PEOPLE OF THE MARSH
The Sultanate of Maguindanao is said by some sources to have been established at the end of the 12th cent-ury, by others in the early 1300s; the more likely date is c.1515. The earlier dates probably refer to the estab-lishment of a pre-Muslim rajahdom by that name.
The island of Mindanao is known formerly as the Gran Moluccas (or Great Moluccas) and named so after the Maguindanaons. The name means ‘people of the flood plains’ and is derived from the two words: maginged and danaw, which means people of the marsh.
The Maguindanaons were and still are an inland dwelling hardy clan who cultivate rice as their basic food crop and survive on fishing and weaving fine mats and baskets. For centuries, they lived in relative peace with other tribal groups that inhabited the highlands of Cotabato; these grounds were used as a place of refuge and but also as a source of slavery. Attempts by the Maguindanao people to subdue the mountain tribes of Cotabato never succeed, but later on trading flourished between the different groups.
THE EARLY ISLAMIC MISSIONARIES
In available historical sources, it seems that the first re-corded rulers of Maguindanao was Raja (the term denotes one as being a Muslim royal prince) Tabunaway and his brother Mamalu, who were the eldest and youngest sons respectively of Sharif Marjan to Putri Paramaisuli – the daughter of Tuan Sharif Awliya to a woman of Maguin-danao. The word ‘Tuan’ as used in Malay is a form of res-pectful address for a man, equivalent to sir or mister.
Tuan Sharif Awliya was a religious scholar whose original Arabic name was Karim ul-Makhdum from Mecca who arrived in Malacca. He practiced medicine and magic to the people, the reason why many inhabitants, including the ruler of Malacca, converted to Is-lam.
In 1380 AD, Karim ul-Makhdum visited Simunul island (now the province of Tawi-Tawi, Philippines). Apart from being a scholar, he was also a trader and believed to be a Sufi missionary. He preached Islam in Sulu and in some parts of Maguindnao accompanied by his daughter Putri Paramaisuli but soon left Maguindanao without doing any proselytizing work. Returning to Sulu, he facilitated the conversion of nonbelievers by establishing a mosque in Tubig-Indagan in Simunul, which became the first Islamic temple to be cons-tructed in the Philippines. This landmark was later known as the Sheik Karimal Makdum Mosque. Tuan Sharif Awliya died in Sulu, though the exact location of his grave is un-known.
BEGINNINGS OF A SULTANATE
Towards the middle of the 16th century, another arrival came in the person of Shariff Mohammed Kabungsuan Bin Ali Zein ul-Abedin (1520-1543) of Johor from the royal house of Mal-acca, who anchored first at Natubakan, a site near the mouth of Maguindanao pulangi (river). Upon the verbal reports of locals under a certain Manumbali – a henchman, Raja Tabu-naway, Mamalu and some of their people went downstream to verify the new arrival.
Shariff Kabungsuan quickly established his royal credentials with the Raja declaring that his father was Ali Zein ul-Abedin of Mecca and his mother – Putri Jusul Asiqin, the daugh-ter of Sultan Iskandar Jukarnain of Malacca. At that, it is said that Raja Tabunaway and his brother Mamalu invited him to come with them upstream to Maguindanao-proper, but the latter only would to do so if both brothers agreed to the mass conversion of their people to the Islam religion. Having arrived voluntarily at such an agreement, Raja Tabu-naway sent Mamalu upstream to summon practically all their followers and people in Ma-guindanao proper for mass Islamic baptismal rites by washing and bathing near the same river mouth in a place called Payguan which, to this date, still means a place for bathing.
Afterwards, Sharif Kabunsuan proceeded to the Malabang-Lanao area for his missionary work. At this juncture he married Bai Angintabu, a daughter of a local chieftain and begot Salipada (or, Sarripara Makaalang), among others. Having Islamized the populace in that area he returned with his family to Maguindanao- proper, making the area of Malabang-Lanao his home base.
