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Fang-chia-hsi-nan / Pangasinan / Maguindanao

Chinese record has a wealth of references that showed that it had trade relations with our country from the 10th to the 15th centuries. Since this was long before the Philippines, the documents mentioned different places like P'u-tuan or Butuan, the island Mintolang or Mindanao, Pa-lao-yu or Palawan and Liu-hsin or Luzon. Mintolang, according to Wang Ta-yuan's geographic reference, is located at the lower end of a large agriculturally productive river valley. If the inferred geographic location of these polities is correct, Mintolang is likely a precursor to the powerful Maguindanao polity.

The Ming Shih recorded that Pangasinan sent tribute in the years 1406, 1410 and 1412. Among the ancient peoples of Mindanao was one known as the Maguindanaos, differing from the Sulus and Samals in language and customs about as widely as the Russians differ from the English. From the most ancient times this people has inhabited the valley of the Rio Grande; and at an early date a branch of them took possession of the country about Lake Lanao and gradually assumed the name of the Malanaos.

About the middle of the fourteenth century, the first Mohammedan missionaries arrived on Mindanao from Arabia. One of these was a Salip, or descendant of Mohammed through his daughter Fatima, "the most blessed of women." He married the daughter of a great Maguindanao chief and united the people under himself as Sultan.

When the Spaniards first reached the islands, from 1521 to 1565, Malay proas from Borneo cruised and traded throughout the Bisaya Islands, and there were flourishing Moro settlements and strongholds on Mindoro, Lubang, and the shores of Manila Bay. Manila, as well as Tondo, was a Mohammedan town ruled over by a Moro dato. Jolo and the coast of Maguindanao appear to have been Mohammedanized at least a century before the Spaniards' arrival. The written histories and genealogies of the Maguindanao, Samal, and Sulu Moros all trace their conversion to princes coming from Borneo or Johore.

In the 19th Century the Moros, Subanos, Tirurays, Sandals, Bajaus, Manobos, Bagobos, Bilans and Atas were some of the more important tribes of the Mindanao and Sulu section. There are three great divisions of the Morosthe Maranao, Maguindanao and Tau Sug or Joloano. The Moros dominated all the other peoples of the section. Each of the separate tribes has a different language, different tribal laws and different customs. There was as much difference, for instance, in the languages of the Maguindanao and Joloano Moros as there is between French and Italian. One of them cannot understand the other unless he has learned the language. All the languages of all the other tribes are as different. There is absolutely no unanimity of thought, action or speech between any two of all the different tribes.

By 1900 the Sultan of the Maguiudauaos was his lineal descendant. But it should not be imagined for a moment that he held a united Maguindanao people under his sway. Far from this, Dato Ali was only one among the datos, and a very insignificant dato he is. A man of weak character, he has lost the authority which he had not the power to maintain, and the government has passed to others, and notably to a remarkable character known as Dato Piang.

The son of a Chinese laborer and a Maguindanao slave girl, Piang gained his first ascendancy through the Spaniards, but is constantly increasing his prestige through his own force of character and cunning. With a keen eye to business, he saw to it that his retainers fared better than their neighbors, and many flock to him for the sake of "rice twice a day." Fully aware of the reverence which the Maguiudanaos paid to the royal blood, which he did not possess, he courted the friendship of Dato Ali, a chief of the bluest blood. He knew the manner and the strength of the white man, having lived with him and worked for him in the capacity of head carpenter long before he rose to prominence in Maguindanao politics.

The 19th Century Maguindanaos were an agricultural and a trading people. Their agriculture was carried on in the same crude manner as is that of the Sulus. Their trade, carried on chiefly with the pagan tribes of the interior, shaded off quite strongly toward piracy; many a pagan producer fearing to refuse whatever the Maguindanao "merchant" may offer for his product. This trade was largely in very crude gutta-percha, gums used for varnishes, beeswax, and other forest products. In collecting these, the Maguindanaos also took an active part.

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Page last modified: 31-03-2012 18:56:57 ZULU