What Was the Maragtas Code?

The Maragtas Code was a supposed collection of writings concerning the pre-Hispanic history of the Phillipine Islands. Although the origin and accuracy of these documents are dubious in nature, they were used as the basis of a book entitled “Maragtas” by Phillipine author Pedro Monteclaro, originally published in 1907.

First published in 1907, “Maragtas” by Pedro Monteclaro is an alleged account of 10 datus or chiefs who fled the oppression of the Datu Makatunaw on the island of Borneo. According to Monteclaro’s version of the story, these 10 chiefs eventually settled on the island of Panay, where they purchased land from Marikudo, leader of the native Aytas tribe. According to the book, the 10 chiefs and their families are the forebears of the entire population of Visayan. By the late 1950s, this book had so permeated local culture that it had become accepted as history, complete with a yearly celebration in the form of the Ati-atihan festival, and inclusion in the annual feast of the Santo Niño in Kalibo, Aklan.

Upon closer inspection – examining dates, the author’s own statements that his source material was written on paper, which did not exist in the Phillipines in the early 13th century when it was supposed to have been written, and his disclaimer in the book itself that he had consulted with local elders and his information did not match theirs – the book’s status as a historically accurate text is suspect. Monteclaro’s publisher, Salvador Laguda, even went on record to disclaim the factual nature of the book. The Maragtas Code as factual history was finally debunked in 1968 by William Henry Scott as his doctoral dissertation at the University of Santo Tomas, after painstaking work examining original texts and searching museums and archives around the world for supporting documents and other historical pre-Hispanic items of the Philippines.