Welcome to Sulu Garden’s blogsite and hope you enjoy reading about Sulu Garden. Our range of topics include history, arts, applied sciences, cuisine, flora and fauna and also about our home town, Miagao.

About our writer/editor:

jmatiasJonathan R. Matias
is the founder and chief science officer of Poseidon Sciences. Among his many interests include writing about the convergence of science, history and R&D being conducted at Poseidon. You can follow his writings via He currently resides in Miagao, Iloilo (Philippines) while Sulu Garden is being developed as a center for cuisine, arts, sciences and conservation. The series of blog articles here describes his experiences in Miagao, about Sulu Garden, about local history and conservation of cultural and biological diversity.

We invite articles from writers who share similar passions to become guest bloggers on this site. Please contact us at using Sulu Blog as subject heading. Send us the topic you wish to write about, information about yourself, and a draft version for editorial review.

Wari-Wari Heights and Unexpected Alliances in the Battle of Miag-ao

Posted on May 30, 2017

The alliance of the Visayan tribes with Spain during the 16th to 18th centuries saw the loss of the native traditions as the population became inevitably converted to Christianity. The culture of the local independent tribes vanished, often without a trace. The ‘Pintados’ was just a term the Spanish called all the island tribes because of the tattoos that adorned their bodies. But who really were the Pintados? No one knows for sure anymore….continue reading

Warlords in the Battle of Miag-ao

Posted on December 7, 2016

It is often said that once one experienced a battle, you would either abhor it or miss it. Either way, one is never the same after the event. And each battle takes a little bit of humanity away from the participant. Today, we have a choice to be a soldier or a civilian, unless of course you find yourself in the Middle East or Africa in the middle of a civil war….continue reading

Riding the Whirlwind in the Battle of Miag-ao

Posted on October 21, 2016

On the beach at high noon, hundreds of warriors were shouting, joyously waving their lances. They danced to the beat of the drums as four caracoas arrived from Basilan. The ships were laden with provisions, enough to sustain the campaign for a few more days. More important, 430 more Tausugs disembarked. Each of the four ships carried lantaka cannon….continue reading

The Tide at Sunrise in the battle of Miag-ao

Posted on June 27, 2016

For most of us, history is hard to grasp. The true sense of the event lost in the text of often very boring books. Pictures, graphics or paintings of the past make it easier to appreciate the drama that makes history interesting. For Salakayan in 1754, there certainly were no pictures since photography was yet to be invented until the next century. Nor were there any paintings that depicted the event. So the battle remains vague; just a date and text barely enough to fill a paragraph to describe what had transpired….continue reading

The Captain from Gipuzkoa in the Battle of Miagao

Posted on January 7, 2016

May 7, 1754 was a pivotal day in Miag-ao’s 300 year history as a town. Sadly, only the date and the key players in that Battle were recorded. The details of how the battle developed between the Islamic raiders and the Miagawanon defenders are not known. Perhaps there were records, but forever lost in the 262 years that followed. Oral stories handed down through the generations also faded from memory and never passed on. Perhaps it was a painful event that Miagaowanons preferred not to remember….continue reading

Timeline: 300 years of Miag-ao history

Posted on December 2, 2015

Michael Crichton’s 1999 sci-fi novel, Timeline, was among the many compelling books I had read in the past and later turned into a movie. Many of his other novels – Andromeda Strain, Eaters of the Dead, Congo, ER, Sphere, Terminal Man, Rising Sun and Jurassic Park, just to name a few, had all been adapted for the cinema. Most of my book reading time was when riding the New York City subway going to and from work back in the days. It was only lately that I learned he had passed away many years ago and how remarkable a writer he was….continue reading

Living in the shadow of the enchanted bubog trees and 7,000+ fruit bats

Posted on November 25, 2015

Bats living inside the church belfry, inside roof of houses and under bridges used to be commonplace. But, with better housing construction, there are less and less places for bats of all kinds to roost. Recently, the town of Monster –Yes, this is the town’s real name– in the Netherlands just finished constructing a bridge over the V lot watering River for both pedestrians to cross and for bats to roost….continue reading

Miagao’s barangay names and the science of Etymology

Posted on October 24, 2015

Here is a word one does not see every day. Among the many ’eccentric hobbies’ of my youth was etymology [from Greek etymon meaning “true sense” and logia meaning “the study of”] — the study of the origins of words. Returning to Miag-ao in 2013 after 13 years of being in another continent got me started in etymology once again…. continue reading

MIAGAO STORIES. Tan Pedro and the day of decision – April 28, 1900

Posted on June 12, 2015

Last Friday, June 12, 2015 President Benigno Aquino, Jr. unfurled the Philippine National Flag in Santa Barbara, Iloilo at a ceremony on the declaration of Philippine Independence. This has not happened outside Luzon since the first flag-raising occurred when Gen. Martin Delgado of the Ilonggo Army unfurled the same flag that Gen Aguinaldo sent in 1898. Much will be said about General Delgado, the more famous Ilonggo revolutionary, and so little about the others who also fought and died in the Visayas….continue reading

