Friday, July 13, 2012

ILLANUN: Raiders of the Sulu Sea

Raiders of the Sulu Sea

The Iranun are a Moro ethnic group native to Mindanao, Philippines, and the west coast of Sabah, Malaysia (in which they are found in 25 villages around the Kota Belud and Lahad Datu districts; also in Kudat and Likas, Kota Kinabalu). Their current population is estimated to be around 1,000,000-1,500,000 (2008 est).
For centuries, the Iranun were involved in pirate-related occupations in the Malay world. Originally from the area around Lake Lanao in southern Mindanao, Illanun colonies spread to Sumatra through the Sulu Archipelago, and the east coast of Borneo. Most Illanun are Muslim. Their language is part of the Austronesian family, and is most closely related to Maranao of the Philippines. Its ISO code is ISO 639-3 ill. Historically, the Iranun were given the exonym Illanun during the British colonial era.

 Illanun – the fiercest pirates in the Malay world?
Posted by shahrinms
As cited in the wikipedia, for centuries the Illanun was regarded as the fiercest pirates in the Malay world. It is thought that the Malay word for pirate, ‘lanun’, derives from the word ‘Illanun’. Originally from the area around Lake Lanao in Southern Mindanao, Illanun colonies spread from Sumatra through the Sulu Archipelago and the east coast of Borneo. Most Illanun are Muslim.
Illanun was probably the local pirates mentioned in the textbook who destroyed trading post of EIC in Balambangan. WH Treacher (first governor of North Borneo) also cited Borneo was full of pirates and headhunters – namely Illanun and Sea Dayaks. So it could be true Illanun or amongst others involved in the attack of Balambangan probably due to feeling of insecurity for the British success thus the British left to find a safer trading place (i.e. Labuan) offered by Brunei in exchange of protection against Sulu.
In addition, Illanun was also happened to be known as the Lords of the Eastern Seas. They were slave raiders who made a living by trading and capturing slaves whenever they were on seas. They would sell these slaves to cave owners to work in birds’ nest caves and to entrepreneurs to collect jungle produce in what is now known as Sabah and Sarawak.

“Raiders of the Sulu Sea” A Historiography Documentary film focusing on Zamboanga City depicting how the Spaniards defended the city with the Fort Pilar as Spain’s last stronghold and bastion of defense and economic expansion in the South of the Philippines . It depicts the Southeast Asian flourishing free trading in the area and the adverse effects and repercussions when Europeans such as the English, Dutch and Spanish who wanted to control the economy as well to colonize and Christianize.

The film focuses on the slave raiding as retaliation on colonizers- the sophisticated ancient maritime vessels such as the Lanong, Garay and the Salisipan and tools of war such as the Barong, Kris, and the Kampilan and the well organized forces that is launched for slave raiding the coasts of Mindanao Visayas, and Luzon, between July to October called as the Pirate wind “ Pirate monsoon”

It also focused on the fate of the Captured Balangingi Leader called Panglima Taupan and his family who eventually was exiled to the north of Luzon in Cagayan, and was made to work in the Tobacco Plantation- and his descendants who went back to Zamboanga and settled in the outskirts of Taluksangay with the surname Dela Cruz Nuno- Maas Nuno, the ancestor of the present Nuno clan of Zamboanga.

Art Historian Icelle Gloria D. Borja- Estrada together with Dr. Samuel Tan and Margarita Cohuangco and other International Asian Historians contributed to the success of this film Produced by Oakfilms3 based on Singapore for Q channel, Discovery Channel and the National Geographic for International Release.

illanun pirate
An Illanun Pirate
illanun war boat
Illanun War Boat
pirate weapons
Pirate Weapons
The pirate wind
Cover of the book "The Pirate Wind" Tales of the sea robbers of Malaya by Owen Rutter