The Moro Sultanates


Map of Moroland

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 Rajahnate of BUAYAN

The Rajahnate or 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 Mranaos. Contrary to what some people believe, the Ranao sultanates were never subservient to the Maguindanao royalty. Datu Dimasangkay, the uncle of Qudarat, married into Mranao/Iranun royalty. From then on, the Mranaos/Iranuns became firm and loyal allies of Maguindanao royalty. Perhaps it was because of the Mranao/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 Mranaos/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?”)


32 thoughts on “The Moro Sultanates

  1. My name is Putri Aizian Utto Camsa from the royal house of Buayan. Kindly be informed that the Royal house of Buaygan and Maguindanao were never ended and till now our royal houses are still existing.

    Thank You.


  2. Putri Aizian,

    First, I wrote in my article above: “Thus ended the rule of the royals in Maguindanao and Buayan.” You cannot possibly say that the Maguindanao and Buayan royals still rule Maguindanao and Buayan today. That would be utterly false. The former Sultanates of Maguindanao and Buayan are now ruled by the Philippine government and its officials.

    Second, I am s student of history and so I know the history of Maguindanao and Buayan, especially since I am part-Buayanen and have Maguindanao relatives.
    It is good to know that the descendants of Datu Utto, the penultimate Rajah of Buayan with real political power, are trying to resurrect the House of Buayan. But being a rajah or Sultan depends not only in bloodline but also military and political power. When the old Sultan Utto realized he no longer had the capability to lead Buayan, he turned over the sultanate to his cousin, Datu Ali, the rajah muda of Tinunkup. Thus, it was Datu Ali who continued the fight against the remaining Spaniards and later, the Americans. That is according to historical records.

    With the death of Datu Ali, resistance against the Americans came to a halt. The once powerful Sultanate of Maguindanao and Rajaship of Buayan were, for all practical purposes, gone. The rule of the royals was ended.

    Sultan Mangigin was the last recognized (by the Americans and other foreign powers) Sultan of Maguindanao.

    During the American occupation, Datu Piang became the most powerful man in the Pulangi region.

    After World War II, upon the establishment of the Philippine Republic, the most powerful men in Cotabato were the Sinsuats, Pendatun and Matalam.

    My father, the late Jude Macapanton Abbas, Sr., was related to the Sinsuats. Senator Sinsuat Balabaran’s wife was a Maranao, my father’s aunt. Datu Duma Sinsuat’s first wife was Raga sa Kampong, my father’s cousin. And my father’s daughter (my sister) was married to Datu Duma’s son.

    My father was a very close friend and dorm-mate of his cousin Datu Duma and Datu Salipada Pendatun. Together with Datu Domocao Alonto, they were the very first Moro lawyers – with my father being the very first Moro to be admitted to the Philippine Bar (1935).

    Together with Congressman Sultan Ombra Amilbangsa of Sulu, they formed a very close group and practically nothing happened in Mindanao, at least until the 1960s, that they did not know.

    The Philippine Commonwealth and Republic did not recognize the Moro royal houses. President Quezon was reportedly “allergic” to the word datu or sultan.

    It was only in the 1970s when my brother, Macapanton Abbas, Jr, who was the operating head of the Presidential Task Force for the Reconstruction and Development of Mindanao (PTF-RDM), pushed for the official recognition by the government of the 19 Royal Houses of Mindanao and Sulu. These included Maguindanao, Buayan and Kabuntalan of the Cotabato region.

    The purpose for that was to give historical and “royal” backing to the Moro petitions at the Organization of Islamic Conference (OIC).

    Immediately upon Marcos’s recognition, my uncle Congressman Lucman was proclaimed “Paramount Sultan of Mindanao and Sulu” and in behalf of the Moro people, he immediately asked the OIC to officially put the Mindanao Problem in its Agenda.

    By the way, on my mother side, I am also descended from the House of Buayan. My grandmother, Bai Rusa, Laga sa Nuling was the daughter of Bai Mukuy of Sugud sa Buayan, Buntung and Buntal. Bai Mukuy’s sister was a prospective bride for Datu Ali. She later married a Tausug datu whose son, Datu Tambuyong, became Sultan Zein-ul Abidin of Sulu.

    When the Americans came to Buayan in the early 1900s, many changes occurred. For our family, the direct result of American arrival was the departure of Bai Mukuy from Buayan to Davao del Sur where she and her husband built a coconut plantation. Many Buayanens and Maguindanaons as well as Tausugs came to Davao to work for their hacienda. But she never forgot Buayan.

    She visited Buayan, especially Koronadal, in the late 1920s with her children and two grandchildren. At that time, the Moros still controlled Buayan. According to my mother, they were met in Koronadal by two sultans whom she heard were called Sultan-a-lukes (Old Sultan) and Sultan-a-wata (Young Sultan). A feast was held in their honor. My mother was around 10 years old at the time.

    Her daughter and granddaughter (my mother) spoke Maguindanaon and maintained contacts with their relatives in Cotabato (the original Cotabato province).

    My grandmother, until her death in 1992, was proud of being a Buayanen. In almost 90 years of living in Davao, Sulu, Lanao and Manila, she spoke and dressed like a Buayanen and even kept her Buayanen family’s custom of not eating beef, even if it was halal.

    Bai Rusa’s husband, Sheikh Ismail Yahya (my grandfather) also have relatives in Cotabato through his Arab lineage. The Bajunaids were his cousins.
    I have a sister living in General Santos City and many cousins in Cotabato and Davao who have Buayanen bloodline.

    It is unfortunate that today, very few people know of the existence of Buayan in history. Nobody even knows its geographical location. There is even no province named Buayan. At least Maguindanao has a province named after the old Sultanate. Rajah Buayan has to content itself with a small municipality in Maguindanao that only recently bears its name.

    It is also unfortunate that Buayan is now peopled by settlers from Luzon and Visayas and that real political power lies with the non-Buayanens and non-Moros.

