Category Archives: History

Martial Law 9/23/72: METROCOM, Big Brother & Me

What happened on Sept 21, 1972? Nothing of much importance. Just like any other day in the Philippines. I was in high school then. On that day, I went to school, as usual. What happened on Sept 22, 1972? Nothing of much importance. Just like any other day in the Philippines. I went to school,… Read More Martial Law 9/23/72: METROCOM, Big Brother & Me

Mranao royal house: the Torogan

Here is a newspaper article I wrote on the Torogan, the Mranao royal house. I had posted this before in my websites and in my blogs. I stopped maintaining my websites while some of my blogs just vanished for whatever reasons. This is a snapshot of my lost blog with its Torogan post: Now, it’s… Read More Mranao royal house: the Torogan

Changing Narratives: Federalism for All

The Mindanao problem is ultimately a POWER problem – the power of one group over another. It is a problem of colonization. The fact that there was a law called the Legislative Act 4197 or Quirino-Recto Colonization of Mindanao Act, which was enacted on 12 February 1935 is very telling. The Commonwealth considered the Act… Read More Changing Narratives: Federalism for All

Bangsa Moro Homeland — the Impossible Dream

  Would you negotiate with a pushover? Yes, but only to get even more advantages. The Spaniards only negotiated with the Moro sultanates when they realized they couldn’t defeat them. The Americans signed treaties with the Sulu Sultanate when their hands were full with the Philippine revolution in Luzon. Afterwards, they massacred the people of … Continue reading Bangsa Moro Homeland — the Impossible Dream

Rizal Day

President Rodrigo Roa Duterte leads the flag raising ceremony during the 121st Anniversary of Dr. Jose Rizal’s Martyrdom at the Rizal Park in Manila on December 30, 2017. Assisting the President are Vice President Maria Leonor Robredo, former President and incumbent Manila City Mayor Joseph Estrada, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, Special Assistant to the President […]

A SOJOURNER’S VIEW: Review of “Revisiting Documentary Sources in Mindanao Muslim History: From the Advent of Islam to the 1800s”

In this very important and timely book – REVISITING DOCUMENTARY SOURCES IN MINDANAO MUSLIM HISTORY: From the Advent of Islam to the 1800s – a group of historians/social scientists of the Ateneo de Davao University (John Henry D. Gamas, Anderson V. Villa, Janor C. Balo, Mansoor L. Limba, Maria Janua P. Cunanan, Ramon B. Beleno […]

Teach Not the Bangsa Moro history, yet

Last year, there was a lot of hullabaloo about the proposal that Bangsa Moro history be taught to Filipino high school students. The Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP) and the Department of Education spearheaded the proposal. There was applause everywhere, including among the Moros. Some Moros were happy and even… Read More Teach Not the Bangsa Moro history, yet

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… Read More The Lords of the Lake

FILM REVIEW: Ang Hapis at Himagsik ni Hermano Puli

FILM REVIEW: Ang Hapis at Himagsik ni Hermano Puli Screeplay:  Eric Ramos Director :   Gil Portes Producer:   Rex Tiri under T-Rex Entertainment Title Role:  Aljur Abrenica Karl M. Gaspar CSsR DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/24 Sept) — In 2007, I searched for the tomb of Apolinario dela Cruz – more popularly known in historical narratives as Hermano Puli – hoping that […]


Sometime in 1991 or earlier, Mr. Alfonso Felix, Jr. obtained copies of two historical documents from the Biblioteca Nacional de Madrid  written in 1755. He promptly translated the two texts entitled “The Siege of Palumpong” and “The Battle of Iligan.” The Society of Jesus printed the original Spanish texts in 1755 in Manila. The English… Read More BANGSA MORO HISTORY and the (NON-MORO) FILIPINOS

Federalism and Other Options

This is a CONTINUATION of Prof. Macapanton Yahya Abbas‘s “Is a Bangsa Moro State within a Federation the Solution?” ******************************************************************************   CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT   The infirmities of the New Organic Law are serious that it must be declared unconstitutional especially the power of control of the National Government over the Regional Government as a Local […]


