A brief narrative of the Sulu Sultanate.


note : the author wishes this to be a brief rejoinder to some questions posed regarding the sultanate of Sulu. the note is not definitive in nature but seeks to give a simple understanding of how Tausugs who support the sultanate view it as an institution.

The Sulu Sultanate Darul Islam was formally established as a Muslim state by Rajah Baguinda approximately in 1405 in Jolo, Sulu, whose rulers are related to the old Madjapahit kingdom of Butuan off the mainland in Mindanao that rose to prominence in Mindanao at beginning of the 11th century and lasted up to end of 14th century that fell due to depletion of their commerce and trade.

The Kingdom of Butuan is related to the Paduka’s of Sulu who  established this Sultanate which later became known as “The Unconquered Kingdom” of original Filipinos, because they never surrendered to the brutal genocidal Spanish conquest for over 377 years (1521 to 1898) of Muslim Philippines by the King of Spain and the Inquisition, that killed most Muslim men, women and children in their murderous conquest till the Muslims today only occupied a tiny portion of Mindanao, when in reality, for hundreds of years before the Spaniards arrived in the Philippines the Muslims established communities in Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao. among those communities were Kota Seludong, Macabebe kingdom, and the Kumintanes kingdom of Batangas, all ruled by relatives of the sultans of Brunei and Sulu.

There has been questions of who migrated to where, and whatever versions are, it is but obvious that as a maritime power in southeast Asia, the sultanate stretched to where it may not have territorial jurisdiction but its diplomatic, political and economic influence is felt, among them was its influence in China, Moluccas and other places.

In 1457 the 3 principalities of Sulu became a sovereign Sultanate (Islamic Kingdom) patterned after the Islamic sultanates in the Middle East after the arrival of Shariful Hashim who married Rajah Baguinda’s daughter

For approximately five centuries (from 1405 to 1898) the Kingdom of Sulu was a sovereign kingdom nation state the envy of the world, with a very strong economy, peace and order secured under the reign of the Sultan, with strong and powerful army, navy and marines without equal in the fields of battle.under his command were the Balanguingui Admirals who were equals to the Maguindanao Royal Navies manned by their Iranun cousins, which conducted routine raids and travelled to almost all parts of Nusantara (Southeast Asia) and even as far as China which considered Sulu to be a trading partner and ally. Its naval and maritime trading fleet was notable enough to be considered a regional power and prrof of this was the strong presence of Chinese as well as its being mentioned in the chinese historical accounts.

Corollary to this, in 1658, when the sultan of Brunei was experiencing civil unrest asked his Royal cousin the Sulu Sultan in 1658 to help quell massive revolt in Brunei in exchange for gifts eternal to the Sulu Crown of SABAH of which the Sultan of Sulu accepted that made these dominions properties of the Sulu sultanate this day. This battle was won through the  Balanguinguih and Iranun warriors who were naval forces of Sulu and Maguindanao respectively.

On the other hand Palawan is a minor province of the sultanate where traditionally other datus establish their stay, specifically to ensure safety of sea routes of the sultanate is 163 miles away from Spratlys, while China is 800 miles away. and considering that our prahus and other ships prowed southeast asia, these are dominions of the Sultanate of Sulu.

It is both ironic for Malaysia to insist its clais on Spratlys as Malaysian occupation of Sabah is questionable because Malaysia since it continues to pay for rent of Sabah since 1963 when Great Britain gave malaysia its independence.

The Sultanate of Sulu Darul Islam has existed as a sovereign state for centuries recognized by other nations signing treaties with foreign powers i.e. China, UK, Spain, Portugal, Holland, France, Malayan sultanates, Sultanate of Brunei, Indonesian principalities, USA (two treaties), plus other kingdoms in Southeast Asia and had unbroken exchanges of diplomatic relations with these nations and kingdoms for centuries.

So we say without argument that the Tausugs knew effective governance as well as gained wisdom from the guests and scholars who frequented its shores. It had also fought and did not surrender to the might and power of Spain (the superpower at the time) for over 377 years without surrender though other parts of the Philippines surrendered and were controlled by Spain from 1521 to 1898.

Among the notable features of governance was the presence of the Ruma Bechara (Royal council), the Qadi’s (judges), the Panditas (Imams) and the Panglima (governors) which were part of a participatory type of governance.

The sultanate of Sulu Darul Islam has defied US occupation in 1898 for many years proof of which they had to introduce measures to subjugate the tausugs and entail great effort to massacre many of its greatest warriors.

Thousands Muslim Tausug of men, women and children were massacred by the US Army troops of Gen. Leonard Wood in 1906 in Bud Dajo, and under Brig. Gen. John J. Pershing in Bud Bagsak in 1911 , wherein many new army inventions and weapons were used against the Tausugs in a genocidal and brutal exercises as policy of the US Government, against an inferior group of people with their American superior guns and cannons that were pitted against the kris , spears and sheer courage of the Tausug warriors.

On July 4, 1946, the USA added and annexed the Sultanate of Sulu darul Islam without referendum or plebiscite to the newly created independent Republic of the Philippines and from then it was considered part and parcel of the Philippines as from 1946 to this day being attached as several provinces (Basilan, sulu , tawi-tawi) under ARMM, while Palawan and Spratleys under Region 4-b and Sabah (which was leased to the british) now under Malaysian administration.

The Sultanate then became historically the site of many insurrections and many of the historical leaders of the Mindanao struggle came from Sulu, Basilan and Tawi tawi.

It had a public reassertion of independence last 2011 in Sulu which was attended by many tausugs and other personalities.


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