*** START OF THIS PROJECT GUTENBERG EBOOK PHILIPPINE ISLANDS, 1493-1898 ***
Explorations by early navigators, descriptions of the islands and their peoples, their history and records of the catholic missions, as related in contemporaneous books and manuscripts, showing the political, economic, commercial and religious conditions of those islands from their earliest relations with European nations to the close of the nineteenth century,
Volume XXVII, 1636–37
The Conquest of Mindanao
Letter from Father Marcelo Francisco Mastrili,1 in which he gives account of the conquest of Mindanao to Father Juan de Zalazar,2 provincial of the Society of Jesus in the Filipinas Islands.
Gratia, et pax Christi, etc.
I would by no means have expected, Father, your Reverence’s command to inform you of our expedition [to Mindanao, had you known that the letters which I wrote to Father Juan de Bueras from Lamitan had remained at Sanboanga; because, since I recounted in them, with much detail, all the events of the conquest of Mindanao, I asked him to read them to your Reverence, so that, without fatiguing yourself with my separate letter, you might know what had happened. And now, having in obedience to your command, departed for Taytay, I will here relate to you faithfully as much as I can remember.
Your Reverence of course knows how Don Sebastian Hurtado de Corcuera, governor of these islands, having determined on the expedition to Mindanao, called a general council of war, in which all were of adverse opinion, saving only his nephew, Sargento-mayor Don Pedro Hurtado de Corcuera. In spite of this, constrained by desire for his own glory, and for the honor of the two Majesties, the human and the divine, he resolved, notwithstanding the contrary opinion of the entire council, to persevere in his pious intentions. On the day, therefore, of the Purification of our Lady, February second of this year 1637, having with all the soldiers attended confession and communion in the chapels of the palace, he ordered them to embark in eleven champans, which were already provided for this purpose. Father Juan de Barrios and I embarked in the flagship with his Lordship, and Sargento-mayor Don Marcos Zapata, whom he brought for a companion, and to sit at his table. The priest Don Juan, chaplain of the fleet, sailed on the almiranta, with Sargento-mayor Don Pedro Hurtado de Corcuera; and an Augustinian friar came, as confessor for the Pampangos, in Lorenço Ugalde’s champan.
The previous day a letter had come from the archbishop, stating that there were eighty hostile caracoas at the island of Mindanao; so his Lordship, in order to surprise them, sailed with five champans for the opposite and outer coast of the island, and directed Captain Ugalde to skirt the inner coast, with the rest of the boats, as far as Point Nasso, on the shore of the island of Othon. The fact that they found no trace of enemies anywhere, stamped the report as false, and as inspired by the effort of the devil for the purpose of hindering us in our journey; for we were compelled, by taking this route, to toil for more than twelve days in order to cover the distance of twelve leguas to this Point Nasso in Othon, the brisas being dead ahead when we attempted to round the cape. One day when (an opportunity offering) we were trying to double it, the fury of the wind and the sea was so great that we broke the steering-gear, and there was great danger of the ship’s foundering, and of our being drowned. I would have been drowned more quickly than anyone else, for, being at the stern, I became entangled with the sheets of the sail,4 at the time of the furious and unexpected turn which the ship (being no longer under control) gave, through the force of the wind.
So great, in fact, was the rage and pain which the evil one suffered on account of our expedition, and what he already feared [from it] that, as I afterward knew with certainty, he often complained to a certain person, speaking in an audible voice in the woods, saying: “Why come ye? What do ye seek? Who brought you here? Curses on you; I will deprive you of life, and we will have done with this!” I did not believe this at the time, as coming from the father of lies; but he taught us later, by experience, how much he did to make his word good.
Now, although all these things were enough in themselves to cause some trouble, yet the most agreeable conversation of his Lordship, with the pious division which he made of the hours of the day, left the evil one no opportunity. For, in the morning, Father Juan de Barrios and I said mass; there with his Lordship we recited the canonical hours, the office to our Lady, matins, and the prayers for the dead; in the afternoon at vespers, the same prayers, and the holy matins, and the prayers to the Virgin; in the early evening we had the Salve [i.e., “Hail, Mary”], with the public litany; and at night prayers for the souls in purgatory, usually relating some miracle, which was of great profit to many. Nor need your Reverence think that we lost any time because of the contrariety of the winds at Point Nasso that I mentioned; for orders were despatched to the Pintados Islands by the Indian volunteers, and sent to Othon with the falua by Adjutant Don Francisco Olozaran—who returned in a champan with the father rector of Othon, Father Francisco Angel,6 and Father Gregorio Belin. The latter was going from Samboanga to Manila to give his Lordship the news of the victory won by Sargento-mayor Nicolas Gonçalez over seven caracoas from Mindanao, which were returning, with some slaves and sacred ornaments, from plundering the islands. The father rector brought with him from Othon excellent provisions, and afterward he gave the whole fleet much better at Iloilo. His Lordship arrived at that place with the aforesaid father, in the falua, three days before we did, in order to have time to visit the fort, and see whether the boats of Captain Briones were prepared for the relief of our troops in Mindanao. On the arrival of the champans, Father Angel disembarked, to return to his mission in the island of Negros; and the father rector of Othon embarked in Captain Martin Monte’s champan, with his Lordship’s orders for Samboanga, which place we reached on the twenty-second of February.
Here his Lordship commanded that neither the [cannon of the] fort nor the musketry should be discharged at his approach, in order not to make a noise and thus make his presence known; and for the same reason he ordered that no vessels should go out of the river. In spite of all this Corralat soon knew of his coming, through the son of a chief of Basilan, who at that time was imprisoned in the fort of Samboanga, with orders that he was not to be released except upon urgent request by the [Jesuit] fathers, so that in this way they might secure the goodwill of the Moros. The next day general communion was proclaimed, together with an indulgence and full jubilee for the whole camp, for the first Sunday in Lent—his Lordship obliging all the soldiers to give certificates of confession and communion to their officers; and he had his own servants do the same thing, for I found him one day collecting the certificates with his own hands. All this was done with great fervor, and with many general confessions, in which the continual discourses and sermons of those days aided greatly. All received communion on Sunday with his Lordship, the blessed sacrament being exposed, and all were present later at Father Berlin’s [sic] sermon. In the evening, at the time of replacing the Host, his Lordship was again present with all the soldiery, because he had appointed me in the morning to preach the evening sermon on the reverence and devotion necessary to be observed in church, in the presence of so great a Majesty. This I did to the best of my ability, at the end inspiring the soldiers for the campaign, and inciting them to battle by showing them, painted on canvas, a figure of Christ, whose feet and right arm the Moros had cut off; in the middle of it they had made a large hole, using the cloth as a chinina, or small mantle. This a Moro actually wore, and they killed him while he had it on, the day when Nicolas Gonçalez captured the caracoas. Father Berlin brought it with the sacred ornaments to his Lordship; and he, knowing that I had been on the lookout for some such thing in Manila, as soon as he saw it at Point Nasso, gave it to me. When I showed this image to the soldiers, and exhorted them to avenge with arms the injuries of the holy Christ, such were the tears, and so great the tender devotion and holy desire for vengeance with which they were fired, that (as they afterward told me) they would, on leaving the church, have been willing to offer battle with all the world [against them]. The effects were very marked, and much tenderness [of feeling was displayed], so that at last it was openly said that the mother who had no sons in this glorious enterprise was very unfortunate.
With this fervor and so excellent preparation, the champans departed on the trip to Mindanao, which is sixty leguas from Samboanga, on the third of March, and on the fourth all the rest of us set out, with his Lordship, in eleven caracoas. In all, four companies embarked, three of Spaniards, and one of Pampangos. His Lordship’s company consisted of a hundred and fifty soldiers; Nicolas Gonçalez had one hundred, and Ugalde as many more, who were seamen; the master-of-camp had that of the Pampangos. I would not fail to write of what happened on Tuesday, when the champans departed. We all wished that his Lordship would not go until Saturday, that we might see whether some of the Indian scouts would not return in the meanwhile; but I did not wish to ask it from him until I had commended the matter to God. I asked the father rector to say mass to St. Francis Xavier for my intention, and I also said it. Then we withdrew into a room, and, after suitable prayer, his Lordship opened the book of the letters of that saint (which I hold to be a divine guide), pointing out beforehand the part which was to be read, and these were the words: Many times we think that our own opinion might be better; nevertheless, we must leave affairs to Him who governs them, if we wish to succeed. The will of the saint was plain to be seen, nor did I desire to contrive further speech about the arrangements with his Lordship. And truly all things were guided by Heaven in order to give him the glorious victory which he attained—to the confusion of the Moros and the undeceiving of the Indians, who now know that the Spaniards can, when they choose, fight in their territory without them.
The city named Mindanao mentioned here is most probably Cotobato.
