Note:  Do not rely on this information. It is very old.


Tagala, the most important, though not be most numerous, of all the peoples of the Philippine archipelago, whose original home appears to be the Valley of the Pasig ("River of Manilla"), whence they spread in remote times to all the central parts of the great island of Luzon and later to Mindoro and most of the neighboring insular groups. In 1893 the Tagala nation numbered altogether 1,500,000, and the Tagalog language is steadily encroaching on all the surrounding idioms. It is a highly-developed member of the Malayo-Polynesian linguistic family, cultivated by the missionaries and written with a peculiar alphabet derived, like so many others in Malaysia, from an Indian (Devanagari) prototype. The Tagalas themselves are certainly of Malay origin, though greatly mixed in some districts both with Chinese and European (Spanish) elements, and consequently presenting a great variety of physical features. The national name (Ta-Gala) means "Water-People," and the Tagalas still claing to the river-banks, plains, and coast-lands, avoiding the surrounding uplands, and dwelling reluctantly in the large pueblos and barrios, in which many have been forcibly settled by their Spanish rulers. Such is the fertility of the soil that, despite the national indolence and rude methods of cultivation, they raise heavy crops, especially of rice (the staple food), tobacco, cotton, indigo, maize, cacao, and abaca (Manilla hemp). At the arrival of the Spaniards Islam had already made some progress amongst the coast tribes, but the great bulk of the people were still pagans. Since then they have all become nominal Roman Catholics, and instruction being obligatory, large numbers possess some degree of education; but many of the old practices survive, and the moral standard is admittedly low. The tendency to relapse into the ancestral savagery is strong, as shown by the numerous class of remontados, or outcasts, who take refuge in the woods, band together as brigands, plunder the settled districts, and at times even attack the suburbs of Manilla. (Blumentritt, Bastian, Meyer, Pardo te Tavera.)