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Sulu History

Posted by Abibu on December 20, 2011 at 11:45 PM


The Sulu Archipelago is achain of islands in the southwestern Philippines.This archipelago is considered to be part of the Morolandby the local rebel independence movement. This island group forms the northernlimit of the Celebes Sea.[1]

The archipelago is not, as is oftensupposed, the remains of a land bridge between Borneo and the Philippines.Rather, it is the exposed edge of small submarine ridges produced by tectonictilting of the sea bottom [2][3]Basilan,Jolo,and other islands in the group are extinct volcanic cones rising from thesouthernmost ridge. Tawi-Tawi, the southernmost island of the group, has aserpentine basement-complex core with a limestonecovering.[3]This island chain is an important migration route for birds.

The largest cities or towns in thearea are on Maimbung and Jolo of the Sulu Archipelago, plus the larger island of Palawanto its north, the coastal regions of the westward-extending Zamboanga Peninsula of Mindanao, and the northern part of the island of Borneo were formerly parts of the thalassocraticSultanate of Sulu and North Borneo.

The archipelago is the home of theindigenous Tausug people; various group of Samal (or Sama) people including the semi-nomadic Badjaw; the land-based Sama; the related Yakan people; and the Jama Mapun people.The Tausug language is spoken widely in the Sulu Archipelago as both first andsecond languages throughout these islands. The Yakan language is spoken mainlyin BasilanIsland. Numerous dialects of Sinama are spoken throughout the archipelago, fromthe Tawi-TawiIsland group, to the Mapun island group (Mapun), to the coast of Mindanao and beyond.

Excavations in the area of"Bolobok Cave" on Sanga-Sanga Island, Tawi-Tawi Province, have shownthe remains of humans dwelling there about 4,000 years ago.

The grip of the Spanish Empireon Mindanao,Palawan,and the islands to their south was always tenuous. This area was generallyunder the control of the Muslim Sultanate of Sulu, centered in northern Borneo, which continually tried toextend the influence of Islam over the southwestern Philippines. In the 16th century,Spanish military expeditions against the sultanate were launched. From the 16thcentury through 1898, there were about 16 military campaigns against thesultans five of these resulting in a short occupation, except for the last one.During these three centuries, the Spaniards ruled Jolo for a grand total ofabout three decadesand so Spanish rule over the Sulu Archipelago was generally limited to annualtributes by the sultans to the Spanish Empire,mostly in the form of pearls, a product of the region. An effective occupation of Joloby the Spanish Empire did not take place until the year 1876.



1587to 1844: The Sulu Sultanate vs. Spain

From its first encounters with Jolo,Spain was met with stiff resistance from a highly-organized people under theSultanate of Sulu, which had been established in 1457 by an Arab born inJohore, Shari’ful Hashem Syed Abu Bak’r. He arrived in Sulu from Melaka in1450. The sultanate had strong ties with Borneo, which by the 15th century wasunder the influence of Islam.

Although Miguel Lopez de Legazpi hadsuccessfully established a colony in Cebu in May 1565, the initial push of theSpanish conquista was northwards. It was not until June 1578 that Governor General Francisco de Sande dispatched captain Esteban Rodriguez deFigueroa, together with the Jesuit priest Juan del Campo and the coadjutor Gaspar Gomez toJolo. The result was not occupation but a negotiated compromise where the Sulusultan paid a regular tribute in pearls. The following year, Figueroa wasawarded the sole right to colonize Mindanao. In 1587, during a campaign againstBorneo launched by Sande, Figueroa attacked and burned down Jolo. The Spaniardsleft Jolo after a few days, so they probably had had no intentions ofoccupation, but they were moslty securing their rear areas on their way toattack northern Borneo.

Spanish hostilities had secured theJoloanos resolve to resist Spanish intrusions. In response to attacks, raidswere conducted against the settlements and reducciones organized by Spain. In1593, the first permanent Roman Catholicmission was established on the Zamboanga Peninsula, and three years later, theSpanish Army launched another attack on Jolo, but this one was repelled by thearmy of Rajah Bongsu.

In November 1593, the Spanish Empiresent Juan Ronquillo to Tampakan to thwart the slave raiders. However by thefollowing year, the Spanish Army troops had relocated to Caldera Bay (Recodo),Mindanao. In 1598, another expedition was launched against Jolo, but this onewas repelled by the Joloanos.

