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Open Access Publications from the University of California

From Wilderness to Nation: the Evolution of Bayan


Spanish documents of the sixteenth through eighteenth centuries point to static political organization in the Philippines that predated the Spanish presence there. Documents in the indigenous language Tagalog point in a different direction—to a fluid, evolving reality represented by the word bayan. The fluidity of bayan allowed it to define the transformations that took place—from wilderness to nation. While forces have sought over the past four centuries to concretize political realities, bayan has remained the locus for representation and meaning for Filipinos.

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