In the gulf of La Silanga we met with a very severe and dangerous tempest, of which we rid ourselves by exorcisms and sacred relics, as is our way in dealing with things evidently planned by the evil one. Here Nicolas Gonçalez waited with eight caracoas to tow the champans through La Silanga, which is a strait of the sea two leguas long, between the great island of Mindanao and another and small island. His Lordship, with four of the caracoas, went to Punta de Flechas, so called from the ceremony and superstition of the Moros in shooting arrows at one of its rocks when they are returning to their own country, to show their thankfulness to Mahomet. Here we remained for two days, awaiting the vessels of the fleet; during this time I said mass on shore, having beforehand uttered tremendous conjurations against the evil one, as holy Mother Church is wont to do, with her exorcisms, holy water, etc. Then our people burned all the arrows, of infinite number, that were fixed on that headland, with a thousand other things—articles of food, such as fish, eggs, etc.—which, as a sign of their devotion, they are wont to leave fastened to the rock with black pegs. We set up a number of crosses in different places, and then the name of the place was solemnly changed to Punta de San Sebastian, in order that that saint, with his holy arrows, might complete the destruction of those infernal and accursed ones which for so many years have vexed us. The name was given also in commemoration of the fact that Don Sebastian [i.e., Corcuera] has been the first governor to cast anchor here and to round this cape; besides this, the marvelous fall of this rock in the night when Nicolas Gonçalez fought within sight of it, we all attribute to this saint, who desired to give to Don Sebastian pledges for the glorious campaign of Mindanao, since only that part of the rock fell which faced toward Mindanao—as we all saw with wonder. While we were here, a light vessel came from the enemy to reconnoiter our fleet; our falua gave chase, but, being very far away, could not overtake it. We, however, encountered a small boat containing four of our Indian captives who had fled from the enemy; they informed us that several Javanese ships were on the point of departure from Mindanao, laden with Christian slaves. I confess to your Reverence that this was not news to his Lordship, but he was cut to the heart by the misery of so many souls, and he at once decided to sail night and day in order to overtake the ships. This holy zeal was the sole and true reason for his pushing on without halt till he came up with them, instead of waiting for his fleet; and he was well rewarded by Heaven with so fortunate a victory, as your Reverence will see.
Now the evil spirit, who for so many years had dwelt at this Punta de Flechas, undertook to oppose us and hinder our advance. For three times, by the violence of the wind and sea, we were turned back; and the fourth time, without any contrary wind, we remained motionless for more than an hour, although our caracoa had ninety barrigas (as they call rowers on the Pintados Islands). Thus the work of the evil one was plainly to be seen; but, by casting a few holy relics into the sea and pronouncing exorcisms, as before, we soon passed on.
These deceptions and obstacles of the invisible enemy being overcome, we came in sight of Mindanao, without recognizing it, on Friday the thirteenth of March, with four caracoas. When I had finished saying mass—this was before dawn—his Lordship embarked in the falua, and with only six soldiers went to reconnoiter the place, to sound the rivers and harbors of the coast, and to see whether any Moro who could serve as a guide might be captured, for we had none. He pursued several of them up to their own shore, discharged two muskets at them, and nevertheless they fled up the river, abandoning their vessels. In response to these shots, the report of a cannon was heard from inland; this gave us much cause for fear, seeing that his Lordship was so bold, and we dreaded lest he had engaged with the enemy. Then we recited the litany, and other prayers; and, rowing as fast as possible, met them coming back. The governor embarked in his caracoa at eleven o’clock in the morning, and placed in order all four of the caracoas, with the two champans of our fleet—those of Captains Don Rodrigo and Ugalde, which had arrived three days before, and captured three caracoas from the enemy. From another direction there came, under a white flag, a letter from the Recollect fathers whom the Moros held captive there, that [our men?] should inform them of what was going on. He cast anchor near the mouth of the river, where some huts were to be seen, without knowing what village it was; and turning to me, said: “I will quarter my men in those cabins tonight.” Then he ordered all to eat; and having sent Adjutant Don Francisco Olazaran to land with twenty-five musketeers to seize the shore, and sounding the trumpets and the drums, discharging the ship’s cannon in the direction of the harbor, his Lordship disembarked, with all his soldiers—who, between Spaniards and Pampangos, amounted to seventy men. The sargento-mayor of the forces and the admiral of the fleet, Don Pedro Hurtado de Corcuera, drew up the forces on the beach, placing, at his Lordship’s direction, two field-pieces in the vanguard; and these were the terror of the enemy. Here, after I had aroused and encouraged the soldiers with the [sight of the] miraculous picture of St. Francis Xavier on one side, and that of the holy Christ (which I mentioned above) on the other—the two suspended from a lance—I walked between the vanguard and the body of the troops, with Father Juan de Barrios, the Augustinian father, and the chaplain of the fleet, which line of march we preserved during the whole campaign. At the time when we were disembarking one of our captive Indians came swimming toward us from the land, and we learned from him that this was the port of Corralat; but he was in such terror of the many musket-shots which the Moros, on seeing us, fired at him from an ambuscade which they had prepared against our people, that he could tell us nothing more. And so we marched on without knowing whether in the aforesaid port there were any force of arms or soldiers; we took for granted that what had always been said of the place was true—namely, that all the defenses of Corralat were upon the hill above, and not in the town below. Yet because this was the cause of God, where human means failed, I besought His Divine Majesty, together with the saints, to illumine with especial light his Lordship [the governor], so that, leaving the open road from the shore to the town, he should march with his soldiers by the road on the right. This route compelled us to cross the river twice, with considerable difficulty for the two cannon and for the person of his Lordship, who plunged into the water with all the rest of the soldiers. In spite of all this, it saved us from two very great dangers: one of them the armed ambuscade on the left side of the road, in the thickly-wooded part of a little hill—which we could hardly have escaped, as the road was very marshy, and was blocked by reeds, fruit plantations, and houses. The other peril was even greater; all the cannon of the fort were trained in the aforesaid direction [toward the left], and could not harm us, because they could not be turned to the right. The truth is that they had trained two chambered culverins very low against our path at the foot of the fortification—which would doubtless have done us much injury, but, through their great fear and confusion, no one succeeded in firing them.
After God had delivered us, without our knowing it, from perils so great, considering the small numbers of our expedition, his Lordship was marching in the vanguard, by the road which he had miraculously chosen. We had crossed the river for the first time, and the artillery and musketry were soon clearing the field as far as a stockade near the river, where the Moros made their first stand. Here it happened that, upon his Lordship’s going forward for a moment to see what enemy lay behind the stockade, four Moros set upon him with their campilans; he very swiftly faced about, to fire at them his gun, which a negro at his side always bore; and, not seeing the servant (for he had fallen a little behind), his Lordship fell to with his sword, with such spirit that the Moros, disheartened, soon fled. In spite of this, one of the Moros—Borongon, Corralat’s most valiant captain—going out most courageously from the other side of the stockade, tried to prevent our men (who were now ready to cross the river for the second time) from attacking the fort, which had been descried from this first stockade. He valiantly wounded two, and, for a third, attacked Captain Lorenço de Ugalde who was leading half the troops in this direction—the rest, under Captain Don Rodrigo, marching along the right bank of the river, where a great number of Moros was now gathering. Captain Ugalde parried with his shield the first two blows of the campilan; and then, rushing in with his sword, gave Borongon many wounds in the face, being unable to reach his breast because of the arms that the Moro carried; but he forced him to retire. His retreat, however, availed but little, because of the furious musket-fire of our men; and finally Don Francisco Olaceran’s sword completed the work, and the Moro captain went into the river. And now, after this man’s death, our troops went on, without further resistance, to the fort. It was furnished with a new moat, and was full of arms; and it had eight pieces of artillery in bronze, twenty-seven culverins [versos], many muskets with rests [?; de pinsote], arquebuses, and other hand-arms. There was a garrison of more than two thousand Moros for the fortress and the port, as we were told by Sosocan (a Moro friendly to us, and very well informed in regard to the equipment and strength of Corralat). All this profited them little, however; for so pressing was our attack that very soon we were masters of all, and Alférez Amesquita raised his flag above the fort. Many Moros had been killed, and the rest fled badly wounded, as we learned on the following day from our prisoners. At this place we killed the commander of the fort, a grandson of Corralat—the son of one of his daughters, who had married the lord of the lake [country]—a very spirited youth, of whom his grandfather was very fond. He had that day vowed to Mahomet not to abandon the fort until his death, and thus he fulfilled his promise.
Seeing now our flags on the enemy’s stockade, we soon, with his Lordship, crossed the river for the second time; and climbing up on the other side, I also raised my standard, that of Christ and St. Francis Xavier. We all sang the Te Deum laudamus; and, after his Lordship had given the name of St. Francis Xavier to the fort and had left Alférez Amesquita as its governor, with a garrison of soldiers, we advanced to the rear of a stockade which Corralat defended with its one cannon, and to the mosque. Here the Moros had rallied for the last time, trusting in what their captain-general [condestable] had told them, that they were not to retreat until they saw him fall. He believed, by some witchcraft or other, that our bullets could not injure him; and he had had proof of this, for once a ball had broken the bone of his leg, crippling him, but without breaking the skin or drawing blood. In this confidence, he came out with his men to defy us, but Captain Zubire at once leveled his musket at him, and sent two balls through his forehead; this was the only portion of his body uncovered, the rest of it being protected by an English shield. The wretched man fell dead on the spot, and instantly all the rest in the stockade and the mosque lost courage, left their arms, and fled with all possible speed to the woods. At this same time Don Rodrigo, marching with his detachment between the slope of the hill and the river, charged the enemy so valiantly that by force he compelled them to abandon all their ships—which, for fear of us, they had hidden two days before in a broad inlet to this same river. Here they thought the ships would be safe, because they had brought them in so quietly, and because the place was so far away from the mouth of the river.
