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Philippine island and the Moro land

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There is admittedly and visibly too much confusion shrouding our understanding about the territories which constituted the Philippine Islands as the differentiated from the Moroland. This may be due to our lack of knowledge or our indifference and intentional aversion to the events of the past which we don’t like the world to know. So it is not surprising that too many of us entertain the notion that the Philippine Islands sold and ceded under Article III of a peace treaty document forged between the United States and Spain on December 10, 1898, also included the explicit nominal inclusion of the Moroland which  to my  opinion, is not the case. While it was included in the lines and coordinates delineating the boundary limits of the ceded territory, no mention or even a slight indication that the land of the Moroland which referred to the two monarchial realms of the Sultanate of Sulu and North Borneo and the Sultanate of Maguindanao, were also sold and ceded together with the Philippine Islands. Please read Article III of the December 10, 1898 to debunk this historical fact.     

In fact, my readings discovered the disturbing fact that even the Spanish Cortes refused to ratify that treaty of peace ceding and selling the Philippine Islands because it surreptitiously and deceptively included  in the lines and coordinates territories which were not de facto colonial territories of the Spanish Crown by virtue of conquest. And these territories referred to the Sultanate of Sulu and North Borneo and the Sultanate of Maguindanao (Mindanao). Both the Spaniards and the Americans considered these territories to be the homeland of the Moros, collectively, all the inhabitants of Mindanao and Sulu without distinction as to ethnicity and religion. By the way, that said treaty was only signed by Maria Cristina, Queen Regent of Spain, and was not ratified by the Spanish Cortes. Please examine very carefully this document I am referring to.

What therefore, constituted the Philippine Islands? All those territories within the presently known Philippine Archipelago, which fell under the power and control of the Spanish Crown either by conquest, purchase, colonization, Christianization or other modes of territorial ownership and acquisition, became parts of the Philippine Islands as in the case of the islands of Luzon and the Visayas. All those conquered, colonized, and Christianized inhabitants became subjects of the Spanish Crown were first called Indios and later own Filipinos. The conquered and colonized islands were later on collectively named in honor of King Philip II as history books tell us. Thus, the name Philippine Islands evolved from its Spanish term,” Las Islas Felipinas” originally given by Ruy Lopez de Villalobos in 1544. (Please correct me if I am wrong.)

The official denial and formal confirmation about the non-inclusion of the Sultanate of Sulu and North Borneo and the Sultanate of Maguindanao in the sale and cession of the Philippine Islands, could be drawn from the preamble and provisions of two succeeding diplomatic documents entered into by the Sultan of Sulu and the President of the United States; namely the Bates Treaty of August 20, 1899 and the Carpenter Memorandum of March 22, 1915. Kindly read these documents to verify.

Even during the American occupation, Mindanao and Sulu, were treated as a separate territory and administrative department from the Christian territories of Luzon and Visayas. Some American military officers explicitly and boldly expressed their opinions that the Moros of Mindanao and Sulu should not be integrated into the Philippine body politic for the Moros and the Filipinos were two distinct nationalities. This clearly explained why we had the Military District of Mindanao Jolo and Palawan, the Department of Mindanao, and the Moro Province, which indirectly support the argument that Mindanao and Sulu, were not colonial possessions of Spain and therefore, not parts of the Philippine Islands, the land of the Filipinos or Indios. The Americans and the Spaniards consider Mindanao and Sulu as the Moroland or land of the Moros until they were finally integrated into the Philippine Republic on July 4, 1946 despite the overwhelming opposition of the Muslim leaders of Mindanao and Sulu for they wanted to be annexed as one of the states of the United States or to “remain an independent constitutional sultanate to be known to the world as the Moro nation.”

How could the Americans or the Spaniards deny this fact when they were the first ones who gave this “Moro” moniker? The terms “Moros” and “Moroland” would have not entered our vocabulary if the Spaniards and the Americans did not come to conquer and colonize the islands of Luzon, Visayas, Mindanao, and Sulu. Can you blame us Moros in MINDANAO AND SULU IF WE NOW CLAIM THAT THESE ISLANDS ARE OURS BECAUSE THE SPANIARDS AND THE AMERICANS WERE THE ONES WHO DECLARED OFFICIALLY THAT THE MOROS AND NON-CHRISTIAN TRIBES INHABITED THESE ISLANDS?

I HOPE WE NOW REALIZE THE IMPORTANCE OF SPAIN AND THE UNITED STATES IN OUR QUEST FOR LASTING PEACE, EQUITABLE DVELOPMENT, AND COMPREHENSIVE PROGRESS IN THIS  POETICALLY AND PROVERBIALLY KNOWN FAR AND WIDE AS THE “ LAND OF PROMISE”- MINDANAO AND SULU, MONIKERED, “ MOROLAND” BY THE SPANIARDS AND THE AMERICANS.

By Clem M. Bascar




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