Monday, 31 May 2010

Tarik Soliman

Celebrating the 439th Death Anniversary
of a brave young Macabebe datu



T A R I K S O L I M A N
(a.k.a. BAMBALITO)

The First Filipino Martyr for Freedom who died in the Battle of Bangkusay on June 3, 1571.

A Holy Mass will be offered at San Nicolas de Tolentino Parish and a wreath laying ceremony will follow at the Tarik Soliman marker on June 3, 2010,
9:00 AM in front of Macabebe Municipal Hall, Macabebe, Pampanga

Sponsored by the Center for Kapampangan Studies, Holy Angel University









Tarik Soliman
(a.k.a. BAMBALITO)
The First Filipino Martyr for Freedom who died in the Battle of Bangkusay on June 3, 1571.

Hundreds, maybe thousands, of years before the Spaniards came, the central plain in Luzon Island was already populated with Kapampangans and Tagalogs, as well as with dark-skinned Aetas who lived mostly in the forests of the surrounding mountains. The pre-Hispanic Kapampangans were landtillers and seafarers who traded with China and sailed to neighboring kingdoms. They were partly anito-worshippers, partly Muslim converts. “Their houses are filled with wooden and stone idols… for they had no temples,” wrote a Spanish chronicler in 1590, while another reported that “(Pampanga) had two rivers, one called Bitis and the other Lubao, along whose banks dwell three thousand five hundred Moros.” (Islam had overthrown the Hindu Madjapahit Empire in 1478 and reached the archipelago shortly thereafter.)

Tarik Soliman (or Sulaiman) was a Kapampangan datu (chieftain) in 1571, most likely from a barangay in Macabebe now known as Sagrada, Masantol, located at the mouth of the Pampanga River. As datu, Tarik Soliman held executive, judicial and military powers, determining planting and harvesting dates, trying cases not involving himself (otherwise a group of datus from neighboring villages tried him), and ruling over the timawa (freemen) and the slaves (those who had failed to settle debts). Apparently, the Pampanga of Tarik Soliman was a fully functioning civilization because every man, woman and child could read and write, and it had a government system, an agricultural system that produced food in surplus, a trading network with other Southeast Asian kingdoms, a class structure, religion, laws, taxes and festivals.

It was into this quiet, developing world of Tarik Soliman that a Spanish armada from Cebu gate-crashed one summer day in 1571. The sight of huge, fully armed ships sailing past the tiny caracoas set the natives into panic. The Kapampangan tribal chieftains in Manila, Rajah Matanda and his nephew, Rajah Soliman (despite initial misgivings), as well as the king of Tondo, Lakan Dula, welcomed the European visitors led by Miguel Lopez de Legazpi, who assured them that he had come mainly “to teach them the true law of the one, all-powerful God, creator of heaven and earth.” After he made them swear allegiance to the King of Spain, Legazpi quickly dropped all niceties and ordered his hosts to build a large house for him to live in during his stay, a chapel for the friar, and 150 medium-sized houses for the rest of the Spanish soldiers.

When the Kapampangans saw this, they derided their Tagalog neighbors for sleeping with the enemy. More than 200 warriors on 40 caracoas sailed from Pampanga, “the most warlike and brave nation,” led by “a brave youth” who was “the bravest on the island”—Tarik Soliman (often confused with Rajah Soliman of Manila, who later succeeded his uncle Rajah Matanda; the name Tarik Soliman is just for purposes of differentiating him from these two rajahs since the records do not mention his name). An early Spanish chronicler wrote: “They entered the town of Tondo through an estuary they called Bancusay without being seen by the Spaniards, where they stayed for a few days discussing with Lakan Dula the best way to start the battle.”
Legazpi sent two emissaries to Tondo to win Tarik Soliman over to their side. Tarik, wrote the Spanish chronicler, “replied excitedly that neither he nor his followers wanted to see (Legazpi) nor have his friendship, nor that of the Castillians…. Having said this, he stood up and with audacity and ferocity unsheathed his sword. Brandishing it, he said, ‘May the sun strike me in twain, and may I fall in disgrace before the women for them to hate me, if I ever became for a moment friend to the Castillians.’ (H)e left and without going down the stairs, to show his bravery, jumped out a window to the street then went directly to his caracoa. He told the Spaniards to inform their captain that he was waiting at the mouth of the estuary, where he had entered, to fight. After saying this, he began sailing, amid hurrahs, to the place he mentioned.”

In response, Legazpi sent 80 Spaniards to Bancusay led by his master-of-camp, Martin de Goiti. “Ahead of them,” wrote the chronicler, “was the caracoa of the Moor leader (Tarik Soliman)” who “courageously fired some shots (and) fought animatedly and without showing any weakness or disarray, until he died from a rifle shot by one of our soldiers. With his death… they began to fade away. They quickly scattered and fled.”

More than 300 Kapampangans died in that Battle of Bancusay on June 3, 1571, and the Spaniards proceeded to conquer the rest of the “widely spread province,” meeting resistance only in Betis, “the most fortified throughout the island of Luzon.” Thus, the prehistoric Kapampangan Nation became La Pampanga, Spain’s first province in Luzon, on December 11, 1571. (RPT)

References: Conquistas de las Islas Filipinas 1565-1615 by Gaspar de San Agustin, OSA. Manila: San Agustin Museum; Blair & Robertson, IV, and XXXIV, p. 378;

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