This is a CONTINUATION of Prof. Macapanton Yahya Abbas‘s “Is a Bangsa Moro State within a Federation the Solution?” OIC RECOGNITION As mentioned earlier, this author was sent as a lawyer to Jeddah, Saudi Arabia in February 1972 at the Islamic Conference of Foreign Ministers of the OIC.  He met with Secretary General Tengku Abdul […]


(Just before he passed away, Macapanton Rashid Yahya Abbas, Jr, wrote a rambling essay on the Bangsa Moro Conflict and was published in the Ateneo Law Journal  Vol. 48  Sept 2003.  Officially, he was designated as Secretary-General of several Moro groups like the Bangsa Moro Liberation Organization (BMLO), the National Coordinating Council for Islamic Affairs (NACCIA), […]

8 Rules of Engagement Taught by the Prophet Muhammad

Extremism ‘experts’ are everywhere these days. Assertions thrive about what Shariah law allows, especially when it comes to warfare and ‘Jihad’. Two very unlikely bedfellows, Islamophobes and extremists, have taken up one allegation, that Islam is violent, and run with it. They both misquote Islamic sources to prove their shared fantasies, and to good effect, […]

The Lanao Provinces: The Birthplace of Federalism in the Philippines

Fact: In 1920 120 Sultans and 30 Datus belonging to the Pat Pangampong Ranao (the Confederation of Sultanates of Lanao) wrote the United States President requesting that should the U.S. government eventually make the Philippines a Commonwealth and then a Republic, Lanao as a Province choses not to be part of it. They still would […]

Japanese Bunker in GenSan

gensan, general santos city, world war 2, philippines, magandang gensan, gensan, japanese bunkers
Have you heard stories about the Japanese colonization in the Philippines? Or heard different stories about World War II? Well, I’m sure all of you did, especially all Pinoys. My Lolo was a settler in Marbel (now Koronadal City) and my dad told me stories about my lolo’s life and adventure during the Japanese colonization.

But as history tells, the Philippines has been  colonized by Japanese for a short time but it was the bloodiest and  the most difficult one. During the World War 2, General Santos City or GenSan become one of the last borderland of the American and the Japanese soldiers. Before the World War 2 began, the Japanese forces constructed  round cemented tunnels and hideouts in different areas in the city and other neighboring places. And we’ve seen and visited one.

Ali have been telling me about a tunnel or hideout located at an empty lot at the back of the village, so I was so excited and giddy to check it out. We actually don’t know if it’s a tunnel or a hideout cause we never attempted to go inside; there might be snakes, bats, or bugs inside it. Anyway, Ali have heard stories about this igloo shaped hideout/tunnel. They say it’s a tunnel its outlet is in Malesido, some say it is just a hideout, some also said that it contained lots of gold, and some say people in authorities had been inside it and got all the golds/treasure that they can get. But we really don’t know which one is true…


There are more of these in Brgy. Conel GenSan that is now one of the most visited tourist spots here.

Filipino Crab Mentality – The Institutionalization of Mediocracy

My blog Reflections on the Bangsa Moro was lost in 2011 when the bloghost BLOGSOME.COM folded. I never thought blogsome would close down. It seemed like a small but solid enterprise in Ireland. They must have sent warnings to its clients but I must have been too busy then doing other things so I wasn’t able […]

The Missing History

Subtitle: : A (rather disappointing) visit to the National Museum.
October 6, 2013
I always enjoy visiting Museums. I always cherish the experience and the feeling of seeing what happened before I even existed. It was like travelling through time and experience what the people in the past experienced. See what they saw. Learn what they knew then. Among the few Museums I went into were those that are close and easily accessible to me: The National Museums in Sulu (oh I love that place!) and Zamboanga in Port Pilar (I hope it was not affected by the recent crisis -_-), the lauded Aga Khan Museum in MSU Marawi, and some Museum I cannot name somewhere in this planet. And now Alhamdulillah being fortunate that I am in Manila since May 2012, visiting the National Museum has long been placed on my priority list. But I have to wait for a year and a half then before I can finally visit it, as what finally happened last Saturday.
A good friend of mine told me in FB about the “free-admissions” in the Museum for the whole month of October in celebration of Museum and Galleries month. And finally having a somewhat “free” Saturday, and as I was yearning to do something far different from my cluttered life of medschool, I decided to pay a visit to the National Museum and check it off of my list of “places to visit”.
And oh boy, I had never been this disappointed.

