Re-bonding Muslim-Chinese relationship PDF Print E-mail
Friday, 08 July 2011 16:45

Congratulations to the six-man Philippine delegation led by Cagayan de Oro City Congressman Rufus Rodriquez  who went to China last June 20-25 and successfully re-established a stronger Sulu Sultanate-China relationship.

Sulu’s first District Representative Habib Tupay Loong, who was asked to form the delegation, said the group was requested to study the historical ties of the Chinese and Sulu people. The invitation is a "sign of recognition of the sovereign power of the sultanate in the past and [the Chinese government wants] to preserve it," he said in a recent interview with Darwin Wee of the Business World. He credits the Chinese for the booming trade business in Sulu. "In other words there is no reason for our people to fight the Chinese since they bring us livelihood," he added.

To commemorate this event, the Chinese Government will build a whooping 1 Billion Yen or 7 Billion Pesos museum inside the famous Shrine and Tomb of Sulu Sultan Paduka Pahala Batara in Dezhou City, Shandong Province of China.  The Chinese government has proclaimed this historical site under the state’s protection in January 1988 for its valuable and symbolic recognition of the friendship between the Philippines and China.

At present, the Sultan Batara Shrine is the biggest historical attractions of the Shandong Province. It is a huge compound with a mosque and historical edifices surrounded with impressive stone statues of generals, horses, lions and rams. The future museum will be designed by renowned Tausug artist Rameer Tawasil with emphasis on Muslim culture and traditions. 

According to historical accounts, three Sulu Sultans went to China in 1417 to pay a visit to Chinese Emperor Yongle of the Ming Dynasty. One of the Sultans (Sultan Batara), however, was inflicted during this trip and died in Dezhou City.

Devastated with the sad news, Emperor Yong-le ordered his minister to give a grand funeral fit for a Chinese king to the Sultan who got the high admiration of the Chinese people. A royal shrine and tomb was built in Sultan’s honor.

The Sultan’s two sons who were left behind later married local Chinese women who converted to Islam. In 1731, during the time of Yongzheng of the Quing Dynasty, the descendants of Sultan Batara were naturalized as Chinese citizens under the surnames Wen and An.

In 2005, the descendants of Sultan Batara went back to the Philippines through the Federation of Filipino-Chinese Associations, to coincide with the celebration of the 30th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic ties between the People’s Republic of China and the Philippines.

Sulu sultanate wazir, or Prime Minister, Datu Albi Junkarnain said, An Jin Tian and his son An Yuan Chi representing the An family, and Wen Hai Jun representing the Wen branch all from Shan-Dong province in eastern China have finally visited Sulu, their ancestors’ homeland, for the first time in more than 600 years.

There is an epitaph at the shrine’s that reads “ Now-then the King, brilliant and sagacious, gentle and honest, especially outstanding and naturally talented, as a sicnre act of true respect for the ways to heaven, did not shrink from a voyage of many thousands of miles to lead his family in person, together with his tribute officers and countrymen to cross the sea in a spirit of loyal obedience.” So from this tablet, the Sulus were considered part of the Chinese realm.

My personal prayer is the Muslim-Chinese business trade in Mindanao will boom in an atmosphere of peace and trust no matter what are the cultural and religion differences like what Sultan Batara envisioned it to be.