Wednesday, June 29, 2011

History of Mindanao Part VII,Part 2:History of Basilan,Sulu,and Tawi Tawi Provinces


In the previous History entry,"History of Mindanao,Part VII,Part 1:History of Basilan,Sulu,and Tawi Tawi Provinces"I began with Chapter I of"The History of Sulu"by Najeeb Mitry Saleeby.Chapter I is very simply,giving a broad but highly informative discussion of the islands'topography and physical relationship to one another and in turn with Mainland Mindanao.Most Filipinos are unaware that Mindanao encompasses a plethora of smaller islands reaching to the tip of Borneo.Though today these islands are divided into three separate provinces:

1) Basilan

2) Sulu,which includes Jolo Island

3) Tawi Tawi

at the time of publication,in 1908,they were all amalgamated into a single administrative unit named"Moro Province."Unlike Mainland Mindanao these 3 provinces are entirely Islamicised and their southern most environs,on Tawi Tawi,were converted to that faith more than two centuries before Magellan planted his cross on Mindanao proper (I am one of the majority who believes that site to have been in Butuan).

I will pick up the narrative from its last point,a geographical description of Laminusa Island,and commence with a gographical discussion of Tawi Tawi...

Chapter I (continued)

The Tawi Tawi group lies to the south and west of the Tapul Group and extends as far west as the Sibutu Passage.This is the largest group in number and area,including eighty-eight islands with a combined area of 462 square miles.Its population is estimated at 25,000.These islands form two distinct divisions or subgroups,differing in both extent and population.

The first or northern division includes Bangao,Sangasanga,Tawi Tawi,Tandu Batu,and a large number of smaller islands,all of which are rough,volcanic,mountainous,and very sparsely populated.The second or southern division is a series of low,flat islands which are smaller in area but more thickly populated than those of the northern division.The principal names,beginning at the east,are the following:Kinapusan,Bintulan,Tabawan,South Ubian,Tandubas,Sikubun.Lata'an,Mantabwan,Banaran,Bilatan,Manuk-manka,and Siminul.Extensive reefs and narrow channels and shoals separate these islands from one another and from those of the northern division,rendering navigation between them impossible except in vessels of very light draft.

Bangao,Sanga-sanga,and Tawi Tawi are separated by very narrow channels and are practically one island.Bangao forms the southwest extremity and is substantially one solid rock which rises perpendicularly to a height of 228 meters.It is a conspicuous landmark to vessels going through the Sibutu Passage.The town of Bangao is a military station and an open port;it has an excellent landlocked harbor and a very poor water supply.The town has been occupied by troops since 1882,but it has never attained any size or importance.

Tawi Tawi Island is a continuous range of hills covered by thick and rich forests.The highest points in the range are the Dromedary peaks [sic] (591 meters) lying about the center of the island.The length of the island is about 34 miles and its greatest width 14 miles.It is next in size to the Island of Jolo,but it is very sparsely populated.Its chief settlements are Tungpatung,Balimbang,Lissum,and Bu'an on the south coast,and Tawi Tawi,Tata'an,Butung,Tumhubung,Tumbaga'an,Languyan,and Bas on the north.At Balimbang are built the best type of Tausug and Samal boats.Good timber abounds in the neighboring hills,and the little bay is transformed into a shipyard.The little town used to be a famous rendevouz for Samal pirates.Tata'an had formerly a Spanish garrison;the present Moro (MUSLIM) town is a little distance to the south of the ruins of the fort and is called Butung.It is built on the hillside and commands a pretty view of the sea.It lies 100 miles east of Lahat Datu,East Borneo.The anchorage is deep and safe,being well protected by a large semi-circle of reefs.A boa 30 feet long was killed on the island in 1903.Rubber and gutta-percha are found on this island.Tapioca and ubi (SPELLED UBE TODAY,A PURPLE SWEET POTATOE) are the staple products.

Sibutu lies in a little group of the same name,situated between the Tawi Tawi Group and Borneo and at a distance of about 15 miles from each.The Sibutu Pass separates it from Manuk-manka,the southernmost island of the Tawi Tawi Group,and the Alice Channel from Borneo.This island did not lie within the limits of the Philippine Islands as defined in the Treaty of Peace of December 10,1898 (BETWEEN US and SPAIN).It was ceded by Spain with Kagayan Sulu (CAGAYAN),by a separate treaty in November,1900.Its close proximity to Borneo renders it a convienent stopping place for small Moro boats navigating between Borneo and Sulu.Sitanki,an island and town,is the trade center of this group,and has just lately been made an open port.

