The Lords of the Lake

In 1639, the Spanish conquistadors together with their Indio (now called Filipino) subjects, attacked the Maguindanao sultanate and gave their all to stop once-and-for-all the great Sultan Muhammad Dipatuan Qudarat. Qudarat gave another mighty defense but due to the strong Spanish-Indio forces, he made a strategic retreat to his in-laws and cousins, the Iranuns and Mranaos. Gathering the Mranao datus and warriors, Sultan Qudarat warned the Mranaos of the coming Spanish forces. He said:
You men of the Lake! Forgetting your ancient liberty,
      have submitted to the Castilians.
Such submission is sheer stupidity.
You cannot realize to what your surrender binds you.
You are selling yourselves into slavery to toil for the benefit of these foreigners.
Look at the regions that have already submitted to them.
Note how abject is the misery to which their peoples are now reduced.
Behold the condition of the Tagalogs and of the Visayans
      whose chief men are trampled upon by the meanest        
      (lowest) Castilian.
If you are of no better spirit than these, then you must expect         similar treatment.
You, like them, will be obliged to row in the galleys.
Just as they do, you will have to toil at the shipbuilding
      and labor without ceasing on other public works.
You can see for yourselves that you will experience the harshest treatment while thus employed.
Be men.
Let me aid you to resist.
All the strength of my Sultanate, I promise you, shall be used in your defence!
What matters it if the Castilians at first are successful?
That means only the loss of a year’s harvest.
Do you think that too dear a price to pay for liberty?

Inspired by such eloquent speech, the Mranaos rallied to the cause of Sultan Qudarat and turned back the Spanish-Indio forces. The Spaniards and their Indio subjects did not return to the Lanao area until 250 years later.

The Spaniards had gone, only to be replaced by the Americans, and briefly, the Japanese. But the Indios remained. They are now called Christian Filipinos. And they reign supreme in the Land of the Lake-Dwellers. Their soldiers can wreck havoc whenever and wherever they please, in the name of “national security”. They are the new Lords of the Lake.

Do we have to wait for another Qudarat?

THE NEW LORDS OF THE LAKE?                                                                                                                                       Philippine troops fire their 105mm howitzer cannons towards enemy positions from their base in Lanao del Sur .    / AFP PHOTO / RICHEL UMEL

 

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