Without loss of much time, Raja Tabunaway and his people decided to offer and voluntarily give the ruler-ship of Maguindanao to SharifF Kabungsuan who read-ily accepted it as he himself was a scion of royal and no-ble ancestry through his father Shariff Ali Zein ul-Abe-din, a descendant of the Holy Prophet Muhammad and Putri Jusul Asiqin.
Thus, it was in this manner that Shariff Kabungsuan in-troduced the Islamic religion, customs and the Sultanate system of governance in Maguin-danao. And, through his marriages first with Raja Tabunaway’s full sister – Putri Sarab-anon (who died later without any issue), and another adopted sister – Putri Tunina, was he eventually able to establish himself later as the first Islamic Sultan of Maguindanao and Buayan.
Over time, the Sultanate of Maguindanao was formed consisting of the Pulangi Valley in Kota Bato, and the lower valley (Si Ilud) controlled by a descendant, the Sultan Muham-mad Dipatuan Kudarat, coupled with the upper valley (Si Raya) which was controlled by Rajah Buhayen together with the jurisdiction of Rajah Buhisan (around Lake Lanao), and the confederation of the Ranao Sultanates which all merged to form the expanded Sul-tanate of Maguindanao.
The Cotabato Valley formed the sultanate’s heartland but its influence extended from the Zamboanga Peninsula to Sarangani Bay and Davao.
THE SPANISH ENCROACHMENT
Priot to the Spanish occupation of the Philippines, various Muslim groups of the Maguindanao tribes were already set-tled in regions that developed later into important towns such as Samal in Davao del Sur, Tagum in Davao del Norte and Mayo which is now Davao City. At present the Maguinda-naons live along the coastal area of Southern Mindanao, as well as in the Cotabato Basin adjacent to the upper Allah Val-ley.
During the earlier part of the Spanish colonial period in the Philippines, the Sultans of Ma-guindanao were able to defend their territory, preventing the acquisitive Spaniards from colonizing the entirety of Mindanao ceding only the island of Palawan situated west of it in the Philippine Sea to the Spanish government in 1705.
Palawan was the island priory ceded to Sultan Muhammad Dipatuan Kudarat (or Qudarat) by the Sulu Sultan Muwallil Wasit I resulting from a marriage to the latter’s daughter. Originally, Palawan island was a gift bestowed to the Sultan of Sulu by the Brunei Sultan Bongsu Muhyuddin (1673–1690), upon ascending to the throne. The gift also included so-vereign landownership of the territories of Sabah in North Borneo.
The ceding of Palawan island to the Spaniards helped dissuade further Spanish encroach-ments for control of the much larger island of Mindanao where Maguinadanao-proper was situated. Sultan Kudarat or Asraf Mohamad Samalan Dipatuan Qudratullah Fahar’uddin Nasiruddin (1619–1671) whose name as a youth was Ullah Untong, was one of the greatest known sultans who reigned over Mindanao.
He also established friendly relations with the Spaniards and the Dutch, but the Spaniards nevertheless tried to conquer his subjects. They failed and were forced to ransom their sol-diers from the Sultan. As a result, the Spanish Governor-General Alonso Fajardo signed a treaty with Kudarat on June 25, 1645 which only allowed a few Spanish missionaries to establish pockets of Christianity in some parts of Mindanao such as Zamboanga, allowing a church built, and trade in the Sultan’s territories. Zamboanga is now a large enclave of Spanish-speaking Filipinos who converse using a local Spanish dialect called Chabacano. The other large Spanish-speaking enclave of Filipinos outside of Mindanao is found in the town of Mexico, Pampanga in Luzon.
During his reign, Sultan Kudarat repeatedly opposed the Spaniards who attempted to conquer his land. It hindered the Christianization of the greater part of Mindanao. The Phi-lippine province of Sultan Kudarat is today named after him.