Islamization of the Philippines

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Islamization of the Philippines

Contrary to the methods of Spanish conquistadors who handled colonization at swordpoint, the introduction of Islam to pre-colonial Philippines and to the rest of Southeast Asia was generally achieved with minimal bloodshed. By marrying into the rich and ruling class, Muslim traders, teachers and missionaries facilitated the spread of Islam as they travelled to Java, Sumatra, Jahore, Malacca, Borneo and other nearby islands to conduct their mission. By the 13th century, most of the lands of Southeast Asia were Islamized, and pretty soon the southern part of the Philippines followed this trend during the 14th century.

But of course, this phenomenon could have not been possible without notable Muslim people who spearheaded the spread of Islam. Based on the tarsila or the genealogies, the first one who introduced Islam in the country was Tuan Mashaika, the supposed son of Jamiyun Kalisa and his wife, Indira Suga, who were both sent to Sulu by Alexander the Great (Mongcal). Tuan Masaika married the daughter of Raja Sipad of Patikol in Buansa, present-day Jolo (Scribd.com). He was followed by Karim-ul Makhdum, or simply Mukdum, a noted Arabian scholar who introduced Islam in Malacca in the middle of 14th century and continued his travel to the east. He then reached Simunol, Sulu after passing through Sambuwangan (Zamboanga) and Basilan in 1380 (Mongcal). He built the first mosque in Sulu, and he continued to preach Islam until the time of his death. Around 1390, Raja Baginda, a minor prince from Menangkabaw, Sumatra arrived with soldiers and conquered Sulu. Afterwards, in 1450, they were followed by a Jahore[->0]-born Arab explorer[->1] and religious scholar[->2] named Sayyid Abu Bakr Abirin, or simply Abu Bakr (Sultanate of Sulu- Wikipedia). Upon coming to Sulu, Abu Bakr married Paramisuli, the local dayang-dayang or princess, and daughter of his predecessor, Raja Baginda. Then, he founded the first-ever sultanate of Sulu with him as the sultan, and thus he assumed the title Paduka Mahasari Maulana al Sultan Sharif ul-Hāshim. But it was Shariff Muhammad Kabungsuwan Ibrahim, son of a royal-blooded Arab from Hadramaut (Scribd.com), who stretched the borders of Islamization beyond Sulu, and into the entirety of Mindanao. In 1475 he and his soldiers invaded the natives of present-day Cotabato and married the princess Putri Tonina. He then founded the sultanate of Mindanao with him as the head.

It wasn’t just the natives in Mindanao who had been affected by the spread of Islam. Malay traders from Borneo facilitated the spread of Islam to some of the provinces of Luzon, namely Batangas, Mindoro and Pampanga. By the time the Spaniards arrived during the 16th century, they were surprised to discover that natives from certain parts of Luzon, including pre-colonial Manila and Tondo, practiced Islam. It is common knowledge, however, that technically and generally, the Spaniards had been more successful in propagating their religion all throughout the Philippines, thus confining and paralyzing the spread and influence of Islam. Today, the Philippines is one of the most predominant Roman Catholic nations in the world, second to East Timor in Southeast Asia. Only about 5% of today’s Philippine population practices Islam.

The Roots of Education in the Philippines

It is common for Filipinos to place a high regard on education not only as a predestined obligation to their children, but also as an important means to a higher social and economical status. According to the National Statistics Office or NSO, as of May 2012, 58 million out of the estimated 67 million Filipinos aged 10 to 64 years old are functionally literate, meaning they can read, write, compute, and comprehend (Mercene). Most Filipinos who are functionally literate are those whose who have at least finished high school.

In pre-colonial Philippines, however, education in hunting-gathering...
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