Island of Jolo: Geographical Features

Jolo is an island of irregular shape and among the islands of the Archipelago is next in size to Basilan.Its longest diameter runs east and west and approximates 37 miles,while its average length does not exceed 32 miles.Its greatest width is 14 miles and its average width is about 10 miles.The main structure of the island is volcanic,but it is surrounded with a coral reef formation,which is most extensive in the bays and on the south.

Two indentations of the northern shore at Jolo (JOLO CITY) and Si'it and two corresponding indentation of the southern shore at Maymbung (MAIMBUNG) and Tu'tu,divide the island into three parts-western,middle,and eastern.

The Bay of Jolo is quite open and faces the northwest.It is very shallow near the shore and its head constitutes the roadstead of Jolo (JOLO CITY,WHICH I WILL USE FROM THIS POINT).The Nay of Maymbung (MAIMBUNG,WHICH I WILL USE FROM THIS POINT) is a deeper indentation,but it is narrower and shallower than the Bay of Jolo.The town of Maimbung lies at the head of the bay and is about 9 miles south of Jolo in a direct line.

The Bays of Si'it and Tu'tu indent the island to such an extent as to leave only a neck of land less than 4 miles wide,connecting the middle and eastern parts of the island.The settlement of Si'it lies at the head of the bay and in the immediate vicinity of a small lake of the same name.The shores of the Bay of Tu'tu are marshy and are covered with mangrove trees.The bay is very shallow to a considerable distance from shore.Tu'tu is the principal settlement near the head of the bay.

Near the backbone of the island is a mountain range which. Runs east and west and lies nearer to the northern shore.The highest point is Mount Tumangtangis,at the western extremity of the range.This mountain reaches a height of 853 meters above sea level and descends very rapidly to the western coast near Timahu.A spur of the mountain terminates in Point Pugut at the northwest extremity of the island.

Toward the east,the ridge descends to a much lower level at Bud Datu (MOUNT DATU),Bud Agad,and Bud Pula,which lie immediately to the south of Jolo City.It rises again in Bud Dahu to the altitude of 716 meters.Bud Dahu is a prominent landmark and forms the most picturesque landscape in the background of Jolo City.It is a steep and conical extinct volcano,similar to,but smaller and more regular in form than Mount Tumangtangis.East of Mount Dahu in another gap in which lies Tambang Pass.Beyond this the range rises again at Mount Tambang and contimues uninterrupted to Mount Sinuma'an,at the extreme end of Lati and Mount Bagshag.After Mount Bagshag the range descends gradually toward Su' and Si'it.The northern slopes of Mount Tumangtangis and Bud Dahu,and the crest of Bud Datu are ccovered with grand forests,while the crests and lower slopes of Bud Agad and Bud Pula are partly cultivated and partly covered with tall grass.

From the shores of the Bay of Jolo the land rises gradually and presents a beautiful green appearance.To the south of Bagshag lies a small extinct volcano called Panamaw or Pandakan,whose crater is now a lake.East of Si'it rise the Lu'uk mountains of Urut,Upao,and Tayungan.From these the range extends to Bud Tandu at the eastern extremity of the island.

The highlands near the southern coast of the island divide into three separate regions.The first and westernmost lies west of Maimbung and forms the principal highlands of Parang.The highest points in this region are Mount Tukay,east of the town of Parang,and Mount Mabingkang,east of Tukay.To the east of Maimbung rise Mount Talipao and Mount Kumaputkut,which form the middle and second region.The third region is the southern part of the Lu'uk country.Its highest point is Mount Bulag,to the north of Tandu-Panu'an.Between Mount Tukay and Mount Tumangtangis lies Bud Gapang.Midway between Mount Talipao and Bud Datu is Mount Kumuray,in the neighborhood of Langhub.

The largest streams on the island are Tubig Palag and Bina'an.The first is generally known as the Maimbung River.It passes through the settlement of Maimbung and empties into the head of the bay of the same name.It drains the southern slopes of Mounts Tumangtangis,Pula,Dahu,and Kumuray.The Bina'an stream drains the southern slopes of Mount Sinuma'an and the northern slopes of Mount Talipao and Kumaputkut and empties into the Bay of Tu'tu.

Principal Coast Settlements:

Beginning at Jolo City and going west along the northern coast we pass the following points of interest:The first is. Point Baylam,the western limit of the Bay of Jolo.At the head of the small bay that follows lies the settlement of Matanda,where a Spanish blockhouse marks the western limit of the Jolo City line of fortification (JOLO CITY WAS AWALLED CITY).Next comes Point Mangalus and the receding beach of Bwansa,the old capitol of Sulu (SULTUNATE OF SULU).Here and in the next bay,at Malimbay and Kansaya,Samal boats assemble in favorable weather for fishing.Back of these settlements the land rises rapidly to Mount Tumantangis.A teak forest of considerable size lies between Tumangtangis and Jolo City.

