A Tausug’s Reflections on Bud Dahu and Bud Bagsak

A Tale of Twin Towers, Twin Cities And Twin Mountains
(Written on the 103th Year of Bud Dahu Battle)
by calliter

Originally posted at http://www.tausugnet.com

The 911 attack on Manhattan Twin Towers shocked us all. It was unbelievable, monstrous and utterly impossible. How could such a horrible thing happen right in the middle of the most powerful nation? But it was there for all to see and believe. The glory that was the Twin Towers collapsed completely before the eyes of the world. And perhaps, will not rise again in the foreseeable future. Conspiracy theories say it was an inside job, but nevertheless, one death of innocent is not just too many, it is equivalent to killing the entire humanity (Qur’an 5:32). There cannot be a more powerful condemnation than that.

The only daring terrorism that preceded the 911 was similarly pilot-driven, it also destroyed twins, not a tower though but cities.  Six decades before 911, twin atomic bombs were dropped by the United States in the twin cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki on orders of the American President Harry S. Truman in 1945*1 . It was supposed to end the World War II, but to many historians, it was a completely pointless action because the war was really ending that time in favor of the Allied Forces.

The first was a uranium bomb they named “Little Boy” but it had nothing to do with being little. It contained an explosive yield of around 15,000 tons of TNT. It instantly killed about 90,000 lives in the heavily populated Japanese City of Hiroshima, and it was reported to have killed another 145,000 Japanese from among those injured within a few months’ time. This happened in the morning of August 06, 1945 *2.

As if that was not enough, within a span of three days, the United States dropped again the second bomb they called “Fat Man” in the City of Nagasaki. This one was really fat. It contained plutonium with an explosive yield of 21,000 tons of TNT. It annihilated 40,000 Japanese in a split second and among the injured, 75,000 died later *3.

Indeed, the greatest terrorism ever known was committed by the US in Twin Japanese cities. However, other nations also had their bloody hands in it. Both bombs were developed with the assistance of the United Kingdom and Canada under the program called ‘Manhattan Projects’ *4. Incidentally, the Twin Towers used to be the landmark of Manhattan, New York until 911.

Roughly four decades before the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombings, massive deaths also happened in Lupah Sug (Sulu). And these incidents occured in the twin mountains of Lupah Sug called BUD DAHU and BUD BAGSAK. These twin events, however, were both battles between firepowers and knives, between soldiers and civilians, between invaders and defenders and between traitors and true warriors. There were deaths on each side in both fights, and each battle lasted several days.

More than 3,000 Tausug People died in these Twin Mountains, about the same number of casualties the United States suffered in the Twin Towers piloted bombings on September 11, 2001.

The first one was the Bud Dahu Battle from March 5 to 7, 1906, where about 600 Tausugs men, women and children stood against the cannons, mortars, guns and pistols of the invading battalions of American soldiers and recruited Filipino Scouts, the still unpopular traitors at that time . In this battle, all the Tausugs had were the legendary kris, barong, budjak (spear) and even lahut (smallest knife) in the hands of children. After the siege, more than a hundred forces from the American side lay dead or wounded while all defenders embraced martyrdom. In Bud Dahu lies the blood, flesh and limbs of Maas Usap and about 600 Tausugs he led to martyrdom .*5

The second event was the Bud Bagsak Battle from June 11 to 15, 1913 led by Panglima Nakil Amil, Imam Sahipa and Datu Jamih. This was also a fight to the end like the one in Bud Dahu seven years before. More than two thousand Tausug warriors including 196 women and 340 children became Shaheed in this battle, while the Americans suffered more than 300 dead and several more wounded .*6

Consequently, these two fateful events were never massacres as commonly interpreted, labeled and reported. The Tausug People fought and killed considerable enemies as well despite being outnumbered, not to mention that their major weapon were only Kris and Barung. It is a great disservice to say the least to call it a massacre. Besides, Tausugs have never sued the United States nor asked compensations for the deaths of their forefathers*7 . Anyone who will do that will have betrayed those fighters, again.

The word ‘massacre’ implies fightless deaths which were never the case in both incidents. In both mountains, the Tausug Warriors waited for the battalions of high-powered enemy to attack, engaged them till the last drop of their blood, never retreated and stood their ground for many days with all their hunger, thirst, exhaustion, pain, wounds and gunshots, until they  met martyrdom. “Indeed, both the Bud Dahu’ and Bud Bagsak encounters were not really massacres of weak, innocuous and helpless natives; rather, they were fierce struggles of brave resistance fighters who rolled logs and boulders down to the advancing US troops and rushed at them time after time. They had no answer to the long-range bombardment, but they held their position stubbornly and refused to surrender. Their inevitable vanquishment was attributable only to their foes’ superior tactics and weaponry. They relied upon the kris and the barung, but “in the best of hands an edged weapon [was] poor defense against a Gatling gun” (Hurley).

Moreover, the term ‘massacre’ used for these Twin Battles is generally unwelcome and unacceptable for Tausugs, especially the descendants of Bud Dahu and Bud Bagsak warriors. Today, however, just like the era of Mark Twain*8, the usage of the word ‘massacre’ is pregnant with political and economic pursuits when referring to both incidents.

Admittedly, the use of the word ‘massacre’ was used in condemning the excesses of the invading American forces. Since then, it has been repeated to impart the same condemnation. During the time of Mark Twain, it represented an American people’s indignation and shame for the ‘excessive use of force’ committed by their soldiers in foreign land and towards their own indigenous people. However, it is a foreign view in the truest sense of the word as far as the Battle of Bud Dahu and Bud Bagsak are concerned.