Thus in a little more than half an hour we gained possession of all below [the hill], and we would have captured the heights above on the same day, had we had all our forces, for the Moros fled in so great fright that Corralat himself had covered his face with mud so as not to be recognized by our men. This was told us by one of his servants, a Christian, who came to us the following morning, reporting a great number of Moros wounded—especially the king of the Lake, who was suffering with a bullet-wound in the breast; he had come to celebrate some marriage, that of a cousin of his with a daughter of Corralat. From this captive, and others, we learned that Corralat had desired, in any event, to surrender to the governor, but that the Christians had not consented to this, and had persuaded him to make a defense, promising that they would fight in the front rank. This promise they fulfilled, especially the day of the assault upon the hill, for it was they who did us the most injury; but they paid the penalty of this advice, not only with the property which we took from their ships, but with their lives, which the Moros themselves took in anger at their bad advice.
After the fight, the soldiers commenced to sack the houses; and the governor, having seen all the ships as far as the river above, retired with those who had accompanied him, to the mosque. Here the first thing that was done was to take the great chair of Mahomet, with his books and other paraphernalia, and burn them. What we saw when we came to take out this throne certainly surprised us; for, before we reached the fire, two most venomous serpents came out from the feet of the chair, terrifying the soldiers greatly. And truly, nothing other than serpents and poison ought to guard the chair of the great devil of Mindanao. When the chair was burned, together with all else that savored of superstition, we consecrated the mosque to our Lady with the Salve; and early the next morning (which was Saturday, the fourteenth of March), having dedicated the church to God with the title of “Our Lady of Good Fortune,” we commenced to say masses in it, at a very beautiful altar, which served us during the twelve days while we were there.
This same mosque, being very large and conveniently situated, served for headquarters; his Lordship and the other captains lodged there, the other houses round about being used for the soldiers—although our being on the bank of the river, very near the woods, and somewhat distant from the fort, brought it about that every night the Moros attacked us. Because of the continual showers of rain that fall at night, they might have given us a great deal of trouble (since we cannot use firearms when it is wet), if his Lordship’s wise arrangements and planning had not provided for everything; for after having fortified the road to the hill with a very strong ravelin guarded by soldiers, etc., great fires burned every night around the camp. The sentinels continually called out the watchword; and all the sargentos-mayor and captains, and often his Lordship himself, made the rounds. The Moros, therefore, seeing us always vigilant, dared not attack us openly, but a few of the bravest tried their fortune in attacking us, and these were often at the mouth of the river, when our men were going to or from the fleet. One night, returning from visiting the sick, I was there in a small champan, with only Captain Rodrigo and four Sangleys—who, in their fear, not seeing the way ran the boat on a shoal. It certainly was a miracle of God that the Moros did not notice this; for, if they had, they would surely have killed us. I escaped at that place another great danger, for, not knowing that by day the Moros lay continually in ambuscade in some little huts quite a distance from the fort, I went each day among them; and it pleased God that they never saw me. When his Lordship learned of these ambuscades, he ordered the huts burned.
The vessels which were in the river the first day could not be taken to the fort until the next day, the tide being low. There were more than thirty of these ships—large, medium-sized, and small—the greater part of them laden with a thousand things, especially five or six very large vessels from Java, full of wax, oil, rice, and other articles of merchandise. All our people had the benefit of these things, except of a certain quantity of wax, which was kept for the king, together with a great number of arms. There were eight cannon of bronze, with ladles; twenty-seven versos, a cast-iron pedrero, a great many chambers for versos, and more than a hundred muskets and arquebuses; and an infinite quantity of bullets, iron, powder, arrows, and sompites, a kind of little arrow which they shoot by means of blowpipes12—so poisonous that, unless very powerful remedies are soon applied, it kills in a few hours. Other implements of warfare were found in the powder-house, which we used as barracks for the Pampangos.
The next day the rest of the champans and caracoas of our fleet began to arrive, and the governor at once appointed Captain Mena as head of the fleet for all the time while we should be at Mindanao. For governor of Fort St. Francis Xavier, he chose Sargento-mayor Palomino, who fortified it and put it in order, fencing it in on all sides, with its port-holes and defenses, and adding around it a hidden rampart with embrasures, so that it could contain two ranks of artillery and musketry. On this enterprise Don Pedro Hurtado de Corcuera worked very hard, for he is especially skilled in the Flemish mode of fortification; and the governor himself gave the plan for the building and his hands for the work, turning the first earth with the spade.
Two days more, Sunday and Monday, were spent in making many sorties and in burning many neighboring places, Captain Rodrigo with his men traveling by land, and Captain Ugalde with his, by sea, until they reached the former dwelling of Corralat, which is called Puerto de las Savanillas. They burned all the houses, together with many other villages and some large ships which they found concealed in a river. The other soldiers who remained in the camp busied themselves in launching all the sunken caracoas (which were many) with which the Moros were wont to make raids; and in searching out whatever was buried. This included many chambers for versos; also iron, wax, and three bells—besides the large one which stood at the door of the mosque, mouth upward, full of water in which the Moros washed their feet before entering the mosque.
On this Sunday morning, his Lordship sent also to Samboanga a Moro caracoa full of our Christian prisoners and Sangleys, who had been coming in great numbers to the camp since the first day, especially on Saturday morning. At the same time, a boat came by way of the river with the Indian who had been our prisoner for many years, accompanied by twelve others of his household—his wife, his son, his father-in-law, etc., most of them Moros. At the stern of the boat was a large cross with a white flag suspended from it. This sight, you may be sure, drew tears of joy from us all, at seeing the spoils so valiantly snatched away from the great devil of Mindanao. I was caused some anxiety by the coming that Saturday morning of a certain Moro, who appeared, his whole body covered with mud, and came up the river in a small boat with two fowls, asking to be taken to the señor Aria (for thus they call the governor of these islands, this word meaning “king” in their language), for he wished to present the fowls to him with his own hand. Questioned as to the cause and motive for his coming, he said he was driven by hunger and necessity, because they had nothing to eat up on the hill; so would all have to come [to us] in a few days. Events showed this to be false, for a great quantity of provisions was found there later, confirming my suspicions and those of others. It must have been a trick contrived by the devil and his ministers against our captain-general, who, conducting himself on this occasion (as on others) with great prudence and diplomacy, commanded without seeing the man, that he should be handed over to Sosozan—a Moro who was friendly to us, and had come with us from Samboanga—who was to hand him over to the governor of the fort. This was done, and thus, without knowing it, we were saved from a great danger.
When matters at the fort and the port below were settled, and all the ships burned except three or four, which were kept to take back to Samboanga, Nicolas Gonçalez arrived, on Monday evening, the sixteenth, with the rest of our fleet. A great tempest had detained them after they passed La Silanga, in which one caracoa was lost, under Captain Sisneros, but only a boy was killed.
At once his Lordship arranged affairs for marching upon the hill the next day. He ordered that biscuit and cheese for four days be given to the soldiers; and Sargento-mayor Don Pedro, with Adjutant Don Francisco Olazaran, spent the whole night in making them confess—which confessions I received—not being content with their confessions at Samboanga.
At three o’clock in the morning masses began to be said, and at the end of the first his Lordship made an address to the soldiers, in which he manifested his great zeal for the honor of God and his military experience. We had agreed that afterward I was to display [the images of] the blessed Christ and St. Francis Xavier; but, to confess the truth to your Reverence, I had no heart for it; and therefore I decided not to do so—as it were, a presage of what was to happen to us that day.
When his talk was finished, his Lordship sent Sargento-mayor Nicolas Gonçalez with Father Melchor de Vera (who had come with him from Samboanga), with a hundred and twenty Spaniards, thirty Pampangos, and eighty Indians to carry the packs, to cut off the enemy’s retreat from the hill, and to descend by the same path to attack them. He assigned Captain Castelo to the advance-guard, and Captain Bererra with two famous spies (one a Moro, the other a Christian) to the rear-guard—ordering them to sound their trumpets beforehand, so that his Lordship might attack at the same time from the other direction, and thus they could surround the Moros. After Nicolas Gonçalez had gone, the governor drew up his troops, putting Captain Rodrigo at the head of the rest, and giving to each of the half-pay captains a troop of soldiers. The flags, a piece of artillery, the ammunition, and the provisions were with the body of the troops, and in the rear-guard were the Pampangos; Sargento-mayor Don Pedro was in the advance-guard, with Captain Don Rodrigo; Sargento-mayor Palomino remained in the camp with a goodly number of soldiers, and with the father rector of Othon as chaplain.
