The Sultanate of Maguindanao, the lower valley (sa ilud) kingdom, was a harbor sultanate relying heavily on trade and naval power. At the height of its power in the 17th century under Sultan Qudarat and Sultan Barahman, Maguindanao was the acknowledged overlord of all Mindanao, Sulu and even Borneo. The last Maguindanao sultan, Sultan Mangigin, died in 1926 during the American Occupation.
The Kingdom of BUAYAN
The Sultanate or Rajaship of Buayan, the upper valley (sa raya) kingdom, relied on its rich agricultural lands and had the support of a great number of non-Muslim Malay tribes. The ruler of Buayan chose to stick to the old title of Rajah (a Hindu word for King) to emphasize the fact that the House of Buayan dates back to the Sri Vijaya and Majapahit empires that encompassed most of Southeast Asia. Buayan’s power was eclipsed by Maguindanao during the time of Datu Buisan, Qudarat’s father.
Around 1875, Datu Utto, son of the late Rajah Marajan ud-Din of Buayan showed great organizational skills by uniting the Buayan principalities. His wife Rajah Putri was the daugther of the 18th Maguindanao Sultan, Qudratullah Untung. His uncle, Datu Bayao, who succeeded his brother Rajah Marajan ud-Din, abdicated the rajahship in Datu Utto’s favor.
Datu Utto then proceeded to take control of the Pulangi, including the Maguindanao sultanate (because of him, there was no Maguindanao sultan from 1888 to 1896). Buayan almost regained its old glory when its datus and warriors practically wiped out the remaining Spanish forces in the late 1890s. When the Americans came, Buayan led the fight in Mindanao.
With old age creeping up on him, the old Datu Utto (a.k.a. Rajah/Sultan Anwar ud-Din) turned over the rule of Buayan to his young cousin Datu Ali, the rajah muda of Tinunkup. Unfortunately, Datu Ali, who was about to finally unite Maguindanao and Buayan, was killed by the Americans through treachery of some Moros.
Datu Utto’s widow, Rajah Putri, became the wife of Sultan Mangigin, the last Sultan of Maguindanao.
During the American Occupation, the powerful non-royal Moro Chinese datus took over the leadership of the Pulangi and collaborated with the Americans. Thus ended the rule of the royals in Maguindanao and Buayan.
The Confederation of RANAO sultanates
Near the center of the island is the Lake (Ranao), the highest lake in the Philippines. Around this lake live the M’ranaos. Contrary to what some people believe, the Ranao sultanates were never subservient to the Maguindanao royalty. Datu Dimasangkay, the uncle of Qudarat, married into M’ranao/Iranun royalty. From then on, the M’ranaos/Iranuns became firm and loyal allies of Maguindanao royalty. Perhaps it was because of the M’ranao/Iranun connection that Buayan’s power was eclipsed by Maguindanao in the Pulangi area. It must be noted that when Qudarat was defeated by the Spaniards, he retreated to his relatives among the M’ranaos/Iranuns.
Thus in 1639/40, the Spaniards under Captain Francisco Atienza, in his pursuit of Sultan Qudarat, invaded Ranao. The Spanish colonization attempts ended in failure and they never returned to the land of the M’ranaos until 250 YEARS later.
In 1891, led by no less than the Spanish Governor-General Valeriano Weyler, around 1,250 Spaniards with their indio (Christianized natives) subjects attacked Ranao. They met stiff resistance, especially in Marawi with the strong cotta (fort) of Datu Amai Pakpak. In 1895, the Spaniards tried again, this time with around 3,000 Spanish troops and countless indio subjects. The M’ranao datus fought valiantly but many perished including Datu Amai Pakpak himself. But the M’ranaos laid siege to the Spanish garrison in Marawi.
A year later, the Philippine Revolution in Manila erupted.
The Sultanate of SULU
The Sultanate of Sulu was founded ca. 1400 by Syed Abu Bakr, an Arab who claimed descent from the Prophet Muhammad, p.b.u.h. Syed Abu Bakr took on the regnal name Sharif Hashem, perhaps to emphasize his claim to the Hashemite bloodline. The Sultan of Sulu held sway over the Sulu Archipelago, Palawan, and later North Borneo (now the Malaysian state of Sabah). The Zamboanga peninsula’s ruler changed depending upon the vicissitudes of fortune. Maguindanao, Sulu and the Spanish took turns in ruling Zamboanga, known locally as Samboangan.
Palawan Island used to be a territory of the Sultanate of Brunei. In the 1660s, after the successful intervention of the Sulu Sultan in the dynastic quarrel in Brunei, Sultan Muaddin of Brunei gave Sabah and Palawan to the Sultanate of Sulu.
In December 1893, due to old age, Sultan Harun ar-Rashid abdicated in favor of his cousin Jamal ul-Kiram II. He transferred his residence to Palawan and used the title “Sultan Jubilado de Palawan“. The Spanish continued paying him his monthly honorarium as sultan as per their agreement. He died in April 1899. Thus, at the end of the Spanish era and the beginning of the American era, a Sulu Sultan reigned over Palawan.
During the dynastic war in Brunei in the 1650’s between Sultan Mu’adin and Sultan Abdul Mubin, the former asked the help of the Sultan of Sulu (Salah ud Din Bakhtiar). The Sulus came to the aid of Mu’adin and defeated Abdul Mubin. In exchange, the victorious Brunei Sultan gave Sabah and Palawan to the Sulu Sultan.
European powers recognized Sulu’s sovereignty over Sabah. Eighteenth and nineteenth-century European maps usually indicated North Borneo as “territories of the Sultan of Sulu.”
On Jan. 22, 1878, the Sulu Sultan Jamal ul Azam leased Sabah to Baron Overbeck. The Sulu Sultan also gave Overbeck the title of Datu Bendahara and Rajah of Sandakan, thus making him his subject.
The Sulu royalty has NEVER given up its claim over Sabah or North Borneo. The State of Sabah still pays its annual rent to the Sulu royals.
Previously posted in The Setting Sun on April 16, 2007.
Also previously posted in my past (now defunct) and present websites like the BANGSAMORO website.