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Sunday, June 16, 2024

Walking through Bangsamoro’s ‘glorious past’

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(2nd of Two Parts)

Picong, Lanao del Sur—It was in Picong where Philippine Muslim hero Sultan Muhammad Dipatuan Kudarat was met by native rulers, including his brother in-law Datu Amatunding, providing him sanctuary here and in lake-town Butig.

HYDROPOWER. Road to an ongoing construction of a hydropower system upstream at the Picong River.

Widely believed is a narrative that Kudarat was buried on a modest spot, left bank downstream of the Picong River after he died here of old age in 1671.

His Maguindanao descendants, however, principally incumbent Sultan Salem Mastura Kudarat V, hold that Kudarat’s tomb has been marked in Barangay Simuay Seashore, Sultan Mastura, Maguindanao.

(Perhaps both contentions can be open to a carbon-dating test on any existing object, such as the traditional hardwood slabs, beneath the ground surface of the Muslim grave).

Datu Rajiv Balindong Ramos, the municipal planning and development officer, says the local leadership headed by his uncle the Municipal Mayor Mesron Balindong is working towards a development direction of educational tourism, mainly history for learners to walk through

Moroland’s glorious past. Part of an educational tourism package is a soon-to-be completed hydropower system upstream the Picong River—which is planned to be complemented with a pay-per-view e-platform for virtual visitors.

Interestingly, on about the same spot, in the old Kingdom of Nago sa Picong where Kudarat landed in 1639, also landed the First Batch of 90 Moro foreign trainees from Pulao Pankur Island Kedah (Malaysia), popularly known as the “Top 90”, 330 years later in 1969—as the forerunner forces of both the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) secessionist groups.

The Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao had started constructing the Picong-Poalas-Butig Road and will in time be completed by the BARMM, for a shorter alternative route to Marawi City, the region’s Summer Capital, Ramos said.

FLASHBACK. Wharf Cottage in Ramitan is the same spot where the First Batch of 90 Moro Trainees from Malaysia landed in 1969 and where Philippine Muslim Hero Sultan Muhammad Dipatuan Kudarat landed in 1639 from Bangingi Island near Basilan.

BARMM spokesman and Interior and Local Government Minister Naguib Sinarimbo said the regional government will be complementing the shorter route to Marawi City with a circumferential road along the Dapao Lakeshores.

By land on road travel or by water in colorful stream boating will be a fine summer treat to cultural tourism explorers and education travellers along historic sites narrated in Spanish by the Jesuit Chronicler Francisco Combes.

The following accounts originate from the English translation of Combes’ records on the Lake expeditions of the Spaniards in Mindanao.

Sultan Muhammad Dipatuan Kudarat delivered this Address to the People of the Lake in the Iranun Dialect in 1639:

What have you done? Do you realize what subjection would reduce you to? A toilsome under the Spaniards! Turn your eyes to the subject nations and look at the misery to which such glorious nations had been reduced to. Look at the Tagalogs and Visayans! Are you better than they? Do you think that the Spaniards consider you of better stuff?

Have you not seen how the Spaniards trample them under their feet? Do you not see every day how they are obliged to work at the oars and the factories with all their rigors? Can you tolerate anyone with a little Spanish blood to beat you up and grasp the fruit of your labor?

Allow yourselves to be subjects (today) and tomorrow you will be at the oars; I, at least, will be a pilot, the biggest favor they will allow a chief.

Do not let their sweet words deceive you; their promise facilitates their deceits, which, little by little, enable them to control everything. Reflect on however the minor promises to the chiefs of other nations, the Visayans and the Tagalogs, were not honored until they became masters of them all. See now what is being done to these chiefs and how they are led by a rod.

MEMORIAL. The Tomb of Sultan Muhammad Dipatuan Kudarat at the downstream left riverbank of Picong River.

The speech was inspired by the first attempt of the Spaniards to open up the Lake Lanao region in 1639, when on orders of Governor General Sebastian Hurtado de Corcuera and Zamboanga Governor Pedro de Almonte, Spanish troops moved up by breaking six vessels into four-parts each; transported and reassembled them on reaching the lake with hardly a resistance from the natives.

Second Spanish expedition to the Lake: “Receiving reports in Manila, Corcuera ordered Bermudez de Castro with 50 Spaniards and 500 native troops from Bohol to go up to the lake, and build a fort, and garrison it. The lake Moros (Maranaos) this time were largely defiant and organized. From the first day the Spaniards started constructing their fort they were besieged and attacked.

A relief column, commanded by Padre Agustin de San Pedro, rescued the garrison from imminent destruction. Both commanders saw that the fort could not be maintained against the hordes of Moros who were bent on its destruction, so they instead demolished what they had built with so much labor and bloodshed and retreated to Iligan on the north coast. The detachment was there; provisioned and returned to Bohol and Manila.” (Combes 1639)

The repositioning and reconstitution of the historic Moro defence in Picong was mainly bound by kinship: the Maranao King Amatunding was the brother in-law of Sultan Kudarat, being the husband of the latter’s sister, Putri Gayang. Secondly, Tanaon in Lake Dapao was the Seat of Power of the Nago Sa Picong, the most influential Lake Moro leader of his time.


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