    As I said, I am glad you are trying to revive the Buayan name. To resurrect the name of Buayan, you should have historians write about Buayan’s history. And you should propagate the name and legacy of Datu Utto and other Buayan rajahs by having books and other media products about them. There is still so much research that needs to be done.

    And you must petition that the history of Buayan should be studied in elementary and high schools — at least in the former territory of the Buayan Sultanate, if not in the whole Cotabato region or the ARMM.

    When I write about Moro history, I usually mention the historical Buayan Sultanate.

    The Moros should know their history.

    By the way, where is the present Sultanate of Buayan? Is it General Santos City or South Cotabato or Sarangani or all or none of the above?


  3. To the author, I am impressed with your historical background regarding the royal houses of maguindanao and buayan. However, I cannot entirely agree with your statement that the royal houses and sultanates ceased to exist for all intent and purposes. If I am going to do a concept analysis regarding the idea of the ruling of maguindanao sultanates under this principle.Are you trying to imply that the critical attributes of defining this concept primarily based on political and military influences. Indeed this sultanates declined significantly and historically. but never ceased to rule and exert its influence in our inged. ” for all purpose, is gone ” which you conluded. Therefore I surmised that the basic antecedent of the concept of the ruling of the sultanates is completely obliterated.The present political system does not give much emphasis to the existence of the maguindanao sultanates and is much dominated by non moro and non datus. I agree to that in order for royal sultanates in maguindanao must have
    significant political and military influence, but there are more attributes need to define the concept of the ruling of sultantates. We have to consider the fact this sultanates continue to rule and exist have influences among its ” endatuans “. Among other things ramains to practice the ” adats ” in settling feuds and marriages. Therefore, in my own opinion the royal houses of maguindanao and buayan never ceased to rule.
    For my part, I am the great grandson of Datu sa Kaludan sa maguindanao. My grandmother in my father side is the daughter of the youngest sister of the Datu Sonsonga the the son of Datu Usi. She is married to a direct descendant of Tabunaway, the former ruler of Cotabato who welcomed and acknowledged the sovereignty of Shariff kabubgsuan.


  4. Mel,

    According to the Oxford dictionary, a ruler is “a person exercising government or dominion.” Sadly, nobody in Maguindanao or Buayan can fit that description except the elected governors of these places. But then, what places? Where is Buayan? Who are the Buayanens? The present Maguindanao province is not the same as the Maguindanao Sultanate.

    Settling feuds and marriages are done by any respected members of the community, from the barangay captain to the rich datus to the politicians. Even Philippine military men settle local disputes in Moroland.

    The only royals that still have political control and dominion are the Maranao royals. But that, too, is eroding as many non-royals or fake royals win elections or become very rich.

    Tausug royalty still has some prestige but the in-fighting among them and the “unroyal” actions of some of them hasten their undoing.

    I find it very unfortunate that the Maguindanao and Buayan royals have lost so much in terms of wealth, especially landholdings and control in Cotabato since the American occupation. The non-royal datus simply took over.

    How can there be a real Sultan of Maguindanao or Rajah of Buayan if the Philippine military can massacre and kill Moro people in those areas and not a pipsqueak can be heard from the Sultan or Rajah?

    The prime duty of a ruler is to protect its people from harm — either from hunger or poverty or foreign oppression. The second duty is to promote the people’s interests.

    All throughout the existence of the Republic of the Philippines (since 1945) or even the Philippine Commonwealth, no Maguindanao Sultan or Buayan Rajah ever did those. In fact, after Sultan Mangigin and Datu Ali, I have not heard or read of anyone claiming to be Sultan of Maguindanao or Rajah of Buayan until very recently.

    If the MILF leader will call himself the Sultan of Maguindanao and will fight for the Cause of the Sultanate, then that is the Sultan that I will take my hat off.

    Also, a Sultan or Rajah could not possibly have a boss or a superior. He could therefore not be a mere elected politician or employee.

    As an aristocrat, I have always been in favor of aristocracy. But aristocracy literally means the rule of the best — the best in intellect, in courage, in dignity, as well as in bloodline, etc. If the Moro aristocrats or royals want to rule again, then they have to prove they are the best and fight for the right to rule.

    The Moro royals can create royalist movements and bring back royalty just as the Cambodians did when they brought back Prince Sihanouk who then became their King.


  5. The oxford definition of a ruler is generally a descriptive one. According to Deary (1998) in his book Terrible Tudors, the author mentioned that when Henry VIII after 28 years, Edward VI, was very sick and too young to rule. Therefore the Duke of Northumberland was Edward’s protector ( a protector ran the country when the monarch is too young to do it . The present day Great Britain is headed by the queen, but the one who runs the government and it’s affairs is the prime minister and the parliament composed of House of Lords and House of Commons. The same thing in Japan, its parliamentary system and the emperor. My point is, by using a meta-analysis approach based on the definition given by Oxford dictionary which you employ in this discussion doest not exactly fit in this situation. Perhaps were both looking this matter in a different angle. Going back to my argument, if I may say so. The sultanates of Maguindanao and Buayan were extremely weakened since the Spanish and American occupation. Moreover since the establishment of the Phil. gov’t. its political system, subsidiaries, laws and constitution itself which were confined nder the principle of territoriality, generality and sovereignty. The Moro sultanates was not even recognized,. Although as you mentioned there has been some initiative done by some of our political leaders and member of royalties addressed to the government to include the moro sultanates in their agenda. to their demise, little was done and even toppled by a far more serious problem of the moro struggle for independence.
    The issue here is whether or not the Moro Sultanates in Maguindanao and Buayan and to include the Kabuntalan ceased to rule. If it is yes, under what capacity, extent or level? The present day Maguindanao and its political wagon (ARMM) is presently governed and dominated by the ruling clans from Cotabato and Maguindanao. But because of the inherent nature of our political system and the lacked of strong position to exert the influences of these sultanates itself. Thus it engulfed the political system laid down and provided by the government. By doing so, were able ti discharge and exercise the inherent function and powers of a ruler legally under the tenet of that political system. It is important to note that being a member of moro royalties and sultanates is very important in achieving these political dominion and positions. Citing the books published by Thomas Mckenna and Mastura, these authors provide a glimpse of overwhelming description and explanation about the subject matter involved. On the other hand the government does not recognized the superiority of the Moro Sultanates in their own soil. basically to preserve its integrity and for that reason that for many decades they failed to reach the problem of the Moro people.
    Lastly, concluding that theses sultanates ceased to rule and for all purposes is gone is too absurd and premature and further a solid grounding. This is not the same with the pharaoh’s in Egypt which were completely decimated and that only appears in history books and documentaries. The grand phenomenon of the concept of ruling of Maguindanao Sultanates requires an in depth analysis.
    for my part again, of course this is my own opinion and argument. According to the philosopher Robert Johann “this is the action of mine and not someone else”.