Before walking to this ancient-looking, American-time-erected building, I already had my expectations of perhaps getting the feeling of “awe” as what I usually feel when visiting those museums I mentioned earlier. This is the real “National” Museum after all, the mother of all Museums in this country. I was also preparing myself to one of the sad truths I can observe in most Museums, especially in urban cities: the few or lacking information about the History of the Muslims in the Philippines. A part of history so grand and so full of legacy yet was more often ignored that admired. So I was off to a single objective: find out how much of the History in Southern Mindanao will be mentioned and presented in the National Museum. I never knew that I should have asked the other question (how much was NOT mentioned at all).
A photo of some Royal Muslim clans. This was the only picture with close connection to “History”. And it has no description.
Yes. I was disappointed on what I later discovered. How much of the Muslims History was there I asked? From the arrival of the Muslim merchants, the first mosque in Simunul and the spread of Islam, the ten datus of Borneo, the establishment of the great Islamic Sultanates that lasted for hundreds of years, the Sultans Shariful Hashim, Kudarat, and Sharif Kabungsuwan and their stories, the great Sulu pearl trade, the treaties and alliances with other great foreign powers, the 300-years of Moro wars fighting the Spanish power, the Kiram-Bates Treaty, the Bud Dahu and Bud Bagsak tragedies, the battle of Buayan. All of these, not even one was mentioned…None at all! Then what about the Jabidah incident, the rise of the Liberation Fronts, the FPA and other important events in the post-colonial era that lead to what we are currently facing. Still no mention of them. It was like a piece of a big jig-saw puzzle that suddenly disappeared into thin air… Pooof! Gone forever like they never existed and never happened at all…
It’s true that I cannot directly conclude that there were no mentions of the 13 Muslim ethno-linguistic tribes in the Museum. Actually there were some displays talking about them and the other Lumad groups, (finally something to ease my disappointed heart). Most of them are only in the “Arts and customs” section: local and cultural traditions, artifacts of weaponries and armors, some grave-markers and sarimanoks, some farm and fishing equipments, and lastly the artistic designs of clothes (not even completely represented) and wood carvings known as “okir” in Meranao and “ukkil” in Tausug. But under the “History Section”? Not one mention of these Muslims was done.

