This website is dedicated to academic discussions about the people of Bangsamoro. It was conceptualized by students of section TFX4 of Kasaysayan 1 class, 2nd Semester, Academic Year 2005-2006, University of the Philippines Diliman. This site is in partial fulfillment of the requirements of Dr. Jaime Veneracion of the Department of History of the College of Social Sciences and Philosophy.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Palawan and the Molbogs

Palawan island has an area of about 1.2 million hectares and it forms the southwesternmost part of the Philippines. It is home to 87 different cultural groups and races that co-exist harmoniously. They are of generally Malay origin, having been influenced by Borneo, China, and the Middle East. Namely, they are the Tagbanua, Pinalawan, Batak, Ken-uy or Tau't Batu, Calamian, Jama-Mapuns, Molbog, Tausug, and Samal-Bangigni. Malays began inhabiting the island in the 12th century. Settlements were ruled by Malay chieftains. Within close proximity of Borneo, Southern Palawan was under the control of the Sultanate of Borneo for more than 200 years after the entry of Spanish conquerers into the Philippines. In the past, settlers relied on agriculture. They grew palay, coconuts, ginger, sugar, bananas, and camote to feed themselves. They raised pigs, goats, and poultry such as chicken. They knew how to fish and hunt using tools such as bamboo traps and blowguns. The Northern Calamianes islands were the first to be ruled by Spaniards. These were declared as separate from the Palawan mainland. In the early 17th century, Spanish missionaries in the form of friars went to Cuyo, Agutaya, Taytay and Cagayancillo but failed in their bid to Christianize these areas in the face of stiff resistance by the Moro communities. In the late 17th century, Spanish churches were built enclosed by garrisons to protect from Moro raids in the towns of Cuyo, Taytay, Linapacan and Balabac. Such forts exist to this day, as testimony to the past. In 1749, the Sultanate of Borneo gave up southern Palawan to the Spaniards, hence Spain established its rule over the whole of Palawan. It used to be called Paragua. It was organized as a single province called Calamianes. It was later divided into three provinces, namely Castilla in the northern section, Asturias in the southern mainland, and Balabac Island. It was later renamed Palawan when the Spaniards left after 1898. It fell under American rule which introduced reforms and programs for development. Schools were constructed all over the province. Agriculture was further promoted, and the ties between the people and government were established. Several ethno linguistic groups live in remote villages in mountains and the coasts. Their ancestors supposedly occupied Palawan even before Malays settled on the island coming from the Madjapahit Empire of Indonesia around the early 13th century. The Tau't Bato or "people of the rock" live in Singnapan Valley in southern Palawan. They inhabit caves in the rainy season and in the dry season emerge to immense themselves in kaingin farming. They are familiar with market concepts such as wage, labor, and money. The Panimusan are the early inhabitants in mainland Palawan. Close contact with Tausugs from the Sulu Sultanate brought in Islam to the people. They are concentrated in the southern part of the island namely Batarasa, Rizal, Quezon, Brooke's Point, and Espanola. Muslims in these municipalites are dominant and wield political power. The indigenous group Palawan, also known as Palawanon, Pinalawan, Pala’wan and Palawano, are located at the southern interior of Palawan, particularly the areas south of Apu Rauan on the West coast and South of Abu Abu on the East coast. Their estimated population is between 15,000 to 20,000. They live in coastal areas and tropical marine highlands. They live a sedentary lifestyle. They are hunters and gatherers, and engage in agriculture and fishing. Their dialects are South Palawano or Bugsuk Palawano. The Molbogs, also known as Molebugan, Molebuganori, and Molebuganon, are native to the island. Their estimated population is 5,700. They live in coastal and mountain environments. They live mainly on agriculture and fishing. They are the original inhabitants of the southernmost island group of Balabac. They derive their name from the word "malubog" which means "turbid water". They are the ones most influenced by Islam. Brunei Muslim missionaries inculcated their religion among the Molbogs. During the 15th century, Islam was actively being propagated when Muslim principalities emerged from the eastern side of the Malay peninsula and Borneo. During this time, the Brunei sultanate was expanding. The Sulu sulatanate also helped to strengthen Islam among the Molbogs.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Interesting, but a number of your "facts" are off. The original ethnic groups living on the island of Palawan were neither Muslim nor "moro." Just ask any Palawano, Tagbanwa, Batak or other native if they are "bangsa Moro," if they are Islamic, or have ANY desire to be a part of an Islamic state or a Bangsa Moro republic and see how many positive answers you get... (hint: the answer will be "NONE.") Your saying that these groups "supposedly" predate the Moros is unfounded and not historical.

The argument that Palawan (or anyplace in the Philippines) should be a "Moro" or Muslim state because the Spanish took it forceable from them does not hold water and is very hypocritical. If you carry the same arugment back a few hundred years, these regions should be independent indigenous TRIBAL states, since they were forceably placed under rule for the Moro settlers. Somehow, I guess, the "we were here first" rule only applies to the Mores and not to those were were there before them.

The Moros brought Islam to Palawan as an relative recent import (after all Islam only dates back to the time of the prophet, and the indigienous people on Palawan have been there for much much longer (ever hear of Tabon Caves?) The Palawano speak of being there already "before the Spanish, before the Muslims and back when the Sri Vijayan pirates from Java conducted raids on Palawan 600 years ago, and the Palawanos had been there for long before that.

Not only this, but except for the Molbog, NONE of the native people adopted Islam as a religion (forced compliance under the Sultanate to avoid beheading, being the exception to that.) All other Muslim groups on Palawan MOVED there from Mindanao and Sulu.

The "Panimusan" are not the "orginal" mainland Palawan inhabitants at all. That group is actually a hybrid resulting from intermarriage of native Palawanos and newly-arrived Muslims (mostly Cagayans) from Mindanao.

How do I know all this? I live on Palawan and have for many years. I know these people and I speak several of their languages.

8:03 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

interesting too, settler. you are now generalized to be the only creature on earth name after 'Felipe De Espana'. You as a 'Filipino' are no greater than an species with the scientific name equivalence. Poor anonymous, submitted with bended knees to the sword of the Castillans. I wish your forefather's faith is as fierce as yours. we were raised to believe that we have to defend our land and our faith to the last drop of our blood. Surrendering to no one but the Almighty is a simple line to follow. I dont know what 'anito' your forefathers seek answers for their prayers? certainly 'Felipe's Species' are black enough that they would worship the black nazarene. There is no separation of state and church, right! the priests are more corrupt and inept as the politicians.

Loved your identity in the native ways of your ancestral palawan? what does 'Hagedorn' means in your or any palawan dialect?

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