Chapter 3

Kauman Sama Observations: The presence and interaction of the Sama with neighboring groups in Zamboanga in the early 1900s is clearly represented here. It seems that in number they may have surpassed the Subanon in the area. A reference here to mat weaving (tepo’) from pandanus leaves is found on page 42. There are several Sama groups that are unrecognized to us. My guess is that Samal-uan is the authors attempt to render Sama Luwa’an, which gives evidence to the author having Tausug informants or at least those with a low opinion of the Sama Dilaut. This paragraph establishes that the Sama have been identified as sea gypsies since the arrival of America in the Philippines and possibly much earlier. Sama Bitali and Sama Nawan are both unfamiliar to me. Sama Utangan or Obitangan is also a name that I am only very vaguely familiar with. The use of the term Sama Lipid gives some credence for this as a possible name to define non-Sama Dilaut Sama.

This reference from 1904 for the origin of the name of Zamboanga is the earliest that I know and is also very clearly expressed. The name Sambuwangan refers to the sambuwang or the stick that Sama boats would use for mooring. Making Zamboanga or Sambuwangan a place where these sticks are moored into the ocean floor to tie a boat to. The complete description can be found also on page 42.

We found the Sama Dilaut word list on page 43 of little use. This is too bad. Presumably the Malay and Sanskrit is correct, but the meaning for the same words in Sama Dilaut is either off or non-existant.

The description of the good treatment of slaves by their masters and how declaring the slaves free did little to stop slavery corroborates what James Francis Warren has researched and wrote about (see page 36). Landor’s statement that polygamy with the legal status of children seems preferable to American mistresses being abandoned and not supporting their children is worth noting (see page 43). Page 42 has a reference to Sama adherence to Maulud or Prophet Muhammad’s birthday. Also the rituals and practices for marriage and funerals as described on page 44-46 by and large remain the same today.

Book InformationCh1, Ch2, Ch3

Chapter 3

The Zamboanga Peninsula — Powerful Datto Mandi [Datu Mandi] — The Samal-Laut — The Ilanos [Iranun] — Marriages, punishments, and funerals.

Zamboanga town itself is too well known for me to go into a lengthy description. In Spanish days it was a flourishing city with solidly built houses and a spacious fort, but the town was set ablaze when the Spaniards evacuated it, and although the fort and a few houses of masonry and wood remain standing, little is to be observed of its former grandeur. American civilisation bangs one in the face as soon as one lands, in the shape of drinking saloons with their unattractive signs — and, indeed, the industry of the place seems at present confined mostly to vile beer and deadly whisky of dubious origin.

Zamboanga has no proper harbour, and in bad weather steamers have to move over to Caldera Bay on the south-west coast, or to the Masingloc River, four miles to the south-east, an anchorage protected from all winds. There is a fine pier at Zamboanga, to which moderate-sized vessels can moor.

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There is a delightful club for officers upon the sea front. I, being the guest of the Commanding-General Sumner, had most comfortable — quite luxurious — quarters. But such comfort is the exception, and a stray traveller might not fare so well. Of course there is a church, and others are to be found in suburban towns, such as the one at Tetuan, which used formerly to be a fort.

There are a number of Filipino villages in the extensive plain — well cultivated into rice-fields — in which Zamboanga lies among innumerable cocoanut groves. The Filipino population is divided into Spanish, Chinese, Japanese, and now young American mestizos, Tagalos [Tagalogs], Visayans, and crosses of the above with Magindanaos [Maguindanao],Samals [Sama], and Subanos [Subanon], which form the main population of the peninsula. The Subanos [Subanon] are said to number 90,000, the Mahommedans [Muslims] some 8,000; but perhaps the new census may throw some more light on the subject. The Christians in the province number in all between nineteen and twenty thousand. But most interesting of all is the Mahommedan settlement of Magay ??? joining Zamboanga to the west, where numberless nipa houses and beautifully carved boats are to be seen upon the shore.

