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VII. Connecting Pamitinan and Tapusi: Remontado migration

[This is part of a collection of posts serializing the second chapter of Pasyon, Awit, Legend.]

For tourists what they visited was no more than the cave of San Mateo. For Bonifacio, the mountain and the cave “of Bernardo Carpio” were named Pamitinan. Julio Nakpil, a commander of troops under Bonifacio and a famed composer, was stationed in the mountains of San Mateo along with Emilio Jacinto. He fought there under the nom-de-guerre of J. Giliw. In his handwritten manuscript, Apuntes para la historia de la Revolución Filipina de Teodoro M. Kalaw, Nakpil wrote of how Bonifacio was fleeing from Aguinaldo in Cavite to San Mateo when he was arrested and executed. Bonifacio’s widow, Gregoria de Jesus, was able to escape and reached the San Mateo mountains, joining Nakpil and commanding troops there. She and Nakpil married a year and a half later. Within a month of Bonifacio’s execution, Nakpil composed a dance entitled Pamitinan, which he dedicated to the remontados.1 This was the tradition which Bonifacio’s Katipunan identified with Pamitinan, the history of resistance to Spanish rule, and not a mythical Tagalog king.

Nakpil, Marangal na Dalit ng Katagalugan

Julio Nakpil, “Marangal na Dalit ng Katagalugan” (1896)

Despite the remarkable differences and great distance between the two places, Pamitinan can be associated with Tapusi both historically and geographically. What were these historical and geographical connections?

Some of the remontados of Tapusi came from San Mateo. Nakpil wrote of the remontados from this region, Rizal did also, refering to ‘los remontados de San Mateo,’ in El Filibusterismo.2 The US colonial government in the Philippines conducted a census of the population in 1903. On page 474, in a brief glossary, the census defined ‘nomads’ or ‘remontados:’ “This term refers to a group of wild Tagálog people, who tradition says ran away from the town of San Mateo, and whose descendants to-day roam the mountains back of Montalbán in association with the Negrito.”3

Linguistic evidence suggests that remontado migration connected Tapusi in the Limutan river valley with Pamitinan. In the 1970s Teodoro Llamzon discovered a new language in Daraitan in the mountainous upstream of Tanay, Rizal. This was exactly where Gironiere located Tapuzi, although he spelled the region ‘Darangitan.’ Llamzon designated the language Sinauna (original or ancient), as he considered it represented an ancient strand of Tagalog; the native speakers called their language Tagarug. In the Ethnologue listing of languages it is classified as Remontado Agta. Agta is a language of the Negrito people of the Sierra Madre and the population of Sinauna speakers is supposed to be descended from intermarried remontado and Negrito populations.4 Sinauna has now been identified as an important transitional form between Tagalog and Bikolano. It is mutually unintelligible with Tagalog.5

In Southeast Asian linguistics, the pepet vowel is the indifferent vowel; it is akin to schwa. Pepet is the Javanese word for this vowel. Carlos Conant, in his dissertation of 1913, examined the ways in which this vowel differentiated in different languages in the Philippines, e.g. atəp (roof), becomes atep, atip, atap, and atup.6 Llamzon revisited this thesis and examined the role of dialects in this law. He found that the pepet vowel has not disappeared from most of the languages that Conant claimed had lost the pepet vowel. Conant overlooked the retention of the pepet vowel because he failed to examine dialects.7

For our present purposes, this line in Llamzon’s work is important: “for the Puray dialect, which is geographically located at the back of the Montalban Dam, the regular reflex seems to be ə.” Some brief samples of the dialect follow: ipa, dakip, ngipin, pusod, talong, dikit, dinggin, all of which indicate a retained pepet vowel.8 Puray is a river slightly beyond Pamitinan; it is a tributary of the San Mateo River.9 Thus, in the region of Pamitinan, a Tagalog dialect was spoken which retains the pepet vowel.