  6. I was born a long time ago, even long before everyone is talking about these Bangsamoro ideas. Discussions are only hopes of futility. Since religion is the prime mover of the present exercise, let us concentrate on it. Anyway, we can go everywhere, into the farthest nooks and crannies of Philippines sans apartheid. With the diverse idosyncracies obtaining among us, religion holds dearly the hearts of many. with a little more push, there will come a deluge of reconversons back to Islam. Japan may have lost the war, the jihadists may be losing, too, but trade and commerce like in the Greenhills and Quiapo enclaves is our very sure chance of triumph.


  7. Hi Dom,

    I was born a long time ago, too but I have always heard or read discussions regarding the Bangsa Moro. My father discussed it in his speeches and in his diaries. He was born in 1910. He discussed it with his elders in 1935 when the Maranao datus sent a petition to the US President and US Congress NOT to include Lanao in the grant of Philippine independence. My father’s family – father, uncles, and relatives also discussed it in 1891 and 1895 when they fought the Spaniards in the two Battles of Marawi. My mother’s elders also discussed the Moro issue in 1902 when her ancestors fought the Americans in the first ever Moro-American battle — the Battle of Bayang.

    In our family, discussions about the Bangsa Moro started long, long time ago, before you were born.

    I am not belittling the folks at Greenhills or Quiapo, but the Moros deserve so much more. They deserve self-determination, freedom and homeland. And the road to that is not through Greenhills or Quiapo. Man does not live by bread alone.


  8. Salam brother in islam. . Alhamdulillah sa gumawa ng blogs na ito at kahit papaan0 ay nkakapagbigay ng imp0rmasyon sa bag0ng henerasyon subalit datapwat hnd nin.u dapat pag awayan kung knino, saan man kau nagmula. Ang pinakamahalaga ay taung mga bangsamoro ay magkaisa para sa kapayapaan at magkakaroon ng sariling gobyerno. Hindi tau dapat nag away2x sa isang bagay na wlang kabuluhan. Para sa author, sa pagkakaalam ko sa tarsila ay ang unang asawa ni shariff kabunsuan ay anak ng iranun datu/rajah ng malabang at ang pangalawang asawa ay anak ng iranun datu/rajah ng maguindanao bago ito naging sultanate. . According 2 Dr. Cesar M., Dalawa lang ang lihitim0ng ruler ng mga royal sultanate ng bu0ng bansa at ito ay ang mga Tausug at Iranun. Isa na dito si Sultan Qudarat ng maguindanao at sultan of sulu. . Ang dapat nin.ung gawin mga kpatid ko sa islam ay mag aral kau ng Ph.D in History para mgawan ng sariling aklat ang ating mga ninuno, at d present, we do not have moro historian n d philippines so we must do something to fixed ds problem. . . .


  9. to the author and Datu FMCJ,

    I agree to that, someone or somebody from the Moro people should have the academic qualification such as the doctorate degree in history and probably create a comprehensive research or publish a book in moro history.
    There are many method of academic inquiries that can be used. The perspective and parameters used by Thomas Mckenna in his book ….muslim rebels and everyday politics is a good one. The big question is does anyone capable and have the overwhelming interest to do this?
    I cannot do this due to some specific reasons which I refused to elaborate. How about you?


  10. Datu FMCJ,

    Assalammu ‘aleikum.
    First of all, nobody here is quarreling about where we come from. We all know where we come from. The extended discussion in this post is simply to resolve whether the Sultan of Maguindanao and Rajah of Buayan are still “RULING” in Mindanao nowadays.

    Second, Kabungsuwan reportedly married into local Maguindanao, Iranun and M’ranao royalty. Kabungsuwan’s successor is his son by Angintabu, Iranun daughter of the Datu of Malabang. I don’t think anybody questions Kabungsuwan’s Iranun wife.

    Third, I don’t recall Dr. Majul ever writing that “the only legitimate rulers of the royal sultanate of the whole nation are the Tausug and Iranun.” That is obviously false. And you gave as an example Sultan Qudarat and the Sultan of Sulu.

    Sultan Qudarat is basically a Maguindanao Sultan although he has Iranun and M’ranao ancestry, too.

    Fourth, having a PhD degree in History does not necessarily make a good historian. A good historian is one who can sift the facts from fiction, the truth from untruth. A good historian must be like a good detective who can follow clues and be able to reconstruct them to form a factual picture.

    It must be noted that not all written documents are factual. Some are even hoaxes like the Sumakwel Code and the Kalantiaw Code.

    To write a more comprehensive history of the Moros need lots of money. There are tons of sources in the archives in Manila, Spain, England, the US and Netherlands.

    Also, there is a need to investigate local Moro sources as well as Bornean, Malaysian and Moluccan sources.

    A good deal of archaeological work is needed, too.

    Since the Philippine government cannot be expected to help (Filipino history is also a mess), perhaps the Moros can ask rich Arab governments to give grants to do historical studies on the Bangsa Moro.