The troops were drawn up, and at six in the morning we commenced our march very gayly. After going a legua and a half, we came upon a large town at the foot of the hill, very beautiful and quiet, full of fruit groves, bananas, and sugar-cane—but deserted by the Moros on the previous night, as far as we could infer from the houses, and from the fire which was still consuming the king’s fortified house; they had fired it, doubtless, for fear that his Lordship would entrench himself in it, it being very well fitted for that. However, he ordered the adjutant, Don Martin, to fortify another house on the bank of the river with a good barrier,14 a cannon, and a garrison of Pampangos, to guard the packs and cover the retreat of the soldiers. Then the rest of us crossed the river to reconnoiter the enemy’s position; the water was breast-high. A little later, we crossed another creek, and commenced to climb a ravine full of coarse grass. Here his Lordship halted, and, seeing another road farther down, asked the guide whether that road also led to the hill. He said “yes;” but, upon being asked which was better, replied that both were very bad. Then his Lordship (a special light from heaven illuminating him) said: “If, in the opinion of this Moro who is guiding us, both roads are bad, I prefer going by the other rather than by this one by which he is taking us.” So he commanded the advance-guard to turn back and go by the other road. Your Reverence will soon see the special providence of God, and the protection of my glorious saint. At the other road (by which the Moro was leading us) there were aimed three pieces of artillery, which could not be seen; and one of them might at least have destroyed the whole vanguard. When our chief gunner discharged the bronze cannon, which stood between two large iron ones, he found that it contained two great cannon balls, two crowbars, and three hundred musket-balls, with a double charge [of powder]. Having escaped this danger we proceeded by the other road, by which, having crossed the river and the creek for the second time, we arrived at the foot of a hill. Here we halted, and his Lordship sent some of the advance-guard ahead to inspect the road, since from what could be seen at the beginning of the ascent it seemed very bad. They went to examine it, and soon word came back that after the first turn the road was better, so we all went up. The truth is that the overflowing courage, spirit, and desire for fighting which possessed the soldiers, those of the vanguard especially, made the road seem good to them; as a matter of fact, it was narrow, rough, and very dangerous on account of terrible precipices on each side. We had made two or three turns, up the hill, thinking to find some place where we could halt, when from two stockades on the right side of the mountain the Moros commenced to fire upon us. A cannon ball came toward me, grazing me; but it was prevented by divine Providence from inflicting any further injury than leaving its mark in the shape of a hole in my cassock. May God grant that by this wonderful escape I am reserved for some other and more glorious death!
We all felt sure that there was no other stockade besides these two which we saw, when, at the third turn of the hill, the advance-guard came upon another, which we had not been able to see. They commenced to fight bravely from below it, but because the position of the stockade was very strong, and that of our men very cramped—hemmed in by formidable precipices, and exposed to all the guns and other weapons of the enemy (especially sompites, bacacayes, and stones)—no sooner would some of our men gain the little open place before the stockade than they would fall dead or wounded. For this reason, after having fought a good two hours, the fort could not be taken.
During this time the four priests who went up the hill—Father Juan de Barrios, the Augustinian friar, the chaplain of the fleet, and I—remained at this place, confessing the wounded and encouraging the others. On the whole march, so far, I had not chosen to unfurl the standard of the holy Christ and St. Francis Xavier; but at the time of the battle, my fervor and zeal being aroused, I did what the Holy Ghost bade me, and was thus constrained to give the banner to a soldier—who at my order went on ahead, further up the hill, to guard the person of his Lordship, who had left me in order to reconnoiter the stockade from a nearer point. A ball came, which pierced the canvas of both the sacred pictures, but without touching the figures; at that time the saint was facing the stockade, and it has been positively learned (how, I know not) that that ball was intended by the evil one to kill a great personage, and the saint who stood before him saved him from it.
I, seeing that our affairs were in such straits, offered on my part an earnest prayer to the saint; and afterward I said aloud to his Lordship that he ought to make a vow to the saint that he would build him a chapel at San Miguel. To this he replied with much spirit and generosity, “Yes, Father, and it shall be made very rich and very beautiful.” I thought it best to designate that church, because it was that of the saint to whom St. Francis Xavier, when he was living, felt most devotion and love. I cannot deny that my heart was much troubled at this time, although not for fear of the bullets, which flew about us like mosquitoes, and made a terrifying noise in the trees; for I can truthfully assert to your Reverence that I felt no trace of fear during this whole campaign, thanks to God, although I found myself in the greatest straits and perils of my whole life; and His grace comforted and aided me greatly in this emergency. Forever blessed and hallowed be His holy name, que attingit a fine, usque ad finem fortiter, et disponit omnia suaviter,15 who hath brought me by so many circuitous ways to a position so in accord with my life-long desires. Thus, what distressed me on that day was not fear, but the sight of the bravest and most gallant soldiers either dead or wounded; nevertheless, it consoled me much to see them enter the battle with the names of Christ and St. Francis Xavier on their lips, and die uttering the same words. Over many was laid the standard containing these two images, which even bore some spots of blood. Some were praying with their reliquaries and kissing them, others beseeching me for general absolution to prepare them for so glorious a death—obtained in avenging the injuries done to the holy Christ (this was the common formula, as it were, of all)—and others at last, whom I could not reach, declared their sins publicly giving tokens of the great grief and contrition which they felt. There was one of these, in particular, who said three times: “Sirs, tell such-a-one to pardon me; for money was given me in Manila to induce me to murder him in time of battle, and I should have murdered him had not God brought me to this condition.” Truly, the depth of his contrition touched me greatly—only this one thing he had not confessed the night before; then I confessed nearly all the rest, and they received the sacrament with the utmost devotion.
Among the first wounded was Captain Ugalde, who had two bullet-wounds in his arms, and Sargento-mayor Don Pedro Hurtado de Corcuera, with a musket ball which went through his right leg; so that this valiant cavalier, being no longer able to be upon his feet, remained for a long time upon his knees, encouraging the soldiers, although he was in great danger of being killed. He was in the very spot where they had wounded Don Rodrigo de Guillestigui, who was a most distinguished soldier; for he fought continually, and remained all the time in the ditch of the stockade without coming out, even when he had a considerable wound. Alférez Amesquita succeeded in hoisting our flag over the fort, but with the utmost danger; for they nearly hurled him down, with a spear-wound in his head and several sompites in his throat. Our men were fasting, and, besides that, laden with provisions and arms, and wearied by the march (which had been more difficult than long); but, like lions, they caused the Moros much more fear in their death than if the port had been taken without bloodshed. The Moros were terrified, too, by seeing our soldiers thus obstinately keep up the battle in a slaughter-house—for this place deserves no other name. And your Reverence may be well assured that a million of Spaniards could never have gained the height; for I believe that no one can possibly picture or imagine the strength of that place unless he were present at the attack. The truth is, that they passed from courage to rashness; for, by not ceasing to fight, they changed his Lordship’s orders (or else they heard them backwards) [as if he were] commanding the leaders to rally instead of ordering a retreat. Then they counted on gaining the victory through the soldiers who were coming up behind (though most of them paid for this over-confidence with their lives), and were for a long time deceived with this hope. However, the real reason why the governor did not sooner order the retreat was that he was waiting for the instant when Nicolas Gonçalez should attack from above on the other side, for the latter had no more than three leguas to go; but, having found the road very bad, and being himself far from well, he could not get there till night. With these hopes, and with very many false tidings of victory, which were very often given, his Lordship waited, and urged on the soldiers for full two hours in a very dangerous place, exposed to all the weapons of the enemy; but, seeing many dead and wounded, he pushed his way forward, and, with great danger to himself (and to all of us, if any mishap had befallen him), reached the little open space in full sight of the stockade. There he stood, in a furious storm of bullets, stones, bacacayes, and sompites, which killed and wounded many at his side—especially his armor-bearer, through whose helmet and skull they sent a bullet. Now, having reconnoitered the place for more than half an hour, and seeing that it could not be taken by storm from this road (as a half-pay officer had told him a little while before), he expressed his annoyance at those who sought with lies to detain him and involve him more deeply, and ordered the retreat to be sounded.
The enemy might, indeed, have done us much injury whene commenced the retreat; for the dead numbered eighteen, the wounded more than eighty, and the few who remained were very weary, and hampered by the aforesaid wounded men. Besides this, the road was precipitous, and more difficult to descend than to climb. But God our Lord, by the intercession of my glorious saint, blinded the enemy wholly; and the courage and prudent management of his Lordship gave them no time to attack us. With the utmost courage, he went along as if nothing had happened, brandishing his naked sword—encouraging all; holding back the soldiers, so that they should retreat gradually; with his face always to the enemy, sending the men down; and having our drums and trumpets sounded, until we reached the house which Adjutant Don Martin had fortified. When all were there, we saw on one side a great number of Moros coming down a defile to prevent our retreat to the camp. A few cannon-shots were fired at them, and they quickly hurried back to the hill. His Lordship wished to halt here and await the attack by Nicolas Gonçalez, but the smallness of his forces compelled him to retire, which he did, the drums beating, as before, until we reached the camp. The wounded were placed, for that night, in a cabin in front of the mosque; and in the morning we transferred them to the champans, burying three who had died. Many were of the opinion that his Lordship ought to retire that evening to the fort—a safer place, in case of attack—but he was not willing to display any weakness before the enemy, and so that night passed in great anxiety; for, if the Moros were to come down, it would at least endanger the wounded. We learned from some of the captives that they really intended to attack us; but that, thinking the governor (for whom they mistook Captain Martin Monte, on account of his distinguished presence) had fallen on that day, they felt it necessary to give thanks first to Mahoma for so great a victory, with many ceremonies and revels which they held that night, with the heads of our dead—as we ourselves guessed from the great number of lights which we saw at the same time on the hill. After this assault, when we retired at nightfall to the camp, the governor wrote to Nicolas Gonçalez, telling him of what had happened; and ordering him that if, by his position and the state of his troops, he thought he could take the hill, he should attack vigorously alone; but, if he thought that he could not succeed, he should contrive an honorable retreat to the camp, where they would arrange everything. He gave the letter to Sosocan to send, but no one dared to take it, so it came back to the secretary.