Outside of the wall of Jolo City and to the east lies the settlement of Busbus,where criminals were formerly chopped to death after being tied to a tree (TODAY A BARANGAY WITHIN JOLO CITY).A mile beyond is Mubu,where the old residence of Sultan Harun stands out prominently.Copius springs of fresh water issue at this place at a point near the high water mark.A mile farther east we come to Tandu (point or cape),where Datu Kalbi lives.This point is,generally know as Tandu Dayang Ipil ("CAPE PRINCESS IPIL) (Princess Ipil and her followers were wrecked and drowned at this point.Their bodies are said to have turned into stone and formed the rocks that line the shore.Some of the rocks seemed to the people to resemble petrified human beings) and marks the eastern limit of the Bay of Jolo.The isolsted hill of Patikul rises immediately behind Tandu.The settlement of Patikul lies still farther away on the beach.Here lives Datu Julkarnayn (Alexander the Great),the brother of Datu Kalbi.The beautiful region lying between Patikul and the mountains of Tambang and Sinuma'an is called Lati.

Buhanginin lies about midway between Patikul and Higasan.At the latter place or Tandu Manuk-manuk the shore line recedes toward the south.Opposite this point lies the island of Bakungan.Next comes the larger settlement of Taglibi,above which rises Mount Ta'ung;then Bunbun,near a point which marks the western entrance into the Bay of Si'it.Midway between Bunbun and the head of the bay is Sn' [sic],which may be said to mark the boundry line between Lati and Lu'uk.Si'it is a small settlement near the head of the bay.Beyond Si'it,the shore line turns north until it reaches Kansipat.About two miles farther,a semicircular reef off the shore makes the excellent and well-protected small harbor of Bwal.A large spring of pure,fresh water adds to this place another natural advantage,one which gave it the prominence it had in former days.The entrance into the harbor is very shallow and allows only sailboats of light draft.The channel lies close to the shore on the west side.Opposite the island of Tulayn lie Tandu-batu and a little farther inland Kuta Makis.Limawa lies about 3 miles farther on near a point opposite the island of Buli KutingBehind this island,and at the head of a shallow cove lies Patutul,the chief settlement of Tandu.East of Bud Tandu is Tandu Pansau,the easternmost point of the island.The eastern coast is exposed to storms and appears rock and barren,though the hills behind it are well cultivated.The first point on the southern coast is Tandu Panu'an,behind which lies the settlement of Sukuban.This marks the southern extremity of the boundary line between Tandu and Lu'uk.The country behind Kuta Sihi'and Pitugu appears rich and well tilled.The hills come down to the beach.Near the point at the eastern limit of Tu'tu Bay lies Kambing.The neighboring country is rich and prosperous.It is governed by Maharajah Bayrula,one of the wisest and best chiefs of Sulu.West of Kambing lie Pandang-pandang,Tubu-manuk,and Tu'tu.The shore is a continuous mangrove marsh,while the country behind is about the richest and best tilled land on the whole island.The western side of Tu'tu Bay has few places of importance.The country behind is picturesque and hillt,but not as well populated as the other parts of the island.Lubuk,Kabungkul,and Lumapit are the chief settlements.

Beyond the point of Buhangin Puti',the shore line bends again north and the Bay of Maimbung begins.Here mangrove swamps are extensive and extend a good distance inland.The greater part of Maimbung is built on piles over the water.It is surrounded by swamps on all sides.After the tide recedes,strong odors arise from the muddy bottom to such an extraordinary degree as to render the atmosphere of the place very disagreeable and often unbearable to strangers.The center of the town is a small,open square of reclaimed land filled with coral rocks.Around this square were built the houses of Sultan Jamalul A'lam and his ministers of state.The present sultan lives on a hill about half a mile inland from the town.The square was probably the site of the Maimbung fort which was destroyed by General Arolas in 1887.Some Chinese traders live in the town and export hemp (ABACA),pearls,pearl shell,etc.,through Jolo City.The population of the town and its immediate suburbs varies considerably,but it is generally estimated at 1,000.Beyond Maimbung the coast bends sharply to the south.In the immediate vicinity of Maimbung lies Bwalu.A mile west of this place begins the district of Parang.After Lipid and Lapa comes Kabali'an,the western limit of the Bay of Maimbung.The shore line then takes a more westerly direction.Passing Dandulit and Lakasan,we reach Tandu Put,where the western coast of the island begins.This southern region of Parang is well populated and is very pretty and productive.Cultivated areas are seen on the side of the mountains everywhere and they reach the very summit of Mount Tukay.

