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Subanen Governorate of Zamboanga del Norte

Governorate of Zamboanga del Norte

Subanen Governorates in Zamboanga Del Norte

Map of the Subanen Governorate in Zamboanga del Norte

History of Zamboanga del Norte (Be'noa Sem'boangan )

Subanen people are among the biggest Lumad or indigenous people of  Mindanao that settled the Island since 4,200 B.C., or during the Neolithic period. Subanen are mixed blooded of Negrito, early Austronesians and Indo-Austronesian that could be considered as the first settlers of Mindanao Island who used advance technology and knowledge in living during such period compared to the earlier ancestors (Negrito and early Austronesian).  

Subanen are peaceful people but characterized by two flexible natures; if their number is in the majority position then they will dominate and control the areas but if they are outnumbered then they would either move or migrate to the other places to avoid any conflict or tend to blend and even acclimatized with the majority settlers. Subanen people are willing to share their land or territory and allow migrants to settled in because of the belief that "Land is owned by all not by just only one" which should be shared to all.  Having visitors or having new migrants to settled the territory does not constitute as "invasion" in Subanen law but forcibly coercing the belief and culture are equivalent to war.  

The continuous migration of different tribes and different migrants from different directions to the Subanen territory had severely destroyed the Subanen culture as people’s nature to either migrate to other places to avoid the new incoming migrants or assimilate that even tried to hide their identity to merge and blend with the majority that following generations would not be familiar anymore with the culture and could no longer speak the Subanen language.

The Ruler's radius in Zamboanga Governorate

Zamboanga Peninsula including Zamboanga del Norte before any political subdivisions were just simply called Sem'boangan but Subanen people call the particular places based on how they described it. Zamboanga City was the center of trade and barter while Sindangan was the most populous area under the ruler "Datu Tangkilan". Sindangan which was called N'dangan was also the center of the traditional agricultural practice most particularly in rice planting and backyard hog raising.  

Datu Tangkilan was the very respected leader of the Subanen people. He was described as very protective, brave and powerful to protect his territory from any invaders. His title and name were just simply called "Datu Tangkilan" but he was a  ruling powerful Datu to his entire territory. In spite of the continuous attacks of the Tausug pirates since their arrival in Sulu Islands during 300 to 200 B.C.which often encroaching any coastal areas of Zamboanga (Sem'boangan) territory, Datu Tangkilan with his men were able to fought and thwarted them making Sindangan safe, progressive and the center of growth for the Subanen People. 

Datu Tangkilan also strategized his control by having a  sub-center to protect the majority from any invasions and attacks. He established the safe haven in Sia'yan, a hidden place in the inner part of Sindangan protected by difficult terrains where non-warriors, women and children would live safely to avoid the common kidnapping activities by the Tausug pirates so they could live peacefully away from the peace-buster criminals while most family of warriors of men would settled Sindangan (N'dangan) the entrance and open area that would serve also as protector and the fortress of the warriors to secure the safe haven. 

Until today, Sia'yan still exist not as sub-center of  power and haven for the people of Datu Tangkilan but as a Municipality mostly inhabited by the Subanen People tuled by Tim'uays. Sia'yan remained a very safe for the Subanen people and few Bisaya migrant settlers in the modern times and people could freely continue practice the culture and traditions. Sia'yan is now the Pangase (rice wine) capital of the Philippines.

Imported faith and beliefs

Subanen People was never Islamized in spite of the massive propagation of Islam faith by the Tausug people during late 14 century. One reason of resistance was because Tausug was a known invaders that often kidnaped Subanen women then sold them to become slaves or make them as wives. There was already a long standing distrust to the Tausug for the Subanen people to trust them in any aspects. Subanen belief is also strong and intact and also protected due to the Subanen principle to refused any indoctrination of any faith outside from the traditional practice. During the arrival of Islam in Sulu on the late 14 century, Tausug Islam missionaries tried persuading the Subanen people to convert into Islam but the principle is strong enough to resist and to refused Islam faith and any beliefs outside the Subanen practices even until the time of Spaniards when Catholicism brought in and was being introduced. 

Datu Tangkilan was not just a good leader but also a good strategist and  politician. He could strategized and delay situations until being forgotten like what he did for the Islam missionaries who keep coming back and keep trying to convince him to convert into Islam faith but his strategy was so effective and deal with them through diplomacy by not directly saying "no". His territory was not conquered and was not forced to convert into Islam unlike the other territories outside the People's Subanen Kingdom because Sindangan was his strong fortress with so many brave warriors surrounding and protecting him in which Islam missionaries with their warriors could not force him but just dealing things in diplomatic way until the Islam missionaries left and moved to the other places away from any Subanen Territory heading to Visayas and Luzon. The stand of Datu Tangkilan is the same stand with all the Datu and all Subanen people in the entire territory, they all refused Islam faith. 

Though Islam strategy to marry the Subanen women to forcedly convert them into Islams was also a little bit effective resulting to their wives to convert into Islam and then they were called as "Libog" or kalibugan meaning a union of two different culture and different beliefs but they are only very few. During the Spanish times many Kalibugan group also left Islam faith then joined back with the Subanen traditional faith practices.

Islam faith was introduced to Visayas and even up to Luzon and Manila while Subanen territory in Mindanao remained un-conquered by Islam and stay as what they are like the from the very start. On 16th century, Catholicism was also introduced by the Spaniards that resulted into several clashes and massacre's but the surviving Subanen people were remain firmed not to accept any faith and teachings outside the traditional practices and remained also un-Christianized until some Subanen individuals who married with the catholic believer migrants from the Visayan-Cebu voluntarily adapted the Christianity beginning the mid of 19 century. 