Tausugs have their own values and beliefs about war that is entirely different from non-Muslims’ and even from non-Tausug Muslims’. Rather than surrender, become slaves to foreign powers, or even pay ‘sairulla’ (cedula)*9, our forefathers opted to fight to the end hand in hand with their respective families knowing fully the outcome of the battle.

Several stories that are handed down from generation to generation of Tausugs are still largely unknown to the world. They could only marvel what kind of people had rendered the powerful Spanish Empire miserable until its demise. This is not only because Tausugs seldom write, this is mainly because we seldom talk about our history to outsiders. What is generally written about us is not exactly representative of what we are. Parts of us are known by historians, but a great portion of our history is known to us alone. The former history contains stories while the latter contains knowledge. An example of what we are saying can be glimpsed by this legendary conversation leading to the Bud Dahu Battle:

Extracted from “Bud Dahu Conversations”

Success and failure are not in your hands; “the Hand of God controls all hands.”
So once you do things for the sake of God, just do it! and rest your trust in Him.
Do not mind the mouth of blamers and avoid blaming anyone as well.
Do not start a fight but never be the first to end once it is started.
Do not be afraid to fail, for being able to fight for your right is a reward in itself.
Grow numb to the pain and to the relief this world may bring.
If you must fight, do not let your inherited excitement overwhelm your clarity
Neither walk away from unfinished party unless it is your strategy.
Do not swing your kris with anger so you have nothing to regret after the battle.
Embrace death anytime, anywhere; for it cannot be advanced nor delayed.
And in all circumstances, remember God always.
If you die in His path, you shall live forever!

–Extracted from “Bud Dahu Conversations”

Such were the class of people met by the Spaniards. Generations of Tausug warriors have never failed to honor the Martyrs of Bud Dahu and Bud Bagsak and the fight they proudly stood. Their sacrifices had continuously been emulated, they have always been an inspiration.  “Do not call them dead, nay they are alive” says the Qur’an.

A glorious future awaits Lupah Sug whether we like it or not, and whether we believe in it or not.  The upheavals in our dear homeland is not happening for the sake of destruction alone but for the coming renewal that we all must prepare. What could be the reason why it is being tossed up and down if not to unravel the boundless treasures underneath our land and seas and within ourselves? As notable elder, Dr. Bangahan, once said,  “Lupah Sug can no longer go down, the only way left is upward.”

The twin cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki has since risen from the ashes of atomic bombs, whereas the Twin Towers in New York, far from being rebuilt, only paved the way for the destruction of countless towers all over the world.  Our forefathers have foretold the ‘coming back of American after one hundred years’ to Lupah Sug, and the rise of our homeland again. Will this rise happen against them or with them? No one can tell. What can be told is that it is harder to destroy mountains than cities and towers.

Walhamdulillahi Rabbil ‘A-lameen. Mikimaap kaniyu katan, wassalam.


Footnotes and Links:
*1 – Harry S. Truman, Diary, July 25, 1945 quoted in Robert H. Ferrell, Off the Record: The Private Papers of Harry S. Truman (New York: Harper and Row, 1980) pp. 55-56. Truman’s writings are in the public domain. http://www.tamilnation.org/humanrights/hiroshima.htm

*2- ‘Nuclear Fact Sheet 2’ by Victorian Peace Network http://www.carbonequity.info/vicpeace/fact-sheets/nukefact2.01.pdf

*3 -ibid

*4- Taken from “This report has been compiled by the Manhattan Engineer District of the United States Army under the direction of Major General Leslie R. Groves.” (Copyright © 1995-2003 Gregory Walker (trinatomic at earthlink dot net), Creator of Trinity Atomic Web Site.)

*5 -“Detachments, therefore, of United States troops, assisted by U.S. marines, constabulary (the U.S. troops consisting largely of scouts, and the constabulary in part of Moros), assaulted the stronghold and exterminated the band. The position was first shelled by a naval gunboat and then assaulted by the combined Government forces.” U.S. Bureau of Insular Affairs: War Department, 7th Annual Report of the Philippine Commission, 1906, Washington, 1907. http://www.oovrag.com/essays/essay2003b-1.shtml

*6 -“Still defiantly unwilling to yield to American rule and military might despite the Bud Dahu’ debacle seven years earlier, about 5,000 Tausugs (Kho) engaged the US forces in the Battle of Bud Bagsak (other sources put the figure at 2,000 or 6,000 or 10,000 Tausugs), of whom 2,000 were killed. (McLeod; other sources say 300 or 500). The American troops suffered 340 dead. (Bautista)

*7 -“The word ‘massacre’ is pregnant with political propaganda and economic interests. War Compensation is a fact of war. Last year (2008), Italian government agreed to pay Libya $5 billion as compensation for its 30-year occupation of the country during the 20th century. Italy occupied Libya from 1911 to 1943. Libya named Aug. 30, Libyan-Italian Friendship Day to honor the agreement. http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/library/news/2008/08/mil-080830-voa03.htm

*8- “(Mark Twain wrote about it in his autobiography, later reprinted in Jim Zwick’s Mark Twain’s Weapons of Satire, Anti-Imperialist Writings on the Philippine American War) http://www.msc.edu.ph/centennial/jolo.html

*9- ‘Sairulla’ is a Tausug word for head tax.. “Gov. Gen. Wood imposed a head tax of P2 for each person. This created resentment and dissatisfaction among the Tausugs which led to a series of Cotta (trench) wars against the Americans led by Panglima Hassan. (Orosa, p. 37)


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