Philippine Society before the coming of the Spaniards
Even before the coming of the Spaniards, the Filipinos already had their social system characterized by semi communal, semi slave, feudal in some parts like Mindanao and Sulu and primitive communal espoused by the Aetas in the mountain areas.
The barangay was their concept of community each headed by a datu or chieftain. It was the basic political and economic unit independent among others. The community’s social structure is characterized by petty nobility. With the datu as the head of the barangay; the freeman called the Maharlikas who rendered special service to the rulers or datu; the timawas who shared their crops to the petty nobility and the slaves and semi slaves who worked without any definite share of the harvest. On the other hand, one becomes slaves or semi slaves through inheritance, failure to pay debts, commission of crimes or captivity during wars.
In Mindanao and Sulu, they represented a higher stage of political and economic development. The Islamic Sultanates of Sulu had a feudal form of social organization. The sultan reigned supreme over many datus in a more encompassing people and territory.
Throughout the islands, the class struggle within the barangay was already g extended into interbarangay wars. These inter-baranganic wars often resulted into confederations of more larger communities.
In the areas of food production, the primitive people hunt in the wilderness in the search for food and offering. In order to do so, they developed early instruments of hunting like spears and arrows. These early gadgets were creatively designs to match the purpose.
As time passes, early Filipinos soon able to discover the technique of farming. The land was communal. It is shared by everyone. In order to produce food for the community, they plant and till the land for subsistent good of the whole community. One unique proof was the tilling of lands by early ifugaos in Banawe.
There was interisland commerce ranging from Luzon to Mindanao and vice-versa. There were also extensive trade relations among neighboring countries. The barter system was employed. Gold and metal gongs were used as medium of exchange.
Philippine Education during the pre-colonial times
The system of education in the Philippines during the pre-colonial times was highly related to and highly influenced the economic situation. The type of society before the Spanish colonization was primitive-communal and shifting to feudalism. Because of subsistent mode of production, education also spread plainly and simply. Alibata, the native alphabet was used as the means of instructions together with other mediums like pots and weaved mats.
During this era, the early educators were the Babaylan and Katalonan. They were looked upon by the society because they possessed high wisdom, spirituality and rationality in the system of governing the community affairs. Hence the type of education taught to people were based on early beliefs and tradition.
In the Muslim communities in Mindanao, education was proliferated through their religion—Islam. Education was based on the instructions of Islam religion. Their early educators were the Imams or Ulema (Muslim priests). The children were taught to read and write by using Koran as their textbooks.
Indeed, the early education in the primitive society was not institutionalized. There was no formal and separate institution for it. It was integrated in their early societal affairs.
Philippine Society under the Spanish Colonialism
The kind of society that developed under three centuries of Spanish influence was colonial and feudal. It was a society basically ruled by feudal landlords, Spanish officials, Catholic religious orders/ friars and the local officials—puppets to the ruling class.
The economic system was based on the giving of land grants (encomiendas) to loyal official’s and religious order’s service to the colonizers. These colonizers employed forced labor among its natives for the construction of edifices, churches and parochial schools. The once—communal lands of the natives were usurped by the Spanish colonizers.
Local officials were appointed. These include the gobernador-heneral which is based nationally in Manila. The provincial alcalde-mayor, the town leader known as the gobernadorcillo and in the locals—the cabeza de barangays. These positions in governance were highly based on wealth and property, hereditary, literacy and of course loyalty to the Spaniards.
In the archetypal notion of feudalism, the union of church and state inundated the entire colonial structure of the society. Friar control was total and encompassing. In the colonial center as well as in every province, the friars exercised vast political powers. They controlled such diverse affairs as taxation, primary schools and institutions, health, public works and charities. The building of catechetical schools was used to usurp the minds of the children against their own country. The friars propagated a dogmatic culture that was infatuated with novenas, prayerbooks, scapularies, rosaries, the passion play, the anti-Muslim moro-moro and arrogant feasts and processions.
They were so nasty in witch-hunting and suppressing native rebels whom they condemned as “heretics" and "subversives." Thus, the once “babaylans” became witches and devils of the time. Furthermore, the friars burned and destroyed the artifacts of pre-colonial culture and tagged them as handiworks of the devil and integrated only those things of the indigenous culture which they could use to facilitate colonial indoctrination.
Philippine Education under the Spanish Regime
The type of education brought about by the Spaniards was based on the ideology of Catholicism. The religious orders were the one who built school and seminaries in the Philippines. The priests were the educators at that time. Education became the powerful tool to propagate Catholicism. The teachings adhered to the teaching of religious Catholicism. After all, “the most effective means of subjugating a people is to capture their minds.”
Ownership to vast areas of the land gave priest high authority and dominion to control the educational system. Feudal mode of production was the economic basis of education. Many feudal lords or landlords controlled many schools and institutions. Education serving the interests of the Spaniards led to the conversion of many Filipinos.
Although there was already the systematic and institutionalized kind of education, there was still no equal opportunity in attaining education. Filipinos were oriented in the patriarchal and religious system of education. People made to believe that education is one way to go higher in the social status of life. But education only manifested social inequality and women subordination. Mostly, men were given more opportunities than women. The mestizos and wealthy ones were the privileged to enter into prestigious schools. On the other hand, women were only taught in vocational schools for domestic purposes. Most women were denied on their right to education in the society where the patriarchal belief that women should only stay at home.