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Makati History, Philippines


Before Makati became the highly urbanized metropolis that we know today, where skyscrapers, huge malls, traffic, and men and women in business attire dot the scene, it was composed of barangays or communities of Malays, the first settlers of the land.

The Malays arrived in balanghais (big sailboats; from where the term “barangay” was also derived) and settled in Makati because the area seemed not to be claimed yet by a certain ruler. With their primitive organization of small communities, they began a simple political system in order to maintain peace and order within their group. Each barangay was ruled by a datu. The datu was chosen by virtue of succession, age, wisdom or wealth. He had absolute power in terms of legislation, military rule, and executive and judiciary power; yet he also had a circle of advisers to help in matters of law, war and social customs.

One barangay traded with other barangays, and this process established social ties and caused business to flourish. Rulers formed alliances with other rulers through sandugo or sanduguan, more widely known as blood compact. The act also reflected brotherhood among them.

The Spaniards came in the guise of peace and friendship although their main target was to search for spices and gold, and perhaps to also propagate Christianity. It was said that Makati got its name from the conversation of one Spaniard named Miguel Lopez de Legaspi and one datu. However, the origin of its name can be most attributed to its feature as “a place full of tides”, which is the literal meaning of “Makati.” The early Malay settlers established their communities along riverbanks and lakeshores. This characteristic of the life of the early Philippine settlers is also the reason why water-related terms in Filipino place-names are prominent.

In addition, the hero of Makati regarded today is General Pio del Pilar. He was affiliated with the Katipunan and played a major part in the Philippine-American War.

After World War II happened the great exodus—Manilenos and people from the provinces poured into the city. All in all the population of the city ballooned into around two million, almost five times as much as the population count before the war.

After the remnants of the war and after Martial Law, Makati grew and prospered very fast. Today it is among the busiest cities in the country and Filipinos and foreigners alike still do not grow tired of visiting.

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