From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search

Ma-i or Maidh (also spelled Ma'i, Mai, Ma-yi or Mayi; Chinese: 麻逸; Pe̍h-ōe-jī: má it) was a sovereign polity that pre-dated the Hispanic establishment of the Philippines and notable for having established trade relations with the Kingdom of Brunei, and with Song and Ming Dynasty China.

For many years, scholars believed that this state was likely to have been on the island of Mindoro.[1][2] But recent scholarship casts doubt on this theory, arguing that historical descriptions better match Bay, Laguna (whose name is pronounced Ba-i), which once ruled over a vast territory on the eastern coasts of Laguna de Bay.[3] Another suggested location is Malolos, Bulacan.[4][5]

Its existence was recorded both in the Chinese Imperial annals Zhu Fan Zhi (諸番志) and History of Song [1][6] and in the royal records Sultanate of Brunei, which refer to it as the nation of Maidh.[7] The two possible sites that have been idenfitied by historians have similar names: according to sources, the precolonial name of Mindoro was "Ma-it";[8] historical variants of the name of Bay, Laguna include "Bae", "Bai", and "Vahi".[9]

The Chinese and Bruneian records, which predate most of the local written sources extant in the Philippines today, are significant as they give historians a textual record of what life in precolonial Philippines was like.

Mai according to Chinese records[edit]

In 1225, China's Zhao Rugua, a superintendent of maritime trade in Fukien province wrote the book entitled Zhu Fan Zhi (Chinese: 諸番志; literally: ""Account of the Various Barbarians"") in which he described trade with a country called Mai (pronounced "Ma-yi") which was a prehispanic Philippine state. In it he said:

Chinese porcelain-ware, Kangxi era (1662–1722), Qing Dynasty. Ancient Chinese porcelain excavated in Mindoro, Philippines; proves the existence of trade between the island and Imperial China. This consequently validates Chinese historical records of the area.

The country of Mai is to the north of Borneo. The natives live in large villages on the opposite banks of a stream and cover themselves with a cloth like a sheet or hide their bodies with a loin cloth. There are metal images (Buddhas) of unknown origin scattered about in the tangled wilds. Few pirates reach these shores. When trading ships enter the harbor, they stop in front of the official plaza, for the official plaza is that country's place for barter and trade and once the ship is registered, they mix freely. Since the local officials make a habit of using white umbrellas, the merchants must present them as gifts.

— [10]

The method of transacting business is for the savage traders to come all in a crowd and immediately transfer the merchandise into baskets and go off with it. If at first they can't tell who they are, gradually they come to know those who remove the goods so in the end nothing is actually lost. The savage traders then take the goods around to the other islands for barter and generally don't start coming back until September or October to repay the ship's merchants with what they have got. Indeed, there are some who don't come back even then, so ships trading with Mai are the last to reach home. San-hsu, Pai-p'u-yen, P'u-li-lu, Li-yin-tung, Liu-hsin, Li-han, etc. are all the same sort of place as Mai.

— [11]

The local products are beeswax, cotton, true pearls, tortoise shell, medicinal betel nuts and yuta cloth. The merchants use such things as porcelain, trade gold, iron pots, lead, colored glass beads and iron needles in exchange.

— [12]

Territorial extent of Mai[edit]

The local Chinese influenced kingdom or Huangdom named Mayi, once had a ruler that used 30 people as human sacrifices in his funeral. From this account, the subordinates of Mayi were recorded to be Baipuyan (Babuyan Islands), Bajinong (Busuanga), Liyin(Lingayen) and Lihan (present day Malolos City). Malolos is a coastal town and one of the ancient settlement around Manila Bay near Tondo.[6][13]

Legacy of Mai[edit]

According to scholars, Blair and Robertson, the name "Li-han" or "Li Han" was the ancient Chinese name for Malolos, whose leaders bore the title of "Gat-Salihan" or "Gatchalian" (derived from "Pamagat sa Li-Han"). It was in 1225 that a "Li Han in the country of Mai" was mentioned in the account of Chau Ju-Kua titled Chu-Fan-Chi, as a Huang () "King" of Ma-i.[14] The Huangdom of Mai is one among many Prehispanic Philippine States such as the Rajahnate of Butuan, the Kingdom of Tondo and the Sultanate of Maguindanao. In Mai, the richness of the soil and the convenience of its location made Malolos an important trading post for the native inhabitants and the traders from Cathay. Ferdinand Blumentritt, a Czech Filipinologist and José Rizal's friend, and Wang Teh-Ming, a Chinese scholar, supported this historic development of commercial activities which continued undisturbed until the advent of the Spanish era in 1572. This centuries-long trade relations must have resulted in many generations of Sino-Tagalogs, whose descendants are still omni-present in Malolos. The innumerable Malolos families who bear Chinese-sounding surnames attest to these inter-marriages.[4] Nevertheless, the Malolos part of Ma-i wasn't the only settled part. Mindoro was settled too. Around the time of the invasion by the Spanish, they found that the people of Mindoro had already converted to Islam from Buddhism, mostly due to the expansion of the Sultanate of Brunei into Manila. In the campaign to take Manila, the Sultanate of Brunei had converted Ma-i to Islam and incorporated it as Bruneian territory. That's why when the Spanish came, the Spaniards called people from Manila and Mindoro (Ma-i), Moros, since they were territories of Brunei and were nominally Islamized. However, the trend was that, only the merchant class and the royals had adopted Buddhism and Islam while most of the people still practiced their native animist beliefs.