Subanen people believes that each and every Subanen individual are from one family, close relatives or 'Sabuk'dugo" so it is very easy to unite and have a singular decision without any resistance. All Tim'uays, Datu are very respected leaders, teachers and expert in deciding matters so no one would opposed in any of their decisions as people believes in 'Follow the leaders". Subanen ever since did not encountered clashes between each other though some misunderstanding happened but it could be easily settled by the elders and the leaders. Clash of clans is not a practice of the Subanen people because the mutual respect is strictly followed and as part of the culture to believe in no competition of power and authority. Anyone who wants lead could lead and start from his own though his family as Tim'uay then move to a new place then invite new families and followers to join in to form a new community where he could grow new Tim'uays then elevate himself as Datu. Anyone also who wants to step down from power could step down then other members  from his family or followers who wants to lead could stand and take the leadership. That very strong foundation of Subanen People's unity could not be break by any means as it is still practice until the present times. 

Dipolog City which was once called Di'pag was also under the authority of Datu Tangkilan that enjoyed the same protection as how Sindangan was protected through another Datu under his leadership. The vast power of Datu Tangkilan reaching the radius of  until Sibutad boundarying with the another powerful Datu Mis'samis, then to Sia'yan going south until Siocon (Siocan) and Sanito. He was among the most excellent leader of the Subanen People that ruled several Tim'uays then even elevated them also ask Datu to rule their respective communities.

Zamboanga del Norte remains to be among the most solid and intact territory for Subanen people's Cultural practices next to Zamboanga del Sur compared to any other part of the Ancient Territory of the Subanen People. In spite of the continuous migration of the people from Borneo heading north between during 300 to 200 BCE, and the migrating Cebuano or known as Bisaya from Visayas provinces during the 1940's, some Subanen people in Zamboanga del Norte were pushed to the inner part but remain to be the most intact group compared to the other places in the governorates of Datu Mis'samis in the Misamis and Lanao.

Subanen Government in Zamboanga del Norte

Subanen territory is under the Philippines government and systems co-exist with Subanen People's Monarchy with the republic since the Subanen did not and well not insist for independence but mutual respects of co-existence. Pursuant to RA 8371, Subanen People's government as lumad are recognized by the Republic of the Philippines.

The center of the Subanen People's government is focus on governing the Subanen People and protection of the natural resources and its territory from destruction due to human activities.

Reigning Datu 

Subanen Governorates Ruler in Zamboanga del Norte

While different political setup was established by the Philippine government even inside the Subanen People's Kingdom, the Subanen rulers for the Governorate of Zamboanga del Sur would co-exist to rule the Subanen People of in the territory without any conflict.

The reigning Datu Tangkilan is not appointed by the Subanen Council or the Great His Majesty Datu but based on the interest and capability of the Subanen Datu to rule his people and  the territory. He is ruling his Timuay's and Datu's under him and the Subanen people in the entire Zamboanga del Sur Governorate. The Reigning Datu is reporting for guidance from the Subanen Council and the "Great Datu" the highest ruler of the Subanen People who established to reorganized and reunited the Subanen People . 

Zamboanga del Sur Governorate is ruled by Datu Tangkilan with his Datu in capacity. His authority is recognized by he highest ruler his Majesty Datu Gendao and his chosen name as "Datu Tangkilan"  to be his Subanen Traditional ruler's name of the Governorate. His highness Datu Tangkilan complied with the Subanen Traditional Name requirement for a ruler as required by the Subanen Culture. 

The ruler Datu Tangkilan is recognized by the highest ruler his Majesty Datu Gendao based on his experience to rule and for fighting for the rights of the Subanen People that served as  his proof  and capacity to rule based on the traditional standards of qualification for a ruler. The Process of recognition is based on the ancient practice of enthronement. See the enthronement process based on the ancient practice. His official enthronement date: _______.

His highness Datu Tangkilan is the ruler of the Governorate of Zamboanga Del Norte bearing one of the "Stars" in his emblem that symbolizes the entire governorate. His highness Datu Tangkilan is also automatically a member of the highest Council and among the council and advisers of the Subanen People's Kingdom (SPK).

Upon the recognition of his authority and in accordance with the Subanen People's culture, "Datu Tangkilan" name would be considered as "sacred Ruler's name of the Governorate of Zamboanga del Norte forever". His descendants or appointed rulers in the future generation to replace his authority would continuously honor and use the name "Datu Tangkilan" to rule the entire governorate.  

Subanen respects the freedom of belief and the Datu  ruler of Zamboanga del Sur could be either a Traditional faith, a Muslim or a Christian follower as long as from the root of the Subanen people would be recognized by his Majesty Datu Gendao.

Honorarium & Salary of the Ruler

His highness Datu Tangkilan adapted and accepted the Subanen People's Kingdom (SPK) government traditional practice of not receiving any monetary rewards for any of his services rendered. All and every services are Free of charge and purely voluntary. The heart of the service is "the passion to serve the people" without expecting any monetary rewards in return. His highness Datu Tangkilan believe that this practice is effective to avoid any unnecessary competition of power to gain riches. This is also to make sure that only capable people to rule would lead and serve the people base on his capability and to help and protect his people. His highness Datu Tangkilan conformed the policy that collecting of payments from his people as taxes or payment for his services is prohibited and is considered as a serious violation from the Subanen People's norm and a crime that could cause to expulsion and forever ban to rule the people.