The coming of Islam to the Philippines
To realize how the animists of Philippines initially resisted the Islamic Holy Warriors from 1380 onwards and how later they managed to remain a Christian island atop a Muslim Archipelago by fighting off the Muslim incursions of the Moros from Mindanao in the Southern Philippines, we need to look at what happened in the neighboring countries from the 15th century onwards.
A seminal event that was to halt the advance of Islam was the arrival of Ferdinand Magellan in the Philippines in 1521.
The story of Islamic incursions in the Philippines in closely intertwined with that of Islam in the far-east. It was from Malaya, Southern Thailand and Indonesia that Islam went to the Philippines. Hence to study the coming of Islam to the Philippines we start from the coming of Islam to Thailand and Malaya, where Islam first clashed with the local religions Buddhism and Hinduism.
In fact, what are today the ASEAN countries had one religion (a mix of Hinduism-Buddhism-Animism) and one culture till the 15th century. They did not look upon themselves as different countries. A large part of today’s Malaysia was a part of the kingdom of Siam (Thailand). And at times Malaysia Indonesia and Southern Phillipines (Mindanao and the Sulu islands) were under the rule of one single dynasty (Sri Vijaya, Shailendra, Majapahit and Mataram).
The Bas Reliefs of Borobudur in Indonesia and the ancient Indian (Sanskrit) language are the only reminders of the Buddhist and Hindu past of the current Muslim population of Malaysia and Indonesia. Seals found in Southern Philippines establish that the reign of these dynasties had extended to the Philippine archipelago. The Laguna Copperplate Inscription is one such seal. This seal dates from 900 AD (Saka Era year 822) and is considered to be the end of prehistory of the Philippines as far as documents are concerned. It was found in the Laguna de Bay of Manila. In 1989, the Philippines National Museum acquired it. The inscription forgives the descendants of Namwaran from a debt of 926.4 grams of gold, and is granted by the chief of Tondo (an area in Manila) and the authorities of Paila, Binwangan and Pulilan, which are all locations in Luzon. The words are a mixture of Sanskrit, Old Malay, Old Javanese and Old Tagalog.
The subject matter proves the highly developed society that existed in the Philippines prior to the Spanish colonization, as well as refuting earlier claims of the Philippines being a cultural isolate in Asia; the references to the Chief of Medan in Indonesia claim the cultural and trade links with various other affiliated empires and territories in other parts of the Malay Archipelago.
One example of pre-Spanish Philippine script on a burial jar, derived from Brahmi survives, as most of the writing was done on perishable bamboo or leaves; an earthenware burial jar dated 1200s or 1300s with script was found in Batangas. This script is called in Tagalog Baybayin or Alibata.
But the point to be noted here is that the people of pre-islamic South East Asia (including those of the Philippines) were under Hindu-Buddhist cultural influences and were ill prepared to meet the Islamic onslaught. The clash of the gentle ancestors of the Filipinos, Thais, Malays and Indonesians with the violent Muslims is a clash of contrasts. This is so as there is no greater contrast than that between Buddhism and Islam. While Buddhism is intrinsically and universally non-violent, Islam is a violent, cruel and murderous paranoia as we witnessed in 9/11, 7/7, 3/11 and numerous other events in recent history. The 14 century long history of Islam has been equally violent and bloodied and cruel.
A pre-Islamic horseman.
The face-off between Islam and Buddhism is a study of extremely stark contrasts; contrasts like, actions followed by queer reactions followed again by counter reactions. Confusing is it? Let us explain. Read on.
The universal non-violence of Buddhism pitted against the depraved Cruelty of Islam
The Buddhists teach their adherents to be extremely non-violent whatever the provocation, while Islam teaches its adherents to be extremely cruel, murderous, deceptive (Taqiya)and sadistic. When the Buddhists first encountered the Muslims in Central Asia and Afghanistan (remember the Bamiyan Buddhas?), the Buddhist reaction was no reaction at all. The Buddhists tamely submitted to the Muslims. No they did not embrace Islam en masse; they just gave themselves up for being slaughtered en masse by the Muslims. The Buddhists were one of those few who accepted the “Death Option” from the Muslims’ offer of “Islam or Death”.
Hence the Buddhists simply perished in the first flush of Muslim onslaught against them. Many of the Buddhists never learned to resist the Muslims. Even when the Muslims raided famous Buddhist Universities like Nalanda in India’s Bihar province, the Buddhists died en masse when the Muslim swordsmen slaughtered them like hyena would devour a clutch of rabbits in a cage. The Buddhists also did not make any attempt to escape from their murderers. They accepted death with an air of fatalism and destiny. And hence they are not around today to tell their story!
But their mindless slaughter evoked another and extremely opposite reaction from another set of Buddhists. This was also the most dramatic one so far – the Mongol invasion of Iran and Iraq by Chengiz Khan and his son Hulagu Khan. These Mongols were Buddhists by faith, whose homeland had been suffering the depredations of the Muslims for six centuries (from 651 C.E. to 1200 C.E.) when the Buddhist Mongols decided that enough was enough and decided to pay back the Muslims with their own coin – with due premium added! The Mongols slaughtered the Muslims of Iran and Iraq with unremitting cruelty.
The Mongols laid waste the countryside, burnt down cities slaughtered the Muslim population en masse, including the Caliph himself!.