Very early the next morning, I was saying mass, when cannon-shots and volleys of musketry commenced to be heard from the hill—a sign that our men were fighting. The whole camp was in a tumult, and his Lordship ordered Don Pedro to march with all the able-bodied men by the same road that they had followed the previous day, in order to divide the enemy’s forces, assuming that Nicolas Gonçalez was already engaged. I kept on with the mass, although with much difficulty, because of the many tears which the noise of the cannon called forth; and since the mass that I was saying was for our dead soldiers, I implored their blessed souls to obtain from God for us the victory for which they had spent their blood the day before. After mass, we said the full litany, and all engaged in prayer; it was an impressive thing to see the governor on his knees with tears in his eyes, his hands raised to heaven like Moses of old, praying for aid, and that the victory might come to his troops. Less than an hour had passed when two soldiers came with the news of the victory, and soon Father Melchor arrived with the enemy’s flags. I will not write of the embraces, the merrymaking, and the joy in our camp, for your Reverence can imagine it better than I can describe it. His Lordship at once gave a banner to the soldiers who had brought the news, and by him he sent [the promise of] an encomienda to Nicolas Gonçalez.
Father Vera related to us the story of the taking of the hill, as follows: They marched all day Tuesday the seventeenth, the day of our attack, not because the way was so long, but so bad, as I have already said, and because Nicolas Gonçalez had to travel in a hammock. He was actually so weak and ill that, as he afterward admitted to me, his sword served him for a cane the day of the fight; and a boy had to support his arm, which he could not lift for the weight of his shield. They had various encounters with Moros, but, in order to avoid noise, the order was given not to fight; and so on the way they killed only the cachice [i.e., kasis] of Corralat, whom they found hidden in a thicket. They halted that night and fortified themselves in a height which overlooked the hill; and early on the morning of Wednesday (the day of St Joseph’s vigil and of the glorious angel Gabriel) Nicolas Gonçalez had urged on the soldiers, and told them that since there was no avenue of retreat open to them, there was nothing for it but to gain either the hill or heaven. They made a valiant attack upon the enemy, who were awaiting them behind a huge tree lying across the middle of the road—having no other stockades or ditches on this part of the hill, for they could not imagine that we would attack them there. They held their ground, fighting, for a time; but Captain Castelo, who was leading the vanguard, having crossed with some soldiers to the other side of the log, forced them to abandon their position. Then he followed them with his troops, without difficulty or danger, on the rear as far as the stockades and forts, till he remained master of two of these with four pieces of artillery and the king’s strong-house where he kept his treasure. Many Moros were killed, not only by our shots, but by rushing down in a furious and headlong flight through a very narrow ravine which was at the entrance of this very stockade where they expected us—falling, by a just judgment of God, into the very snares which they had laid for us. At the same time Captain Castelo met some Moros who were coming to join the others—the garrison of the third stockade, which we had attacked the day before with our vanguard; and, with the same ease, he compelled them to flee and fling themselves down, he remaining master of the fort and its arms, which were muskets with rests, arquebuses, campilans, etc. The relatives and the men and maid-servants of Corralat, with many of his people, who were taken prisoners on that day, said that the night before he had put under his feet a monstrance containing the blessed sacrament, which he had stolen, saying to all that there was nothing to fear, for he had the God of the Christians already under his feet; and that, considering the great strength of his fortified hills and stockades, and the large quantity of provisions that they had, they would be quite safe, unless it rained men from heaven. But when, the next morning, they brought him word that our men were attacking from the rear, he said to his wife: “The Spaniards have chosen a bad place for me” (reflecting that, as I have said, he had no defense for guarding the rear of the hill); “however, be of good courage, and wait here for me, for I am going to do to these what I did yesterday to the others.” He went, and his wife, seeing that we were coming in, urged her women to fling themselves down with her, so as not to be captured. They, being more sensible, refused to do this, and so they became our slaves; while the poor queen, with a child which she was holding in her arms, flung herself down and remained hanging from a tree. This was a cause of regret to us all, on account of the kind disposition which she possessed, according to the report given us by the father rector of Dapitan, who knew her to be very friendly to our Christian captives—sending them food secretly (especially to the religious), and reproaching her husband when he maltreated and abused them. After the queen had flung herself down, Corralat, with a bullet-wound in one arm, came in search of her; and, seeing her already dead, he fled by one of those declivities, without being recognized, to some hamlets four leguas from the hill, where they say he is now recovering.
None of our men died, thanks be to God; only seven or eight were wounded, and they are now well. Don Rodrigo—who had set out that morning, as I have said, with the other troops—learning en route of the victory, sent the soldiers to Nicolas Gonçalez as reënforcements, and himself returned to the camp.
Now your Reverence will see whether we could ever have taken the camp by starvation, as they said we could; it contained grain-fields, banana patches, a brook of very pure water, and six or seven thousand baskets of rice—which for them was very extensive provision. Nicolas Gonçalez fortified himself with his troops in two places: Captain Bezerra, with fifty soldiers, occupied the king’s house which had been set aside for his Majesty [the king of Spain], and Nicolas Gonçalez remained with the rest of the forces in the principal stockade where the artillery was; while they burned all the other stockades, and the houses, rice, and grain-fields, and brought down the four pieces of artillery. This they did in two days, to the admiration of all—even of the gunners, who held it to be impossible. Those men would have abandoned them, if his Lordship had not remained firm in his intention of not going until the cannon came down—not wishing Corralat to say that the Spaniards could not bring down what he had taken up, although he did it with two thousand Indians, in six months, and our men did it in two days with four rowers [barrigas].
I cannot deny that the joy of that day was very great, but the death of the two Recollect fathers distressed us greatly—his Lordship having tried to the utmost of his power to deliver them from the Moros. Although they had captured three at Pintados, one of them was killed by our own men under Nicolas Gonçalez, on the day when he surprised the enemy’s fleet at Punta de San Sebastian, formerly Punta de Flechas. One the Moros killed on the day when we gained the lower port, because, when they were fleeing with their wives and captives to the upper fort, this good servant of God being unable to travel very fast on account of having been ill, they killed him with a shower of blows; and then hanged him, dead, from a tree so that we should see him from the camp. But, because we were at a distance, we could not, although we saw him, get possession of his body—especially as they took it away early the next day; and we were unable to find out what they did with it. The other father they killed on the hill, through rage, on the day that Nicolas Gonçalez won the hill—although he did not die until the following day, in the mosque below the hill, before the altar. It comforted him greatly to see already blessed, with the title of Nuestra Señora de la Buen Succeso [“Our Lady of Success”], the building which a little while before had stood there dedicated to Mahoma. Five fathers whom we found at the camp were present at his death; and the next morning we buried him in the sea, not being willing to leave his sacred body to the hands of the barbarians. When I was washing him to prepare him for burial, I was astounded at the great number of wounds and cruel campilan blows with which they had mutilated his whole body; and then I wondered at his patience and endurance. The soldiers too admired the great zeal of this holy man, because, when they found him thus wounded in a corner of the fort, he did not complain, but immediately asked if there were any wounded soldier for him to confess. When he was told that he must not fatigue himself, and that we had brought a Jesuit father for that very purpose, he was greatly rejoiced, and asked to have him brought so that he might confess to him; Father Melchor de Vera came up at once.
Monument of Sultan Kudarat in Makati CBD
When, they brought him down to the camp, I was with the sick on the fleet; they told me (but not till evening, when I returned) that his Lordship had performed acts of kindness for the father, in keeping with his devotion—helping to bring him in and place him in the bed, giving him food with his own hands, washing the blood from his wounds, and comforting him with tender and loving words, especially when the surgeon commenced to treat him. Inasmuch as his clothing adhered to his wounds by reason of his having passed a day and a half without attention, the pain of pulling the garments away was very great; and, when he winced a little, his Lordship was at once at hand with the story of the passion of our Lord, and found it so efficacious that, as he afterward declared to me, the father did not utter another word, nor offer any other resistance, but exhibited the patience of a glorious martyr. I confess that I washed his wounds after his death more with tears from my eyes than with water from the river, in holy envy of the glorious way in which he had ended his pilgrimage. Before he died, I begged him to beseech God for a like death for me, or even a more painful one, in defense of His holy law. The holy man promised it, and I hope by his intercession to obtain it—although not because I deserve it, unless in return for the relief I gave his glorious wounds in the last four absolutions which I gave him with my special consolation. Surely those are fortunate fathers who have been able to show to the world, by their blood, the zeal and divine love which they bear in their bosoms.