In late 1600, Captain Juan Gallinatowith a group of about 200 Spanish soldiersattacked Jolo, but this force was decimated. By 1601, after three months ofheavy fighting, the Spanish troops retreated since they had been unable tocapture Jolo. In 1628, a larger raiding force of about 200 Spanish armyofficers and 1,600 soldiers was organized to attack Jolo again - in order tobreak the backs of the Moslem slave raiders and traders. However, thisrather-large expedition failed to take Jolo. Again on March 17, 1630, a largeSpanish force of 2,500 soldiers attacked Jolo but to no avail. When itscommander Lorenzo de Olazo was wounded, the Spanish troops retreated.

On January 4, 1638, de Corcuera leda naval and military expedition of about 80 ships and 2,000 troops to attackJolo, but the Sultan Wasit carried out a stern defense. However, a serious epidemicof tropical disease developed within Sultan Wasit’s kuta army, hence he and hischieftains sought refuge in the Dungun area of Tawi-Tawi.The Spanish Army easily occupied Jolo, and a small garrison was left there tocontrol the area.

This Spanish garrison was witheredaway by frequent raids launched by Sultan Wasit. By 1645, this garrison hadbeen wasted away. This was the first time that Jolo had been occupied by theSpaniards for an appreciable length of time.

From 1663 to 1718, an interregnum ofpeace reigned because the Spanish troops were ordered to abandon the ZamboangaPeninsula, and all of the forts south of that - and then regroup in Manila to prepare for the impending attackof Koxinga - and attack that was never carried out.

Hostilities resumed in the 18thcentury and this was triggered by the decision in 1718 by Gov. Gen Juan Antoniodela Torre Bustamante to reconstruct Real Fuerza de San José in Bagumbayan,Zamboanga. The fort completed in 1719 was renamed Real Fuerza del Pilar deZaragosa (Fort Pilar is its popular name today). The rebuilt fort wasinaugurated on 16 April by Don Fernando Bustillos Bustamante Rueda, seniormaestro de campo of Zamboanga. Three years later in 1722, the Spaniards werelaunching another expedition against Jolo. Led by Andres Garcia, thisexpedition failed miserably. In 1731, General Ignacio Iriberri lead a force of1000 solfiers to Jolo and captured it after a lengthy siege, but the Spaniardsagain left after a few days.

In 1755, a force of 1,900 Spanishsoldiers led by the captains Simeon Valdez and Pedro Gastambide was sent toJolo to extract revenge for the raids by Sultan Muiz ud-Din, but thoseSpaniards were soundly defeated. In 1775, after a Moro raid on Zamboanga,Capitan Vargas led a punitive expedition against Jolo, but his force wasrepulsed.

The second half of the 18th centurysaw a new player in the Sulu Zone. After occupying Manila from 1762 – 64,during the Thirty years war between Spain and Great Britain,the British Army withdrew to the south. There they established tradingalliances between the Sulu Sultanate and the British East India Company.Spanish attacks on Jolo were now directed at weakening British tradinginterests in the south. In 1784, Aguilar conducted a series of unsuccessfulassaults against Jolo and in 1796, Spanish Admiral Jose Alava was sent fromMadrid with a powerful naval fleet to stop the slave-raiding attacks that hadbeen coming from the area of the Sulu Sea. The British presence was signaledwhen in 1798, Fort Pilar in Zamboanga was bombarded by the British Royal Navy,which had established a base in Sulu. In 1803, Lord Arthur Wellesley, the Governor-Generalof India, ordered Robert J. Fraquhar totransfer trading and military operations to Balambangan island near Borneo. By1895, the Great Britain had withdrawn its army and navy from the area of theSulu Sea.

In 1815, there was the end of thegalleon trade across the Pacific Oceanbetween the Philippines and Mexico, since Mexico had declared its indepencence of the Spanish Empirein 1810, and an extended war of independence had begun that lasted through1821. Most of the rest of the Spanish-ruled areas of the Americashad also rebelled against the Spanish Empire. In 1821, the administration ofthe Philippine Islands was shifted directly to the Kingdom of Spain in Madrid, rather than the Philippines being ruled via the Viceroy of Mexico, since Mexico and its southern neighbors (in Central America)had won their independence from Spain. Hence the office of Viceroy of Mexicohad been abolished.

The Spanish Empire sought to end the"Moro threat". In 1824, the Marina Sutil, a light and maneuverablenaval force under Capitan Alonso Morgado was sent to confront the slave raidersin the Sulu Sea.