It was only this unexpected reversal of attitudes of the Mongol Buddhists, that resulted in the ravaging Muslims being ravaged themselves by a force that was infinitely more barbarous than the Muslims. And only this could lead to the defeat of the Muslims. This folks is the moral of our story when we try to understand the Muslim attacks on the Buddhists of Thailand and how the Muslims can finally be defeated in the ongoing War on Terror.
Clash of Contrasts - Buddhism and Islam in Thailand and Malaysia (from where Islam came to the Philippines)
Thailand is today a Buddhist nation, unlike its Muslim neighbors like Malaysia and Indonesia. Thailand is Buddhist today due to the largely forgotten struggle waged by the Siamese (Thai) kings against the Muslim Jihadis who invaded South East Asia from the 13th century onwards. Like Thailand, the people of Malaysia, Indonesia also were overwhelmingly Hindu and Buddhists, before they were overrun by Islam.
The face-off between Islam and Buddhism is a study of extremely stark contrasts; contrasts like, actions followed by queer reactions followed again by counter reactions. Confusing is it? Let us explain. Read on.
Physical science tells us that whenever there is an action, there is also an equal and opposite reaction. In the world of human psychology, this rule generally becomes skewed depending on the ethical-moral mindset of the parties involved. The Muslims have encountered varying levels of resistance in their history of rampage spread across three continents of Europe, Asia and Africa up to the 20th century. A rampage which spread in a dramatic manner to America (9/11) and Australia (Bali attacks) in the 21st century.
The Muslim marauders started their rampage (Jihad) by measuring their theologically inspired murderous mentality against the military valor of the Zoroastrian Persians in the 7th century followed by the military valor of the Byzantine Christians. Note here that it was the military valor of the Persians and Byzantines that was pitted against the theologically inspired murderous mentality of the Muslims. This match itself was unequal as theologically inspired murderous mentality can and did easily overcome military valor. The inspiration of the Muslims was to destroy their enemies, while that of the Persians and Byzantines was only to defeat and roll back the Muslim invasion. It was in this battle of objectives itself that the Persians and the Byzantines lost out to the Muslims. To defeat the Muslims, our primary objective should be to destroy Islam. Only then can victory over Muslim be the result!
The Muslim mindset of unremitting violence, cruelty and murder finally defeated the military valor of both the Zoroastrian Persians and the Byzantine Christians. Both the cultures fell before the advance of the murderous Muslim marauders. The Zoroastrian Persians perished and disappeared from history altogether. But the Christians responded differently. After four centuries of unremitting barbarism from the Muslims who overran the Christian nations of the Middle East (known today as Syria, Palestine, Jordan, Turkey) and the Christian nations in Africa (Egypt, Sudan, Somalia, Libya, Algeria, Tunisia) as also in Europe (Spain for 800 years) France (for 30 years) Italy (for 8 years) the Christians finally decided that enough was enough and determined to return the barbarism of the Muslims with even greater and more effective barbarism, tinged with determination to liberate the Holy Land from its infidel occupiers, singed as the Christians had been with four centuries of Muslim horrors across three continents of Asia, Africa and Europe.
Traditional Thai Warriors
The Thais resisted the Muslims, albeit briefly in the 17th century, only to lapse back to a defensive position and again start suffering at the hands of the Malaysian Jihadis in the 21st century.
The Malays themselves were Buddhists and Hindu by faith till the 15th century under their kingdoms of Sri Vijaya (Malaysia), Majapahit (Indonesian archipelago). These kingdoms were ardent rivals and were at war with each other and with their northern neighbor – the kingdom of Siam (Thailand), when the Muslim first appeared on the scene.
On the other hand because of the change of strategy while fighting the murderous Muslims, the Crusaders were stunningly successful, and in their first rush itself overwhelmed the barbarous Muslim with even greater barbarism. The Crusaders not only slaughtered the Muslims, but went further to roast and eat the Muslims in a gruesome barbecue. An exercise that can today be termed as recycling the adversary! Mind you, these Crusaders were not Head Hunting cannibals when the left Europe. They came from established civilizations in France, England, Germany, Spain, Italy in Mediaeval Europe. But the relentless barbarism of the Muslims had built in the Christians an urge to put an end to it all, once and forever. The result was – The Crusades. and the corollary of cannibalism that was compelled upon the Crusaders by four centuries of near fatal depredations of their countries, culture and civilization. It was only this unexpected reversal of attitudes on part of the Crusaders of the ravaging the ravager Muslims with a force that was more barbarous than the Muslims, could lead to the defeat of the Muslims. This folks is the moral of our story when we try to understand the Muslim attacks on the Buddhists of Thailand.
The universal non-violence of Buddhism pitted against the depraved Cruelty of Islam
The Buddhists teach their adherents to be extremely non-violent whatever the provocation, while Islam teaches its adherents to be extremely cruel, murderous and sadistic. When the Buddhists first encountered the Muslims in Central Asia and Afghanistan (remember the Bamiyan Buddhas?), the Buddhist reaction was no reaction at all. The Buddhists tamely submitted to the Muslims. No, they did not embrace Islam en masse; they just gave themselves up for being slaughtered en masse by the Muslims. The Buddhists were one of the few who accepted the “Death Option” from the Muslims’ offer of “Islam or Death”. Hence the Buddhists simply perished in the first flush of Muslim onslaught against them. Many of the Buddhists never learnt to resist the Muslims. Even when the Muslims raided famous Buddhist Universities like Nalanda in India’s Bihar province, the Buddhists died en masse when the Muslim swordsmen slaughtered them like a pack of famished hyenas would devour a clutch of rabbits inside a cage.
