The Laguna Copperplate Inscription is the oldest written document in the Philippines. The inscription was made in 900 AD. The inscription is similar to an old Indonesian script known as Kawi. Antoon Postma translated the inscription. Postma was a Dutch anthropologist living in the Philippines.
The Laguna Copperplate Inscription links the Philippines to other Asian civilizations. It represents a strong Hindu influence that shaped much of Southeast Asia at the time. The inscription is Kawi, with words borrowed from Old Sanskrit, Javanese, Malay and Tagalog languages.
Photo: The Laguna Copperplate Inscription is dated 900 AD (source: Antoon Postma).
What is the Laguna Copperplate Inscription?
The copperplate was discovered in 1989 in Laguna Province, Philippines. The artifact was discovered by a sand worker near the mouth of the Lumbang River. The laborer sold the artifact to the Philippine National Museum. A year later, anthropologist Antoon Postma began to translate it.
The translation describes how the chief of Tondo forgave the debt of Namwaran. The document also clearly names several towns in the Philippines and possibly Indonesia.
The Significance of the Copperplate
The copperplate reveals the influence of Hindu culture on the Philippines and Southeast Asia. Elements of their culture had spread to the Philippines before 900 AD. Cultural contact was most likely through the Hindu Empires in Indonesia.
In the case of Manila, the evidence indicates that the city was populated before the arrival of Muslims. Muslims are thought to have arrived in Manila in the 1100’s-1200’s. It also indicates Filipino interactions with Asia long before Magellan.
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