The Mindanao Resistance Against
the American Colonizers
By Apolinario Villalobos
The Filipinos who fought the Americans were never called “rebels”, but “outlaws”, “pulahanes”, “tulisanes”, and bandits. It was an unfair reference because the Filipinos who went to the mountains and banded together to fight the aggressors just wanted freedom. This nationalistic sentiment spread as far down as Mindanao.
In March 23, 1903, a group of Filipino rebels attacked an American Constabulary station in Surigao under the command of a certain Captain Clark who was killed, and the guns taken by the attackers. Later on, 75 of the guns were taken back, with many rebels captured and tried. Those who were found to have committed the killing of Clark were hanged. This was during the time of President Theodore Roosevelt.
The Moro resistance in Lanao was led by Sajiduciman, Ampuanagua, and Datu Grande. In June 1902, Datu Tungul of Onayan attacked Camp Vicars, for which the Sultan of Binidayan was suspected to have had a hand. Despite his effort to prove his innocence, the Americans did not believe him, and in desperation, he “ran amuck” which eventually led to his death. The incident further caused hatred against the Americans so that at Maciu, Sultan Tanagan and Sultan Ganduli with about 200 followers clashed with the Americans.
As in mainland Mindanao, the Sulu Muslims were also vehemently against the Americans, harboring the same hatred that they had against the Spaniards. As a peaceful measure, the Americans used the Sultan of Sulu to fulfill their objective of subjugating his subjects. A so-called Bates Treaty was signed, although it was not binding to those who still refused to recognize them (Americans). Among these were Datu Julakanain and Datu Kalbi of Patikul who refused to join the Sultan. Eventually, due to the ineffectiveness of the treaty, it was annulled, as from 1903 to 1905, the fierce resistance of the two aforementioned datus continued. Hassan was killed finally in an encounter at Bud Bagsak. The death of Hassan inspired other nationalistic Muslims in Sulu to carry on their fight against the Americans, such as Pala and Jikiri.
In Cotabato, Datu Ali defied the Americans. He was the successor of Datu Utu, and son-in-law of Datu Piang. Unfortunately, the elder Datu Piang, instead of supporting his son-in-law, collaborated with the Americans, by providing them with all necessary information that they needed. The collaboration finally led to the killing of Datu Ali at Simpetan, in October 31, 1906, together with his 13 followers and three sons.
Following the death of Datu Ali, Datu Alamada with 300 followers and supported by thousands of adherents continued the resistance. His movements, though, were limited around Buldon and Upper Cotabato. Unfortunately again, collaboration led to the downfall of the gallant datu. The collaborators were led by Datu Inuk.
Just like in Luzon and Visayas, the history of Mindanao is tinted with heroic resistance of Muslims, though, with different culture and religion. All of these gallant rebels, however, were bound by one common cause – love of freedom!