A Thai Samurai
Before the advent of Islam, Sri Vijaya and Majapahit were powerful empires from the 13th upto the 15th centuries. Both the Sri Vijaya and Majapahit kings followed an eclectic faith made up of Hinduism and Buddhism. These kingdoms also had their illustrious counterparts in Laos, Cambodia, Thailand and Burma (Myanmar). They built magnificent cities. The ruins of Angkor are the most dramatic surviving evidences of their glory. Similar cities dotted Malaysia, and Indonesia in the 12 to the 15th centuries. Their decline began with the coming of Arab dhows (vessels) who carried not just merchandise but also the sword of Islam. The king who first embraced Islam was named Parmeswara and he became a victim of circumstances when he was tricked into becoming a Muslim.
When attacked and massacred by the Muslims, the Buddhists initially did not make any attempt to escape from their murderers. They accepted death with an air of fatalism and destiny. And hence they are not around today to tell their story. But their mindless slaughter evoked another and extremely opposite reaction from another set of Buddhists. This was also the most dramatic one so far – the Mongol invasion of Iran and Iraq by Chengiz Khan and his son Hulagu Khan. These Mongols were some sort of Buddhists by faith, whose homeland had been suffering the depredations of the Muslims for six centuries (from 651 to 1200) when the Buddhist Mongols decided that enough was enough and decided to pay back the Muslims with their own coin – with due premium added! The Mongols slaughtered the Muslims of Iran and Iraq with unremitting cruelty. The Mongols laid waste the countryside, burnt down cities slaughtered the Muslim population en masse, including the Caliph himself!. The Mongols were matched in their reaction to Muslim Barbarism, only by the Crusaders. And interestingly it was only the Mongols and the Crusaders who defeated the Muslims in their own homeland in the last 1400 years of the existence of the Muslims since 622 CE. Other minor aberrations that turned the tide of the Muslims were the Franks at Tours,the Spanish Re-conquistadores, the Hindus under their king Sivaji, the Nubian marksmen and the Thai reconquest of the Sultanate of Pattani late in the seventeenth century.
How Islam came to the Philippines after it came to Malaysia, Indonesia and Thailand
After this longish preamble, we shall see how the Filipinos resisted the Muslims, and preserved the Philippines as a Christian enclave amidst an Islamic sea. But the war against Islam in the Philippines is far from over as the activities of the MNLF (Moro National Liberation Front), the MILF (Moro Islamic Liberation Front) and now the dreaded Abu Sayyaf gang along with the Jemmah Islamia cause intermittent but alarming suffering to the mainly non-Muslim Filipinos even in the 21st century.
The origin of the Muslim problem in the Philippines lies in the forced conversion of the Malays to Islam in the 15th century. The Malays themselves were Buddhists and Hindu by faith till the 15th century under their kingdoms of Sri Vijaya (Malaysia), Shailendra and Majapahit (Indonesian archipelago). These three kingdoms were ardent rivals and were intermittently at war with each other and with their northern neighbor – the kingdom of Siam (Thailand).
Interestingly, the entry of Islam in to South East Asia was facilitated by this rivalry and internecine warfare of the three kingdoms of Thailand with SriVijaya of Malaysia and Shailendra and Majapahit of Indonesia. But the ultimate reason for the conversion of the last Sri Vijaya king, Parmeswara to Islam was deception as we shall see below.
Thai Warriors as depicted at the Bas-Reliefs at Borobudur (Big Buddha) in Indonesia
It was the Arab merchant-Jihadis who deceived the last Sri Vijaya king, Parameswara (of today’s Malaysia) to marry a Muslim damsel and converted him to Islam by promising him help in his fight against his rivals from Thailand. From 1402 onwards Parmeswara increasingly became dependent on the Arabs to stave off attempts from the Thais and the territorial ambitions of his other rival Majapahit of Indonesia. The Arab merchant-soldiers whose position became increasingly stronger at Parmeswara’s court offered to send in more forces to fight alongside him, if he converted to Islam. Initially Parameswara scornfully refused this offer. But as the struggle with Thailand and Majapahit wore on, his position became more precarious. At this juncture the Arab merchants gifted him a princess of Pasai who was a mix breed descendants from an Arab and Indonesian Nikah Mu’tah Marriage (A Nikah Mu’tah is a temporary marriages allowed for Muslims by the Quran).
Before the advent of Islam in South-East Asia; Sri Vijaya, Shailendra, Mataram and Majapahit were powerful empires from the 3rd upto the 15th centuries. The Sri Vijaya, Shailendra and Majapahit kings followed an eclectic faith made up of Hinduism and Buddhism. These kingdoms also had their illustrious counterparts in Laos, Cambodia, Thailand and Burma (Myanmar). They built magnificent cities. The ruins of Angkor Vat and Borobudur are the most dramatic surviving evidences of their glory. Similar cities dotted Malaysia, and Indonesia in the 12 to the 15th centuries. Their decline began with the coming of Arab dhows (vessels) who carried not just merchandise but also the sword and the murderous mentality of Islam.
