Posted by: luvin | September 9, 2008

The Mindanao Sultanates and the Moro Struggle

The Moro struggle had its roots from the glorious days of the four major sultanates of Mindanao. The Sultanate of Maguindanao, Sultanate of Sulu, Pat a Pangampong ko Ranao (Confederation of the Four Lake based Emirates), Rajah Buayan (Sultanate of Buayan). Minor sultanates like the Sultanate of Kabuntalan played minor role, though it has its own historical importace. This is also true to the sultanate or areas controled by Datus in the Zamboanga peninsula that supported whoever is the dominant Sultan during their time.

The earliest recognized sultanate is the Sultanate of Sulu that up to the present time, has an ongoing claim to its old juridical entity- Sabah (formerly part of North Borneo). And the most admired, at least in terms of its enfluence, and the manner it was governed, but most importantly because of its quintessential leader Sultan Qudarat, is the Sultanate of Maguindanao. According to Cesar Majul, “In the Philippine Archipelago, there had never been a native dominion as powerful and as extensive as that of Sultan Qudarat. No other native ruler had earned more love, respect, awe, and fear from his subjects and hatred and animosity from his enemies, the Spaniards, who nevertheless had on occasion grudgingly admired him.” Unfortunately, this native dominion is not entirely native in origin.

The ancestry of these great leaders could be traced to as far as Arabia. The historical records of Mindanao,  always mention Sharif Kabungsuan, who father is of Arabian descent and is married to a Johore princes. The same is true with the Sultanate of Sulu whose lineage is aslo of foreign descent whether it is traced from Rajah Bagindo who is from Aceh, or Shari’ful Hashem Syed Abu Bakr who is from Johore. The descendants of Sharif Kabungsuan though could also claim of local blood since he married the daughters of local chieftiens.

The Maguindanao Sultanate are the following localities(according to  present day political units);

  • Maguindanao provinces
  • Coastal Areas of Sultan Kudarat Province
  • parts South Cotabato
  • Sarangani
  • Parts of Lanao
  • Davao del Sur, Oriental, Eastern Part of Zamboanga

Rajah Buayan (Sultanate of Buayan)

  • Cotabato Province (North Cotabato)
  • Upper Valley of Maguindanao
  • Interior areas of Sultan Kudarat
  • Parts of South Cotabato       
  • Parts of Bukidnon (Just follow the Pulangi River up front)          

Between the Sultanates of Maguindanao and Buayan is the Sultanate of Kabuntalan, though the area is not that big, makes a clear delineation between the two bigger sultanates.

Pat a Pangampong Ko Ranao ( Confederates of four lake based emirates)

  • Lanao del Sur
  • Lanao del Norte
  • Parts of Bukidnon
  • Agusan
  • Eastern and Western Misamis  

Sultanate of Sulu

  • Sulu
  • Tawi-tawi
  • Palawan
  • Basilan
  • Sabah

Sabah became part of the Sultanate of Sulu after the warring years of the Sultans of Sulu and Borneo. Dato Mengkap who is a cousin of Rajah Balatamay (Sultan of Buayan), led the conquest.  The mention of Datu Mengkap is very important for the Moro struggle because the Matalams traces their roots to him. In Nash Maulana’s Sulu’s first woman Sultan (, he mentioned; “Datu Megkap, great, great-grandfather of the Matalamsof Maguindanao, …”

Datu Ugtug Matalam was the man behind the Muslim Independent Movement (MIM) which was later renamed Mindanao Independence Movement. From which the MNLF of Nur Misuari evolve and likewise the MILF under Hashim Salamat. The Matalams, Pendatuns, Salamats are blood relatives. A little digging would reveal that the Gen. SK Pendatun, who hails from Pikit in North Cotabato,  is the grand uncle of the late Datu Toto Paglas of the Municipality Paglas in Sultan Kudarat, near the town of Buluan. Datu Toto is also a nephew of MILF founder Hashim Salamat.

