Salakayan Novella

The following episodes that eventually transformed into a novella began simply as a blogpost of a historical fiction about a clerk named Boni in Miag-ao’s ‘Casa Real’ fulfilling his annual servitude to the Spanish government by rendering 40 days of unpaid work called “pollo y servicio,’ His ‘pollo’ was to serve as a guard on the watchtower at the expected time of the invasion of the Muslim tribes across Sulu Sea.  The episode was about what Boni was thinking moments before the invasion began.  Then, I thought it would be interesting to write about the thoughts of the Muslim leader, Haji Ranom, as the invasion force reaches the shoreline of Miag-ao.  Later, I thought it would be fair to also write about what the Spanish commander, Captain Jose Echevarria, was thinking.  The episodes of the long forgotten battle just simply followed naturally.

This novella evolved rather than planned.  Each episode often was written with months or even years of time in between, waiting for the inspiration to re-emerge. The event was real. So were the major characters of that period based on our historical research.  The last episode, Al Thar, was posted in May 20, 2020. After a hiatus of 3 years, I am still awaiting the inspiration to complete the last episode of this novella.  I think that will happen soon.

Jonathan R. Matias

May 17, 2023

Copyright 2020 Jonathan Rey F. Matias

Episode I

Defending Cotta: Thoughts of a Comisario in the Morning of Salakayan

Posted on January 1, 2015

The Salakayan Festival of Miag-ao (Province of Iloilo) is celebrated every first week of February to commemorate the battle in which the people of Miag-ao successfully repulsed Muslim raiders (referred to as Moros by the Spanish) [1]. The Festival is a colorful depiction of this event that 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

Episode II

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

Episode III

The Captain from Gipuzkoa in the Battle of Miag-ao

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 Miag-aowanons preferred not to remember….continue reading

Episode IV

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

Episode V

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

Episode VI

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

Episode VII

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

Episode VIII

Posted on May 30, 2020

Al Thar

The din of muskets firing, grenades exploding, screams of pain, of anger and fear all mixed with the thick smoke and thunder of drums.  Teniente Arbuno’s men were trying to hold the parapets of the wall of timbers, but the Tausugs are about to break through the main gate and some are already over the wall…..continue reading