Categorized | Documents, News

Filipinos and Moros – two nationalities

Posted on 28 April 2016 by cbcs_mike

Wednesday, 27 April 2016 13:56

[Author's Note : This article has been written as information input for the next set of Peace Negotiators who will be officially designated to resolve the more four decades of unpeacefulness in Mindanao and Sulu. This may also help the top executive and legislative officials of the Philippines understand the historical root-cause of the Mindanao Crisis.]

From the viewpoint of the Spaniards and the Americans, Filipinos and Moros were (or are ) two distinct nationalities. Filipinos were the native inhabitants of Luzon and the Visayas who the Spaniards originally called Indios for they resembled the American Indians. Following their submission to the Spaniards either voluntarily or by conquest, they became Filipinos as subjects and citizens of the colony composed initially of the Samar-Leyte Islands which fell under the sovereignty of Spain named Felipinas or the Philippine Islands by Ruy Lopez de Villalobos in 1543 in honor of the Prince of Asturias which later on became the King of Spain, Felipe II. Buttressing the historicity of this event, Ramille Anthony Martinez in his book entitled “From Indio To Filipino.” he explicitly stated that Indio was a term used by the Spaniards to refer to the indigenous people of the Philippine Islands because they resembled the Indians of America.

Martinez, further narrated that the indigenous inhabitants of the Philippine Islands did not become instant Filipinos. The Spanish conquerors called them Indios, the common appellation for all people encountered by the Spaniards in their expeditions in search of a route to India.

The name Filipino Martines stressed, is of colonial origin. He said that the term Filipinos was reserved for Spaniards born in the Philippine Islands to distinguish them from the Spaniards born in Spain, also known as the Iberian peninsula, who were called peninsulares. The Insulares as distinguished from the peninsulares, referred to all the full blooded Spaniards born in the Philippines.

On the other hand, “Moros” was the name given by the Spaniards to all the native inhabitants of Mindanao and Sulu including those that were professing the Islam faith conclusively on account of the fact that Islam was introduced in Mindanao and Sulu according to historians as early as 1380 about 141 years ahead of Christianity brought by Ferdinand Magellan in the Visayas in 1521. One of the prominent authors who confirmed that the term “Moro” is just a moniker given by the Spaniards is Salah Jubair as found on page 13 of his book entitled, “Bangsamoro: A Nation Under Endless Tyranny, quoted as follows:

“All the monikers assigned to the natives, Indio, Moro, and Filipino were given by the Spaniards. History should credit them for giving us all these names, either out of hatred or by reasons of similarities, or by force of circumstances, or by all of the above.”

Jubair on page 266 of the above-mentioned book, explains further that the word Moro had its roots from the Latin term Mauris or Maurus which referred to the people of North Africa especially Morocco and Mauritania, who professed Islam and once ruled Spain for about 800 years. This historical narrative is corroborated by Jamair A. Kamlian, author of the article entitled “ Who Are the Moro People” published by the Philippine Daily Inquirer on October 20, 2012 and posted at on April 18, 2016, a portion of which is hereby quoted:

“For the Spaniards the term Moro did not necessarily have degoratory connotation. It was simply the Spanish name for anyone who was Muslim. In colonial Philippines, the Spanish rulers used the word ‘Moro’ to refer to all the inhabitants of Mindanao, Sulu, and Palawan.”

Unlike Luzon and the Visayas which fell under the colonial possession and sovereignty of the Spanish Crown, world-renowned authors, researchers, and historians affirm that Mindanao and Sulu as de facto and de jure Sultanates distinct, separate, and independent from each other, were not conquered despite countless consummate attempts by the Spanish forces over a span of more than three hundred years. Even the Americans in two diplomatic documents entered into between the United States and the Sultanate of Sulu ( The Bates Treaty of August 20, 1899 and the Carpenter Memorandum of March 22, 1915) expressly confirm that Mindanao and Sulu were not colonial possessions of Spain despite the fact that these two Sultanates were included in the technical description of the territorial limits of the Philippine Islands, the colony of Spain that was sold and ceded to the United States in Article III of the December 10, 1898 Treaty of Paris as the victor of the 1898 Spanish- American War. One world famous American author and researcher, Vic Hurley in his book “Swish of the Kris” said that for more than 300 years the Spaniards attempted to conquer Mindanao and Sulu, but miserably failed.