Attack on Cotta: Thoughts of an Iranun warrior at sunrise on the day of Salakayan

Posted on June 1, 2015

Located along the shores of Moro Gulf, the Kingdom of Uranen (referred later in the literature as Iranun or Illanon) is among the oldest civilizations in Southeast Asia. The first Islamic missionaries, Shariff Aulia and Shariff Kabunsuan, cemented Islam as the primary religion through intermarriages with the Iranuns. Sultan Kudarat was a direct descendant from this union. The languages of the Maranao and Maguindanao are deeply rooted in the Iranun language suggesting that the Iranuns predated these two tribes….continue reading

Asinderos de Miag-ao: Part III. Searching for the mystery vines of the Aetas in the uplands of Miag-ao.

Posted on May 14, 2015

Parts I and II of this documentary described details of Miag-ao’s salt-making tradition called budbudan [1,2]. The salt is called budbud, meaning to sprinkle in Kinaray-a. And, the salt farmers call themselves for fun as the Asinderos de Miagao. The most intriguing part of the budbudan salt-making process is the mixing of a vine extract with the supersaturated salt water they call ‘tuma.’ The vine does not grow in the lowlands, at least not anymore, but can still be found in the mountains. In the olden days, according to the Asinderos, the Aeta pygmies from the mountains come down during the summer season to trade pieces of vines….continue reading.

Asinderos de Miag-ao: Part II. The Art of Farming Budbud Salt.

Posted on April 28, 2015

Immersing one’s self into a culture is never easy. But, there is no other way for an ‘outsider’ to gain knowledge of a different culture without an immersion process.

My earliest recollection of having this discussion on the subject of ‘immersion’ was in the early 1980’s while sitting on the bus with other attendees going to the prestigious Gordon Conference in New Hampshire. I was sitting next to Robert Sapolsky [1], now a famous American neuroendocrinologist at Stanford University. But, back then a post-doctoral student, doing field work in Kenya. He was attempting to collect blood samples from baboons in the middle of the African savannah as part of the study on ape social behavior….continue reading

Asinderos de Miag-ao: Part I. A fisher-folk saltmaking tradition doomed to extinction

Posted on April 17, 2015

The title might seem like a story of impending doom, like global warming. Not quite like that for now, but the vanishing traditions of our coastal communities are tied to global warming and the inexorable advance of modernization. Doom might be a good word to describe the future of the Asinderos de Miag-ao.

I arrived in Miag-ao, a coastal town in the province of southern Iloilo province (Philippines), in the summer of 1995 and always enjoyed the magnificent sunsets by the sea….continue reading

Urban legends, Part 1: Miag-ao Church – a Fortress of the Spanish Empire?

Posted on April 13, 2015

Rumors, if passed along often enough, may turn into urban legends. And, sometimes become accepted as a historical fact. Just give it enough time to circulate around for over a generation or two. Most towns and cities have their own urban legends and the usual ‘mis-encounters’ with historical accuracy. Such is the case even for the seaside town of Miag-ao (Iloilo) which is entering its 300th Foundation Day in February, 2016….continue reading

History and Mysteries of Miag-ao Church: An interview with Msgr. Claudio S. Sale

Posted on April 5, 2015

I have always wanted to know more about Miag-ao Church beyond the often rehashed trivia written in travel blogs and the bland descriptions of the church in Wikipedia and similar type of information sources. I always considered any house of worship like a living being. It has a colorful, complicated past and uncertain future. It has mysteries and legends. Its daily life has a rhythm of its own, a dynamic personality being shaped slowly by the changing times and the people……continue reading

Defending Cotta: Thoughts of a comisario in the morning of Salakayan

Posted on January 1, 2015

The Salakayan Festival of Miagao (Province of Iloilo) is celebrated every first week of February to commemorate the battle in which the people of Miagao successfully repulsed Muslim raiders (referred to as Moros by the Spanish) [1]. The Festival is a colorful depiction of this event occurred in 1754. Often, as festivals continue on over the years, the significance of the momentous event is often lost to fast movement choreography, heart pounding sounds and artistic passions of our modern times…..continue reading

Puentes de España: A tale of two bridges

Posted on October 11, 2014

I read with great interest the recent book by Prof. Manuel Maximo Lopez del Castillo-Noche of the University of Santo Tomas entitled Puentes de Espana en las Filipinas (The Spanish Colonial Bridges of the Philippines) [1]. For those fascinated with Spanish colonial bridges, I highly….continue reading

Origins of the name Sulu Garden

Posted on October 7, 2014

I am often asked why I named this place Sulu Garden. Always, I had a ready answer that I named it after the Sulu Sea. The town of Miagao is one of many coastal towns along the Panay Gulf, which is part of the inland sea called Sulu. That answer made sense even now for most of our curious guests….continue reading