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Ancient Chinese traders and waves of migrants arrived in the Philippines by traversing land bridges between Borneo and Palawan.  Early Chinese annals referred to Palawan's islands as Kla-ma-yan (Calamianan), Palau-ye (Palawan), and Paki-nung (Busuanga). The area was described as having many lofty ridges and high ranges of cliffs.  Pottery, china, and other artifacts recovered from caves and the waters off Palawan attest to the flourishing trade between Chinese and Malays here centuries ago.

Many settlers began arriving in Palawan in the 12th century. For some time, Malay chieftains ruled many settlements. Because of its proximity to Borneo, southern Palawan was placed under the control of the Sultanate of Borneo fro more than two centuries before the arrival of the Spaniards.  

In pre-colonial times, settlers lived abundantly from the fruits of the earth. They grew rice, ginger, coconut, sweet potatoes, sugar, and bananas. The people also raised pigs, goats and chickens.  They had fishing, farming, and hunting implements such as bamboo traps and blowguns.

Intermarriages among the natives the Chinese, Japanese, Arab, Hindu were common thus the inter-mixing of blood resulted to a distinct breed of Palaweños, both in physical stature and features. The religion of Islam, Buddhism and Hinduism were introduced to the natives long before the arrival of Christian missionaries.


The Northern Calamianes Islands, the first to come under the sphere of Spanish influence, was declared a province separate from the Palawan mainland.  In the early 17th century, Spanish friars tried to establish missions in Cuyo, Agutaya, Taytay, and Cagayancillo but met stiff resistance from Moro communities.  Towards the 18th century, Spain began to build churches enclosed by garrisons for protection against Moro raids in the towns of Cuyo, Taytay, Linapacan and Balabac.  Many of these forts still exist, serving as testimonies to a colorful past.

In 1749, the Sultanate of Borneo ceded southern Palawan to Spain, which then established its authority over the entire province.  At first, the territory of Palawan (or Paragua as it was then called) was organized as a single province named Calamianes, with its capital in Taytay.  Later, it was divided into three provinces: Castilla, covering the northern section of the province with Taytay as capital; Asturias in the southern mainland with Puerto Princesa as its capital; and Balabac Island with its capital in the town of Principe Alfonso.


After the 1898 revolution against Spain, the American regime established a new civil government on June 23, 1902.  Provincial boundaries were revised in 1903, the name of the province was changed to Palawan, and Puerto Princesa became its capital.

The American governors who took the reins of leadership introduced reforms and programs to promote the development of the province.  These included the construction of schools all over the province, the promotion of agriculture, and bringing people closer to the government.



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