The town of Parang is one of the largest settlements on the island and has,at present,an estimated population of 1,000.It is situated at the head of a small open bay facing the southwest and commands a beautiful view of Tapul and Lugus and the intervening sheet of water.It is the capitol of the district and has one of the best markets in the Archipelago for fish,shells,and pearls.The drinking water in this neighborhood is brackish.

An islet lies off the shore near Tandu Bunga.Beyond this point the shoreline turns north to Bwisan,which is one of the most prosperous districts.Beyond Alu Pangku' the coast inclines a little east and runs to Silankan and Timahu.Extensive coconut groves and well cultivated.Fields and fruit trees of various kinds abound all along the coast from Parang to Timahu.

Districts of the Island:

The districts of the island conform in a great measure to its natural divisions.However,political reasons have modified the natural boundries and have increased the districts to six by division.These districts are Parang,Pansul,Lati,Gi'tung,Lu'uk, and Tandu.The first district on the west is Parang.A line joining the western limit of Bwalu on the south coast,with a point slightly east of the summit of Mount Tumantangis,and well projected to the sea on the north,delimits [sic] the district on the east and carves out of the Western natural division the district of Pansul$The eastern boundry of Pansul is a line running from a point 2 or 3 miles east of Maimbung to Mount Pula and Busbus.The chief reason for separating Pansul from Parang was to reserve for the sultan direct control over Jolo City and Maimbung.This district has more foreigners residing in it than any other.

A line joining Su'[sic] and Lubuk marks the eastern limit of both Lati and Gi'tung,the third and fourth districts.The watershed line joining the summits of Mount Dahu,Tambang,and Sinuma'an and falling on the east to the vicinity of Su',divides Lati on the north from Gi'tung on the south.For all practical purposes the district of Lati may be said to lie between Jolo City and Su,'and the district of Gi'tung or Talipao between Maimbung and Tu'tu.The land joining Si'it and Tu'tu'is low.On Jolo Island traditions say that when the Samals arrived in the island this neck of land was submerged and the island was divided by a channel of water.The extinct volcano of Pandakan,generally spoken of as the"Crater Lake,"which lies in the vicinity of ,may be of late origin and may have been the source of the geological deposits which helped fill the channel.Spanish records speak of a volcanic eruption in the vicinity of Jolo City as late as 1840,and it is very likely that other volcanic action occurred prior to that date and after the arrival of the Samals in the fourteenth century.

A line joining Limawa on the north and Sukuban or Tandu Panu'an on the south,divides Lu'uk from Tandu,thus forming the fifth and sisth districts respectively.A line joining Mount Tayungan and Bud Tandu divides both Lu'uk and Tandu into a northern and a southern part.In both cases the southern parts are more fertile and better cultivated and probably more thickly populated than the northern.

The Tausugs are principally agriculturis.The greater part of the people are farmers and a considerable portion of the interior of the island is under cultivation.They raise a good number of cattle,carabaos,and horses,which they utilize for tilling the soil and transporting its products.Trails cross the island in all directions and the interior is in easy communication with the sea.Fruits are good and abundant.The forests are rich in jungle products and in timber.Some copra and hemp is raised and the amount is being increased anually.The staples are tapioca,rice,and corn.Sugar cane is raised in small quantities.Ube and taro are fairly abundant.Some coffee is produced,but disease destroyed most of the plantations.Some tobacco and vegetables are raised for home consumption only.

Jolo City is one of the best fish markets in the Philippine Islands.The varieties of fish in Sulu waters are innumerable and of excellent quality.The island of Jolo surpasses Mindanao in the quality and proportional amount of its fruit.There is an abundance of mangostins (MANGOSTEENS),durians,nangkas (jack-fruits),lancones (LANZONES),marangs,mangos of several varieties (mampalam,bawnu,and wanni),oranges,custard apples,pineapples,bananas,etc.

In the extent and quality of cultivation the district of Lu'uk ranks first,Parang second,and Lati third.Good fresh water abounds everywhere except on the western coast.Considerable irrigation is possible in many localities.

In my next History entry,"History of Mindanao,Part VIII:Jolo City at the Beginning of the 20th Century"I will continue with Dr.Saleeby's"History of Sulu,"Chapter I,in which Saleeby goes into detail about the construction of,appearance of,and general state of affairs in Jolo City which at that point was still simply called,"Jolo."

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