Sultans, Datus,Timuays: Where are their kingdoms? PDF Print E-mail
Wednesday, 27 May 2015 08:46

Table Talk

BY Mike S Apostol

There is only one known kingdom recorded in the history of Southeast Asia starting from the Mahjapahit Empire to the present, that of the Sultanate of Sulu,  stretching from the Sulu archipielago up to the mainland of North Borneo, an area almost as big as Mindanao itself. This was a reward given by the Sultan of Brunei centuries ago for helping the Sultanate of Brunei quell a rebellion from the Sultan’s relatives. Today, the living relatives of the Sultan of Sulu, are the Kirams, Bahjin, Amilbangsa, Pulalon to name some. But there are many other royal relatives still continue to claim the area on historical reason. This claim of a “tausug” kingdom is alive because, the federated states of Malaysia, composed of many Sultanates continues to pay rent over North Borneo which was leased by a British businessman Baron Overdeck, when Malaysia was a colony of Great Britain. The yearly rental for the lease of North Borneo by Malaysia is paid to a relative of the    Sultan. Many say, this is the main reason why there are many claimants to the Sultanate of Sulu because one family of the Sultan is favored and Malaysia is aware of this predicament. What family of the late Sultan alive today is the real heir to the Sultanate, perhaps annointed by the ruling sultan when he was alive?  Royalties have a system of succession and this is known by the royal family and the people way ahead of time.

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The Senate committee hearing the other day where different tribal leaders and IP members were invited to join and air their suggestion and wishes for the Bangsamoro Basic Law turned out to be a grievance meeting instead of “inputs” to the BBL. It turned out whether those present were telling the truth, that they were never consulted since the very beginning of the BBL proposals. Nearly a hundred members of royalties throughout Mindanao came to attend and it was a gathering of royals without kingdoms. The only recognized royalty in that meeting that has a kingdom but do not control it is the “tausug” Sultanate of Sulu. Senator Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr., chairman of the Committee, was baffled by the array of royalties , each claiming to have followers and kingdom in Mindanao. Although the gathering of royals and tribal leaders might be insignificant to the framers of the BBL, it has shown the country that the BBL is not a guarantee of lasting peace in Mindanao, because right now, it has already shown the country that tribal customs and traditions, likes and dislikes cannot easily be integrated with agreements for a group deeply divided in the pages of history. Perhaps, the best solution is a separate BBL for the tribes in Central Mindanao and another version of the BBL should be for the Sulu Archipeilago. This will be a win-win solution like what the late President Ferdinand E. Marcos had done with the “Tripoli Agreement”  creating two autonomous regions in Regions 9 and 12.

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It might seem like a joke but the threats are real. The “Tausug”  Sultanate of Sulu has valid reasons to dissent from the BBL because for centuries they have been claiming their kingdom to be given attention by the government not for autonomy but legal rights to be at least compensated with lease rentals that is commensurate to the wealth of their kingdom that was legally acquired and given as reward by a neighboring Sultan who owns and controls the kingdoms in Malaysia, long before when the KIngdom of Brunei was even recognized by the British empire and when Democracy was not yet on our shores. This “Tausug” Sultanate of Sulu demanded from our government an assistance to recover their lost lands, but this went into deaf ears for centuries but now a similar package is given to a different tribe that has no Sultanate or kingdom but areas owned by the government that was ceded to our Republic by virtue of a grant of independence. It is confusing to understand the realities of this peace process, where peace is offered at the detriment of a historical truth and right as the “Tausug” Sultanate fo the Sulu Archipeilago. The Sultanate of Sulu is restless and the country should not wait for the “tausugs” to “rattle their sabers” to be recognized.

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Scoop: The country is better off in dealing with poverty, hunger, neglect, political dynasty and lawlessness rather indulge in a dangerous gamble of playing with the lives of millions in Mindanao so a chosen few will be appeased. We are all Filipinos under one flag, one nation and one government. Those who don’t believe in this should find another country.