While it is always difficult to come up with conclusive answers to these kinds of questions (because of the dearth of resources as pointed out by W.H. Scott) I think one’s answers to these kinds of questions will be more accurate if one always begins his_her analysis on individual family (usually extended) units_networks which were really what existed at the earliest times in these islands. At the earliest times, a person only identifies with his_her family, because settlements are almost always made up of blood relatives. Even large settlements that we would now call an entire barangay or an entire “bayan”_town, are still made up of blood relatives. One’s identification and allegiance was not on a municipality, a province, a region, or a “nation.” One was only identified to what one directly sees: the family. If I’ll be philosophical, it is still an “imagined community,” a concept rather than a Platonian object. But at least, compared to that larger “imagined community” we modern people call the Philippines, I would say that it is easier to “imagine” and therefore connect myself to that smaller group of people I call my family.

Now to illustrate how this way of thinking might help us be more critical about the categories we are using to explain our past, here’s a situation. If we go back to that time when everything that existed were families, what if one family (say made up of about 500 households) raids another family’s settlement (say made up of a similar size)? Completely raided it, displaced the origignal inhabitants of the settlement or perhaps assimilated them within their own kind as subordinates. Shouldn’t we be using the same concepts/terms just because the group that invaded is not an impirial power by our definition? Because what invaded was just made up of a small group? A family?

At that specific place, where the raid happened, shouldn’t we be also using the word “colonial” to refer to whatever transpired after the raid? And pre-colonial to whatever happened before it?

On another note. Where is this need to classify things as colonial and precolonial come from? Is this categorization, by itself colonial? Is it possible or useful in some situations to let go of the categorization? When we are using such terms to categorize things in these group of islands, are we doing so as modern Filipinos? Or are we be able to see things in the eyes of the earliest settlers in this group of islands?