Battle of Bangkusay

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The Battle of Bangkusay was one of the last resistance movements of the natives of Manila and surrounding kingdoms led by the chief of Macabebe against Miguel López de Legazpi in 1571. Refusing to be subject to the Spaniards, the chief of Macabebe mounted an offensive at Bangkusay Channel to drive the forces of Legazpi out of Manila. He was defeated and killed, helping Spain to fortify its hold throughout the land and establish the City of Manila.

Pre-Spanish era

Before the Spanish arrived at the location of present-day Manila in 1570, it was part of larger naval supremacy governed by Muslim rajahs. Rajah Lakandula ruled the Kingdom of Tondo north of the Pasig River, while Rajah Matanda and Rajah Sulayman ruled the Muslim communities south of the river. The two communities of Sulayman and Matanda were unified into the Kingdom of Maynila. Both city-states were officially Malay-speaking and held diplomatic ties with the Bolkiah dynasty of Brunei, and with the sultanates of Sulu and Ternate.

First battle

Worried about Portuguese pirates and other external threats, Legazpi decided to transfer his capital from Cebu to a more fortified place in Panay. When reports of a flourishing sultanate in the northern part of the Philippines reached him, he immediately sent an expedition headed by his deputies Martin de Goiti and Juan de Salcedo. The two left Panay and sailed to the northern part of the Philippines with 120 Spaniards and some 600 fighting natives of the Visayan Islands. De Goiti arrived in Cavite and sent his message of friendship to the rulers of the sultanates who, in return, accepted it. However, when Rajah Sulayman learned that friendship with the Spaniards meant submitting to their sovereignty, he and his followers became hostile, waging war against the foreigners. As a result, De Goiti and his army attacked Manila on 24 May 1570. After an intense fight, he captured the city, defeating Rajah Sulaiman who retreated after the battle. De Goiti and Salcedo then returned to Panay to report to Legazpi. [1]

Second conquest of Manila: Battle of Bangkusay

In 1571, the Spaniards returned to Manila with Legazpi himself leading the second conquest of Manila. Legazpi landed in Manila on May 16, 1571, with his entire force of 27 vessels, 280 Spaniards, and several hundred Visayan fighters. The three native chiefs declared themselves allies of Spain with Raja Sulayman making peace with the Spaniards. A week after, Legazpi released an edict in accordance with the king's command that lands would be given to those who wish to settle in the city. But other natives from other kingdoms and tribes insulted the Manilans by telling them that they would fight the Spaniards should they arrive in their lands. Soon enough, after being influenced by other local leaders, the natives of Manila tried to wage a war against the Spaniards.

Thousands of warriors from different provinces and kingdoms (mostly from present-day Bulacan and Pampanga) headed by the chief of Macabebe met in Tondo. Discovering the threat, Legazpi ordered Lakandula to convince the chief of Macabebe to cooperate with the Spaniards. After being rejected by the chief who told them they would never be friends with the King of Spain, Legazpi ordered his men for a battle as a defense. [2] On 3 June 1571, the Spanish forces embarked in search for native warriors in Bangkusay Channel, which the natives from different provinces used to get through Manila. An intense battle followed after which the chief of Macabebe was killed, forcing the natives to escape and flee. When the battle ended, the natives accepted Spanish sovereignty. Legazpi then establish the formal foundation of the city which took place on 24 June 1571. Under Spain, Manila became the colonial entrepot in the Far East. The Manila-Acapulco Galleon Trade between the Philippines and Mexico flourished from the years 1571-1815.


  1. ^ National Historical Institute The Battle of Bangkusay: A Paradigm of Defiance against Colonial Conquest By Chris Antonette Piedad-Pugay, Accessed on (June 2, 2009).
  2. ^ [1] Act of Taking Possession of Luzon By Martin de Goiti, Accessed on (June 2, 2009).



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