    Thank you for your comments.


  11. to Datu FCMJ

    Where did u get that idea that the only legitimate sultan only were Sultan Kudarat and the Tausug Sultans? From Dr. Cesar? I dont think so.
    Do you know who is the current paramount Sultan of Maguindanao? Su apo ko a Sultan Guiwan Mastura.
    Please don’t tell me he is not legitimate.
    To the author, I agree with you.


  12. Datu Sean,

    I agree with u brother. .

    The Author,
    Salam. . .

    I dnt agree that sultan qudarat is a maguindanao because in the past century der s no maguindanaon tribe. . They were calld maguindanao bcoz they lived n maguindanao sultanate and as far as i knw dat d origin of maguindanaon is frm d tao sa raya and tao sa raya’s origin s frm iranun. . D only legitm8 ruler of a sultanate s d Iranun and Sama Tausug bcoz they hve d direct blo0dline of a shariff frm d dscndants of MSAW (pbuh) and it was d shariff who brng d Islam faith n ds animist land. .


    salam. . . If u dnt hve a blood of a sama tausug and iranun u cant be a ruler. . . Thats d reality. . . Even though dat nowadays d maguindanaon rule all over maguindanao pr0v. It s still dat the ruler sultan of maguindanao has a blood of an iranun. . By d way i cme frm d decendnts of Datu Macaumbang (sultan of taga nonok) and ruler of pagadian city, the 22nd Sultan of Maguindanao – Sultan Mohammad Esmael and last but not d lst Datu Masla sa Subpangan – Datu Ahmad Jamerol Maruhom Kari. .


  13. Datu FCMJ,

    You are correct in a sense and wrong in others.

    According to some documents, the Iranuns are distinct from the people of the Pulangui now known as Maguindanaons. They supposedly belong to different ethnic groups. The Iranuns, some say, came from Sabah. They migrated to Mindanao, became Muslims and later many of them returned to Sabah. That’s according to Malaysian sources.

    According to other sources, the word Iranun came from “I-ranao-nun”. This means that the Iranuns came from a ranao or lake. Could it be THE Ranao now known as Lake Lanao?

    I usually look at a people’s language to determine their ethnicity. Iranuns speak the Maguindanao language. And Maguindanao and M’ranao languages are very closely related. They belong to the Danao sub-family of languages.

    And according to tradition, the indigenous peoples of Mindanao, both Moro and non-Moro (some people call them lumads), came from common ancestors.

    The establishment of political units separated the peoples of Mindanao and Sulu.

    Kabungsuwan arrived in the Malabang area with some Samals. Malabang was mostly Iranun then. According to Majul, there might have been a Muslim community there already as two Arab missionaries preceded Kabungsuwan. Kabungsuwan married into Iranun royalty. Later he married into Maguindanaon royalty,too.

    The Pulangui or Cotabato people were divided into two — the “sa ilud” and “sa raya”. The Sultanate established by Kabungsuwan and the Iranun female line came to be known as the Sultanate of Maguindanao because Maguindanao was its capital. Its strength lay on the Iranun coastal areas and the wives of the early Maguindanao sultans were Iranuns, mostly from Slangan. Maguindanao was “SA ILUD”.

    The Sultanate or Rajahship of Buayan was “SA RAYA”. Presumably, Maguindanaons are “tau sa ilud” while Buayanens are ” tau sa raya”. Even according to Spanish sources, the Buayan dynasty was a more organized and structured political entity than Maguindanao when they (the Spaniards) arrived in Mindanao. The Buayan royalty refused to call its realm a sultanate and preferred the title of Rajah rather than Sultan to show that their dynasty was older than Maguindanao’s. A Buayan rajah later married a daughter of Kabungsuwan.

    I don’t believe that the Iranun maternal lineage was retained in the later Maguindanao sultans. I could be wrong.

    But in England, the first King of the United Kingdom of England and Scotland was James I. He was a Scot (aka James VI of Scotland). That was in 1603. But after a few generations, the British monarchs did not have an ounce of Scottish blood. That was because the Scottish kings held court in England and not in Scotland.

    In the same vein, the Maguindanao sultans held court in Maguindanao territory and not in Iranun territory like Malabang or Butig.

    Also, the later Sultans of Maguindanao were chosen not merely on bloodline but on personal power and politics. Outsiders like the Spaniards and the Rajah of Buayan, at times, also meddled in the choice of Sultan.

    By the late 17th century, Maguindanaons at the Court were not pleased with the Iranun and M’ranao relatives of the sultans, according to Dutch sources.

    Traditions have it that a Sharif Alawi came to Lanao and sired some of its sultans/datus. Since he was also a Sharif, he was supposedly also a direct descendant of the Prophet. Maranao royalty also claim descent from Sharif Kabungsuwan through his Iranun and Maguindanao descendants.

    According to Dutch sources, visiting M’ranao dignitaries were given special privileges by the Maguindanao sultans (Qudarat, Barahaman, etc.) because they were their relatives.

    As for your definition of legitimate, that is very problematic. One does not have to be a direct descendant of the Prophet to be legitimate. The present King of Saudi Arabia is not a direct descendant of the Prophet. He is not even a Quraish. Abu Bakr, Umar and Uthman were not descendants or close relatives of the Prophet. The Umayyads, the Ottomans, the Mughal dynasty in India, etc. were not descendants of the Prophet.

    The first Sulu Sultan Sharif ul Hashim’s direct lineage to the Prophet is not well documented. And the later Sulu Sultans might not have been directly descended from him. For example, the 18th sultan, Nasar ud Din (Datu Sabdula) was reputed to be the son of the daughter of the 15th sultan, Shahab ud Din. Arab genealogy is traced only through the male line.

    As for Kabungsuwan, there is also NO definitive evidence that he descended directly from the Prophet. And the later Maguindanao sultans might not have been his direct descendants as succession to the Sultanate is not automatic but based on various factors.