There are three principal highways running out of Zamboanga: the Tetuan Road along the east coast of the peninsula; the Santa Maria Road in a northerly direction for fifteen miles towards the mountains, and the Jesu Road to the north-west leading to the San Ramon farm —

[end page 33]

formerly a Spanish penal agricultural colony of considerable merit. It was founded in 1870 by Lieut.-Gencral D. Ramon Blanco y Erreras, Marquis de Pedra Plata. About 9,000 fullgrown cocoanuts are still there, from which the principal revenue is derived; but, although numerous, they did not appear particularly healthy. Otherwise the place is in a terrible state of abandonment, to say the least. There are the saw-mill and distilling plants wrecked and ruined, and in a huge shed the untransportable remains of smashed machinery from Glasgow, which must have been of great value. The storehouse and superintendent’s dwelling were in better preservation. High grass and reeds smothered everything — labour, I was told, being difficult to procure. Some cotton (a tree variety) and hemp were raised, but nothing approaching the scale in Spanish days. Copra (cocoanut) was dried in the sun, or by a gentle fire under a bamboo grating, on which the nuts were placed. A stockade of posts 10 to 12 feet high formerly existed at this colony.

I think that, were this farm run on a practical basis, it should prove a very profitable concern, but it is probable that before the Americans can work any of their schemes successfully, they will have to bring down to their proper and fair level the now ridiculous wages which are paid for unskilled Filipino labour.

A good road exists between San Ramon and Zamboanga, or it is quite a pleasant trip by sea in a launch, the coastline being bordered— -almost

[end page 35]

all along — by nipa houses and neat fences and cocoanut groves in two or three parallel rows, with open stretches of high grass, and with more varied vegetation as one approaches Zamboanga.

One night, as I was riding with General Sumner, I was amazed at the gigantic size of the bats which flew in great numbers above our heads — some, I was told, were from 3 to 4 feet span from tip to tip of their wings; some even larger.

One should not leave Zamboanga — the chief town of Mindanao — without meeting Datto Mandi [Datu Mandi], a fellow of considerable power in this province. He is said to be the son of a Spaniard and a Magindanao, and his facial characteristics display the strength of character of the former race and the shrewdness of the latter. Possibly, events, and the abnormal amount of intrigue which ever goes on in a revolutionised country during the disturbed stages of transition, have influenced Americans somewhat against this man, but so far as I could judge he seemed to me as strong a man as they could have at the head of the Mahommedan tribes — for only a strong man of Mandi’s type can have any absolute control over them.

Mandi was made a Datto [Datu] by the Spanish Government for services rendered during the Sebu [Cebu] campaign in 1894-5. He seems to have been held in respect by the Spaniards, who brought him to Spain and presented him at Court, when he received decorations for loyalty, and the cross of honour for valour; also the

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badge for civil merit. From the very first, Datto Mandi [Datu Mandi] offered his friendship to the Americans, saying that — now the Spaniards had gone — their rule was the best thing for his country, and in 1899 he even went so far as to ask General Bates to allow him and his men to capture Zamboanga and hand it to the United States — which facts, I think, should not be overlooked through petty rancour and spite. I found him very manly and civil in manner, with plenty of common sense, and as honest as one can expect him to be in the circumstances.

Mandi’s uncle is the Panglima Gondun, a warrior pirate, whose association undoubtedly strengthens the Datto [Datu]’s hand to no slight degree.

One of the leading accusations thrown at Datto Mandi [Datu Mandi] by the Americans is his proclamation liberating all slaves within his jurisdiction — which, as might have been expected, turned into a mere farce, because the slaves would on no account be liberated and refused to leave their masters! They had been well fed and clothed and had no worries of any kind, and did not wish to change their position. This little joke on Mandi’s part seems to have greatly annoyed some touchy officials. In Magay itseft — where Mandi lives — there undoubtedly are plenty of slaves, and slave-trading occurs daily within ten or twenty miles of Zamboanga — if not even in that town itself — but personally I do not see exactly, with the power at hand, how it is going to be suppressed without doing more harm than good, as I have once before stated.

[end page 36]

Illustration 6 Datu Mandi
Illustration 7 Datu Piang

Since Zamboanga was turned over to the United States authorities in 1899 by Isidore Midel, there have been no signs of insurrection, as the factions in town are too numerous — the semi-piratical Mahommedan [Muslima] tribes in particular showing themselves law-abiding and peaceful, and grateful for American kindness ; whereas the civilised Christians bring spiteful accusations against Uncle Sam of sending doctors to poison wells, produce cholera, and so attempt the wholesale destruction of the masses. Cholera, as a matter of fact, has raged terribly in the province since 1902 — when it was brought over from Negros Island by Mahommedan [Muslim] traders from Sibuguey Bay who often ply to Dumaguete.

