Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Decline of the Sultanate

More than any factor, the introduction of the steamboat in the Spanish navy was the greatest plus factor that turned the tide against the Moros. The Moro caracaos, 16 however swift, was no match to the Spanish steamship equipped with heavy artillery. Consequently, Spain was able to conduct bigger and more sustained operations against the Moros of Mindanao and Sulu. The period witnessed the defeat of the Moros in Basilan, Malabang, and Jolo. One such reversal was scored in Balangingi, Basilan in 1845, against the Balangingi Samals, sometimes referred to by the Spaniards as the "fiercest pirates" of the Sulu seas. After a gallant but futile stand, the Balangingi Samals were routed after seventeen days of bloody combat, and the survivors, mostly women and children, were exiled to Luzon. Many of their descendants are still found in the town of Tomauini, Isabela, but what are left of them can still manage to recite the Islamic formula of faith: "There is no god except Allah and Muhammad is the Prophet of Allah."
In the meantime, the Sulu and Maguindanao sultanates were besieged by dynastic dissensions. In 1862, after the death of Pulalun, the throne was a toss-up between Jamalul Azam, son of Pulalun, and Datu Jamalul Kiram, a grandson of Sultan Shakirullah. Seeing the split, Spain, without the slightest of hesitation, issued a certificate of recognition to Kiram, though denominating him as the "feudal governor of Sulu and a subject of Spain." This was repeated in 1884, when Spain interfered in the power struggle between Ali ud-Din and Amirul Kiram, both contestants to the throne. Initially, Spain favored Amirul Kiram but later on also began making deal with the former. In the Maguindanao sultanate, the dynastic quarrel was equally disastrous. In about 1731, the reigning Sultan Bayan ul-Anwar was opposed by his younger brother, Jaafar Sadiq, who had earlier in 1710 fled to Tamontaka. Jaafar Sadiq had excellent relations with the Spaniards. He was credited with having allowed the Spaniards to build the first Catholic Church in Maguindanao which stills stands today. The Sultan had a son, Malinug, who by all indications would succeed his father and therefore could frustrate the ambition of the uncle. To shorten the story, a series of clashes ensued which culminated in the second week of March 1733, when Malinug with 700 warriors attacked his uncle's capital at Tamontaka and slew him.
In a bid to break all forms of resistance and to settle once and for all the issue of sovereignty over the Moros, Spain launched on February 21, 1876 what became known as the final Jolo campaign. Gov. Gen. Jose Malcampo personally led the campaign involving 9,000 troops, ten steamboats, eleven gunboats, and eleven transports. Public approval, especially on the issue of religious enmity, was carefully sought to support the campaign. In the forefront of this campaign were the friars of the various denominations: Recollects, Jesuits, Dominicans and Augustinians. 17 Together, they heralded: "The war in Jolo is now a just war, a holy war in the name of religion," or "War and war without quarters or rest for the wicked sons of the Qur'an; war to the death with blood and fire!"
As in the past, the action was preceded by intense bombardment and followed by infantry assaults from all directions. One cotta after another fell in intense and bloody fighting and was put to the torch. In the face of these assaults, the Sultan, warriors and retainers retired to the interior - to fight another day.

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