    Therefore, according to your definition, the “legitimacy” of the Maguindanao and Tausug Sultans are put into question.

    I may have more Arab blood than the later Maguindanao and Tausug sultans. My great-grandfather was al faqih Sheikh Yahya ibn Hadi of the Sultanate of Lahej in Yemen. He returned to his homeland after the Battle of Bayang, the first Moro-American battle in Mindanao.

    On the other hand, if it is descent from a Sharif that is the criterion to be “legitimate”, then all Sultanates in Mindanao and Sulu are legitimate. Maguindanao rulers descended from Sharif Kabungsuwan, Buayan from Kabungsuwan through her daughter, and the Maranaos from Sharif Alawi and Kabungsuwan’s descendants.

    Lastly, I do not understand what you mean by “Sama Tausug”. The Tausugs are not Sama or Samal. The Tausug do not belong to the Sama group. The Sama and Tausug languages belong to completely different family of languages. Samas cannot be Sultans of Sulu. When the Sama datu, Ombra Amilbangsa was proclaimed Sultan by his wife, the Sultana or Pangyan Hadja Piandao, the sultanate was divided. The other half of the Ruma Bichara proclaimed Datu Tambuyong as Sultan (Zein ul Abidin) and Dayang Dayang Putli Tarhata as Pangyan.


  14. Salam. .
    The Author,

    Well, i dnt have more knwledge regarding of some infos rgarding the true hstory of the Moro Land bcoz im n0t an historian. . But i’ll just wait 4 d buk of my brother rgrding the Iranun 2 be rleased soon after he grad8 his Ph.D in history cognate in political science in UP Diliman ds school yr. . He will be d 1st Moro Historian n d philippines. .

    Like wat i’ve said dat der s NO maguindanaon tribes n d past Century, yes mybe n late 19th century. .
    Tau sa raya and mgndnw nwadays are same tribe. . D 1st islmzed ws sama tausug, 2nd ws Iranun, 3rd Tau sa raya and d last ws the m’ranao. . Wy back in lter prt of 15th to 18th century the only fighter who defend the Moro land was the Tausug (bangingi, Sama, Samal, badjao, yakan, etc.) and Iranun. .

    About the dialect, the iranun was the mother language of Tau sa raya (maguindanao) and maranao. . The iranun can easily speak tausaraya (mguindnw) and maranao bcoz ds 2 ethnic tribe was came frm iranun. .

    Kindly visit my blogs. .


  15. Datu FMCJ,


    Congratulations to your brother. I hope he finds the resources to write a more comprehensive history of the Bangsa Moro. There have been Moros who have written books on Moro history.

    It would be interesting to know the true relationship between the Iranuns of Mindanao, the Iranuns of Sabah, the Maguindanaos and the Maranaos.

    Linguistically, the Iranun language of Sabah and the Maranao language are closely-related — 85% cognates. The Iranun language of Sabah is closer to Maranao than the language of the Iranuns in Mindanao. See

    As to fighting for Islam and homeland, the Iranuns and the Tausugs were not the only ones to do so. As I wrote in a newspaper feature article, the Datu of Sarangany and his men fought the Portuguese as early as 1535. They were Sangils. The Sangils of Sarangany also helped the Ternatans fight the Dutch.

    The Spanish came only in the 16th century. In 1521, Magellan and company were killed by the Cebuanos led by Lapu-Lapu and Rajah Humabon. When the Spaniards came to Manila in 1571, Rajah Suleiman, a Bornean, led the fight for Islam and homeland. All through the Spanish-Moro wars, all the Moros fought — Maguindanaons, Buayanens, Sangils, Taosugs, Samals, Maranaos and Iranuns. In fact, even the non-Moros fought the invaders. The Manobos, Tagakaulos, etc. even joined the raids to Luzon and Visayas. The Ternatans also joined in some of the raids and even in defending Mindanao.

    In 1639, in pursuit of Qudarat, the Spanish invaded Maranao territory. But they did not succeed. The Spanish tried again in 1640 but failed again. They did not return to Maranao territory until 250 years later– in 1895.

    But many Maranao warriors joined the all-Moro raids against the Spaniards in the Visayas and Luzon.

    And I repeat, the Sama group (Sama, Balangingi, Badjao, etc.) does not include the Taosug. The Samas belong to the Sulu Sultanate but they are not Taosugs.

    Lastly, I want to return to the notion that only rulers who are the Prophet’s descendants are legitimate. That is a Shi’a innovation. The fact that the Prophet chose Abu Bakr as his successor showed that he did not intend to build his own dynasty. The great dynasties in Islamic history — Umayyad, Abbasid, Ottoman, Mughal, etc.– did not come from the line of the Prophet.

    By the way, please stop describing the Moro languages as dialects. They are bona-fide languages, not dialects. Look at the the dictionary for the meanings. For example, Tagalog is a language with several dialects like Batangueno, Bataan-Tagalog, Manila-Tagalog, etc.

    And please stop calling us tribes. We are not small groups of primitive people speaking in dialects. We are nations.

    The Maranao nation is composed of almost a million people, many highly educated, with a long history of sovereignty, socio-political structure, language, literature and the arts. And we belong to a bigger nation, the Bangsa Moro or Moro Nation. The same goes for the Maguindanao nation, the Sulu nation and others.

    The Americans and later the Christian Filipinos wanted to degrade the Moro nations so they called them tribes like the American Indians. Yet they do not say the Tagalog tribe or Ilocano tribe. And the Philippine government, in order to make the Tagalog language the lingua franca in the Philippines, refer to the other Philippine languages as dialects. There are at least 87 languages in the Philippines and thousands of dialects.

    Words are very important. If Moros think of themselves as mere tribes and speaking in mere dialects, then they are doomed to be oppressed and colonized forever. What good is having a glorious history if one lives under the rule of others in the present?

    I am looking forward to reading your brother’s book. Wassalam.