These Christians are lazy and unreliable — spending their entire days in gambling and cockfighting. Their cocoanut-groves and rice-fields are mortgaged to Chinese from whom they have borrowed money at usury to indulge in their favourite vices, and their crops are uncared for owing to drought and scarcity of carabaos. Yet with poverty rampant, the natives will not work for the Americans for such wages as 75 cents to 1 peso (dollar Mexican) a day, although they were formerly glad to get from the Spaniards wages of from 10 to 20 cents (Mexica) a day. Little or no skilled labour is to be had. The Government offers one dollar (Mexican) a day for loading and unloading vessels, and such men as carpenters and masons, who received in Spanish days 75 cents to 1 peso a day, can now only with difficulty be got for 2½ to 3 pesos a day. These

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inflated wages have had a most demoralising effect upon the population. There seems to be a prevalent idea among Christians that manual labour is dishonourable. The trade is entirely in the hands of Chinese and Chinese mestizos, who do what little exporting is done to Manila and Singapore. It consists mainly of cotton, hemp, rice, coffee, tobacco, sugar-cane, nutmegs, cloves, rubber, and gutta-percha. Zamboanga is not a manufacturing community. They say that rich coal-beds exist within 50 or 60 miles of Zamboanga.

The province is thickly wooded — especially on the mountains — narra, molave, ipil, teca, tindalao, galantas, and yacal [yakal] of excellent quality, as well as batilinan, cubi, amugois, giujo, agutud, panao-balao, lumbayao, lauaan, pagatpat, malacayua, bacanan, and tagal of various degrees of goodness all grow here. Abundant and delicious fruit of all tropical kinds is obtainable.

The municipal government, which was established by the Americans in 1901, does not seem to work smoothly. In the municipal code — a condensed wisdom of ages — the natives do not seem to get a sample of American fair government, but a dose of misrule and abuse on the part of unscrupulous native officials. Misrepresentation is rampant, and the natives seem to have some difficulty in grasping what the code is all about. According to a Government report by Captain Clarke, l0th Infantry, the crime in the province is now about the same as in Spanish days, but the natives show reluctance in appealing

[end page 38]

to the American or municipal authorities for protection. Were an American judge stationed permanently in Zamboanga, that would have, I think, quite a beneficial effect by leading to immediate punishment for crimes. It must be recollected that to the population of Zamboanga — at best a hopeless mixture of breeds — is to be added a considerable percentage of criminal parentage, owing to the neighbouring penal colony established by the Spaniards.

Catholic priests still exercise a strong influence over the Christian population, and their schools are preferred to the American. Some parents seem anxious to have their children taught the catechism and enough English to secure big Government salaries for doing no work — otherwise they are indifferent. A few young men and girls would like to learn without study; others — you can count them on your fingers — are really anxious to be instructed and work hard.

The results are generally dubious. Many master enough American words (not English, you will agree) to shout at passersby a twangy “Good mannin’! Good afternunn! Hello Jack, how a’ you? Why, sure! Say here!” and such other expressions, but when such a degree of perfection is attained in the tongue of their conquerors, few care to go, and fewer still can go, further. Now that such an able man as Dr. Barrows is at the head of the educational department, it is to be hoped that he will turn his efforts to establishing practical trade, industrial and agricultural schools — if schools they are to

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have at all — which, I think, would be more welcome to the natives and undoubtedly more beneficial to the country, aiid the first important step towards the development of the untold richness of these islands.

I was very glad to hear that a sensible “Moro school” was started in 1902 at Magay, with English instruction and industrial training. The pupils have their handiwork sold for them, and the proceeds, less value of material, are handed to the child. This, I think, is an excellent scheme, and much encourages sound industry and love of work.