The Indonesian-Malay Hindu king who first embraced Islam was named Parmeswara and he became a victim of circumstances when he was tricked into becoming a Muslim. Parameswara was a scion of the Sri Vijaya dynasty and ruled from Palembang. But during Parameswara's time, Sri Vijaya was in decline and Majapahit had become the overlord of Sri Vijaya. Parameswara had a dispute with the Majapahit ruler and was forced to shift his capital from Palembang to the relatively safer Temasek island - now Singapore. There, during a skirmish with the forces of Majapahit, Parameswara killed prince Temagi of Siam, who was allied with Majapahit This angered the Siamese king, who threatened to capture and kill Paremeswara. This led to another string of battles between Sri Vijaya against Siam and Majapahit, in which Parameswara was worsted and he had to flee his new capital the Temasek island (Singapore) island, and seek refuge first in Muar, before fleeing further on to Malacca and deciding to make it his new capital in 1402.
Arabs deceive and browbeat the last Sri Vijaya king Parameswara to marry a Muslim Girl and convert to Islam
Malacca was a trading port frequented by the Arabs, where they had established a colony. At Malacca, the Arabs promised King Parameswara, help in his fight against his rivals from Thailand. From 1402 onwards Parmeswara increasingly became dependent on the Arabs to stave off attempts from the Thais to avenge the slaughter of their prince and the territorial ambitions of Majapahit. The Arab merchant-soldiers whose position became increasingly stronger at Parmeswara’s court offered to send in more forces to fight alongside him, if he converted to Islam. Initially Parameswara scornfully refused this offer. But as the struggle with Thailand wore on, his position became more precarious. At this juncture the Arab merchants gifted him a princess of Pasai who was a mix breed descendant of the Arab and Indonesian Nikah Mu’tah Marriages (A Nikah Mu’tah is a temporary marriage allowed for Muslims by the Quran).
Pasai, was originally known as Samudera-Pasai later renamed called Samudera Darussalam. Pasai was a thriving harbor kingdom on the north coast of Sumatra in the 13th to the 15th centuries CE. Due to its wealth Pasai had attracted Arab merchants who in the course of time intermarried with local women to create a Muslim community that was half Arab and half Indonesian, as the offspring of these marriages were brought up as Muslims. The area of Pasai is in today’s Aceh province of Indonesia.
Incidentally the term “Pasai” is believed derived from Parsi, or Parsee immigrants from the west coast of India namely Gujarat, some of who migrated for mercantile activities to northern Sumatra in today's Aceh province. Arab and Indian Muslims had also traded in Indonesia and China for many centuries. A Muslim tombstone in eastern Java bears a date corresponding to 1082. But substantial evidence of Islam in Indonesia begins only in northern Sumatra at the end of the 13th century. Two small Muslim trading kingdoms existed by that time at Pasai and Peureulak or Perlak
Coming back to this princess from Pasai, she was from among these half-breed Arab-Indonesian Muslims, and was a maiden of extreme beauty. The militarily weakened king Parameswara fell for her, making his position even more precarious vis-à-vis the Arabs. Parameswara incidentally did not have any heir from his Queen but his new love told him, that she was carrying his child. The lovelorn Parameswara who was becoming increasingly militarily weak wanted an heir desperately. In this desperation and his blind love for his new love, he proposed to her, only to be told that marriage was possible only under Muslim rites for which he needed to convert to Islam . To get an heir Parameswara agreed and recited the Shahada before he could bring his new love from the harem to his palace as his legitimate queen. But according to Sri Vijaya court records, in reality, the child which his Muslim harlot told him she was carrying was not his but was fathered by an Arab as Parmeswara was diagnosed as impotent by his medical practioners. But the urge to become a normal person and have an heir was overwhelming for Parameswara and that urge compelled him to abandon his ancestral religion and convert to Islam.
The Hindu kingdom of Sri Vijaya transformed itself in to the Sultanate of Malacca after the last Hindu king Parameswara, embraced Islam
Thus, in 1414, for reasons which were amorous and desperate in 1414, Parameswara converted to Islam after marrying the princess from Pasai. After his conversion, he assumed the title Sultan Iskandar Shah. After his conversion, his half Arab Queen also encouraged his subjects to embrace Islam and this is how Malacca became a sultanate. Thus Malacca was the first to fall to the Muslims.
This conversion led to waves of conversions in Malaysia and Indonesia, most of whose people converted to the new faith, except in far off Bali which remained Hindu, as it is till this day. The descendants of Parameswara started the first Muslim dynasty and expanded the Sultanate of Malacca. At its height the Sultanate encompassed most of modern day Peninsula Malaysia, the site of modern day Singapore and a great portion of eastern Sumatra and Borneo. The governor of Borneo later seceded from Malacca to form the independent Sultanate of Borneo. For a long time Malacca remained the center of Islam in the Malaysian and Indonesian archipelago (Aceh, Riau, Palembang and Sulawesi). It was from Malacca where, imams and ustazes went to all over Malaysia and Indonesia to discuss religion and the like. Muslim missionaries were also sent by the successive Sultans of Malacca to spread Islam to he Hindu and Buddhist communities in the Malay Archipelago, such as in Java, Borneo, and the Philippines (Mindanao). Most of South East Asia at that time was Hindu-Buddhist, except for the Philippines where the population was largely animist, although in the south there were marked Hindu-Buddhist influences.
