Lakandula Revolt

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The Lakandula Revolt (also known as the Lakandula and Sulayman Revolt) was led by the Manila chieftain Lakandula alongside another chieftain named Sulayman. The former had a diplomatic relationship with Miguel Lopez de Legazpi, and even assisted in the pacification of the natives, which was a move spearheaded by Martin de Goiti. As a reward for their allegiance, the chieftains and their descendants were granted an exemption from paying taxes and tributes, and from doing forced labor. Moreover, they were allowed to keep their lands. Following Legazpi's death in 1572, the aforementioned privileges were revoked by Governor-General Guido de Lavezaris, thus prompting the chieftains to defy the Spanish rule.

When the Chinese pirate Limahong attacked Manila in 1574, both chieftains seized the opportunity to revolt against the Spaniards. They summoned their warriors in Navotas and were preparing to bring down their collective might.

Already aware of the impending attack, Governor-General Lavezaris tasked Juan de Salcedo and Fray Geronimo Marin (though some sources state Fray Martin de Rada) to persuade the chieftains and their men to stand down. Salcedo and Fray Marin (or Fray Rada) were close to the natives, and so they succeeded in their mission. To reciprocate the yielding of Lakandula and Sulayman, the Spaniards promised that the complaints of the natives would be addressed, and that those who participated in the revolt would be pardoned. Governor-General Lavezaris offered a truce to Lakandula and Sulayman, as he needed every help from the natives to expel Limahong.

The Lakandula Revolt is considered by some to have inspired the other revolts against the oppressive Spanish rule that followed.

Background of Lakandula

Texts discussing the personal life of Lakandula are scarce. He was known to be the ruler of northern Manila (i.e. the Kingdom of Tondo or Tundu as mentioned in the Laguna Copperplate Inscription), which held considerable economic influence. Lakandula's domain handled the distribution of products exported by the Ming Dynasty. Moreover, it was abundant in gold. Worth noting as well was the size of old Tondo; historical experts say that it extended as far as Pampanga.

During the 1570s, Lakandula's brother, Ache, abdicated his throne, thus giving more power to their nephew Sulayman, who ruled Southern Muslim Manila. A source claims that all three men had ties to the royalty of Brunei; it is believed that the mother of Lakandula and Ache was the daughter of a sultan.

When Legazpi arrived in Manila in 1571, he immediately established a peace pact that involved Lakandula, Ache, and Sulayman. The pact secured the native rulers' promise that they would be liegemen of Spain as long as they were still able to exercise political power over their own people. Afterward, Legazpi founded the walled city of Intramuros, and declared it as Spain's seat of power. Lakandula played an important role in the construction of Intramuros, as he provided Chinese weapons for its security. Eventually, Lakandula was baptized as Don Carlos Lacandola; the "Carlos" was after Charles I of Spain.

Lakandula proved to be a valuable ally to Legazpi. There was an instance in which he supported the Spanish conquistador during the Battle of Bangkusay that was led by Sulayman and Tarik Sulayman. He also assumed the role of spokesman during the pacification of Bulacan and Pampanga.

Lakandula's allegiance to the Spanish crown became strained following the death of Legazpi from heart failure on 20 August 1572.

The Revolt

Guido de Lavezaris immediately replaced Legazpi as the Governor-General. Before being installed in the aforementioned position by Philip II of Spain, Lavezaris served as the royal treasurer of the Villalobos Expedition of the 1540s. Texts describe him as the opposite of Legazpi; rather than extend diplomacy to the natives, Lavezaris was callous and this primarily showed in his desire to conquer more lands. In just two years, his military might was able to subjugate Camarines and Ilocos.

Despite the abrupt change of the sociopolitical air, Lakandula still professed loyalty to Spain; there are, however, no records describing in detail his bond with the governor-general.

Discontent began to simmer when Lavezaris established the encomienda system, wherein the lands and residences belonging to natives were forcibly taken away and rewarded to Spanish officials and soldiers. Furthermore, Lavezaris disregarded the pact that Legazpi had with Lakandula, Ache, and Sulayman; the natives and their leaders, now landless, were now also mandated to pay tribute.

Lavezaris' iron-fisted rule encouraged Spanish authorities to commit unjust acts that intensified the suffering of the natives. Fray Martin de Rada, an Augustinian, exposed the ongoing corruption; he stated that the tax imposed on natives was thrice more than it should be. This prompted the natives to finally break what was once a civil tie with the Spaniards. And so, on 06 November 1574, Lakandula and Sulayman headed a revolt in Navotas that is now known in various names: "Lakandula Revolt," "Manila Revolt," and "Sulayman Revolt." Some also regard it as the "First Battle of Manila Bay" because of the utilization of sea crafts. The revolt occured while the Chinese pirate Limahong was still challenging the Spanish power.

Juan de Salcedo and Fray Rada (though some sources state Fray Geronimo Marin) were ordered by Lavezaris to conduct a treaty with the native rulers. While Lakandula had no qualms with the offer, Sulayman expressed wariness as he did not wish for the Muslim community to be influenced by Catholicism. The Spaniards therefore created another treaty that guaranteed the sovereignty of Sulayman's Muslim Manila. Meanwhile, Lakandula once again went under the wing of the Spanish crown.

It is believed that Lakandula passed away sometime in 1575, though sources cannot pinpoint his exact manner of death. His nephew and Sulayman's adopted son, Agustin de Legazpi, took over the Kingdom of Tondo. Twelve years later, he led a revolt known as the Tondo Conspiracy, or the Conspiracy of the Maharlikas.


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