  16. i AM an iranun!datu fmcj is right that before there was no maguindanaon and maranao! ang mga maranao ay tinawag lang sila na mga iranun kasi nakatira sila malapit sa lanao lake at ang mga tao na yun ay mga iranun din dahil sa kanilang accent dahil sa nagi evolve tayo medyo iba ang accent na nila kaya tinawag sila na maranao.kung marunong po kayo datu ashley ng sarsila tingnan nyo na lang kasi lahat ng mga sultans at datu sa lanao ay mga iranun. mali ang sabihin na na si putri hangintabu at putri madsawang ay half m’ranao and iranun. ang diwan sa bayang ay iranun if i’m not mistaken great grandson ng amatunding a nuni na iranun. bakit saan ba nanggaling ang mga sultans at datus ng lanao di ba dun sa mga anak nung amatanding a nuni. if you want banggitin ko pa syo ang lahat ng mga ancestors para masabi mo mo na wala talagang m’ranao. ang term naman na maguindanaon sa iranun ay alipin kaya lahat ng mga ninuno namin ay hindi nagpapatawag ng maguindanaon. kasi pag sila sila naguusap ang sabi asan ang maguindanaon mo. means alipin. at ang sultanate of maguindanao kung titignan mo sa sarsila lahat ng naging sultan ng maguindanao ay iranun. at yung isa huwag nyang ipagmayabang na ang apo nya ay si sultan mastura kasi mas marami pa ang purna kumpara sa kanya. huwag tayong pataasan kasi mas marami pa ang purna na nas paligid lang.


  17. Leo,

    Nakakatawa ka! Ang dami mo pang comments. Hindi ko na ilalagay. Gumawa ka ng sarili mong blog kung gusto mo. Hindi ako Tagalog pero tagalog ang gagamitin ko kasi mukhang hindi ka marunong mag-Ingles.

    Wala akong away sa mga Iranun. Kapwa Moro yan. Pero kung sasabihin nyo na mas magaling kayo kumin sa amin, eh, Nasisiraan ka na!

    Ngyaon, sinasabi mo pang alipin and mga Maguindanaon!

    Ang lola ko Buayanen. Lahat ng HISTORICAL DOCUMENTS- hindi lang haka-haka ng mga lolo nyo — ay nagsasabi na NAUNA naitayo ang Rajahnate ng Buayan at mas malakas at makapangyarihan ito sa Maguindananao bago dumating si Qudarat.

    Hindi mo pwedweng sabihin na alipin nyo ang mga taga-Buayan. Mahiya ka naman.

    Taga Diwan-Bayang din ako. Ang mga Maranao sultans/datus ay nag-asawa ng mga anak at apo ni Sharif Kabungsuwan, ayon sa tradisyon. Pero hindi yan nangangahulugan na Iranun na sila.

    At yung kay Angintabu, klarong klaro ang sinulat ko — siya ay “Iranun daughter of the Datu of Malabang.” Hindi ko sinabi half-Maranao siya.

    Sa mga Dutch archives, nakasulat doon na tuwing bibisita ang mga Maranao datus tulad ng Datu sa Taraka, espesyal ang trato sa kanila kaya naiinis ang mga Maguindanaon. Mas papaniwalaan ko yung mga dokumento noong ika-17 na siglo (17th century)kumin sa kuwento-kuwento mo.

    Ang pagkakaalam ko, si Datu Nuni Amatunding ay bayaw ni Qudarat. Nung panahon nila, libo-libo na ang mga Maranao kaya hindi lahat ng Maranao datu ay nanggaling sa kanya.

    At yung mga Maguindnao dito, dapat sagutin nyo ang sinasabi nitong taong ito.

    Ang mga Moro ngayon ay napapasailalim ng mga Indio-Filipino. Ang mga karapatang-tao ng mga Moro ay nilalapastanganan. Karamihan sa mga Moro ay naghihirap. Kung magaling ka na Moro, dapat ay ipaglaban mo ang mga karapatan ng mga Moro at hindi ibaba at insultuhin ang ibang Moro.

    Karamihan sa mga Iranun ngayon ay naghihirap. E ano ngayon kung kayo ang naghahari sa Maguindanao o buong Mindanao noon. Ano kayo ngayon?


  18. ang kapal naman ang mukha para sabihin na naghihirap ang mga iranun! halos lahat ng mga iranun ay may sariling lupa! ano kau umaabot nga kayo hangang buwan sa pagtitinda dahil sa walang pride at kahirapan


  19. LEO,

    IKAW ANG MAKAPAL ANG MUKHA! Halos lahat ng Bangsa Moro ay naghihirap.

    Magaling naman kung mayaman ang mga Iranun. E, dapat pagandahin ninyo ang inyong lugar at ipaglaban ninyo ang mga karapatan ng mga Moro.

    Ang edukasyon ang isang batayan kung gaano kataas ang estado ng isang tao. Educado ka ba o mal-educado?

    Saan ka ba nakapag-aral? Saan nakapagaral ang iyong mga kapatid, pinsan, pamangkin, magulang at pati na ang mga lolo’t lola mo?

    If you guys really are doing well, where were you educated? how about your parents, grandparents, siblings and other relatives?

    Panahon pa ng mga Amerikano, educado na ang aking lolo at mga magulang. Ang aking lolo ay ang unang Moro na School Superintendent noong 1920s pa. Ang aking ama ay ang unang ABOGADO na Moro. Siya ay nakapasa sa Bar noong 1935. Ako at aking mga kapatid at mga kamag-anak ay nakapagtapos hindi lang sa UP-Diliman at ibang sikat na unibersidad sa Manila, pati na rin sa ibang bansa.

    At kahit sa mga unibersidad sa Manila o iba pang lugar, nanguguna kami sa aming mga kurso at mga ka-eskuwela.

