Saturday, November 11, 2006

Puliran in the Laguna Copperplate Inscription: Laguna de Bay or Pulilan, Bulacan?

by: Jaime F. Tiongson

According to the Laguna Copperplate Inscription website, Antoon Postma first thought that Pailah was Pila, Laguna and Puliran was the southeastern area of the lake because that was what the place was called in the old days. The website further states that “Pila was then part of the area known as Pulilan. However, he opted to take Pulilan and Paila both along the Angat River in Bulacan as better candidates because the document clearly referred to two separate places, not one inside a larger jurisdiction.” Antoon Postma statement that Pulilan is the southeastern area of the lake was probably based on the San Antonio Dictionary which he edited. In page 213 of the San Antonio dictionary, Pulilan was defined as: "El lugar, que esta a la manzo izquierda de donde sale el sol en la Laguna, como Pila, Lumban hasta Bay, y los que estan al Oriente en la Laguna, que son Paete, Pangil, llaman Silangan. Y asi, ir a Pila y Lumban, es: namomulilan, ir a Paete y Pangil, es: Naninilangan."

The Pulilan entries and examples in the Vocabulario de Lengua Tagala written by Pedro de San Buenaventura may refine the definition above. There are several entries in the 1613 San Buenaventura Dictionary that clearly defines Pulilan as the old name of the Laguna de Bay. The following are the entries in the SB Dictionary about Pulilan:

  1. Laguna: Dagat pp: L. asi nombran en comun a la Laguna de Bay, dito sasang dagatang ito, en toda esta laguna. l. Dito sasang doongang ito (SB page 383). (The L. after the pp. means used in Laguna)
  2. Laguna: Pulilan pp: M. de Bay en respeto de Manila, namumulilan ir acon tratar de Manila y sus contornos a la laguna de Bay, ipinamumulilan .3.P. lo q llenan, aco, y, namumulilan, boy a la laguna a tratar, tagapulilan ca, eres natural de la laguna? Preguntan en Manila: (M after the pp means used in Manila) (SB page 383)
  3. Laguna: Doongan pp: respeto de los del Bondo y Tingiuianes, tutugpa aco sa doongan, boy a la laguna, doon sasang doongan man, aungue sea alla en toda la laguna. (For those living in Nagcarlan, Liliw , Mahayhay, Laguna de Bay to them is Doongan). (SB page 383)
  4. Laguneros: Taga-doongan pp: respeto de los Tingues, y taga Pulilan, respeto de Manila. (SB page 383)
  5. Ir: Pulilan pp: M. los de manila a la laguna de Bay. Vi. Laguna. Maygi at acoy mamumulilan hani? Bueno ser ir yo a la laguna, que te parece? Mamulilan ca, ve a la laguna de Bay. (SB page 372).
  6. Ir: Lovas pc: A Manila los de la laguna y tinges, lungmolovas .l. ac.l. naglolovas .2. ir a Manila, ylinolovas .1.P. lo que lleva a uender, linolovas. lo a que va alla, imp: lumovas ca, ve a Manila, anong ylolovas co? que e de llevar alla? lovasin mo ang asin, ve por tal a Manila. (SB page 372)

With the above definitions, it is crystal clear that Pulilan is the Laguna de Bay. However, for the past two years this author is at a lost interpreting the LCI using the above Pulilan definition. Is Ka Sumuran the Lord of the Lake? Is there such a ruler? The problem was settled when Antoon Postma gave this author a copy of the Sulat sa Tanso January/February 1996 issue. In page 5 of the newsletter, he wrote that sumur in Malay and Java means “well” like Sumur Bandung or Candi Sumur Upas in Indonesia and in Tagalog sumur means “bukal” (bukal=pinagmumulan ng tubig, UP Diksyonaryong Filipino, 2001). Kasumuran is not a name of a person but a placename. Kasumuran is a region of wells and springs, the source of water. Puliran Kasumuran in the Laguna Copperplate Inscription thus means Laguna de Bay water source.

A quick look at this satellite image will show that the most likely candidate for the Kasumuran region is the area from Nagcarlan, Laguna to Lucban, Quezon including Mt. Banahaw, Mt. San Cristobal and Mt. Lucban. As a testament to the vast amount of water in the area, the first two hydroelectric power plants in the Philippines, the Botocan and Caliraya Hydroelectric Power Plants were constructed in this area. The Botocan Falls and the Pagsanjan falls are also located in this region. Liliw and Nagcarlan municipal water supply comes from the mountain springs and Volcan de Agua is the Spanish name of Mt. Banahaw.

The P'u-li-lu in Chu Fan Chih book written by Chao Ju-Kua in 1225 most probably is the Laguna de Bay. William Henry Scott suggested that "P'u-li-lu is Polillo island" old interpretation must be rejected because of the remote and rugged Pacific coast of Luzon is unlikely to have attracted Asian shipping and the name itself looks supiciously like the Spanish diminutative for Tagalog pulo (Scott, 1984). However, since Laguna de Bay is inland, the source of the precious branch coral shan hu must be further investigated.

As for Pulilan, Bulacan, the place probably got its name in reference to the great Candaba Swamp beside the town. According to the Municipality of Pulilan website, the town of Pulilan, Bulacan was created out of the districts of Baliuag and Quinqua. Quinqua is from the Pampango word "kengwa" which means on the other side (of the Candaba swamp).

Pila YouTube Video