That the Limutan river valley was spelled Lumutan in de los Angeles report on Manila’s water supply was not an error in transcription; rather, it reflected the ambiguity of the pepet vowel which was retained in both Puray Tagalog and Sinauna. It seems likely that the original semantic significance of the place name was Lumutan (verdant, lush green, mossy). The pepet vowel in the penultimate syllable of a non-enclitic morpheme reflects to i,10 and thus L/*e/mut[an] came to be L/i/mut[an] (forgotten).

The Governor of the Province of Rizal wrote on July 8, 1908, in his report to the Governor General of the Philippines,

There are several nomad families in the mountains of Tanay called Dagat-dagatan, Lanay, Panusugunan, and others; in the mountains of Antipolo called Uyungan, Sare, and Lumutan, and others bordering on the barrio of Boso-boso; in the woods and sitios in the jurisdiction of San Mateo and on the Garay River called Pinauran, Cabooan, Lucutan malaqui. These families are estimated to number 1,000 individuals, it being worthy of note that these people come down to the settlements to sell rattan, gugu, wax, bees’ honey, and resin in small quantities.11

Lumutan is here adjacent to Sare, which was another name for Tapusi according to de los Angeles. The remontado population according to this report ranged from San Mateo to Lumutan and engaged in trade with the settlements. What Ed. C. De Jesus wrote of the remontados of Cagayan applied to those in Tapusi as well: “Whatever their original motives for reverting to their old way of life, the remontados quickly found additional reasons for remaining in the mountains and outside of Spanish control. Contacts among both the Christian towns and the pagan tribes made them the ideal middlemen for the trade between the two groups.”12

The isolationist hypothesis in anthropology has now been discarded; it asserted that hunter gatherer tribal groups had been living without contact with lowland agricultural populations for centuries, even millennia, and had evolved in linguistic and cultural isolation. It is now apparent that Negrito populations in the Philippines established contact and trade with the Austronesians upon the latter’s arrival in the Philippines. Trade contact was frequent; the Negritos provided forest products in exchange for agricultural goods. It was trade with Austronesian agriculture which enabled the Negritos to begin settling the jungles and forests of Luzon, which could not provide “sufficient lipids to supply the nutritional needs of humans in the absence of wild plant starches.”13 The frequent trade was facilitated by the creation of a pidgin, whose core words were derived from the status language, which in this case would have been of Austronesian origin. The pidgin was creolized, and then underwent a lengthy period of de-creolization, as the Negrito creole language adapted to the morphology and syntax of the status language. Thus, the Negritos of the Philippines all speak languages with Austronesian structure and vocabulary. They retain, however, a substrate of non-Austronesian lexemes.14

With the arrival of the Spaniards, the forest product for agricultural product trade withered. The upstream Negrito populations were isolated from the downstream rice growers.15 The remontados, fleeing the Spanish ambit to avoid the onerous impositions of colonialism, became a liminal population which facilitated the resumption of trade between upstream and downstream. In contrast to Gironiere’s isolated ‘great phalanstery,’ whose female population had never been out of the community, the remontados of Tapusi would have been intensely mobile. They were a population engaged in trade throughout the Southern Sierra Madres, ranging from Tanay to San Mateo. They would have carried on trade with both lowland Tagalogs and with the Umiray Dumaget Negritos. Sinauna would have been the language spoken by the rancherías of the mission of San Andres. When the mission was abandoned in 1700, these Sinauna speakers became known as remontados. To engage in trade it was necessary for them also to speak Tagalog, with which Sinauna is mutually unintelligible. This trade Tagalog of the Sinauna remontados was, it seems likely, the source of the Puray pepet vowel, which is unique among Tagalog dialects and corresponds nicely to the Sinauna language.

