The commitment of the Spanish monarchy to discover a transoceanic route that not only would allow access to the Spice Islands but also impacting the achievement of the first circumnavigation of the earth in 1522 which led to the discovery of a new stage for European expansion. The expedition of Miguel López de Legazpi finally succeeded in founding the first Hispanic settlement in Cebu, 43 years later, the starting point for the conquest of the lands that would be Philippines. The reconstruction of prehispanic cultures rely on information provided by the earliest chronicles, documents in Castilian that, given the absence of local sources, are the only available resource for the sixteenth century history and, despite reflecting only the perspective of the conqueror, therefore invaluable.
The mosaic of cultures in the so called archipelago of San Lázaro, a term coined by Fernando de Magalhães in 1521, are classified in four groups. Firstly, the aytas representing the descendants of earliest settlers who arrived by land before the sea level rise that occurred after the last glaciation. Although they were not an homogeneous group certain ethnic, linguistic and cultural characters, an economy of hunting and gathering among others, marked profound differences with the other inhabitants.
Secondly, Muslim groups in Mindanao, Sulu, Palawan and southwest of Luzon, formed with the Moluccas a commercial network dominated by the sultanate of Brunei. The Spanish conquest led to a new clash between the two religions, epilogue of the one held in the peninsula until 1492, achieving the Spanish administration to eradicate the influence of Islam in Luzon, while in Mindanao and Sulu, more deeply rooted, during centuries it has represented the resistance to the power emanated from Manila.
Thirdly, Visayan language is the common nexus among populations occupying lowland of the namesake archipelago, central part of Philippines between the large islands of Luzon and Mindanao. As in ancient Greece, a common culture in a fragmented scenario characterized the human geography of essentially maritime people. Finally, it studies populations that are not included in the preceding groups, that is those groups of Malay origin who did not keep stable ties with the sultanate of Brunei, and did not belong to the Visayan linguistic field, located in Luzon, Mindanao and Panay.