Thursday, January 12, 2012

Sulu: The Lost Paradise

As a Scout Ranger warrior, I had the privilege to visit the beautiful island of Sulu in 2000 A.D. I had read and heard about this place as the former 'kingdom' of a mighty Muslim Sultan who fought the Spanish and American conquerors for hundreds of years.

I had practically criss-crossed this island when we hunted down the bandits who snatched foreign tourists from a resort in Sipadan, Malaysia.

One of the places which attracted me was  Bud Datu (Royal Mountain) in Indanan town. This is the site of the present day military camp where one can have the scenic view of Jolo town and the pristine beaches that stretched towards Patikul town.

Bud Datu is the final resting place of Rajah Baguinda who is considered as the first Sulu Sultan. Historical accounts say that he came all the way from Menangkabaw, Sumatra, Indonesia. He  was accepted as the ruler of Bwansa Ummah, although Sulu genealogy did not mention that he established a central government in the mainland of Sulu.

 He married the daughter of a Tagimaha Chieftain, and was able to effect the implementation of the “Shariah” or Islamic laws at Bwansa village. Bwansa is a community located near the foot of Bud Tumatangis (Mt Tumatangis) where several armed clashes occurred during my visit.

A few decades later, an Arab scholar named Sayyid Abubakar Hashim came and was welcomed by Rajah Baguinda. Due to his expertise in the Islamic jurisprudence, Sayyid Abubakar was accepted as a member of the royal court. He alsowon the heart of  Rajah Baginda's daughter who became his wife.

Sayyid Abubakar inherited the old Rajah Baguinda's power and influence when the latter  entrusted the administration of the government affairs of Bwansa Ummah to him.

Rajah Baguinda retired and died in his home in Bud Datu where his tomb can still be found until today.

I tagged along my mistah, Cpt Niceforo Diaz, when I paid respects to our dear "Lolo", Rajah Baguinda.

I had the rare opportunity to visit Bud Bagsak (background) where hundreds of Tausug warriors offered the ultimate sacrifice while defending their way of life against the Americans who ruled their land in early 1900s. This photo was taken on top of Hill 509 which is located between Bud Bagsak and Mt Tunggul.

Another view of Hill 509 with Mt Munggit in the background. Below this hill lies a small community that was abandoned when the soldiers started combing the jungles to hunt down all terrorists responsible for the abduction of terrorists from Sipadan, Malaysia. I and my Platoon Sergeant wore the same scarves worn by the bandits.

I briefed my soldiers for an impending mission in our assembly area in Panglima Estino town. I carried the 'barong', a traditional bolo used by Tausug warriors, that I inherited from my Amah in Basilan. From this place, I roamed around to interesting places like Luuk, Siet Higad, Mt Sinumaan, Panamao lake, Siet Lake and Sibalu hill which is the site of a modern epic battle between the Rangers and the MNLF rebels in 1972.

 A local official in Panamao town visited me during my unit's short stay in the area before we proceeded to the outskirts of Luuk town.

These are my soldiers enjoying the waters of Taglibi in Patikul town. You can see Mt Sinumaan and Mt Gasam in the background.  I love this beach because it is comparable to the white sands of Boracay island.

 These are my friends in Taglibi. We stood in the site where the Scout Rangers erected two toilets for use of the local residents. I pleaded that no one should go to the beach to answer the 'call of nature.


  1. Very interesting. You have gone to more places in Sulu than one born in Jolo. Thank you for our write-up and photos. Keep well and be safe

  2. good day sir, i've been researching all the municipal seals in the philippines and your area is one of the hardest place to get and to visit to, is it possible if you could include in your blog the pictures of the municipal seals/logos in Sulu are, (Panamao, Omar , Pandami, etc.)
    Thank you very much

  3. Christine Aguisando4/17/2018 05:19:00 PM

    Wow! That's a great sneak peak! Thank you so much for sharing the views and history. Keep safe and God bless to all of you who currently residing there.