Similar stories could be drawn from the Sultanate of Lanao and the MNLF leaders. Macapanton Abbas for example who claims to be the brain behind the MNLF is of Lanao Sultanate royal heritage.

Even during the averted MOA signing, representatives of the Rajah Buayan was there in Malaysia to witness. They are very in to these MOA-AD. What is intriguing here is the side of regaining lost ground in part of the past leaders (sultanate). The moro elite, arguably representing the entire moro people,….

(To be continued, to the next post)



  1. Dear Friend

    Thank you for the informative blog. I am trying to find information on the Sultan of Cotabato, Sultan Mohammad Adil. Will you have any information on him? I last read he is 75 years old. How old is he now? How can he be contatced? Thank you.


  2. Have you already got info about Sultan Adil of Cotabato? He is my uncle, the older brother of my father. We last met last April 2007 when I visited him and my cousins in Esteros, near Matampay river in Cotabato City. Yes, he is aged, but has still clear memory of people and events. He is taken cared of by his wife and children.

    Why, what more do you want to know about him?

  3. Dear Rizwana,

    Assalamu alaikom..I presume you are a girl. My name is Ruth-Fatimah. The eldest daughter of Sultan Mohammad H. Adil. Yes, the Sultan, though, in his mid eighties is still strong. His mind and intellect has not deteriorated. He is still very keen and sensitive. Doctors find him in good health except for the debilitating signs of aging. You can reach me through my email ad

  4. Salam. Sukran, this is imformative. May Allah bless the family of Sultan Adil, and extend his life to relate or spread the real history of sultanate in Mindanao, that could end the conflict between sultans who are now busy claiming.
    Allahuakbar! We still have Sultan Adil.

  5. Salam brothers/ Sisters, in 2006,SULTAN DATU DIMACALING PLANG GUIOMLA AL HAJ was officially enthroned as JUMLA ALAM DALIMBANG sa KINUDAL duly affirmed and officiated by the Sultan of Maguindanao together with other SULTANs/DATUs present during the said occassion held in Cotabato City. Thus, Datu Dimacaling is the grandson of the Guiomla-Rajah Buayan sa Kitapok.

  6. Greetings of Peace! sometimes in 2006, the SULTANATE OF KINUDAL ( Guiomla Alam Dalimbang ),RAJAH BUAYAN has been officially PROCLAIMED and INSTALLED by the great SULTAN OF MAGUINDANAO together with other SULTANs, DATUs, Government Officials and its people held at Biton Restaurant, Cotabato City. Thus, SULTAN DATU DIMACALING PLANG GUIOMLA AL- HAJ, grandson of the former Sultan Guiomla Rajah Buayan sa Kitapok had recieved the Crown, Sash, Belt and Kris ( Royal’s Sword ) that symbolized his reign as Sultan ( Jumla Alam Dalimbang) sa Kinudal, Rajah Buayan, Sultanate of Mindanaue Darrrussalam. May almighty Allah shower his blessings to the newly installed GUIOMLA ALAM DALIMBANG sa KINUDAL!!!

  7. Salam. I wonder what are your reactions to the newly enthroned Bai-a-Labi sa Maguindanao(Queen of Maguindanao) Bai Maruja Camsa-Utto Ampatuan-Mastura? Who happens to be the daughter of Bai Sarifinang Camsa-Ampatuan (Bai-a-Labi sa Buayan/Queen of the Buayan Sultanate).

  8. Dear all; I am a researcher about the dynasties of Indonesia.I try to get good ruling dates of all 12 to dynasties of Kanuntalan and contact the sultans of Ganassi.I also have contact with all the royal families of Sangir-talaud islands in Indonesia.One is the raja dynaaty of Kendahe/Kandhar on Sangir island,who is in fact only one of the 2 branches of the same dynasty.The other rules the sultanate of Maguindanao. Thank you.
    You can contact me at my facebook or via .
    Thank you;
    Salam hormat: Donald Tick

  9. Thanks for this post, it helps me finish writing a blog at

  10. Thanks again, I’ve able to post below topic….

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