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Spanish East Indies (1521–1916)In 1521, Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan arrived in the Philippine Archipelago and claimed the archipelago for Spain. During the period, the archipelago was ruled by various Islamic sultanates and animist chieftainships. The name Moros (the Spanish word for "Moors") was given by the Spanish to the Muslim native inhabitants who had a strong presence on the islands.
Following their rule in the Philippine Archipelago, the Spanish began to forcibly converting people to Catholicism. The Spanish missionaries were able to spread Christianity in Luzon and the Visayas but the Moro sultanates and the tribes in southern part of archipelago retained their Islamic faith.
The Spanish did not succeed until the late 19th century in beginning to conquer the Moro people in the south, who fought back fiercely. During the Spanish-Japanese War in 1898, the Moros maintained their independence which they fought against the Japanese during the Pacification of Mindanao and Sulu. With their fighting efficiency throughout the war, the Spanish colonial government then formed the Moro Legion for the purpose of maintaining peace, law, and order in the Spanish East Indies. Moro leaders then were awarded prominent many positions on the government and Moro sultanates and chiefdoms were recognized its existence while accepted the Spanish hegemony on their lands.By the dawn of World War I, the Spanish East Indies was Spain's most precious colony on its empire. As the memories of Spanish-Japanese War still remained, the colonial government ordered the mobilization of Spanish Indies Army immediately after the Spanish declaration of war to the Entente on August 5, 1914.
The Moro Legion which already formed in 1900 for the purpose of maintaining peace, law and order was incorporated into the Spanish Indies Army. The combined forces of the colonial army with 300,000 Spanish soldiers, 2500 Moro soldiers, 1620 Indio recruits, and 104 warships, however, was still outnumbered by 500,000 Japanese naval infantry and 112 warships that had stationed on Takasago.
After lengthy debates within the Imperial Diet, Japan finally declared war to the Central Powers on November 31, 1914 and invaded the Spanish East Indies on the night of December 1, 1914. The most dramatic naval battle between the Spanish Armada and the Imperial Japanese Navy occurred at the Philippine Sea on December 27, 1914, sunken 56 war vessels and killed more than 4000 servicemen from both sides. The battles between Japanese and Spanish forces on the Spanish East Indies were proved to be the most notable fighting on the Asian and Pacific theatre on World War I. The fighting would lasting until 1916, following the Japanese victory at the Battle of Mindanao.
South Pacific Mandate (1916–1950)Japanese South Pacific was declared to replace the Spanish colonial administration in the Philippine Archipelago. The new colonial regime included Moro lands into the Province of Mindanao (民太那部道), abolished the traditional Moro sultanates, exiled some influential rulers to Manila, confiscated their personal lands and properties, and suppressed the rebellious chiefs. Nevertheless, the Governor-General of the Japanese South Pacific, Katō Tomosaburō, appointed former Sulu Prime Minister, Abdul Bugui Hadji Butu, to the Central Advisory Council to represent the Southern Muslim population.
The situation in the Japanese South Pacific was relatively stable and the daily activities in the colony were mainly undisturbed by the revolutionary waves that swept Japan between 1918 and 1924. Governor-General Katō, who had been secretly sympathetic to the Republican cause, ordered the Japanese troops in the Japanese South Pacific to maintain their neutrality and not to side with either the Loyalists or the Republicans until the winning side of the war could be clear enough to be seen.
When Katō died in office in 1923, the Republican government in Kyoto appointed the Director of the Colonial Home Affairs Bureau, Shimomura Hiroshi, as his replacement. Under Shimomura, the colonial administration was reformed. Military officers in the government were replaced by Japanese civilian bureaucrats. Most of local chiefs, known as "datu", and former Moro rulers entered the colonial bureaucracy as well as the local councils in order to preserve their position as ruling elite class in Mindanao and Sulu.
During the Japanese era, Mindanao was divided into the prefectures of Zamboanga, Sulu, Lanao, Cotabato and Davao which each was ruled by different political clique. In general, the ruling elites in Mindanao did not entirely depending on the bureaucratic patronage of Emilio Aguinaldo and the Insular Society in Manila and enjoyed greater independence than their northern counterpart. They were also less interested on the issue of Philippine independence and more focused the economic development of their prefectures under the Japanese colonial rule.
Ruling cliques in the Christian-dominated regions of Zamboanga and Davao associated with the Insular Society of Emilio Aguinaldo. Zamboanga was governed by the Christian Zamboagueno bureaucratic clique under the patronage of Vicente Alvarez, former revolutionary general and long-time governor of the prefecture. In Davao, although the bureaucracy was patronaged by Teodoro Palma Gil who loyally associated with Aguinaldo, the powerful wealthy clan of Bangoy, led by Francisco Bangoy, independently dominated the prefectural politics and economy and was financially supported by Japanese state-owned companies in Davao City.
Muslim-populated areas exercised more autonomous rule. Sulu was governed by the Tausug Muslim aristocracy consisted of the family and relatives of former Sultan of Sulu, Tun Mohammed Jamalul Kiram, and his bureaucrat collaborator, Abdul Bagui Hadji Butu. Cotabato local government was jointly dominated by the Maguindanao traditional cliques consisted of the families and relatives of Datu Piang, Datu Sinsuat Balabaran and a Christian Datu, Ignacio Ortuoste. Lanao, at that time included the lands of non-Muslim Lumads, was ruled by the Maranao Muslim aristocratic-bureaucrats under the hegemony of influential Tun Alawiya Alonto, the long-time district chief of Ramain.