Tuesday, August 2, 2011

The Moro-Spanish Intramural

The town of Manila was ruled by Rajah Sulaiman Mahmud and Rajah Matanda (jointly or assisted by the latter) and Tondo by Rajah Lakandula. All supremos were of Bornean origin and in fact were closely related to the Brunei sultan.
At this juncture, it is necessary to clarify, contrary to popular perception, two important points in history. First, the first group of people whom the Spaniards in 1570 called Moros were those in Manila and environs and not the islamized natives in Mindanao and Sulu; and second, the first Moro-Spanish War was not fought in the soils of Mindanao and Sulu but right in what is now Metropolitan Manila.
For the first time after the fall of Granada in 1492, the Spaniards and the Moros, nay Muslims, came face-to-face, each circling half the earth in opposite directions. Each was already seething with anger for the other. They had a big score to settle. The Spaniards hated the Muslims for they ruled Spain for about 800 years, while the Muslims could not forgive the Spaniards for the massacre of more than three million Muslims when the Christians recaptured Spain.
Now the hour of reckoning was at hand. Commanding the Spanish troops was Captain Martin de Goiti while Rajah Sulaiman was leading the native defenders. In a threatening voice, the fearless Sulaiman made his stand clear:
We wish to be the friends of all nations. But they must understand that we cannot tolerate any abuse. On the contrary, we will repay with death the least thing that touches our honor.
In effect, this represented the first expression of patriotic sentiments by a native chief against an alien power. Bold and piercing, this was a foreign policy declaration.
True to his words, reminiscent of the Islamic slogan of all ages, "Victory or Martyrdom Rajah Sulaiman, the last Muslim ruler of Manila, preferred martyrdom than to submit to the Spaniards. At the famous Battle of Bangkusay, off Tondo's shore, on June 3, 1571, Rajah Sulaiman perished - but his memory and example remained.
After the fall of Manila, all resistance to Spanish rule, except those fought in Mindoro in 1574 and the so-called aborted Magat Salamat Conspiracy in 1587, had died down entirely in Luzon and the Visayas within a brief span of just eleven years. The Spaniards now became the new masters, not just for one barangay or confederation of barangays but for the entire islands of Luzon and Visayas. This was to last for 327 years.
After formally integrating all the conquered islands into the Spanish Empire with Manila as the colony's capital in 1571, now dubbed as "New Spain," the next tasks were to secure the new territory from external threat and to push further the Crown's colonial designs. Spain came to conquer and acquired gold - usually in the name or aid of the Cross. She was prepared to move heaven and earth, so to speak, and to risk everything if only to monopolize the ultra-profitable spice trade. So huge and rewarding was this trade that the survivors of the Mactan and later the Cebu carriages, who barely made their escape home, managed to procure spice along the way, sold the commodity and were still left with considerable gains even after defraying the cost of the four wrecked ships and paying for the 232 dead, including Magellan. And owing to the severe rivalries between the Dutch and the Portuguese for the control of the spice trade, Spain fitted a large expedition in 1578 to attack the Brunei sultanate believing that it was in alliance with the Portuguese, or that it lay within her sphere of influence. Initial good luck was on the side of the Spaniards for they defeated the sultanate, albeit temporarily.

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