Borobudur – Big Buddha. This temple complex is in Indonesia and dates back to the 8th century
In the 15th century the Sultanate of Malacca destroyed the other Hindu kingdom of Majapahit in Indonesia, it also weakened Thailand and made incursions in to the Philippines
The Sultanate's most important regional rivals continued to be Thailand in the north and the declining Majapahit Empire in the Indonesian archipelago (Aceh, Riau, Palembang and Sulawesi) in the south. But within the archipelago, Majapahit was not able to control or effectively compete with the Sultans of Malacca with their new found zeal of Islam, and ultimately came to an end during the later 15th century. After the demise of Majapahit kingdom and the conversion of most of its inhabitants to Islam, the Sultans of Malacca alongwith their Arab allies concentrated on the conquest of Thailand with the purported aim of converted the Thais to Islam. The Arabs based in Malacca along with their new converts the Malay Muslims of Malacca repeatedly attacked Thailand and for a time it seemed that they would go storming up the narrow Isthmus of Kra and penetrate up to the Thai capital of Ayuthaya.
During much of the fifteenth century Ayuthaya's energies were directed toward the Malay Peninsula, where the great trading port of Malacca contested its claims to sovereignty. As the erstwhile Hindu-Buddhist states of Malacca along with other Malay states south of Tambralinga had become Muslim early in the century, a resurgent and aggressive Islam served as a symbol of Malay solidarity against the Thais and for a time it seemed that the Thais would also have to submit to Islam. But from the 17th century successive Thai kings allied themselves with the seafaring Western powers – the Portuguese and the Dutch and succeeded in staving off the threat of Islam from the Muslim Malays and their Arab overlords.
Before the coming of the Spaniards and the Muslims, the Southern part of the Philippines was intermittently under the Sri Vijaya and the Majapahit Empires from the 4th up to the 10th centuries. This claim may sound astounding today, as the population of the Philippines is divided between Christianity and Islam. But there is one evidence of the pre-Islamic and Pre-Christian past of the Filipinos. This is the Laguna Copperplate Inscription.
The pre-Islamic and Pre-Christian past of the Philippines
The Laguna Copperplate Inscription found in the Philippines, is surprisingly partly in Sanskrit (ancient Hindu scriptural language) and party in local languages. It is dated to April 21, 900 C.E. mentions a pardon by the Commander in Chief of Tundun, represented by the Lord Minister of Pailah, Jayadewa.
Hinduism and Buddhism arrived in the Philippines during the existence of Sri Vijaya empire from the 7th to the 13th centuries. This was followed by the arrival of Chinese immigrants and traders from the 14th to the 20th centuries who also brought Buddhism with them.
Buddhism in the Philippines gained foothold with the rise of the Buddhist Majapahit empire in Malaysia in the 7th century and lasted until their decline in the 15th century. Centered in Palembang, Sumatra, active trading by Chinese and Indian merchants with native tribes brought Buddhist knowledge and iconography to the country. Archeological finds in the Philippines unearthed priceless Buddhist statues and other artifacts dating to this era.
Hindu and Buddhist Linguistic influences in Pre-Islamic and Pre-Colonial Philippines
Linguistic influence also left its indelible mark, with Buddhist concepts such as dukkha (suffering) and bodhi (knowledge) entering everyday speech. Dukha now means poor, while budhi (bodhi) is now another word for conscience or thought.
Strong Hindu influences are also common in Filipino languages and vocabulary. These words of Sanskrit origin entered the language via Malay. Local words like Guro (teacher) came from the Hindu word Guru. Karma, a Hindu concept, is culturally understood by Filipinos.
Hindu influences in Filipino Tagalog Vocabulary
See also the Sanskrit words in the loan word section of the Tagalog language.
* bahagi (part, portion) in Tagalog, is bhaga in Sanskrit and bhag in Hindi,
* diwata (god or goddess) is devata
* dukha (poor, destitute) is duhkha
* guro (teacher) is guru
* katha (story, fiction) is katha
* mukha (face) is mukha
* yaya (nurse) is aya
Hindu influences in Filipino Folklore
The Ramayana and the Mahabharata are the two great epics of India. Ramayana portrays the battle between good and evil. Rama, with his wife Sita and his brother Lakshmana, represent the eventual victory of good over evil, represented by Ravana, the ten-headed demon king. Rama is helped by his devotee, Hanuman and the army of monkeys under the command of the monkey king Sugriv. The Ramayana has influenced Asia and the rest of the world especially in terms of literature, culture and art.
There are versions of Ramayana in almost all Asian countries, including China, which emphasizes the role of Hanuman. The Philippines also has a Maranao version, "Maharadia Lawana", the result of field research and translation into English by Juan R. Francisco
Hindu influences in Filipino Art and literature
The Ramayana is also regularly enacted as "Ramaat Sita", in a drama-dance-musical art form at the Folk Arts Theater in Manila, at the University of the Philippines and other venues in the country. The Ramayana was initially translated from English into Filipino by Bienvenido Lumbera. This was followed by complete seven book translation thereof by Josephine Acosta Pasricha.
Buddhism and Hinduism in Southern Philippines was overruled by the by the Islamic aggression by the Arab and Malay converts
Buddhism and Hinduism in Southern Philippines was overruled by the by the Islamic aggression by the Arab and Malay converts and the consequent spread of Islam by Indonesians and Malay Jihadis (Holy Warriors) before the Spaniards came in. Today it would be preposterous to claim that any part of the Philippines was under Hindu or Buddhist influences. But Copper plate evidence however suggests, that before the arrival of the Muslims and the Spanish the Philippines was part of Hindu empires based in Java and in other islands. Possibly this is why the local Filipino chieftains had the title of “Rajah” both before their conversion to Islam a practice that was retained even after their conversion to Islam. Before the coming of Islam, these Rajahs were initially governors of the Sri Vijaya and Majapahit empires, and later became local sovereigns paying token tribute to the former Hindu overlords. After the Sri Viajaya and Majapahit empires were overrun by the Muslims and their populations converted to Islam, the wave of Islamic aggression spread to the Philippines and many of these Rajahs of Sulu and Mindanao along with their subjects embraced Islam, leaving only the unorganized and non-Hinduized Filipinos in the North to resist Islam successfully till the coming of the Spaniards in 1521.
