THE PCIJ BLOG
June 6, 2005
THIS should interest history buffs:
After 588 years, the Chinese descendants of the Sultan of Sulu will finally see their ancestral land.
An Jin Tian, An Yan Chun and Wen Hai Jun, direct descendants of Sultan Paduku Batara, who died in Dezhou in Shandong province in China in the 15th century, are scheduled to arrive in Manila tonight (June 6) on the invitation of Chinese-Filipino NGO Kaisa Para Sa Kaunlaran and the Federation of Filipino-Chinese Associations of the Philippines as part of the 30th anniversary commemoration of the establishment of diplomatic relations between China and the Philippines.
To be accompanied by Kaisa officials, the three will visit Jolo on June 11 for the historic reunion with their long lost relatives. They are scheduled to pay a courtesy call on President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo on June 9.
In 1417 Batara, with a retinue of 300, traveled to the Chinese Imperial Court in Beijing to pay tribute to the Ming emperor Yong Le. On his way back to Sulu, he fell ill and died in Shandong in eastern China. Saddened by his death, the Ming emperor ordered an imperial burial for the Sultan.
Batara’s eldest son, Dumahan, returned to Sulu to take over his father’s reign. But his second and third sons, Wenhala and Andulu, stayed behind to observe the three-year mourning, and later decided to make China their home.
An Jin Tian, 17th generation, An Yan Chun and Wen Hai Jun, both 18th generation, are the direct descendants of Wenhala and Andulu.
While Philippine officials have visited the elaborate tomb of the Sultan, none of his descendants, now farmers in Shandong who go by the Chinese surnames An and Wen, has ever been to the Philippines.
But they remember their origins. A tourism poster of the Philippines’ blue waters and white sand hangs inside the house of An Jin Tian, the oldest living descendant of the Sultan in Dezhou.
“Looking at that scene, I imagine the home where my ancestors came from,” he told Kaisa’s Teresita Ang See during her visit to Shandong last October.
He added that visiting Sulu “has always been an unfulfilled dream of our elders, generation after generation.”
Kaisa, through Joseph Chan and Lim Giok Yan of the Federation of Filipino-Chinese Associations of the Philippines, made the arrangements to bring An Jin Tian, An Yan Chun and Wen Hai Jun to the Philippines. They will be accompanied by Yang Yumei, the curator of the museum of the Sultan in Shandong. A mosque stands beside the museum where the Wen and An and other Dezhou families still worship.
The sultan’s descendants are arriving tonight with 50 performers from the Beijing Cultural Troupe, which will perform on June 8 and 9 at the Cultural Center of the Philippines.
They will join a roundtable discussion on Muslims in Mindanao at the National Historical Institute and visit the Maharlika Village, a Muslim community in Taguig, on June 7. They are set to fly on June 10 to Zamboanga City, where they will be hosted by the Western Mindanao State University, before proceeding to Jolo the following day.
An Jin Tian, An Yan Chun and Wen Hai Jun return to China on June 12.
Batara’s imperial visit to China was extensively recorded in The Ming Dynastic Annals, proof that both the Philippines and China were advanced in civilization and culture, contrary to what Ferdinand Magellan and the Spaniards claimed when they arrived on Philippine shores a century after that event.