The remontados of San Mateo would have passed between the nag-uumpugang bato of Sasocsungan and Pamitinan up the San Mateo River to Tapusi. Linguistic and historical data both establish this connection. Bonifacio and his companions were familiar with the history and legacy of Pamitinan, the history of the remontados. The Carpio legend was the folk memory of this flight. The resistance associated with San Mateo did not consist solely of flight, however.


  1. This manuscript was translated and edited by Encarnacion Alzona as Julio
    Nakpil and the Philippine revolution
    (Makati: Carmelo & Bauermann, Inc., 1964). Images of Nakpil’s handwritten manuscript and score are included. Relevant material can be found on 12, 45-49, 66 and the score of Pamitinan on 109ff.
  2. Jose Rizal, El Filibusterismo (Manila: National Historical Institute, 1996), 217.
  3. Census of the Philippine Islands taken under the direction of the Philippine Commission in the year 1903, in four volumes, volume 1: Geography, History, and Population (Washington: United States Bureau of the Census, 1905), 474.
  4. Raymond G. Gordon Jr., ed., Ethnologue: Languages of the World, Fifteenth edition (Dallas: SIL International, 2005), s.v. “agta, remontado.”
  5. “In fact, we [Llamzon and Rodrigo Dar] did a lexicostatistical analysis of it [Tagarug/sinauna], Tagalog, and Bicol and found that this was the language that was the missing link in the glottochronological and lexicostatistical numbers from Bisaya to Bicol to Tagalog. In other words, linguists had always noted the consistent degree of difference between Ilonggo and Cebuano and Cebuano and Waray and Waray and Bicol. But the gap from Bicol to Tagalog was so much bigger. Tagarug fit right in between Bicol and Tagalog.” (Rodrigo Dar, 23 Jun 1996, Accessed: May 17, 2009).
  6. Teodoro A Llamzon, “The Importance of Dialects in Historical Linguistics: Conant’s Pepet Law in Philippine Languages as a Case in Point,” in Actes de XXIX e Congrès international des Orientalistes: Indonésie, ed. Denys Lombard, vol. 3 (Paris: L’Asiathèque, 1976).
  7. Ibid., 136.
  8. D. Santiago Ugaldezubiaur, Comision de la Flora y Estadistica Florestal, Memoria Descriptiva de la Provincia de Manila (Madrid: Imprenta de Ramon Moreno Y Ricardo Rojas, 1880), 28.
  9. Ronald S. Himes, “The Relationship of Umiray Dumaget to Other Philippine Languages,” Oceanic Linguistics 41, no. 2 (2002): 275–294, doi:10.1353/ol.2002.0005.
  10. Report of the Philippine Commission to the Secretary of War, 1908, in two parts, vol. 1 (Washington: Government Printing Office, 1909), 415; Note that garay is Sinauna for ‘waterfall.’ (Lawrence A Reid, “Possible Non-Austronesian Lexical Elements in Philippine Negrito Languages,” Oceanic Linguistics 33, no. 1 [1994]: 42).
  11. Ed. C. de Jesus, The Tobacco Monopoly in the Philippines: Bureaucratic Enterprise and Social Change, 1766-1880 (Quezon City: Ateneo de Manila University Press, 1980), 116-7, emphasis added.
  12. Thomas N Headland et al., “Hunter-Gatherers and Their Neighbors from Prehistory to the Present,” Current Anthropology 30, no. 1 (1989): 47.
  13. Reid, “Possible Non-Austronesian Lexical Elements in Philippine Negrito Languages”; this substrate consists largely of the specialized vocabulary for local biota and ‘secret’ words such as penis, vagina, etc.
  14. On upstream and downstream communities, see Bennet Bronson, “Exchange at the Upstream and Downstream Ends: Notes toward a Functional Model of the Coastal State in Southeast Asia,” in Economic Exchange and Social Interaction in Southeast Asia: Perspectives from Prehistory, History, and Ethnography, ed. Karl L. Sutterer (Ann Arbor: Center for South and Southeast Asian Studies, 1977), 39–52.
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