Characters used in the Javanese Kavi Script found in the Philippines
This is an example of pre-Spanish Philippine Javanese Kavi Script on a burial jar, derived from Brahmi survives, as most of the writing was done on perishable bamboo or leaves; an earthenware burial jar dated 1200s or 1300s with script was found in Batangas. This script is called in Tagalog Baybayin or Alibata.
But the fact is that we can say with certainty that before the Muslim aggression and the Spanish colonial period, the Philippine archipelago also was under Hindu-Buddhist cultural influences, and were intermittently subjects of Sri Vijaya and Majapahit Empires. Their conversion to Islam was swift when these empires were supplanted by Islamic conquest by the Sultanates of Malacca, Johore, Borneo, who had themselves converted from Hinduism to Islam after 1414.
Hindu influences in the Central Philippines are evident from the fact that the central region, Visayas, was named after a Hindu term for Victory. Islamization of the Philippines which began in 1380, received a new fillip in the Hindu-Buddhist dominated Southern Philippines (Sulu and Mindanao) after 1414 when the Parameswara, the last Hindu king of Sri Vijaya was deceived in to converting to Islam. After the conversion of this king many of his subjects who included today’s Filipinos in the Sulu and Mindanao islands also began converting to Islam under pressure from the Muslim rules of Dhimma under which non-Muslims (Kafirs) are treated as second class citizens.
Islamization was also making inroads into Central and Northern Philippines Visayas and Luzon. It was a Muslim Rajah Soliman who was ruling Manila Bay in 1571 when the Spanish took the area from him. The process of Islamization of Central and Northern Philippines was only halted by the colonizing Spaniards.
So it is clear that before the coming of the Spaniards, the Muslims had extended control over almost the whole of the Philippines from 1380 onwards, before the coming of the Spanish in 1521. We might wonder why in spite of this fact, the Muslims could only convert the population only those areas which had been under the influences of the Hindu and Buddhist empires of Sri Vijaya and Majapahit. While the erstwhile animistic tribal populations who were ruled by chieftains like Lapu-Lapu and Humabon fiercely resisted Islam (as well as Christianity). From 1380 onwards, and more so after 1414, these chieftains called Datu (chief) who ruled clans called Barangays which was a kinship group fiercely and successfully resisted Islam. But the more culturally advanced Hinduized population who were the erstwhile subjects of the Sri Vijaya empire came effortlessly under the sway of Islam. This was also the reason for the swift and near total conversion to Islam of the Malays and Indonesians (who were also subjects of the Hindu-Buddhist Sri Vijaya and Majapahit empires). These Muslim converts in the Southern Philippines are the Moros of today who inhabit Sulu and Mindanao. But why did they convert with little resistance, when their less culturally advanced and tribal brethren in Luzon, Visayas and Cebu not only resisted Islam for two centuries from 1380 up to the end of the 16th century and joined the Spanish in resisting Islam by ultimately converting to Christianity? Why did the Hinduized Filipinos of Mindanao and Sulu become Muslims with ease, while the tribal and animistic Filipinos of Luzon, Visayas and Cebu resisted Islam and ultimately converted to Christianity leading to today’s split in Filipino national character into Muslim Filipinos and Christian Filipinos with the ongoing terrorism in the south which sometimes explodes right in Makati as well?
The fact is that the tribal Filipinos of Luzon, Visayas and Cebu were not under a central authority and resisted Islam using guerilla tactics in the densely forested land where they lived a life of migration from place to place. This migratory lifestyle enabled easier resistance to Islam using guerilla tactics. Their more civilized Hinduized counterparts of Sulu and Mindanao led a settled life in big villages and towns and were an easy target for the Muslim raiders. They also owed allegiance to a sovereign who had converted to Islam, making their position tenuous and vulnerable to the inroads that the Muslim had begun to make. And after the conversion of their Sri Vijaya sovereign to Islam, they found resistance futile and soon came under the sway of Islam.
This was not true for the tribals of Luzon, Visayas and Cebu, who waged a doughty struggle against the Muslims and resisted their inroads fiercely. In fact these tribals also initially resisted Christianity and one of their leaders Lapu-Lapu also defeated and killed Magellan. The tribals converted to Christianity en masse after the Spanish missionaries began impressing on the tribal chiefs that they faced a common adversary in the Moros of the South who had been the foe of the animistic tribals of Luzon for two centuries from 1380. The Spanish friars also learnt the local language and preached to them by mingling amongst the tribals unlike the Muslims who used to raid the tribes and force conversions to Islam, which the tribals invariably repudiated after the Muslims were driven out. The tactics of the Spanish were a refreshing change after two centuries of warfare with the Muslims of Sulu and Mindanao. Hence the tactics of mass baptisms to Christianity using Holy Water which was similar to the tribal ritual of using water for baptism which is very typical of Southeast Asian societies enabled success in converting the tribals of Luzon, Visayas and Cebu to Christianity within a few decades of the Spanish landing in the Philippines.
