Tomas Cloma

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Tomas Cloma is a Filipino lawyer known as the discoverer of the Freedomland in the Spratly Islands, and the man who established The Philippine Maritime Institute.

Cloma was born Tomás Arbolente Cloma Sr. on 18 September 1904 to Ciriaco Cloma y Arbotante, Spanish settler and Irenea Arbolente y Bongay, a Bohol native, in Panglao, Bohol, Philippines.

In 1947, Cloma, a fishing fleet owner, founded several unhabitated and unoccupied groups of islands/islets in the South China Sea (also West Philippine Sea). This made Cloma decide to take a look on the archipelago, which later on took formal possession of the islets and declared it a micronation.

On 11 May 1956, Cloma, together with the army of 40, formally took over on the islands situated 380 miles west of the southwest end of Palawan and named it Kalayaan or Freedomland. Four days later, he made a formal announcement to the world stating his claim, with establishing of a separate government within its capital on Flat Island (Patag Island). His movement sparked hostile diplomatic reactions all over the South East Asian Region, especially the Republic of China (Taiwan).

In 1972, during the early stages of Martial Law, President Ferdinand Marcos imprisoned Cloma for four months for impersonating a military officer by being called an 'Admiral.' However, two years later, in November 1974, Marcos ordered the arrest of Cloma under a trumped-up charge. He was incarcerated at Camp Crame in San Juan, Metro Manila.

He was released a month later, with declining health, after being forced to sign a Deed of Cession to Marcos, wherein he ceded his claim to the Philippine government for one peso.

In 1996, at the age of 92, Cloma passed away.