This portion talked about the Meranaos and how Islam changed their old cultural ceremonies. Just like all other Muslim tribes. But no mention of how Islam came to the land of the lake.
I remember one of those rooms displaying a timeline of the “History of the Filipino People”. It was a set of rooms where you enter from the “beginning of land formations” that soon lead to what we now call Philippine islands. Then displayed next was the arrival of the first men in the islands, the Tabon Man of Palawan with his stones and weapons. After a little transition on the “Age of Metals and Bronze”, suddenly we were brought to the “Arrival of the Spaniards”! OK, wait, where did the other parts of History go? It was a whole 4 centuries worth of human activities suddenly lost in the pages of history!  
The “Spanish menu”, even including the European thing on dividing the world into two (Magna carta they call it?) is the longest part of that room’s display. Just like most of the History books about the History of the Philippines, it is always funny to observe that the bulk of pages of that book would talk about the Spaniards, the “discovery” of the las islas Filipinas, the raising of cross, the encomienda, the different Governor-Generals with complete citations of their works as if History itself actually started there. That, at least during those times, was what the Spaniards wanted the Indios to know, that history and civilization started with their arrival. A great lie crafted to deceive the people of this island. I just can’t believe that after more than a hundred years since Philippines “Independence”, it is still the same thing again, only done by different hands now.
Some display of Muslim artifacts.
Mostly about the Sama D’laut and how they lived with expertise of the sea.
Maybe it’s true that this was brought about the more than 300 years of occupation and education of the Spaniards to the Filipino People. That most of the existing documents were recording by the Spaniards and for the Spaniards, and was taught to them Filipinos, who will soon take hold of this land. But don’t we have other available texts and documents on our other pasts as well now? There are massive readings and accounts from various international historians mentioning about a “vast and prosperous state rich in gold and pearls, trading with the great powers as China and Britain, long before the arrival of the cross.” Saleeby, Majul, Dalrymple, J. Hunt, S. Tan to name a few. Even the old Spanish historians have written about the Muslim Sultanates. But where did their stories go?
As a Muslim who grew up in the southern islands, I have always learned about Manila through reading books and visiting museums. I was hoping too that I would find the same thing: that maybe the people of the north would learn about us (from the south) through books and museums. But I was wrong again. I only learned more of what was taught to me before. In fact I feel that the museums in the provinces were more complete that the real National collection.
Some kalis (kris) but these ones were not from Sulu Archipelago, but from Lanao.
I wanted to tell myself that maybe I missed one of the rooms in the Museum. Maybe I failed to check all the sections there that’s why I cannot find what I was looking for. Or maybe there was another building. Or maybe they were among those empty rooms with a sign on the front door saying “Sorry, this room is under renovation” and maybe they will replace them once everything’s done. I wanted to tell myself that perhaps I did not hear the curator said “No sir, this is the only building we have for History. The rest are paintings and art galleries”. For whatever reason that the 600-year worth of legacy was missing in this institution, they better have a good one to defend it.
A kulintangan from tawi-Tawi
Another one from Lanao.
Our pasts is indeed a significant part of our present and as well as our future. By understanding what happened “then”, we can better judge, understand and criticize what is happening “now” and why they are happening. The past can actually even guide and help us in dealing and planning for “tomorrow’s” actions to take, be it as an individual or a society as a whole. It was even said on a famous quote that “Those who forget History are doomed to repeat it,” and what’s worst than forgetting is HIDING that important information to the greater population. A large History like this one can never be hidden nor be erased and easily forgotten.
Yes, maybe there are parts of our pasts that we are afraid to talk about, something we wanted ourselves to forget (or rather “others to forget”). There may be painful parts of history and some great events; there may be some that are tragic and some significant; there are some that we are always proud to talk about and some we are ashamed of that we wanted to erase them. But we can’t change anything that already happened. Our past is already part of who we are today, no matter how much we try to deny them.
Whatever these stories tell, we cannot just select what we wanted to remember and forget the rest. And more importantly we do not have the right to select what the people “have to know” and “not to know”. We have to accept the past as a whole, nothing more nothing less. Trying to hide history is actually a grievous crime to the people. You are actually depriving them of the information they have the right to know about. And what’s so sad is a national institution like this, aiming at teaching the common people about their past, is giving them incomplete information and thus leading to mis-education and lastly mis-understanding among the people. It’s a big responsibility for them to be just and fair and honest. But I hope I was wrong. I hope I was wrong.
If we try to hide some parts of History for the benefit of the powerful few, we would not succeed for long. For truth will always come out. The more we hide them, the more that they will come out. And instead of doing something great as we may thought it to be, we are actually creating more harm than good. Instead of giving attention and making those “less-heard” a feeling of pride to their rich culture and history we are actually make them feel more secluded and excluded. Unwanted. We are giving them more and more reasons to feel and ask:
“Was I (are we) really part of this land’s History? Was I really part of the crafting of this citizenship known as the ‘Filipinos’?”
And yes, we have already witnessed several times what these few words can do.
If the state really wanted to include these people as part of their people then they should be more sincere and honest to them. If they wanted them to feel that they belong to their citizens, as “Filipinos”, then they have no reason to accept them as a whole; their present, their cultures and beliefs, and especially the History that they have great pride of. But if they are not interested with any of these, and just choose what they feel would be beneficial for them and their plans… then by all means, they will surely witness how these few poorly-represented groups of people will surely strive and find ways to do it on their own.
Again reread your History more carefully. What happened then is never far from happening again… “For it is never history that repeats itself”, I remember my professor in History 1 saying, “It is actually us, who repeats History.”
Salam kasilasa
-Anak iluh

Sulu Hidden History: The remnants of Sulu Parula (Parola) -part 2

From an American-built lighthouse to a Tausug-built Masjid.

The search for the missing “Eye-Fall tower” did not take me long to finish for three reasons: 
  1. I already know where to look for it (the wharf in Jolo); 
  2. The people in that community are pretty friendly; and 
  3. The Sulu National Museum gave me all the answers. 