Known rulers of Ma-i[edit]

Name Title held From Until
Gat Sa Li-han "王" Huang (King) according to Chinese records 1225? ?

The Spanish Advent[edit]

Scholars, Blair and Robertson, translated the Spanish historical record "Relation of the voyage to Luzón." When the Spanish arrived in the Philippines and transferred their headquarters from Cebu to Panay, they then sent an expedition to Mindoro (Ma-i) where they discovered several towns and forts that were already in the island of Mindoro.

"The first thing which I shall attempt to relate herein will be an expedition which was made by Captain Juan de Salzedo when he was governor in the island of Panai. As has been already related in other accounts, written in the year sixty-nine, the Portuguese raised the blockade established by them on the island of Çebu against the camp of his Majesty, because of certain difficulties which arose; and the governor determined to cross to the island of Panay with his captains in order to levy tribute upon the people of certain provinces. His nephew, recently made captain of the company which his brother Felipe de Sauzedo had brought to these islands, was sent with forty soldiers to certain islands. This captain embarked in fourteen or fifteen small native boats, and set out for an islet which is called Elem, and when we had reached this island we did not find any resistance whatever, for all the natives came to us in peace. From there, led by a guide, he crossed to the island of Mindoro, and made an attack one night just about dawn upon a very rich native village called Mamburau, and plundered it.

Many of the natives were captured, some of whom afterward bought their liberty, and others were allowed to go free. Thence he took a guide for a little islet, Loban by name, which is fifteen leagues farther. When the captain was departed, the natives, who had fled from the village, returned and saw the havoc and destruction caused by the Spaniards, and were unwilling to return to rebuild it; accordingly they themselves set fire to it, and totally destroyed it. The captain, having arrived at his destination at midnight, with all possible secrecy leaped ashore, and arranged his men and the Pintados, Indians whom he had with him in ambuscade near the villages, in order to make the attack upon them at daybreak. However, the natives of this island having been informed of the hostile incursion of the Spaniards, withdrew with their children and wives and all their belongings that they could take with them, to three forts which they had constructed. Now since these were the first natives whom we found with forts and means of defense, I shall describe here the forts and weapons which they possessed. The two principal forts were square in form, with ten or twelve culverins on each side, some of them moderately large and others very small. Each fort had a wall two estados high, and was surrounded by a ditch two and one-half brazas in depth, filled with water. The small weapons used by these natives are badly tempered iron lances, which become blunt upon striking a fairly good coat of mail, a kind of broad dagger, and arrows—which are weapons of little value. Other lances are also used which are made of fire-hardened palm-wood and are harder than the iron ones. There is an abundance of a certain very poisonous herb which they apply to their arrows. Such are the weapons which the natives of these islands possess and employ. Now as the captain approached the villages at daybreak, and found them empty, he proceeded through a grove to the place where the first fort was situated; and, having come in sight, negotiated with them, asking whether they desired to be friends of the Spaniards. The natives, confident of their strength, refused to listen, and began to discharge their culverins and a few arrows. The captain, seeing that they would not listen to reason, ordered them to be fired upon. The skirmish lasted in one place or the other about three hours, since the Spaniards could not assault or enter the fort because of the moat of water surrounding it. But, as fortune would have it, the natives had left on the other side, tied to the fort, a small boat capable of holding twenty men; and two of our soldiers threw themselves into the water and swam across, protected by our arquebusiers from the enemy, who tried to prevent them. This boat having been brought to the side where the Spaniards were, fifteen soldiers entered it and approached the rampart of the fort. As soon as these men began to mount the rampart, the Indians began to flee on the other side, by a passage-way which they had made for that very purpose. It is true that thirty or forty Moros fought and resisted the entrance of the Spaniards; but when they saw that half of our people were already on the wall, and the rest in the act of mounting, they all turned their backs and fled.

A hundred or more of them were killed, while of our men five were wounded. In this way was the fort taken, together with fifty or sixty prisoners, ten or twelve culverins, and everything else in it. On the morning of the next day, which was the second of May, in the year one thousand five hundred and seventy, the captain set free one of the Moro prisoners, and sent him to the second fort, which was in the middle of the island very near the first one, and charged him to tell them that he summoned them to surrender peacefully. The Moro having performed his mission, and delivered the message of the captain to those in the fort, they sent back the reply that they did not desire to be friends with the Spaniards but were eager to fight with them; and with this reply the Indian aforesaid returned to the captain.

