw is often mistaken to be part of the epic of ten intrepid chiefs who founded Visayan civilization as much as 800 years ago, as told in an ancient and mysterious document called the Maragtas. This document, however, was an ordinary book written in 1907 by Pedro Monteclaro in which he compiled the local legends of the Visayas from mainly oral traditions and a few written documents that were fairly modern in their origins. Monteclaro never mentioned a chief by the name of Kalantiaw in his Maragtas. (See: The Maragtas Legend.)

Some of the Maragtas legends are a part of Visayan folklore and they are a source of fierce pride for many Visayans today. The stories of the ten datus or chiefs might have been told for generations and they are perfectly believable, as far as legends go, if we put aside the modern additions such as obviously phoney "original" manuscripts and the use of precise but utterly uncorroborated dates from the pre-colonial era.

After all, it is not hard to believe that exiles could have sailed from Borneo to settle in Panay. Why not? Even though there are no ancient documents to show that Chief Sumakwel and his followers actually existed, there is much archaeological and foreign documentary evidence of regular trade and travel at that time between the Philippines and its neighbours.

But while Monteclaro's misguided nationalism, combined with the blatant dishonesty of other writers who embellished his work, blurred the line between legends and hard historical facts, the story of Kalantiaw is more alarming because he was never a part of the Philippines' history or even its oral traditions. Kalantiaw was an utter hoax from the beginning.

We should not believe on it

So, why should we not believe this story that has been taught as history for so many years in Filipino schools?

There are three good reasons:

1. The first reason is the lack of historical evidence. There are simply no written or pictorial documents from that time in Philippine history. There are no documents from other countries that mention the great Kalantiaw either. There is also no evidence that Philippine culture ever spawned such a barbaric set of laws. The early Spanish accounts tell us that Filipino custom at that time allowed even the most serious lawbreakers to pay a fine or to be placed into servitude for a time in cases of debt. As the missionary Francisco Colín wrote in 1663:
In the punishment of crimes of violence the social rank of the slayer and slain made a great deal of difference. If the slain was a chief, all his kinsfolk took the warpath against the slayer and his kinfolk, and this state of war continued until arbiters were able to determine the amount of gold which had to be paid for the killing… The death penalty was not imposed by public authority save in cases where both the slayer and slain were commoners, and the slayer could not pay the blood price. K1
Arbitration is still the custom of those Philippine cultures that were never conquered by the Spaniards.

2. The second reason is the lack of evidence for Kalantiaw even as a legend of oral history. Many ardent admirers of the Datu, who disdain all historical evidence to the contrary, claim that he has long been a part of Visayan culture and heritage. This is simply not true. In almost 400 years of documented Philippine history – from Magellan's arrival in 1521 until the second decade of the 20th century – no such legend was ever recorded. Kalantiaw even escaped the attention of Pedro Monteclaro when he published the Maragtas legends in 1907. This is very suspicious considering that there are more stories today about Kalantiaw than there are about any of the ten datus of the Maragtas.

Did the Spaniards suppress the legend of Kalantiaw?
This accusation is usually the first thing that history buffs reach for when they need to explain a gap in Philippine history. If the Spaniards were aware of such a legend they had no reason to suppress it because those Spaniards who were sympathetic to the Filipinos could have presented the mere existence of the Code as proof that their ancestors were civilized – just as many Filipinos do today – while detractors could have pointed to the maniacal Datu himself as proof of their savagery – even though his methods of torture were no more sadistic than those of the Spanish Inquisition.
It is certain that there were no legends of Kalantiaw before the 20th century. The Aklanon historian Digno Alba was a young man at the start of that century. He looked for Kalantiaw in local folklore in the 1950s but did not find him.
On May 5, 1967 the historian William H. Scott wrote to Alba and asked him:

When you were a child, Don Digno, did not the old folks of Aklan have stories about Kalantiaw even before the discovery of the Pavón documents in 1913? Were there no popular legends or folklore that the elders told their grandchildren?
To which Alba replied in a letter from Kalibo, Aklan dated May 15, 1967:
I had tried to get stories or legends from the present generations of Aklanons living in Batan… but not one old man can tell me now.

3. The third and most important reason to reject the Kalantiaw myth is its source. If Kalantiaw was not a historical figure or a legendary character, where did he come from? Many writers on this subject didn't bother to mention where they obtained their information. Some, like Digno Alba, simply created "facts" from thin air. Scott eventually traced the ultimate origin of Kalantiaw back to a single person, José E. Marco of Pontevedra, Negros Occidental, who definitely did not live in the 1400s. In 1913, Marco claimed to have discovered the Pavón documents that were mentioned in Scott's letter to Digno Alba. These documents, which contain the Code of Kalantiaw, were in fact Marco's own creation. Kalantiaw eventually became the most successful of many hoaxes in Marco's career of almost 50 years as a forger and fraud. (For more about the life of Jose Marco see Jose Marco: Con man of the century)



  1. hoax it may be, but all the teaching are good...both acceptable to me

  2. how about the provisions of kalantiaw code ?


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