After burying the father the next morning, Friday, March twentieth, two days after the victory, we went up the hill with his Lordship; but so great was the stench from the dead Moros in the ravines (although many still lived, judging by the cries and groans of many persons which were heard) that, almost as soon as we had reached the top and had looked at the king’s house, we returned to the camp. His Lordship then commanded that with the exception of the church ornaments, and the arms kept for his Majesty, everything should be divided among the soldiers. His Lordship did not reserve for himself or his friends even one blanca’s worth—surely an action very justly applauded, certainly, and admired because it is not now practiced among the captains-general, and because it was, I believe, the first [of its kind] in these Filipinas Islands; and it confirmed the opinion that all held of the governor, as a wholly disinterested gentleman. An enormous amount was found and divided; they say that there were many cabinets full, and very heavy; what is certain is, that the whole of Corralat’s treasure was here, and whatever he had plundered during so many years. Your Reverence does not need to be told that the soldiers came back well satisfied, and many very rich. The campaign brought them great profit; and truly they deserved it all, for they all fought most valiantly. A great chest was filled with the ornaments of the churches—sacred vessels, such as chalices, patens, monstrances, censers, chrismatories, etc.—which we have now most carefully returned to their owners; so that your Reverence was enabled to fill four floats with these ornaments, in the solemn procession which his Lordship held in Manila on Trinity Sunday, in thanksgiving to God for the victory. It troubled me, however, on the day when we climbed the hill, that I had not time to search for my beads, which I had lost on the day of the assault—when, to placate the wrath of God, I tore my cassock hastily down the middle. But the next day God chose to console me; for, on my return from visiting the sick at the camp, his Lordship gave me my beads. He had recognized them in the hand of a soldier who had found them on his way down the hill, and had given the man I know not how many pesos for them. They certainly were worth it, because they were made from the stake at which the martyrs in Japan were burned; and because they had touched the whole body of my most glorious patron saint Francis Xavier, at Goa; these are the reasons why I prize them so highly.
Six whole days were spent in distributing, or burning and destroying, everything in Mindanao; and thus on the twenty-fifth of March, the day of the blessed Annunciation, we started on the return trip to Samboanga. But the governor would not set sail before returning thanks at that very place to His Divine Majesty for so great a victory. He therefore arranged a solemn procession with the blessed sacrament, from the mosque to the fort—himself at the head, carrying the image of the holy Christ and of St. Francis Xavier, patron of the expedition, and wearing the white robe of his order, in which he had received communion. The soldiers with their muskets, and the artillery at the fort, gave eight royal salutes with ball—which aside from doing honor to the procession, served to clear the two little hills of the ambuscade, which, without our knowledge, the Moros had laid to prevent our embarkation. We found this out by means of the large number of dead bodies which Captain Juan Nicolas discovered a little while after, when, returning from the Bugayen River, he wished to see the place where we had attacked Corralat. When the procession was over, we set fire to the mosque and the fort; and the troops commenced to embark in good order, in the small champans of the fleet. Then Sargento-mayor Palomino was sent with five caracoas and a hundred Spaniards, with Father Melchor de Vera, who knew the language very well, to search for Moncay, king of Bagaien [i.e., Buhayen] and the real lord of the island of Mindanao; this Corralat, though his relative, was but the tyrant. Bagaien is twelve leguas from the fort of Mindanao. [Palomino went] to make a treaty of peace with him whereby he should become a tributary and vassal to his Majesty. While we were setting sail, one of our Indian captives appeared on the shore. The falua brought him off to our champan, and he told us how he had fled from the enemy’s grain-fields where they had kept him during those days; and that, passing through one of the ravines of the hill, he had found a vast number of dead Moros.
Two or three hours after leaving Mindanao, we met Captain Juan Nicolas and Father Gutierrez, father rector of Dapitan, who with forty ships and order for Sargento-mayor Palomino, in which he commanded that officer that, notwithstanding his previous instructions, he should make use of all the troops sent him to capture Moncay, or at least disarm him. After this we continued our course, and on Passion Sunday we reached Samboanga. The fleet and the army received their captain-general, returning victorious, with a royal salute; and Father Gregorio Belin, in his cope, with the Te Deum laudamus. I, after accompanying them as far as the official buildings, went to arrange the hospital for the sick; for although I had attended them at Mindanao and on the journey, and assisted them with all that his Lordship provided, yet, on account of the discomforts of the ships in which they had had to be shut up, and because of the lack of fowls, they arrived in a very weak condition. I set out at once in search of beds—even taking those in the [Jesuit] house. I collected in one room as many dainties as I could find, for the refreshment of the sick; and I shut up in our corral all the fowls which had come to Samboanga from Othon, which private persons had given his Lordship, and he had turned over to me for the use of the wounded. With these provisions I remained in the hospital, to minister by night and by day to the bodies and souls of the sick, encouraged by his Lordship’s visits. By means of all this care, and by the confession and general communion in which all took part on Palm Sunday, the majority of the men, thanks to God, were quite well by Saturday in Holy Week, at which time we left Samboanga.
Truly anyone who saw the number and grievous nature of the wounds could not deny that it was a miraculous thing that out of eighty wounded only two died, aside from the three who succumbed on the night of the attack; for all the wounds contained poison, and many of them, moreover, were very deep and serious. Thus we saw the effects upon our sick of the sompites, bacacayes, and bullets—which, although they were all deadly weapons, we found on the hill [that we attacked], placed in a jar filled with poison. It is true that I availed myself of some very effective antidotes which they gave me at Manila; but the true remedy was to mix with them a little of a relic of St. Francis Xavier—which, in conjunction with the faith of those who were ill, worked wonders. Captain Maroto tested their virtues well, for he was already black in the face, and in his death-agony, when he called me to confess him and to administer the sacraments. Better still was Alférez Amesquita, who ejected through his mouth three sompites which had pierced his throat three days before, during the attack. But best of all was the case of a sargento in the same company, to whom I gave extreme unction in great haste, because he had a bullet-wound in his stomach and most of his food passed out through the wound. There are many others too, who, grievously injured at Mindanao, are now going about Manila. Only Alférez Romero and Menchaca died at Samboanga, and that was because they would not let themselves be cured.
During this time, the governor was awaiting the return of Sargento-mayor Palomino and of Captain Juan Nicolas from Bugayen. In place of resting on those days, he went in person among the soldiers, working in a ditch which he had ordered to be dug to bring to the fort a stream of fresh water, which it lacked; and now they send word from Samboanga that, by the grace of God, the water has reached them. Before putting his hand to any other work he desired, like the devout gentleman that he is, to thank God a second time for the victory, with a fiesta in honor of the blessed sacrament. And because he lacked neither the valor nor the piety of that great captain, Judas Macabeus, he ordered that the next day the funeral honors should be solemnized for his dead soldiers—although, unfortunately for these festivals, it devolved upon me to preach at both. He also published a long bulletin of gifts, offices, and rewards for those who were wounded in the campaign; and in this way so attached all the soldiery to himself that now they talk of and concern themselves with nothing else but their captain-general—even the very seamen declaring that they do not wish to avail themselves of the privilege of crossing to Nueva España, because they would miss next year’s campaign.
In this way several days were spent, until our fleet from Bugayen arrived—on Wednesday in Holy Week; and the next day, with three caracoas came the brother of the king as ambassador, to treat with his Lordship and confirm the peace negotiated by Sargento-mayor Palomino. The latter had done so because he was not able to execute the second order, which Juan Nicolas carried, who had come too late, bringing it when Moncay had agreed to as many conditions as we could desire—even to stating publicly to his followers that he wished to be the friend and vassal of the king of España, and that whoever did not desire the same must quit his villages. In accordance with this, the ambassadors offered five things to the governor in the name of the king his brother: to surrender all Christian captives; to pay tribute to his Majesty; to receive the Jesuit fathers, so that they might publicly teach his subjects the law of Jesus Christ; that if the governor wished to maintain a fort with a garrison of Spaniards in Moncay’s country, he would treat them as brothers; and that he would be the friend of their friends, the enemy of their enemies. Consequently, he would do all in his power to put a stop to Corralat’s doings, dead or alive, and to deliver him into the governor’s hands. His Lordship received the envoy in great state, seated in a chair, surrounded by the most brilliant of the army, in elegant and splendid array. The ambassador sat on one end of the same carpet, astonished at the magnificence of our captain-general and his soldiers. The captain-general commanded the governor of the fort to entertain the envoy at his own house, and sent later, for his delectation, some cocoanuts and chickens. He gave him some very beautiful pieces of silk; but for a captured sargento whom the ambassador gave back in the name of the king his brother, he said that he would give nothing, because that soldier was a vassal of the king of España. The ambassador was importunate that he should send Moncay something, at least some of his own weapons. His Lordship replied that up to this time Moncay had been an enemy, and that, as such, nothing was due him; but that he must begin to give proofs of his friendship, by immediately sending us his captives, etc.; and then he would very soon experience the governor’s liberality. He offered him two thousand pesos if he delivered up Corralat dead, and four thousand if alive. This news was received by the Moro with great pleasure, on account of the greed for money which possesses those people; so that I am sure, considering this, that Corralat’s days are few. On Saturday in Holy Week, his Lordship being ready to embark, he came to dismiss the ambassador, and to receive the documents and articles of peace, signing them in the envoy’s presence. At the end, while his Lordship, to do honor to him at the final farewell, was embracing him, the Moro told him most gratefully that at the end of four moons (they designate months thus) he would come to see him at Manila—news which consoled me greatly, because of the facility that it will afford your Reverence to send workers to so abundant a harvest.
Then all the artillery was discharged, the fleet responding; and, when his Excellency the governor had embarked, we set sail for Manila, and the ambassador for Bugayen. At the same time Captain Juan Nicolas and Captain Juan de León departed with a company of a hundred Spaniards and a thousand Indians, with the command that, after having accompanied the ambassador of Bugaien to his own land, they should go on and make the circuit of the island of Mindanao, as far as Dapitan, destroying and burning all the villages that would not submit to our arms. The father rector of Dapitan, and the Augustinian friar who had come as confessor for the Pampangos, were chaplains for this fleet.