    Isa pang batayan ng estado ng tao sa sociedad ay kung siya ay “well-traveled”. A well-traveled person is he/she who has traveled the world, not for work as an OFW but for studies and leisure. For Muslims, going for the Hajj is a good indicator.

    1920s pa lang, naka-pag Hajj na ang mga lolo ko. Lahat kami sa pamilya ay naka-hajj na. Lahat kami ay well-traveled. I have traveled to the Middle East, Europe, North America and North Africa before I was 21 years old.

    Nguni’t hindi kami nagyayabang. Ang gusto lang namin ay gumana ang buhay ng bawa’t Moro at ng buong Bangsa Moro. Ang nais namin ay lahat ng Moro magkaroon ng pagkakataong makapaglakbay at magkaroon ng oportunidad na makapag-aral sa mga pinakamahusay na unibersidad sa Pilipinas at sa ibang bansa.

    Bagama’t wala sa amin ang nagtitinda, bakit mo minmasama ang pagtitinda ng mga Maranao?

    What are your means of livelihood?

    At kung lupain lang ang paguusapan, di hamak mas malaki ang lupain ng mga Maranao kumin sa mga Iranun.

    Halos lahat ng Lanao del Sur ay pag-aari pa rin ng mga Maranao. At halos kalahati ng Lanao del Norte ay nasa kamay pa rin ng mga Maranao.

    Hindi natin maaring masabi yan sa mga probinsyang dating sinasakop ng Cotabato Province lalo na ang Cotabato, South Cotabato at Sultan Kudarat. Kahit na sa Maguindanao, napakarami na ng mga hindi Moro doon.

    Kaya nga may mga usapin tungkol sa Ancestral Domain. Dapat bang hindi isali ang mga Iranun dahil nasa kanila pa ang kanilang mga dating lupain?

    The ff. is from this website:

    It says: “The conflict-afflicted areas in Mindanao are the poorest among the 78 provinces in the country. Moreover, the 2003 Human Development Report claims that the ARMM has the lowest life expectancy among all regions at 55.3 years, while the national average is approximately 66.9 years. Five to six out of ten adults know the basics of reading and writing, considered the worst figures in the country. For the most part, the conflict accounts for the region’s poor human development record. What is surprising is the dramatic rise in poverty in ARMM even after the 1996 peace agreement was signed. From a high 54% in 1996, the poverty incidence has risen to 75% or double what it has been ten years ago. ”

    And is says further: “The Iranuns of Camp Abubakar are internally displaced peoples who are victims of the continuing war waged by government against Moro rebels.”

    Ano ang ginagawa ninoyng MAYAYAMANG IRANUN tungkol sa mga Iranun IDPs?

    75% poverty incidence sa ARMM pero sabi mo hindi naghihirap an mga Iranun. Magaling! Bigyan ninyo na lang ng Zakat o Sadaqah ang maraming naghihirap na Moro.

    Tunay ka bang Moro o nanggugulo ka lang sa mga website ng mga Moro?

    I won’t debate with you further because I don’t think you possess the necessary intelligence nor the logical reasoning to engage in an intellectual debate.

    You even insult the Maranaos and the Maguindanaos. NAKAKAHIYA KA. Huwag mong sirain ang reputasyon ng mga tunay na Iranun.

    And please stop making comments here. I don’t even know if you are a real person.

    This is my own personal blog and you don’t have the right to disturb the peace of this blog.

    All historical facts written here are from documented sources. Your statements are mostly speculations and have no documented bases.

    Kung gusto niyo mag-sultan ng Maguindanao, e di i-proclaim nyo sarili nyo na sultan.

    Don’t bother to send more comments because I will just SPAM it.


  20. napakagnda ng Blog n i2 dhil ncoconect tau n mga Bangsa Moro pero sana wg ntin gwing reson i2 para mawatak tau, we should stand firm….Islam taught us not to discriminate each other…khit anu mn an bangsa mo mas maganda p pkinggan ang twag stin n MUSLIM…ms kelangan ntn nw ng unity… I am from KABAKAN and I belong also to a royal family (MANTAWIL) here.


  21. mga kapatid na Iranun at Maguindanaons, dati walang Maranao Tribe ang tawag sa amin manga maranao noon Iranaon means people from the lake, kaya naman nag karoon ng Maranao tribe after the creation of Four Pangampong of Lanao, when the descendants of Dimasangkay Adel wants to hold the title as next Sultan of Maguindanao and Lanao but the Descendants of Kudarat refused, kaya nag ka isa ang mga Iranaon M’ranao na ibalik ang Dating Four Confederation of Lanao, and Tagoloan was included to the Lanao Sultanate, while the People from the Coastal area of south of Lanao remain as Iranaon tribe nang mag laon naging Iranun nalang, ang mga maranao at Iranon ay iisa ang lineage mula kay Macaalang, Aloyodan, Layagen at si Kunuga, ang Sultanate ng Lanao ay hindi nasasakop ang Boldong, Barira, Matanong, Parang, Simoay, Balanagan, Kapatagan, Malabang, Pikong at sa Pagadian Sibogay although they are same tribe dahil sila ay Mga Iranaon na kung saan they continues supporting the Sultan of Maguindanao, According to the Traditional Order. the legitimate successor of the throne is the native of the place not because you are descendant of prophet, Macaalang become next Sultan after his Father so that his mother was native in the area.


  22. Royal aristocracy erases the simple folks of Mindanao, the lumads who initially were not of Islamic religion.

    This holding on to aristocracy seems like a passport to legitimacy and power. Is this the very root of the Mindanao conflicts? It is good manners to respect lineages, but what could we do to the lotteries of history when things change, when many things get forfeited?

    In England, even kingships were challenged and to rule does not always mean lineage but the ability and power to do so even if it meant bloody tragedies.
    Survival of the fittest and wisdom to remain in power are inseparable.

    Failures should not be blamed on this present government but to negligence and complacency. The people of Mindanao are in a template of democratic change and this means all the people of Mindanao. There could be a very strong pact between peoples regardless of religion or genealogies. We are all earthlings and name calling or flaunting alone will not solve the issue.