The failure of Spain to conquer Mindanao and Sulu was affirmed by an internationally recognized, multi-awarded, and highly respected author and educational administrator, Dr. Onofre D. Corpus, who became one of the Presidents of the University of the Philippines (1975-1979) and was appointed Minister of Education and Culture by the former President of the Republic of the Philippines, Ferdinand E. Marcos when he frankly made the following authoritative statement:

“By the time treaty negotiators were parleying in Paris there was no longer any vestige of Spanish control, possession, or government in Filipinas (that is to say, the Christian part of the archipelago). And Spain never had control, government, nor possession of the Moro territory. It did not have any “suspended sovereignty” because its sovereignty had been terminated.” (As quoted by Salah Jubair on page 59 of his book, “Bangsamoro: A Nation Under Endless Tyranny.)

From all these historical narrations by reputable authors and historians, it is safe to conclude that the Filipinos were the Indios of the Visayas and Luzon who submitted to the sovereignty of the Spanish Crown either voluntarily of by conquest then colonized and Christianized. They subsequently pledged allegiance to the Spanish Empire and became subjects or citizens of the Las Islas Filipinas or Philippine Islands as a colony of Spain. After several centuries, unable to bear the tyrannical regime of the Spaniards, the Filipinos in August 1896 rose in revolt but unfortunately ended in the surrender of Gen. Emilio F. Aguinaldo and all his revolutionary army on December 15, 1897 after receiving Four Hundred Thousand Pesos which was half the amount promised by the Spaniards under the terms of the Pact of Biak-na- Bato. He was then exiled to Hong Kong together with his trusted revolutionary officers.

The “Moros” who were not conquered by Spain, were the adherents or inhabitants of two major Sultanates; the Sultanate of Maguindanao (Mindanao inclusive of all the royal houses in Lanao and Cotabato) and the Sultanate of Sulu and North Borneo which existed as de facto and de jure states established around 1475 and 1405,respectively, ahead of the 1946 Republic of the Philippines and the United States Federal System of Government using its 1787 Constitution as point of reckoning, by several hundred years.

Both the Spaniards and the Americans treated or considered the Filipinos and Moros as two different nationalities. The Americans confirmed this fact in two legal documents; the Philippine Commission Act No. 787 otherwise known as an Act providing for the Organization and Government of the Moro Province which unilaterally joined Mindanao and Sulu composed of 5 districts, namely; Zamboanga, Davao, Cotabato, Lanao and Jolo with Zamboanga as its capital and administered by the Americans separately from the Philippine Islands; and a Proclamation by the former Governor General of the Philippine Islands, James S. Smith with prior approval by the President of the United States, Theodore Roosevelt on March 28, 1907 at the White House. This proclamation explicitly excluded the Moros and other non-Christian tribes from participating in the general election for the choice of delegates to the Philippine legislature known as the Philippine Assembly.

Therefore, the Filipinos were the inhabitants or citizens of the conquered, colonized, and Christianized areas not inhabited by Moros and other non-Christian tribes called the Philippine Islands with representatives to its legislature officially called the Philippine Assembly chosen in a popular election for this purpose.

Another top American official, Dr. Najeeb M. Saleeby who was appointed Superintendent of Schools of the Moro Province in the Sixth Annual Report of the Philippine Commission (1905), also confirmed that Filipinos and Moros were treated as two different nationalities when he wrote the following statement on page 579, to wit:

“ The native teachers in the province are 64- 6 Moros and 58 Filipinos. Two of the Moro teachers have no knowledge of English at all, but the other 4 have received all their education and training as teachers in our schools.”

The above-cited references and citations are just some documentary evidences affirming the fact that both the Spaniards and the Americans treated and considered Filipinos and Moros as two distinct nationalities. The Filipinos were the natives of Luzon and Visayas who the Spaniards called Indios and later on were colonized and Christianized. On the other hand, the Spaniards called the native inhabitants of Mindanao and Sulu who were not conquered, colonized, and Christianized Moros which included those who were already embracing the Islam religion. This Moro monicker was subsequently adopted by the Americans when they covertly occupied Mindanao and Sulu beginning May 19, 1899.

(By Clem M. Bascar)

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