On the same day Father Gregory Belin with Captain Sisneros departed from Samboanga for the island of Basilan, for a reason which I will explain to your Reverence. This island—lying in front of our fort, and two leguas away from it—has three or four thousand tributarios who pay to the king of Jolo, although they have always desired to be tributary to his Majesty. The chiefs of the islands came lately to render their obedience to the governor; he thereupon commanded that the governor of the fort should protect the aforesaid tributarios, and defend them from Jolo, until the next year, when he would subject Jolo also by force of arms to the same tribute. When this was proclaimed, two hundred Joloan chiefs, with all their households, came to a near-by island, intending to cross over and live in Samboanga and be our vassals. But they wished to know his Lordship’s pleasure; so the aforesaid captain with Father Belin went to assure them of their safety and take them to the fort, where, he trusted in God, they would now be well instructed and become favorably inclined to holy baptism. Because his Lordship had no fathers to send to Basilan, he wrote to Father Francisco Angel that, by virtue of the very far-reaching grant which he has from your Reverence, he should at once cross from the island of Negros to Samboanga. Here the governor of the fort would give him soldiers for his body-guard, and all else necessary for the promulgation of the holy gospel in the aforesaid island—where, as I have said, he had already gone most joyfully, as the father rector of Othon informed me; for the principal motive of his coming from España to these Filipinas Islands was the mission to Mindanao. But that father could not minister alone to the whole island; besides, at Samboanga there are but two fathers—Father Melchor de Vera, who on account of his frequent attacks of illness can scarcely take care of everything at the fort which his Lordship entrusted to him, as a person well skilled in such matters; and Father Gregory Belin, [who is busy] in caring for the whole garrison, of which he is chaplain. So the many villages of Moros that are in the vicinity of the fort, such as La Caldera, etc., have no one to instruct them. The king also of Sibuguey (a river [whose valley is] much more fertile and abundant than La Panpanga) himself came, while we were in Mindanao, to the governor to ask for terms of peace and for priests. His son has come now, with the [Spanish] galleons from Terrenate, to be educated in Manila; and in like manner the other chiefs are coming every day, since the miserable downfall of the principal king of these islands, Corralat, who held almost all in tyrannical subjection, and as tributarios. Even the king of Jolo sent Dato Achen (his especial favorite, and the most gallant and valorous captain that we have seen among the Moros) with letters to his Lordship, to confirm the terms of peace which his wife herself had come with our captain, to negotiate the year before—excusing himself for not having come in person by saying that he was expecting a fleet with which the king of Burney was coming to make war on him, being an ally of his enemies the Camucones.
May your Reverence’s charity recognize what an abundant harvest offers in Mindanao, and how destitute that field is in laborers; for where, in my opinion, forty would be few, there are only two of them. Certainly this is to be regretted, for it is one of the most glorious missions that could be desired, lacking neither the evidence of great fruitfulness nor promise of most noble martyrdom. And finally, it is enough that St. Francis Xavier is its apostle, since it was he who first preached in it the holy gospel, as is stated in the bull for his canonization. I trust that, through the divine compassion, the news of this glorious and longed-for victory and conquest of the great island of Mindanao will move the hearts of those in his Majesty’s court and his royal Council of the Indias, to send many workers this year to this glorious harvest field.
This is all that concerns our expedition to Mindanao, except the return journey to Manila—which, being long and dangerous, caused us much suffering. For if we came across any island, we had perforce to sail all the way around it; and if we wished to go in any given direction the wind instantly put itself dead ahead, with three or four baguios [i.e., hurricanes]—which are violent tempests. At the islands of Negros, Mindoro, and Marinduque it was a divine miracle, through the special protection of St. Francis Xavier, that we escaped all the dangers, especially the one that we encountered at Mindoro. Our mast broke, and a huge wave rushed over our stern so suddenly, so unexpectedly to the pilots and sailors that they, seeing it coming over the sea from a distance, hastily summoned me to exorcise it, which I did. It can assuredly have been of no other than diabolic origin, to declare as the author of so many attacks, hindrances, and contrary circumstances the great devil of Mindanao, whom his Lordship had just so valiantly wrested from his seat.
But if the work of the enemy was evident in our dangers, much more manifest and clear was the divine protection and that of our saint in these same perils—as when it saved us from some rocky shoals just off Manila, where we would inevitably have run aground; and from a champan which sprang a leak, from which, without knowing about the leak, we shifted our quarters a day before. There are many other instances which I will not mention, that your Reverence may not be wearied. Twice we stopped on the way for provisions to refresh the sick—once at Iloilo, where our fathers entertained us; the other time at Panay, at the invitation of Captain and Alcalde-mayor Don Francisco de Frias. At last, since the winds were wholly contrary and his Lordship had suffered so much on the way, he resolved to disembark in Tayabas, with Sargento-mayor Don Pedro, his nephew, and Captain Lorenço Ugalde, both being ill and in need of a surgeon’s services. From this place we traveled by land for two days, as far as the lake [i.e., Laguna de Bay]; going from there by the [Pásig] River, we reached Manila on May nineteenth. I halted at San Miguel, and the sick remained at Manila, while his Lordship went on the same night to Cavite, where the armada had orders to await him. The whole fleet, by God’s protection, arrived safely within four days; and so on Sunday the governor made his entry with the pomp and magnificence which your Reverence saw. I know not whether many remarked on the events of that day, but this is the fact, that of all the champans but one was lacking—that of Captain Gabriel Niño de Tabora, which was carrying some large cannon of the enemy’s; and when his Lordship reached Manila by one route, from Cavite, to make his entry, Don Gabriel Niño arrived, by another, from Mariveles. In this it seems that God chose to show His special providence by bringing all the fleet in without the loss of anything, small or great, from the spoils. Blessed and praised forever be His holy name, who through the valor, zeal, and Christian devotion of this gallant knight, has glorified Himself by granting at the same time relief to the islands, and punishment to the arrogance of these Moros. Events showed plainly the truth of the revelation which that holy servant of God received with regard to the coming of this governor, for the complete deliverance and salvation of this conquered land. May our Lord give him life and health, that he may finish what he had undertaken with so much spirit and courage for the glory of His Divine Majesty.
This is all that has suggested self to me to write to your Reverence of this campaign of ours in Mindanao, as glorious as it was wonderful—except to urge that your Reverence at once send many laborers to sow the seed of the holy gospel and even to gather the harvest in many parts of the island, judging by the great readiness [to receive the faith] that I observed when I came away. Only the great lack of workers which I perceived in this province of Filipinas troubles me, for they are very few in proportion to the many missions and Christian settlements which are in their charge—and much more now than ever, since so wide a door is opening. Certainly, if God had not called me to another empire, I should consider myself most fortunate if I might be employed, in accordance with my obedience, in the spiritual conquest of the kingdoms of Mindanao. In spite of this, I trust in the intercession of my glorious saint, Francis Xavier, that since he was the first to labor in this island, and, although wounded, was the protector and patron of this expedition, he will not cease to prosecute the work in which he has so earnestly engaged, as we know; and that he will dispose matters in such a manner that many will come from Europe in these years to employ their labors in so glorious a mission. Therefore, since, as I have already said, I do not deserve to be chosen, I beseech your Reverence to obtain from that saint, with your holy sacrifices and prayers, this boon for me—that for the part which I have taken in the conquest of this island, he will admit me into the number of the workers in some other island, and into its spiritual conquest; so that, all of us thus working in missions near to that of this great apostle to the East, we may together enjoy his special protection and support in this life, and be admitted among his devoted and beloved ones in the life to come, which may God through His infinite mercy grant us! Taytay, June 2, 1637.
The humble servant and obedient son of your Reverence:
[Marcelo Francisco Mastrilli]
1 Marcelo Francisco Mastrilli was born at Naples September 14 (Crétineau-Joly says September 4), 1603, and entered upon his novitiate March 25, 1618. In obedience to the command of an apparition of St. Francis Xavier which he believed he had seen (that saint also miraculously curing him of a dangerous wound), he asked for the missions of Japan. He left for his field in 1635, arriving at Manila on July 3 of the following year. At the request of Corcuera, Mastrilli accompanied him in the expedition against Mindanao; soon after the governor’s triumphant return therefrom, Mastrilli went to Japan, where he was almost immediately imprisoned and tortured—finally (October 17, 1637) being beheaded at Nagasaki. See Murillo Velarde’s Hist. Philipinas, fol. 81, and Crétineau-Joly’s Hist. Comp. de Jésus, iii, pp. 161–163; the latter says that Mastrilli went to Japan to attempt the reclamation of the apostate Christoval Ferreira (Vol. XXIV, p. 230 and note 91), and that martyrdom there seemed to him and other Jesuits a sort of expiation for Ferreira’s sin.
2 Juan de Salazar was born at Baeza, Spain, December 26, 1582, and, while a student there, entered (October 26, 1598) the Jesuit order. His studies were pursued at Montilla and Granada, and completed at Manila, where he arrived in 1605. He ministered to various Indian churches in Luzón, and held important offices in his order, becoming provincial in 1637. He died in 1645. See Murillo Velarde’s Hist. de Philipinas, fol. 142–147.
