I have long wanted to write about Mindanao’s remarkable historical figure, but I felt a lack of adequate knowledge about my subject. Until I came upon these articles which exhilarated me. And I decided to let these articles do the task for my intentions.
More than five hundred years ago this giant of a man lived and unfurled his name in the firmament of Mindanao—the Mindanao of the original inhabitants called the Bangsamoro and the Lumad tribal peoples— the Mindanao that became the battlegrounds caused by the American soldiers’ trampling of its sacred shores — the Mindanao later to be colonized by the Philippine State of Christian Filipinos from Luzon and the Visayas.
The Filipino Christian colonialists with their central authority in imperial Manila have since arrogated unto themselves the economic plunder and political and cultural subjection of Mindana o as a very effective process of minoritizing the indigenous population.
This in a capsule is the history of Mindanao.
But across the historical landscape has been the “panorama and scene” of conflicts, struggles and rebellions spawned by the foreign and domestic colonialists, the tragic consequences of which have extended up to the present-day government of Noynoy Aquino.
Until the Mamasapano Incident exploded and took centerstage. Its aftershocks, no less disastrous and tragic, now take the form of an “All-Out Offensive” waged against the Bangsamoro residents by the armed forces of Aquino’s tyrannical government.
But Mindanao’s epic saga of resistance struggles and wars gloriously fought by the Bangsamoro against the invaders have been obliterated from the memory ofmost Filipinos, except of course to the Bangsamoro themselves whose hearts have continued to throb with patriotic fervor for their Bangsamoro homeland. To this admirable people, Sultan Kudarat is very much a living symbol endlessly lighti ng up their struggle for self-determination purportedly to retrieve their homeland from the clutches of historical injustice.
The following articles will hopefully enkindle in the minds and hearts of present-day Filipinos, especially the Filipino Youth, both Musli m and Christian, about the humanity and heroism of a national hero absent in the annals of Christian Philippine history but is a shining beacon of pride and honor to the Bangsamoro and Lumads of Mindanao —nay, to the entire Filipino race.
Sultan Kudarat, A Mindanao Hero, Mindanao’s Most Powerful Ruler
Nine years after the coming of the Spanish colonizer and Captain General Miguel Lopez de Legazpi to the Philippines, precisely, in the year 1580, Sultan Mohammad Dipatuan Kudarat was born. This great Muslim leader ruled over his Sultanate of Maguindanao (now Mindanao) in a span of 52 years (1619-1671). His career as a ruler was considered one of the most colorful in Philippine history. He was married to one of the daughters of Sultan Mawallil Wasit of the Sulu Archipelago, who ruled over his sultanate during the early part of the 17th century. Sultan Kudarat was the contemporary of both Raha Bongsu and the latter’s son Sultan Salah Ud-Din Bakhti ar. Sultan Kudarat died at the ripe age of 91 years.
Sultan Kudarat’s domain was situated in the mainland of Mindanao covering what are now known as the three Cotabato provinces, the provinces of Bukidnon and the two Lanaos. Sultan Kudarat had also some ties with the Sulu Sultanate, he being the son-in-law of Sultan Mawallil Wasit. His prestige and influence was not only confined within his own domain. He was also widely known and respected in the ancient Sulu Sultanate as far as Sabah. He was mainly influential in creating a pervading consciousness of the Islam religion among the Muslim inhabitants of the different sultanates reaching as far as the Moluccas. Sultan Kudarat was also titled Nasir Uddin and in the 1650’s he was recognized as the most powerful Muslim ruler in the Philippines.
When Sultan Kudarat’s father, Sultan Buisan, died in 1602, he ascended to the power as Ruler of the Maguindanao Sultanate. During the reign of his father, Mindanao experienced the first attack of the Spaniards. Sultan Kudarat himself had armed encounters with the Spanish conquistadors who wanted to wrest from him the possession of his sultanate. He successfully repulsed them.
In the early part of the year 1637, Hurtado de Corcuera, Captain and Governor General of the Philippines, led personally the combined Spanish Indio forces and attacked the Muslim citadel at Lamitan near Lake Lanao. Sultan Kudarat with 2,000 native warriors met the enemy in what was considered as the bloodiest and one of the biggest battles of his career. The Muslim leader and his warriors including women and children, fought great vigor and bravery, many of them heroically dying in the struggle. Kudarat sustained a bullet wound in one arm, fought his way through the Spanish lines and escaped. His wife, clasping her baby at her breast, also ran through the Spanish lines, jumped over a cliff and eluded capture.
Sultan Kudarat rallied the other Muslim leaders to maintain their hold on the Islam Faith and to defend their respective enclaves from foreign incursions. When some of the Maranao chieftains collaborated with the Spaniards in the construction of a walled fort in the midst of the Muslim settlements, he convened them at a place and lectured to them emphasizing that they should realize the serious consequences of their collaboration with the Spaniards.
It was known that Sultan Kudarat, in his lectures to his countrymen, had the power to penetrate their innermost feelings. He said
“What have you done? Do you realize what subjection would reduce you to? A toilsome slavery under the Spaniards! Turn your eyes to the subject nations and look at the misery to which such glorious nations had been reduced. Look at the Tagalogs and the Visayans! Do you think that the Spaniards would consider you of better stuff? Have you not seen how the Spaniards have trampled them under their feet? Do you not see how they are obliged to work at the oars and at the factories everyday with all their might and rigors? Can you tolerate anyone with a little Spanish blood to beat you up and grasp the fruits of your labor? Allow yourselves today and tomorrow you will be at the oars. I, at least, will be a pilot, the biggest favor they will allow in a ship. Do not let their sweet words deceive you. Their promises facilitate their deceits, which, little by little, will enable them to control everything. Reflect on how they dishonored even the minor promises they made to the heads of other nations until they had become masters of them all. See now what is being done to these heads and how they are being led by a rod!”
Source: Philippine history : reassessed, Abeto, Isidro Escare, University of Michigan Digital Library
The stupidity of submitting to Spanish sovereignty
(A speech by the great Muslim ruler of Mindanao, Corralat as the Spaniards garbled his name, to the Malanaos of the Lake, or Lanao region in 1638 from Friar Luis de Jesus’ history of the Recollect missions.)
You men of the Lake, forgetting your ancient liberty, have submitted to the Castilians. Such submission is sheer stupidity. You cannot realize to what your surrender binds you. You are selling yourselves into slavery to toil for the benefit of these foreigners.
Look at the regions that have already submitted to them. Note how abject is the misery to which their peoples are now reduced. Behold the condition of the Tagalogs and of the Bisayans whose chief men are trampled upon by the meanest Castilian. If you are of no better spirit than these, then you must expect similar treatment. You, like them, will be obliged to row in the galleys.
Just as they do, you will have to toil at the shipbuilding and labor without ceasing on other public works. You can see for yourselves that you will experience the harshest treatment while thus employed.
Be men. Let me aid you to resist. All the strength of my Sultanate, I promise you, shall be used in your defence.
What matters it if the Castilians at first are successful? That means only the loss of a year’s harvest. Do you think that too dear a price to pay for liberty?
Gems of Philippine oratory; selections representing fourteen centuries of Philippine thought, carefully compiled from credible sources in substitution for the pre-Spanish writings destroyed by missionary zeal, to supplement the later literature stunted by intolerant religious and political censorship, and as specimens of the untrammeled present-day utterances by Austin Craig, page 20-21, University of Manila, 1924.