What I just did then is visit the place and confirm the site where it still stands now, talk with the people around, link the stories and tadaa! Mission accomplished!

And so, ladies and gentlemen, I am proud to present to you all, the Sulu Parula (Parola), then and now…

The Sulu Parula (Parola) and the Block House

This is one of the oldest photos linked to our missing structure: the Sulu lighthouse, commonly known to the locals as the “Parula”. This photo of a building IS NOT the actual parula, but actually the “office” of the coast guards known to most as the “Block House”. This photo can also be found in one of the photo archives in the Sulu National Museum at Capitol Hills, Sulu. There were some other similar phtos taken by Mr. Chester A. Cabel from Chicago in 1920s. I found an online copy here: All rights are reserved to the rightful owner of the photo…

The actual parula, according to the locals, was a tall tower made of metals (imagine a smaller version of Eiffel tower) with that usual “bulb-like” light at the top. But this parula rusted in time and that light had long stopped functioning. And so, the Philippine Coast guards decided to destroy that parula and constructed a new lighthouse to replace it in 2011. Unfortunately, nothing remains of the “Eye-Fall Tower” that we were looking for. 🙁

In 1900s when the Americans came to Jolo, there were already lighthouses and signal stations made of wooden planks constructed by the Spaniards. These were built to guide their boats and ships to the Jolo Wharf inside the so-called “walled City”. It was during the Americans reign that these lighthouses were reconstructed with metals and replaced the “offices” nearby into concrete cements which were then called “Block Houses”. There were other parulas and block houses in that same wharf before but this is the only one that remains standing until today.

It was said that every dusk when the sun started to set in the vast Sulu Sea, an assigned officer will climb up the tower and light the parula using fire. When the Americans left Jolo there were Muslim “costudians” who did the job and kept that light burning, until it was replaced by another electricity-operated lighthouse nearby.  Then in 1970s during the Battle of Jolo, the building was abandoned and the parula remained unmanaged until the end of the Marcos Regime.

Masjid Shariful Hashim

Masjid Shariful Hashim in March 2009;
 Photo by Neldy Jolo in his blog: Sulu Lens
In 1999, the residents of walled city, Jolo, Sulu and those living nearby the extended Sulu Sea Port decided to build a Masjid in the wharf. The locals would remember this time as “Ha waktu pa hi Maas Misuari” (It was during the time of Maas Nur Misuari). This is for the benefit of those travelers to and from Jolo, to lessen the hustle of looking for places to pray before their trip to Zamboanga (which are usually right after Eisha Prayer) and other places, or upon arriving from the same places (usually 5AM, right on Subuh prayer). There is also an increase in Muslim population in the area that the need for a masjid had become a necessity already.

That masjid is now known as Masjid Shariful Hashim and it was built right where the remaining block house once stood (and is still standing). The builders decided not to destroy the old building and instead turned it into a “room” inside the masjid; a uniquely designed, octagonal-room with a single post at the center of it. During the first construction of the masjid, there was no second floor yet (the room for the women). It was only in 2010 or 2011 that the masjid was reconstructed and expanded with the efforts of the locals. That was the same masjid where me and my classmates in madrasah prayed, and took some short naps while waiting for our afternoon classes to begin.
Here are more photos: (all photos taken by Anak Iluh, May 2013)

Today, the lighthouse-turned-masjid still stands with great pride of its history (and while we, the Tausugs who pass by that building every other day are well unaware of it). That building which served as a guiding light for sailors in Sulu then, is now serving as another guide to the same people towards a brighter light in the hereafter (for Ibadah: worship).

And this ends our adventure of searching the missing Parula/lighthouse/Eye-Fall tower and the Block house of Jolo.

Acknowledgments and Disclaimer

I am deeply grateful to the Sulu National Museum, to Ms. Criselda Yabes and her novel, to the Imam and the other ma’muwms in the masjid that I have talked to; to kah Neldy Jolo for giving me permission to post his photo of the masjid in 2009 (and also the encouragements); to all those who answered my never-ending questions about this parula online (in forums, FB groups, etc). And lastly to the Ever-Enlightening and Graceful Allah who always show me the right way, in various subtle ways 😀

This research is not sponsored by any individual, group of persons, or company (oh how I wish it was that way!) but only done by the authors personal interest (and invisible sense-of-duty to do so). Feel free to share, re-post, copy so long as ALL CONTENTS WILL NOT BE EDITED AND ALL CITATIONS WILL BE MENTIONED ACCORDINGLY (esp. the photos and links herein).