3 The southwest point of the island of Panay, now called Siroan.
4 Spanish, arpa de la vela (literally, “harp of the sail”); apparently designating the arrangement of the ropes attached to the sail, suggesting the strings of a harp; see engraving of champan in Vol. XIV, p. 223.
5 Falúa (also faluca, English, felucca); a small open boat, or a long boat with oars.
6 Francisco Angel was born at San Clemente, Spain, April 14, 1603; and at the age of fifteen he became a Jesuit novice. He reached the Philippines in 1626, and spent a long and arduous [240n]life in the service of the missions there; a large part of his work was in Mindanao and the adjacent islands. He died at Catbalogan, February 24, 1676. See Murillo Velarde’s Hist. Philipinas, fol. 353 verso.
7 This image had been taken by the Moros from the Recollect church on the island of Cuyo. “It was a titular [i.e., an ¡mage of the titular (or patron saint) of that church] of our father St. Augustine, and on a linen cloth represented the holy doctor, with Jesus Christ on one side, refreshing him with the blood from His side; and on the other the Virgin, offering him the [“virginal,” as La Concepción words it] nectar from her royal breasts.” Thus Luis de Jesús, in his Historia religiosos descalzos (Madrid, 1663). The figure of St. Francis Xavier was conjoined with this one, later, by the Jesuits, to incite the soldiers.
8 Retana says, in the preface to his edition of Combés (col. lvi) that the ancient divisions of the island of Mindanao were four: Butúan, Zamboanga, Mindanao (or district of the Moros), and Caraga. Colin states (Labor evangélica, p. 42) that “the district of the Moros begins at the river of Sibuguey, and extends along the discovered coast, always to the south, for more than sixty leguas, until it encounters the beginning of the jurisdiction of Caraga.... Its furthest part is the bay of Tagalooc” (i.e., Davao, according to Pastells, in his edition of Colin, i, p. 43). The river above mentioned “discharges its waters into the bay of Dumanquilas” (Retana and Pastells, Combés, col. 761).
9 The Ventura del Arco transcript is here somewhat differently worded; and according to it the sentence would continue thus: ”(and by another caracoa, which carried a white flag, a letter to the Recollect fathers whom the Moros held captive there, that they should inform them [i.e., our men?] of what was going on) should cast anchor,” etc.
10 This place was Lamitan, Corralat’s seat of government and court. The height to which that chief retreated after the capture of Lamitan was named Ilihan, according to Montero y Vidal (Hist. piratería, i, p. 168).
11 Probably referring to Liguasan, a large lake southeast of Cotabato, which forms a reservoir for the waters of the Rio Grande of Mindanao—which river seems to have been the headquarters of the piratical Moros of that island. The fort captured at this time was located at the mouth of that river.
12 Sarvatanas (or zarbatanas): a word of Arabic origin, here applied to reeds or canes through which are blown poisoned darts—the sompites (or sumpitans) of the text. (See Retana and Pastells’s note in Combés, col. 783.)
13 Sabanilla, diminutive form of sabana (English, “Savannah”); a name given by Corcuera’s Spanish soldiers to the fortress which was constructed, under the direction of Father Melchor de Vera, at that point in Mindanao, south from Lake Lanao. Puerto de la Sabanilla was anciently called Tuboc, on account of the springs that flow there ... which form the river now named Malabang. The etymology of this last name indicates the formation of land by the deposits made by the river, which may also be seen in the delta of the Rio Grande of Mindanao. (Retana and Pastells, in Combés, col. 760.)
Tuboc is the name of a modern pueblo on the eastern shore of Illana Bay.
14 Spanish, empuyado, from empuyar, meaning “to fasten with sharp spikes.” There seems to be no satisfactory English equivalent as a name for the defensive contrivance that has always been employed by the Malays in the use of sharpened stakes (usually of bamboo) driven into the ground, point upward, and planted thickly in the spot to be defended; sometimes these are placed at the bottom of a trench and hidden by leaves, forming a dangerous pitfall. The use of empuyado in the text suggests the possibility that the Spaniards adopted this device to guard some exposed approach to the building, fearing Malay treachery—a conjecture strengthened by the presence of the Pampango auxiliaries, who probably were accustomed to the use of this sort of defense. See Vol. XX, p. 273.
15 i.e., “who attains His ends with power even to the end, but disposes all affairs with gentleness.”
16 Combés says (Retana’s ed., p. 251) that Monte was slain in the conflict.
17 Luis de Jesús says (Hist. relig. descalzos, p. 290) that other women followed the queen’s example, in order not to become captives of the Spaniards. Combés, however, states (Hist. Mindanao, col. 252) that the queen and her children escaped as did Corralat; and that the earlier accounts were incorrect, based on hasty or mistaken reports.
18 This was Fray Francisco de Jesús Maria. The one slain by the Moros was Fray Juan de San Nicolas; Luis de Jesús says (p. 289) that this was caused by his rebuking Corralat for his profanation of the sacred articles which he had pillaged from the churches, whereupon the priest was slain by the enraged heathen. The third, Fray Alonso de San Agustin, was attacked at the same time, according to the above historian, and left for dead, but managed to make his way to the Spanish camp.
19 The name then applied to the region situated some twelve leguas up the Rio Grande from its mouth, lying around the south-west part of Lake Liguasan. Retana and Pastells say (Combés, col. 750) that Buhayen signifies “the place where crocodiles live.” Combés says (col. 271) that Moncay was generally supposed to be a mestizo, the son of a native “queen” and a Spaniard.
20 See accounts of this campaign in Combés’s Hist. Mindanao, cols. 238–257; Murillo Velarde’s Hist. de Philipinas, fol. 82–86; La Concepción’s Hist. Philipinas, v, pp. 310–328; Montero y Vidal’s Hist. piratería, i, pp. 165–173.
21 Pedro Gutierrez was a Mexican; he was born at Colima on April 24, 1593. He was sent to the Jesuit college at Valladolid, Spain, for his education, which resulted in his entering that order, in May, 1611. In 1622 he arrived in the Philippines, and labored long in the Visayas. In 1629 he was assigned to the residence at Dapitan, Mindanao, from which he soon undertook the conversion of the savage Subanos, and later of the Lutaos of Mindanao, with whom he achieved notable success. He visited the captive Vilancio in Jolo, and tried in vain to ransom him; but he gained the goodwill of the Joloans. He aided in the establishment of the Spanish fort at Zamboanga, and accompanied the Visayan fleet sent to Mindanao to reënforce Corcuera. In 1638 he went with Corcuera’s expedition to Jolo, and afterward with others to various parts of Mindanao. He filled important posts in Bohol, Zebu, and Mindanao; and died at Iligan, July 25, 1651. See Murillo Velarde’s account of this missionary’s life, in Hist. de Philipinas, fol. 198 verso–207.
22 “Colin and Combés say that he crossed from Ternate to Mindanao, about the year 1546; although Garcia says that he went there later, on his way from Japan to India. The former statement is more credible.” (Murillo Velarde, Hist. de Philipinas, fol. 74 verso.)
23 In Pastells’s edition of Colin (iii, p. 796) is published the following letter from Corcuera to the king, obtained from the Sevilla archives:
“I gave your Majesty an account last year of the need that the Order of the Society has for priests to act as ministers in the missions, now that I have gained two islands for your Majesty, that of Mindanao and that of Bassilan. I have petitioned them to place ministers there, in the parts where they are so necessary, and they have commenced to do so. As they are few, they cannot give me as many as I want, although they are doing all that they can to coöperate with me, taking religious from other parts in order not to let so great a work cease, and one in which they will so well serve our Lord and your Majesty. This order renders much aid, Sire, and with great affection and love. I entreat your Majesty, with all humility and earnestness, to be pleased to command that at least thirty or forty priests be furnished to them; with that aid they will be able to give me the ministers whom I ask, and chaplains for the galleons of Terrenate and other parts—as they are doing, serving your Majesty without self-interest, and checking, by their teaching and good example, the loose conduct of the seamen and soldiers. It seems as if God has been pleased, ever since we undertook to fear God in these islands, as your Majesty had ordered, to give us so many successes and victories, from which the arms of your Majesty gain the luster and credit that is proper.”
24 Referring to Japan, the field to which Mastrilli was assigned.
25 In Pastells’s edition of Colin (iii, p. 768) is printed the following letter from Mastrilli to the king, dated July 8, 1637:
“I have (clad already in Japanese garb) written a long letter to your Majesty this same day, bidding farewell to your Majesty, and declaring that, whether alive or dead, I shall ever be your Majesty’s vassal, and most desirous of the increase of your empire and monarchy; and among the executioners and tortures of Japon, and much more, if I die I shall be, in the heavens, an eternal intercessor. I left two things to request from your Majesty by special letters: one for forty priests of the Society of Jesus to come to these Philipinas Islands, about which I have already written a letter; and the other, which I beg from your Majesty in this letter[288n]—namely, that you favor with your royal munificence the schools of our Society in this city of Manila, and in especial the college of San Joseph, by erecting in it twenty fellowships, as your Majesty has done in the colleges of Peru and Mexico. This is the last thing that I petition, with all possible earnestness, from your Majesty, in whose royal hands this letter will be placed when this matter is discussed in the Council, so that your Majesty may order it to be accomplished. May our Lord preserve your royal person, and give you the years and happiness that we all desire and need.”
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