    Atin ang Mindanao bilang biyaya ng Panginoon. Sana, mabawasan lang ang kasakiman, mabawasan lang ang gulangan, mabawasan ang mga marama, magsikap lahat, magbigayan, igalang ang isa’t isa -kultura, relihiyon, tradition. Mahirap pero bakit hindi kakayanin? Kapag may buwaya riyan, iwasan ang lugar at hayaan silang magpakabuwaya, kapag lugar ng mga ibon diyan or lugar ng mga palaka, lugar ng mga ahas, lugar ng mga bulaklak, hayaan naman silang mamuhay ng payapa unless gusto nilang mag-morph or evolve into something else, walang pilitan, walang takutan at walang violence kasi alam natin may retaliation. God provided enough for all of us in Mindanao but men forget that greed is insatiable.

    Pati mga prutas ng Mindanao nagtatampo na, hindi na namumunga tulad ng dati…

    Vigilance and wisdom are pathways to avoid forfeitures.

    To all those who wrote about their lineage, we envy your acumen. But sana everybody gets their act together. Pag may matigas ang ulo, dadami ang matigas ang ulo, lalong nagkakagulo.

    Who will be the next wise ruler of Mindanao?

    Kapag wala, could people not simply agree and keep to their word before we blow ourselves and everybody else to kingdom come? Any royal house is not as strong as the buildings or mansions built, but is as strong and powerful in the minds and hearts of the people because the people are the ones who build royal houses in the memory of their hearts. Pero sana naman those in power will show compassion and consideration to these same simple people, the majority, without royal blood or nary a claim to aristocracy.

    Mahalin natin ang Mindanao, hindi lang ang sarili natin. Mahirap pero kaya, unti unti, may mga daan para kapayapaan.


  23. The ancient people in Mainland Mindanao were called Iraanun of the costal area of Illana bay (Ilian in M’ranao) and Iranaon of the people in Bembaran (Bukidnon) and Kiaranda a Ragat (Lanao or Ranao) Area.

    The Iraanun is the people of the constant flow of rivers and creeks from the mountains to the coastal areas, and volcanic eruptions little-by-little a flat land surface developed. Modern science described and illustrated as a result of sedimentary formation and residual remains forms the low and flat land surface in the coastal areas. The M’ranao vernacular called it “IRA” which means remains. Thus the name of the people in the costal area of Illana bay was derived from the root word “IRA” IRAANUN which means people living the residual remains in the coastal areas. The people of Ranao called them “IMRAGATEN tao sa RAGAT” at this present day they are “IRANUN”

    The Iranaon are people from the lake (Ranao in M’ranao), the history narrated that on 1074 Ranao area was lived by the monsters animals “Makaogis and Omakaan” this destructive animals controled the lake was plenty of fishes reason for them to owned the area. The people of the lake were forced to leave the area and migrated to Malabang, but the princess of Ranao was brought in Sabah Borneo for her safety and security. this princess was married to Sultan Nabi Bacaraman of Mantapoli and got only Radia Indarapatra, Radia Solaiman is a half brother of Indarapatra,

    Radia indarapatra was the first Malay Datu arrived in Mindanao on 1130 to visit Ranao and toke revenged against these monsters; he first landed in Uranen kingdom now “Malabang” The first seat of goverment of the Uranen Kingdom was in Tbok, a barangay of Malabang, Lanao del sur along coastal area of the municipality.

    Rajah Indarapatra proceeded to upland in the area of Lake Lanao, in a short period, he retake the area from Omakaan. after Having destroyed all these noxious animals, and having restored peace and Safety to the land. Radia Indarapatra married to Raina laot of Mimbalay in Maganding now” Masiu” bigoted a twin, Ayadiwata mokom of Kaadiong a Lupa and ayadiwata mokom of kialonod a ig, Thus the people of Lanao (Ranao) claim descent from Rajah Indarapatra, the first Malay Datu and native in Lanao who arrived on 1130 A.D.

    I beg to disagree, that M’ranao tribe come from only at Iranun tribe, the truth is Iranaon people intermarriages with the Iraanun people and that is now the M’ranao, Irayan Buayan, Ilud Maguindanao and Iranun at this present days. Bilaaan, bagobo, manobo, kalagan and sangil were from this Mother tribe,

    Iranaon are people of Ranao who migrated to Ragat area, Costal of illana bay, M’ranao or Maranao are people who dwelled around the lake Lanao, they belong to same genealogy, lineages, culture and history, based on the language used in the area, they are called Maranao in general.

    Datu Ontay Abdulmadid


  24. the word Magindanaw is from the root word “Danaw” which means Canal water refer to pulangi river a canal river, na nation of the river is Magindanaw, (Magi i nged sa danaw)later pronounce as Maguindanaown nation of Mindanaw refer to a people of the Danaw water a pulangi, Iranon is peole from the lake Ranao, Iranaon, eliding of A’ and now Iranon.


  25. Asalamu alaykum, kung mamarapatin niyo irespeto po natin ang gumawa ng BLOG na ito. Kung wala po kayo maganda sasabihin eh mas makakabuti sana kung wag na lang kayo magcomment pa. Ito ang mahirap sa ibang Moro walang disiplina sa sarili. Sorry guys for that words. I am 22y/o male from the royal family of Rajah buayan and Kabuntalan. May dugo din po ako na maranao sa mother side ko according to tarsila, Sultan Rajah Muda Uday of Kabuntalan married to Bai Ulan-Ulan the daughter of Sultan Balindong of lanao if Im not mistaken. Kaya po ako ngcomment dito ay gusto ko makilala yon ibang relatives ko na maranao.


  26. My name is Samson B. Roxas, I was born in Iligan City October 25 1953, though I was borned Christian, I am proud to be called MOROS , This is an Identity which I am a part and proud of it.


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