On the following day we went with some four hundred friendly Indians to the fort; and the captain, advancing within sight of it, addressed them, asking that they should be friends with the Spaniards and not try to fight with them, as that would result badly for them. They again declared that they did not desire this friendship, and began to fire their culverins and discharge arrows; and in return the soldiers discharged, on all sides, their arquebuses. But during the whole day we were not able to enter the fort, for we Spaniards were very few in number; and the heat was intense, and we had not eaten, although it was near night. The captain, seeing that he had not accomplished anything, decided to return to the boats which he had left behind, and on the next morning again to besiege the fort, and hem them in as closely as possible; and thus he did. Having come in this manner and having grounded his boats upon a beach close to the enemy, when these latter saw the determination of the Spaniards, and that they would not depart under any circumstances until they had conquered them, they therefore determined to make peace and become friends. To this end the leaders came out of the fort and made peace and friendship with the captain, becoming good friends, which they are up to the present time. They gave him a hundred tall [taels] of gold, which he divided among his soldiers. From there the captain went to a rock belonging to another small islet very near to that of Loban, and lying in the sea at a very short distance from the said islet. The natives who lived in that island had retired to this rock to the number of about three hundred warriors. The captain, having arrived on the same day at about ten o'clock, went around the rock, and we captured a small boat containing thirty men. Many volleys from the arquebuses were fired at them during this day; and on the following morning the soldiers began to make ladders to scale the rock—whose occupants, when they saw the determination of the Spaniards, came to terms of peace and friendship, giving another hundred tall of gold, following the example of those of the other fort, who had been left good friends. The captain returned with all of us who were with him to the island of Panay, where the governor was with the master-of-camp, who had returned from another expedition made with his men to an island called Acuyo. Thereupon the question was discussed of sending men to explore the island of Luzón; and it was agreed that the master-of-camp and captain Juan de Sauzedo should set out upon this expedition with a hundred soldiers."
— [15]

Eventually, that Spanish expedition eliminated the towns and fortifications that were once part of Ma-i, and now, Mindoro is a sparsely populated territory.

Pre-hispanic History of the Philippines
Boxer codex.jpg
Barangay government
Ten datus of Borneo
States in Luzon
Luyag na Kaboloan (Pangasinan)
Kingdom of Maynila
Kingdom of Tondo
States in the Visayas
Kedatuan of Madja-as
Rajahnate of Cebu
States in Mindanao
Rajahnate of Butuan
Sultanate of Sulu
Sultanate of Maguindanao
Sultanate of Lanao
Key figures
Sulaiman II · Lakan Dula · Sulaiman III · Katuna
Tarik Sulayman · Tupas · Kabungsuwan · Kudarat
Humabon · Lapu-Lapu · Alimuddin I
History of the Philippines
Portal: Philippines

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Patanne, E. P. (1996). The Philippines in the 6th to 16th Centuries. San Juan: LSA Press. ISBN 971-91666-0-6. 
  2. ^ Scott, William Henry. (1984). "Societies in Prehispanic Philippines". Prehispanic Source Materials for the Study of Philippine History. Quezon City: New Day Publishers. p. 70. ISBN 971-10-0226-4. 
  3. ^ Go, Bon Juan (2005). "Ma'l in Chinese Records - Mindoro or Bai? An Examination of a Historical Puzzle". Philippine Studies. Quezon City: Ateneo de Manila University. 53 (1): 119–138. Retrieved 2012-10-16. 
  4. ^ a b Malolos Historical Digest, March 2000, Marcial C. Aniag, editor
  5. ^ Craig, Austin. A Thousand Years Of Philippine History Before The Coming Of The Spaniards. Retrieved 2015-09-08. 
  6. ^ a b Wang Zhenping (2008). "Reading Song-Ming Records on the Pre-colonial History of the Philippines" (PDF). Journal of East Asian Cultural Interaction Studies. 1: 249–260. ISSN 1882-7756. 
  7. ^ Robert Nicholl, "Brunei rediscovered", Brunei Museum Journal, Volume 4 (1980)
  8. ^ Wolters, O. W. History, Culture, and Region in Southeast Asian Perspectives. Page 33.
  9. ^ Jocano, F. Landa (1973). Folk Medicine in a Philippine Community. Quezon City: Punlad Research House, Inc. ISBN 971-622-015-4. 
  10. ^ "Prehispanic Source Materials: for the study of Philippine History" (Published by New Day Publishers, Copyright 1984) Written by William Henry Scott, Page 68.
  11. ^ Chu Fan Chih Ch. 7-8
  12. ^ "Prehispanic Source Materials: for the study of Philippine History" (Published by New Day Publishers, Copyright 1984) Written by William Henry Scott, Page 69.
  13. ^ Informe sobre el estado de las Islas Filipinas en 1842, Tomo 1, Madrid 1843, p. 139
  14. ^ The Philippine Islands, 1493–1898, by Emma Helen Blair and James A. Robertson, Manila, 1903–1909
  15. ^ "The Philippine Islands, 1493–1803" (Published by Project Gutenberg, Date: December 6, 2004 ) Translated and Edited by Emma Helen Blair and James Alexander Robertson, Page 122-126.