To return to Datto Mandi [Datu Mandi], or Datto Rajah Muda Mandi [Datu Rajah Muda Mandi] — as he likes to be called — he is the powerful chief over the Samal-laut [Sama Dilaut], some 3,000 of them, the latest arrivals in Mindanao. His power extends from Sindangan Bay to about 20 miles beyond Buluan.

Who are these Samal-laut [Sama Dilaut]? They are seafaring folks who were vanquished by the Spaniards in 1848-58-64, driven away from Balanguinga, Simisa, and other small islands close by, and scattered on the coast near Zamboanga. They are now settled, and seem to be fairly good citizens. Socially they are to be  divided into three classes, viz. Dattos [Datu] and subordinate chiefs ; Marlica [Maharlika], or free men ; and ipun or scheh, or slaves.

Here, as in the Sulu archipelago, debtors who cannot settle their accounts become the slaves of creditors unless they can supply a relative as bond till the debt is paid — an excellent custom to

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promote honesty or to get rid of tiresome relatives. The widow of a debtor, if childless, is only expected to repay half the amount due, but should she have children the full amount is due. A slave woman, if good-looking, is liable — in fact, almost certain — to become a sandil or concubine; but although these people are called barbarians, in such cases the honour of the men prompts the master to proclaim the woman free, before witnesses, in order that the children of his own blood may not be slaves. Very quaint and most complicated questions of rights and quarrels arise when slaves of different masters wish to wed, the matter of compensation being difficult to settle.

Mr. Christie, in a Government report, gives a lucid and interesting account of the Samals [Sama]. We have already heard of the legend of Salingay Bungsu of Johore and his storm-scattered expedition, when some of the crews of his fleet landed on Tawi-tawi, others at Nawan, the present situation of Zamboanga; and it seems quite certain that the tribes who prefix Samal to their local name — although now speaking different dialects — all came from the same stock. The Subanos, it would appear, inhabited the Zamboanga Peninsula previous to the landing of the Samals [Sama], and, so far as can be gathered from confused and conflicting legends, the Subanos [Subanon] were quite powerful enough to dictate terms until eventually conquered by the more numerous race.

We find the Samal-lipid [Sama Lipid], some 150, who profess to have come from Parang (Sulu Island),

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a purely fishing tribe, the women only weaving cloth on hand-looms, and mats of pandanus leaf, and making rough pottery. The Samal-uan [Luwaꞌan (derogatory)] with other tribes, with whom we are already acquainted, are gipsies [gypsies] of the sea, live months at a time in their boats, and have many points in common with the Bajao. The Samal-utangan (or possibly Samal-Obitangan, from the name of the island) are a sub-tribe in transition from a nomad to a stationary life. They have built houses, possess hand-looms, and drive a brisk trade in resin for torches, gutta-percha, beeswax, fish, chickens, coarse pottery, and salt obtained by evaporation of sea-water. This last tribe acknowledge the authority of the Sultan of Mindanao, and they pay occasional tribute — called tutulungan — on certain festival days, such as Mahommed’s birthday. They were at one time the carriers for the rulers of Sibuguey.

The Samal-bitali (River) are cultivators, and resemble the Samal-nawan or Zamboanga Samals [Sama]. Samboangan [Sambuwangan] — as pronounced by them — means the long poles that they carry in their boats and drive into the silt in order to tie up their boats to them when not in use. The name, distorted by the Spaniards, was eventually applied to the town.

Then there are a number of Yacanes [Yakan] — evidently a branch of the larger tribe now found on Basilan. They, the Samal-laut [Sama Dilaut] and the Sulus [Tausug] seem to have fraternised to a certain extent in several districts and islands off the coast.

The Samal-laut [Sama Dilaut] and also all other dialects are of Malayan origin, many words bearing great

[end page 42]

resemblance to Malay and also to Sanskrit, while many Arabic words have been introduced with the Koran. Mr. Christie gives a long list, but here are a few:

English. Malay. Samal-laut. Sanskrit.
Cotton Kapas Gapas Karpasa
Appearance Rupa Lupa Rupa
Sugar Gula Gula Gula (sweet)
Water-vessel Kindi Kindi Kundi
Angry Murka Murka Murkha
Wisdom Budi Budi Buddhi
Learned Pandei Panday Pandita

Other tribes, such as the Illanos [Iranun] — fishermen and traders — who migrated from Malabang, are to be found on the peninsula, and they have now taken to doing some cultivation; and then we also find some 900 warlike and rapacious Sulus [Tausug] who give a great deal of trouble to the inhabitants, chiefly to the Christians and the Subanos [Subanon]. They live by fishing and trading — the latter done in a summary way, murdering people and enslaving the rest — and keep the Subanos [Subanon] in perfect terror.