Islam in the Philippines
It is evident from the above that in the Philippines despite having a head-start over the Spaniards by about two centuries, the Muslims did not get remarkable success in converting the population of the northern Philippines. Their success was confined to the southern Philippines alone.
As far back as 1380, Makhdum Karim, the first Islamic Holy Warrior had brought Islam to the southern tip of Philippine Archipelago (Mindanao). But the efforts to convert the Filipino population en masse to Islam gathered strength after the defeat of the Hindu kingdoms of Sri Vijaya (Malaya) and Majapahit (Indonesia). Around 1414, the war between the Sri Vijaya and the Majapahit Empire ended in favor of the former with the conversion of the last Sri Vijaya king Parameswara to Islam. Following this victory, Muslim Holy Warriors (Jihadis) introduced Islam into the Hindu-Malay empires and converted almost the entire population to Islam.
By the next century, these holy warriors had reached the Sulu islands in the southern tip of the Philippines where the population was animistic and they took up the task of converting the animistic population to Islam with renewed zeal. By the 15th century, most of Visayas (Central Philippines) and half of Luzon (Northern Philippines) and the islands of Mindanao in the south had become subject to the various Muslim sultanates of Borneo and much of the population in the South had been converted to Islam.
This imposing temple complex is at Prambanan and is dated around the 8th century. It is located on the Island of Sumatra in Indonesia. It looks markedly like Angkor Wat another but more famous temple complex built later in the 11th century in Cambodia.
Subsequent incursions of Muslim Malay Muslim Holy Warriors strengthened the stranglehold of Islam among the frightened Hinduized Filipinos (today’s Moros) in the extreme south who had been subjects of the Hindu-Buddhist-Malay Sri Vijaya and Majapahit empires. After these empires were defeated and their population converted to Islam, the Jihadis followed reached the shores of the Philippines in Sulu and Mindanao. By the early 15th century, Islam had been established in the Sulu Archipelago and spread from there to Mindanao; it had even reached up north up to the Manila Bay area by 1565. Unlike in the South, there was continuing resistance from the local population that was organized in to Barangays. Barangays was a kinship group headed by a datu (chief). Organized resistance to Islam began only after the coming of the Spanish in 1521. Till then, during the period 1380 up to 1521, a major part of the animist population of Southern Philippines had been converted to Islam.
But Islam was not to be the religion of the Philippines, as it had become in Malaysia and Indonesia. A seminal event that was to halt the advance of slam was the arrival of Ferdinand Magellan in the Philippines in 1521. After this the Filipino resistance to Islam received a new fillip. Magellan landed on the island of Cebu, claiming the lands for Spain and naming them Islas de San Lazaro. He established friendly relations with some of the local chieftains who had been battling the Muslims and converted some of them to Roman Catholicism.
A local chieftain named Humabon was the first native convert.
Magellan befriended Humabon, the king of Cebu and took special pride of converting many natives to Catholicism. However, he became involved with political issues and rivalries with other tribal groups and took part in a battle against Lapu-Lapu, a mortal enemy of Humabon. Magellan invaded Mactan Island with 49 soldiers and after several hours of fighting, Magellan was killed by Lapu-Lapu at the Battle of Mactan.
This temple complex in Cambodia is the signature of the Hindu-Buddhist dominance in South East before being supplanted by Islam.
After this battle, the forces of Humabon were defeated, and the introduction of Catholicism temporarily halted. Nevertheless, by 1571, the stronger Spaniards defeated the forces of the Muslim ruler Rajah Soliman the ruler of Manila, and Spain colonized the Philippines.
Over the next several decades, other Spanish expeditions were dispatched to the islands. In 1543, Ruy López de Villalobos led an expedition to the islands and gave the name Las Islas Felipinas (after Philip II of Spain) to the islands of Samar and Leyte. The name Philippines derived from Felipinas, was later extended to the entire archipelago.
Permanent Spanish settlement was not established until 1565 when an expedition led by the Conquistadores, Miguel López de Legazpi, arrived in Cebu from Mexico (New Spain). Spanish leadership was soon established over many small independent communities that previously had known no central rule. Six years later, following the defeat of the local Malay Muslim ruler, Rajah Solayman, Legazpi established a capital at Manila, a location that offered the excellent harbor of Manila Bay to the seafaring Spanish.
Spanish occupation of the Philippine islands was accomplished with relatively little bloodshed, partly because most of the population (except the Muslims) offered little armed resistance to the Spanish, as their main enemy had been the Malay and Arab Muslims seeking to convert them to Islam.
But a significant problem the Spanish faced was the subjugation of the Muslims of Mindanao and the Sulu Archipelago. The Muslims, in response to attacks on them from the Spanish and their native allies, raided areas of Luzon and the Visayas that were under Spanish colonial control. But these actions were inconsequential as the fate of Islam in the Philippines was sealed, and Philippines was not to go the way as had Malaysia and Indonesia, save for a southern tip of Mindanao.
Consequently, most of the Filipinos (except for those in the south) later became Christian under the Spanish colonization. By the late 15th century, the Sultanate of Sulu, the largest Islamic Kingdom of South East Asia and the Malay Archipelago, encompassed parts of Malaysia and the Philippines. Ironically the Mongoloid looking members of the royal house of the Sultanate of Sulu claimed descent from the Prophet Muhammad to reinforce their credentials in their new found faith of Islam!
The script in this Laguna Copperplate inscription and the words used in the Laguna document are exactly the same as those that were used on the island Java at the time stated in the document, which was the year 822, in the old Hindu calendar or the year 900 C.E. (Common Era) on our calendar.