This post is dedicated to the People of Sulu.

Disclaimer: the use of the term “Eye-Fall Tower” was not coined by Anak Iluh (the author of this post) in this blog. It was first mentioned in the novel “Below the crying mountain” by Ms. Criselda Yabes and thus the author reserves the sole ownership of the term. (Don’t get me wrong guys, I know how it feels to get “robbed online” 🙂

Until our next “Hidden History Adventure”!

Salam Kasilasa!

In search of the Missing Sulu "Eye-Fall" tower (part 1)


Years back when I was still in High school and studying in one of the Madáris (Madrasah: Islamic Schools) in Jolo, Sulu, there was this peculiar masjid nearby. When our morning classes ends at 11 AM, me and my classmates would go to a nearby kadday (small Tausug restaurants), eat our lunch together then hastily come to this masjid called Masjid Shariful Hashim in Jambatan (Sea Port) to pray Zhuhur. The masjid itself is just a simple building that you see in most masjids in Jolo, no intricate designs outside, with metal roofs and wooden domes (and the usual moon-and-star). A set of wooden stairs lead to the second storey reserved for women who wanted to pray in the masjid. What I meant when I said this masjid is “peculiar” or “odd”, is this octagonal room inside the masjid. 
At first I thought that room was just a separate room designed by the architect of the masjid, or something like a storage room. But what really made me scratch my head is its location and design: that room was located right at the center of the masjid (giving lesser space for people to pray) and it had a totally different design that the rest of the building. It was as if it’s a different building covered by another building. (Yet amidst all of that curiosity, I was still a shy-guy before, so I never asked anybody about this. Afraid that people would just laugh at me and say “c’mon why do you have to bother about these things, Ahmad!”) 
The room had two doorways without doors (yes! No doors). The inner walls are plain, but with some irregular plastering in some places (it’s as if there were windows in this room before, but the people decided to cover it). The walls outside that room (which is still in the masjid) had this staggered brick-like edges that you cannot find in any corner of the masjid. And right at the center of that room is a single yellow, wooden, octagonal post that reaching and even passing through the ceiling. Even though this room was also painted with the same paints as the inner walls of the masjid, its design and its location made it all stand out. But most people did not really bother about it, and so at the end of the day, I decided not to trouble myself about it anymore… 
I never knew then, that there will be another set of questions that will lead me to this same room some years later…
Years later, I found this novel by Ms. Criselda Yabes entitled “Below the Crying Mountain”. The novel revolves around the story of my dear homeland (Jolo, Sulu) before and after the devastating war in 1974 that turned Jolo into ashes. That war was among the important turning points in Sulu’s history (and yes, I was not yet bone-and-flesh then) and so this novel was among those “windows” I have been looking for, to allow me to see how Sulu really looked like in 1970s before the war (I am supposed to write about this book in another blogpost). And Alhamdulillah, that novel by Ms. Yabes never failed my expectations (really, I should write about this!). 
Among those places mentioned in the novel, was the “Eye-Fall tower”: a pun for one of the lighthouses in Jolo wharf that had been malfunctioning for some years and thus the name (and “Eye-fall tower” wittily just sounds like “Eiffel tower”). I tried remembering if I have seen any “lighthouse” in that wharf when I was little, but I cannot remember anything that resembles the descriptions in the novel. Does it still exist after that devastating war?
And thus begun my search for the missing “Eye-Fall Tower” of Jolo…
==Watch out for the 2nd part of this post: “Sulu Hidden History: The remnants of the Sulu Parula”==

The use of the term “Eye-Fall Tower” was not coined by Anak Iluh (the author of this post) in this blog. It was first mentioned in the novel “Below the crying mountain” by Ms. Criselda Yabes and thus the author reserves the sole ownership of the term. (Don’t get me wrong guys, I know how it feels to get “robbed online” 🙂