of peoples on the road towards venture capitalism in the earlier centuries.
But in the 21st century, the history of caravan cultures remain only in the people’s memory as artefact (or artifice?) and which has been romanticized into bioepics or heroic adventures of legendary men caught in the age of material adventurism from the 13th to 16th centuries. In this day of global network and cyber transactions, it is fascinating and at the same time remarkable how the caravan culture still persists in the Philippines. Its persistence as a vestige of feudal past in an era of intensified commercialization and industrialization is indeed indicative of uneven modes of development, as it is symbolic of intersecting diverse cultures where the rural locale ventures into the national and into the global with far reaching implications on issues of ethnicity and cultural import.
The cattle caravans of ancient Caboloan continue to peddle their bamboo-based products from the province of Pangasinan to the highways of Metro Manila. These are the ubiquitous cattle-drawn carriages selling hammocks, bamboo chairs and bookshelves we see in front of SM Fairview, Commonwealth, East and C.P. Garcia Avenues. But not until recently when Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA) agents found them illegally parked along national roads thereby considered obstruction to traffic.
More than just a cultural icon for tourists, the cattle caravans trace its origins to the ancient Caboloan, an interior ethnic state in the province of Pangasinan. Caboloan refers to a place where ‘bolo’ (a specie of bamboo) is abundant which explains why the cattle caravans up to this day peddle goods made from bamboo and rattan. These bamboo-based products are traded in prehispanic times with the coastal villages known then as ‘Panag-asinan’ or where salt was produced. This interior(alog)-coast (baybay) dichotomy and its accompanying trading relations was obscured by the colonial mapping of Spanish Augustinian missionaries, who coming from the coastal town of Bolinao named the entire region as Pangasinan. This prehispanic cultural relations between the interior-coast dichotomy of Caboloan-Pangasinan noted by Scott and Keesing to be vital in the paper of ethnohistories, continue to exist through the living artefact which is the cattle caravan trade.
Locating the cattle caravans of ancient Caboloan is also an attempt at reconstructing local history. Journeying through the caravan routes from the heart of Caboloan to Metro Manila, the cartwheel connects culture and commerce from the village to the metropolis. The cattle caravans’ anachronism in today’s world market economy becomes an assertion of locality and ethnicity in the face of the hegemonic ethnonational and the reifying global system. While the province of Pangasinan is valuated in political terms because of its significant voting population, its ethnocultural history and reality is perceived to be merely subsumed under the mythic kingdom of the Greater Ilocandia. Thus, the cattle caravans serve both as a romantic symbol of an ancient Caboloan culture and as an ethnocultural text amidst the flux of emerging societies and economies.
The Philippines is said to be a ‘bamboo country’ because of its swampy coasts and rivers. Historian Isagani Medina lists several place-names which pay tribute to the bamboo such as Meycauayan in Bulacan, Pasong Kawayan in General Trias, Cavite, Cauayan in Negros Occidental and Caoayan in Ilocos Sur. To add to this list is Caboloan