The inscription starts with the sentence “swasti shaka warsatita 822 waisakha masa di(ng) jyotisa.”
Although this is only one document but it seems to have revealed a widespread culture with Hindu influences in the Philippines before the arrival of the Spaniards and even before the Muslims. Did ordinary Filipinos share this culture or were the people mentioned in the document just members of a small ruling class of foreigners? Was their culture pushed out of the islands when the Muslims arrived in the 12th or 13th century?
Did the royalty among the Filipino once speak Sanskrit (as did the royalty in Java) or was it reserved for important documents written by an elite minority? There are certainly some Sanskrit influences in Philippine languages but nobody was speaking it by the time the Spaniards arrived.
And what happened to this Kavi style of writing? It was a far more advanced and accurate way to write than the Baybayin script that Filipinos were using 500 years later. Perhaps only that elite minority used it and so it disappeared with them when they converted to Islam.
Waves of conversion to Islam had just about begun in the late 15th century and were preparing to sweep north across the Philippine archipelago in the 16th century when the Spanish colonialists reached the shores of the Philippines. What followed was a checkmating of one faith by another and the Spanish repulsed further attempts by the Sultans of Borneo to make inroads, both military and religious in to the Philippine archipelago.
So the coming of the Spanish saved the Philippines from Islam, except for the Southern tip where the population had been converted to Islam. This population was derisively referred to by the Spanish as Moros and Moriscos (Spanish for Moor or Muslim). Till today the Muslim population of Southern Philippines continue to refer to themselves as Moros – the name given to them by the Spanish colonialists!
The American interlude and the use of pigskin jackets to demoralize the Moros
In 1898, Spanish rule in the Philippines was brought to an end, by the American marines who during the course of the Spanish-American war occupied the Philippines by sending American Naval forces from across the Pacific.
The Moros who were engaged in hostilities against the Spanish and the Christian Filipinos, regarded the American too as infidels and continued their Jihad against the emerging hyperpower. Little did the Moros know then that this was going to be their first brush with the cowboy temperament that was the only one to checkmate and subdue their Jihadi mentality.
In 1911, when Gen. John J. Pershing was in command of the American garrison in Mindanao, the Moros led a series of bloodied attacks on the American Marines In response these numerous Islamic terrorist attacks, "Black Jack" as Gen. John J. Pershing was known informally, told his boys to catch the Moros and teach them a lesson like one they had never learnt ever before.
He forced the captured Moros to dig their own graves, the Moro terrorists were all tied to posts, execution style. The US soldiers then brought in pigs and slaughtered them, rubbing their bullets in the blood and fat. Thus, the terrorists were terrorized; they saw that they would be contaminated with hogs' blood. This would mean that they could not enter Heaven, even if they died as terrorist martyrs.
All but one was shot, their bodies dumped into the grave, and the hog guts dumped atop the bodies. The lone survivor was allowed to escape back to the terrorist camp and tell his brethren what happened to the others. This brought a stop to terrorism in the Philippines for the next 50 years.
Here lies lesson for us. Pointing a gun into the face of Islamic terrorists won't make them flinch. They welcome the chance to die for Allah. Like Gen. Pershing, we must show them that they won't get to Muslim heaven (which they believe has an endless supply of virgins) but instead will die with the hated pigs of the devil.
But this important lesson was lost on the Filipinos who took over from the Americans in 1946. The American too forgot this lesson and have so far not used it in the War on Terror. This has led to the Moro problem festering time and again to bedevil the Filipinos up to our times.
The Jihad against Philippines today
Till today the struggle of the Filipinos with the Muslims goes on in the Southern tip of Philippines (Mindanao that was part of the erstwhile Sultanates of Sulu and Borneo) where Christians are routinely murdered especially in the mayhem of the Abu Sayyaf.
Lessons from the struggle of Filipinos against Islam
The lessons from the continuing suffering of the Filipinos at the hands of the Muslim Moros of which only the mayhem of the Abu Sayyaf Southern Philippines is in the limelight, is that the sneaky and ruthless tactics of the Muslims can only be outmatched by we being more sneaky and ruthless ourselves.
Gloria Magapagal Arroyo is an astute leader we need more like her in the Philippines.
The old English adage “Everything is fair in love and war,” holds greatest relevance while battling the Muslims. And only when we in the Non-Muslim world realize this and go into an overreach with subterfuge against the Terrorists (all of whom are Muslims), and use our still prevailing (but fast closing) edge of superior weapons against the enemy, can the Muslims finally be defeated in the looming Third World War.
A Christian Girl beheaded in Indonesia by Muslims. Muslims consider it a holy duty to kill Christians who refuse to abjure Christianity and embrace Islam, as commanded by the Quran
* For those uninitiated, PBUH expands to Perpetual Battle Upon Hagarism (Islam) – founded by the mass-murderer and pedophile pretender prophet Mohammed-ibn-Abdallah (Yimach Shmo – May his name and memory be obliterated).
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Unfortunately for humankind, the end of the death-seeking fiery cult of Islam can only come about through a fiery death-giving weapon. Ironically such nuclear mushroom clouds would be the blazing hell-fire that the Quran talks about and acknowledges will bring about an end to Islam such that there will be no one across the globe to say “Lah ilah il Allah, Mohammed ur Rasoolallah” (There is no god but allah and Mohammed is his prophet).