The form of marriage in the Mahommedan [Muslim] tribes is, with some little variation, the same as in all Mussulman [Muslim] countries. First comes the anihil (an appropriate name if rejected) and patampal, or proposal and acceptance, the anihil being a sort of trial expedition with gifts to the prospective bride’s home, undertaken by a middle person. If the gifts of betel-nut, money, tobacco, and jewellery are accepted, and only the kerchief in which they were enveloped duly returned, the latter part of the performance — the patampal

[end page 43]

comes off, to the relief of the bridegroom. Next comes the panda — a family gathering of all relations, at which more gifts are showered from relatives of the groom on the girl, her father, mother, and brothers. After this comes the actual marriage, performed by an imam or priest, and for three days the groom remains with his wife. He is then called for and carried away to his former home or to a new house.

To prove a young man’s worthiness as well as his afFection for a girl, fathers have been known to compel a prospective son-in-law to live and work in their homes for indefinite periods of time — a system apparently not objected to. Fifty cents gold is the price paid to the priest for his services, so marriages are cheap enough.

Polygamy, to the extent of the usual four wives allowed by their religion, is practised, and maybe Uncle Sam will eventually attempt to suppress it; but perhaps, before taking such a step, he may be asked to suppress the many queridas left behind in every town by American soldiers — a system which does away altogether with the responsibility of supporting children. In Mahommedan polygamy the children are legal and supported, whereas in consequence of the more civilised laws there is a vast class of wretched outcasts overflowing the country.

The punishment for adultery is severe on a Mahommedan [Muslim] woman. Upon two witnesses proving her sin, she or the family must pay a heavy fine to the husband, and in case of non-payment she descends from the position of wife

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to that of slave, and can be sold. No woman can procure a divorce for her husband’s adultery; but if this offence is proved against a man, he has to pay double the fine which would be inflicted upon a woman, and the money goes to the injured husband or the girl’s family or the head man of the tribe. If he cannot pay, he becomes the injured man’s slave — a most unenviable position. He is generally sold, if not killed in the act, which is the most frequent punishment administered to the offender. A similar fate awaits anyone assaulting a young girl, but fornication by mutual consent is overlooked.

Criminal cases are heard by a council of elders in a public consultation, called a bichara (meeting), and decided by the head man of the tribe — usually the Datto [Datu] — whose judgment is final.

A heavy fine is inflicted for murder, and is divided between the family and those who tried the case ; and if a crime is committed while in a state of intoxication, the law inquires as to whether the man was self-indulgent or drunk through the hospitality of others. In the latter case, the hosts share heavily in the fine. For theft, the culprit is fined twice the amount of the value of the stolen goods, plus a second fine to the Datto [Datu], with the option of slavery for himself or his children.

When a man is dead, he is washed and cleansed outside and inside by ample ablutions and by compressing the stomach, and then a white cloth is wound round the corpse — or, in cases of poor

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people, a mat is used. The eyelids are gently opened, and the body, with a handful of earth by its sides, is placed inside a coffin, care being taken to rest the head towards the west — the direction of holy Mecca. As we have already seen in the Sulu and Tawi-tawi Archipelagoes, elaborate canopies — varying according to rank — with decorations of sunshades and banners are placed over the coffin, and sandal-wood water, if obtainable, is sprinkled on the grave. The family of the deceased is expected to sit up for several nights to pray and chant, and in cholera-infected settlements I have frequently heard agun (gongs) being sounded wearily night after night, to the tune of doleful chanting, in order to mourn over the death of a relative. Although said to occur, I never saw orgies take place at a man’s death.

The people are fervently religious — in a sort of way — and look up with awe to anyone who has been on a pilgrimage to Mecca. He receives the honorary title of ” Hadji,” and is ever held in great respect.

Book InformationCh1, Ch2, Ch3