Some Cordillerans remained to be the only Filipino ethnic group that did not show evidence of historical interbreeding with Negritos and the only ones in the world who remained to be the unadmixed descendants of Basal East Asians, DNA study shows.
A study conducted by historians and scientists, in coordination with the National Commission for Culture and the Arts, National Museum and National Commission for Indigenous Peoples, provided new findings on the origin of ethnic tribes in the Philippines. It involved 2.3 million molecular DNA markers.
"This finally gives us a clearer picture of who we are as Filipinos, where we came from, and our sense of relatedness." Carlo Ebeo, Board of Trustee member of the National Museum that was involved in the study, said.
It was previously thought that the search for new arable lands by expanding farmer populations was the main reason for driving population migrations, such as the dispersal Austronesian-speaking groups into the Philippines.
However, Sweden-based Filipino scientist Dr. Maximilian Larena, who co-led the study, challenged this view.
"Our findings suggest that instead of farming, climate change may have played a more important role in driving the mass movement of populations in various directions," he said.
The significant geographic changes may have prompted the migration of Manobo and Sama-related ancestral groups from Borneo into southern Philippines and Cordilleran-related ancestral groups from southern China- Taiwan area into the various islands of the Philippines
The arrival of Manobo, Sama, and Cordilleran-related groups resulted in interbreeding with resident Negritos.
Interestingly, some Cordillerans remained to be the only Filipino ethnic group that did not show evidence of historical interbreeding with Negritos. They are the only ones in the world who remained to be the unadmixed descendants of Basal East Asians, the study showed.
"This affirms that Cordillerans were isolated for quite some time, which is evident on the retention of distinct indigenous cultural practices and presence of immense linguistic diversity in the region," Dr. Adrian Albano, a Kalanguya Cordilleran from Ifugao State University and co-author of the study, said.