The Moro Sultanates
The Sultanate of MAGUINDANAO
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 the 1920s/30s during the American Occupation.
The Kingdom of BUAYAN
The Sultanate 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. Buayan almost regained its old glory when it practically wiped out the remaining Spanish forces in the late 1890s. When the Americans came, Buayan led the fight in Mindanao. Unfortunately, Datu Ali, the Rajah Muda of Buayan, who was about to finally unite Maguindanao and Buayan, was killed by the Americans through treachery of some Moros. 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.
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.
Sabah 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.
On Jan. 22, 1878, the Sultan Jamal ul Azam of Sulu granted “pajak” (lease or trade monopoly) to Baron von Overbeck over Sabah or North Borneo. 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.
(See “Who Owns Sabah?”)