Mastura’s book on Magindanao’s rulers (1515 to 1903) off the press 

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 02 April) – Datu Michael Ong Mastura’s book, “The Rulers of Magindanao in Modern History, 1515–1903: Continuity and Change in a Traditional Realm in the Southern Philippines” is now off the press and will be launched in Cotabato City on April 13. 

Published by the Ateneo de Manila University Press, the book, which went off the press on March 30, takes on the narrative of events from the arrival of Sharif Mohammad Kabungsuwan around 1515, before the Spanish colonizers came, until the  establishment of the Moro Province by American colonizers in 1903.  

The 82-year old Mastura is a revered Moro scholar, educator, lawyer, lawmaker and peace negotiator who now serves as President of the Sultan Kudarat Islamic Academy (SKIA). He has authored several books on the Bangsamoro struggle. His last book was “Bangsamoro Quest: The Birth of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front” which was published in Penang, Malaysia in 2012. 

Patricio Abinales, who wrote the foreword, said Mastura’s “Rulers of Magindanao” has several outstanding features.

“It bears the mark of a Braudelian longue duree with its examination of the ecological, economic, political, and cultural attributes of the rulers of Magindanao across 388 years. It does this in a multi-disciplinary fashion, combining ethnography with history and politics and a nuanced portrait of individual actors and their social setting. Mastura shows us the conjunctural breaks in Magindanao sultanate politics, but he also made us aware of the continuities, attesting to the resilience of this ‘traditional authority.’”

Another feature Abinales found to be outstanding is that Mastura “writes of how the Sultanates were exceptional regimes that took the war into Spanish colonial territory. The Spanish name for the sea that divides Mindanao from the Visayas islands was ‘La Mer de Moro,’ recognizing weakness when confronting the Sultanates.”

Abinales also pointed out that while Filipino historians ignore or assign little import to the Moros and Mindanao, “Mastura tells us the story of a Southeast Asian polity and a cosmopolitan society that established trade links and formed political alliances with neighboring mandalas. These strengths of regional connections vis-à-vis the weak ties between Moros and the rest of that colony eventually convinced many American officials to become Mindanao separatists.

Sultan Kudarat’s descendant

A direct bloodline descendant of Sultan Muhammad Dipatwan Kudarat of the Magindanaw Sultanate, Mastura was responsible for the codification project of the Muslim Personal Laws that established the Shar’ia Court in the country and was invited Amicus Curiae at the Supreme Court. 

As delegate to the 1971 Constitutional Convention, Mastura pushed for conflict resolution through constitutional amendments and asymmetric federal shared power relations. As Representative of the first district of Maguindanao, including Cotabato City, from 1987 to 1995, Mastura authored the Philippine Passport Law and the Party-List law, among others. 

The book is based on the research Mastura started in 1973 and submitted in 1979 to the Philippines Social Science Council’s Modern Philippine History Program. He did the research out of his conviction that “traditional social structure in Mindanao has received little attention from professional and observer-writers.”

The Moros of Mindanao, he pointed out, had instead been the “object of historical distortions” with majority of the Filipinos unaware of the existence of  the Sultanates of Sulu and Magindanaw and Pat-a-Pangampong in Mindanao before the colonizers came. 

Abinales wrote that with the publication of Mastura’s book, “there is no more reason for any Filipino or Moro scholar not to teach courses on Magindanao and Moro histories.”

He noted that with Mastura’s book, “there is no more reason for any Filipino or Moro scholar not to teach courses on Magindanao and Moro histories.” 

The book is “a welcome addition to the growing literature on Mindanao, which, in turn, is essential in any attempt to write and teach a history of the island and its diverse peoples. This is an exceptional, much-awaited work. It is a delight to reread it and an honor to write this homage to a much-respected Magindanao icon.” 

After the Cotabato City launch on April 13, the book will also be launched at the Ateneo de Manila University in late April and in Davao City and other parts of Mindanao in May. (MindaNews)