1844to 1889: Spanish colony

In 1844, Gov. Gen. Narciso Claverialed yet another expedition against Jolo and in 1848 Claveria with powerfulgunboats Magallanes, El Cano, and Reina de Castilla brought from Europesupervised the attack on Balangingi stronghold in Tungkil. The raid resulted inthe capture of many Sama Balangingi and the exile of many to the tobacco fieldsof Cagayan Valley. However, the leader of the Sama, Paglima Taupan, was notcaptured. With the fall of the Balangingi, a powerful ally of the SuluSultanate was decimated, this started the downturn of the sultanate’s maritimesea power. In 1850, Gov.Gen. Juan Urbiztondo continued with Claveria’s campaignand successfully annihilated of the remaining Balangingi strongholds atTungkil. However, a raid on Jolo that same year was a failure. On 28 February1851, Urbiztondo launched another campaign against Jolo, destroying the wholetown by fire and confiscating 112 pieces of artillery. The Spanish troops laterwithdrew after their successful assault.

In 1876, the Spanish launched amassive campaign to occupy Jolo. Spurred by the need to curb slave raiding onceand for all, and worried about the presence of other Western powers in thesouth (the British had established trading centers in Jolo by the 19th centuryand the French were offering to purchase Basilan Island from the cash strappedgovernment in Madrid), the Spanish made a final bid to consolidate their rulein this southern frontier. On 21 February of that year, the Spaniards assembledthe largest contingent against Jolo, consisting of 9,000 soldiers, in 11transports, 11 gunboats, and 11 steamboats. Headed by Admiral Jose Malcampo,they captured Jolo and established a Spanish settlement with Capt. PascualCervera appointed to set up a garrison and serve as military governor; Heserved from March 1876 to December 1876 followed by Brig. Gen. Jose Paulin(December 1876 - April 1877), Col Carlos Martinez (Sept 1877-Feb 1880), Col.Rafael de Rivera (1880 – 81), Col. Isidro G. Soto (1881 – 82), Col. EduardoBremon, (1882), Col. Julian Parrrado (1882 – 84), Col. Francisco Castilla (1884– 86), Col. Juan Arolas (1886–93), Col. Caesar Mattos (1893), Gen. VenancioHernandez (1893 – 96), and Col. Luis Huerta (1896 – 99).

The Spaniards were never secure inJolo, so by 1878, they had fortified Jolo with a perimeter wall and towergates; built inner forts called Puerta Blockaus, Puerta España, and PuertaAlfonso XII; and two outer fortifications named Princesa de Asturias and Torrede la Reina. Troops, including a cavalry unit with its own lieutenantcommander, were garrisoned within the protective walls. In 1880 Col. RafaelGonzales de Rivera, who was appointed by the Governor dispatched the 6thRegiment to Siasi and Bongao islands. The Spaniards were not secure in theirstronghold because it was sporadically attacked. On July 22, 1883, it wasreported that three unnamed juramentado succeeded in penetrating the Jolo townplaza and killed three Spaniards. The word “Ajuramentado” was coined by theSpanish colonel Juan Arolas after witnessing several such raids while servingwith the Jolo garrison.

1898to present: American rule and independence

This section requires expansion.

In 1898, the Spanish-American War broke out. Commodore George Dewey of the U.S. Navydefeated the Spanish fleet in the Battle of Manila Bay, following which the American army occupied Manila. The United States took possessionunder international law of the Philippines after the Treaty of Paris of 1898 ended the war. The Philippine-American War followed during which the American military fought anddefeated the Philippine forces under Emilio Aguinaldo for control of the Philippines.

In December 1941, Japan attacked the United States at Pearl Harborand in the Philippines. The United States declared war on Japan and entered World War II.Japan conquered and occupied the Philippines during the Philippines Campaign (1941–42).In 1944 the Liberation of the Philippinesbegan with the Battle of Leyte Gulf and succeeded in driving the Japanese from the islands.

On July 4, 1946, the Philippinesbecame an independent country.

The fortifications of Jolo remainedin good state during the American occupation when its walls, gates, and thebuildings within it were photographed. These early pictures of 20th centuryJolo show a well-ordered town, neatly laid out in a grid of streets and blocks— characteristics of Spanish urbanism applied with the rigidity characteristicof the military.

It is in the postwar years that thewalls degraded. Jolo suffered major destruction due to bombardment and fireduring the military operations in Jolo in 1973. There are no records of howmany of the existing walls were destroyed during this time. Presently, shortstretches of degraded perimeter wall still exist, but take some time to findbecause they are covered by houses or buildings, or partially-demolished toless than a meter in height.


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