Datu Uto - also known as Sultan Anwarud-din Uto or Sultan Utto Anwaruddin

Datu Uto (reigned: 1875-1888), also known as Sultan Anwarud-din Uto or Sultan Utto Anwaruddin, was the 18th Sultan of Buayan, one of the minor sultanates in Mindanao. He was a leader distinguished in many battles against the Spanish.

Early life and career

Datu Uto was born Anwarud-din Uto to Sultan Bangon Marajanun Sa Didagen and Tuan Bai Sa Buayan. During his father's reign as sultan, Uto was made to lead a force of 500 sent as assistance to the Spanish against Talayan rebels in 1864. This included four guides which escorted the combined force headed by Colonel La Hoz, Governor of Cotabato. However, instead of helping the Spanish, he went against his father's orders and sided with the Talayan datu. Although inferior in arms and troops (the Spanish had the advantage of possessing artillery), they triumphed and chased the Spaniards as far as Taviran. It was during this battle that he lost his eye, earning him the title "one-eyed man", but he became a recognized leader in Buayan as a result. Sultan Bayao, Bangon's brother, succeeded the throne upon his father's death in 1872. Nevertheless, Uto succeeds as sultan three years later.

Uto ruled Buayan from the inland town of Zapakan. He married the daughter of Maguindanao's Sultan Qudratullah Untong, Rajah Putri Bai-labi. In 1874, he joined forces with Sultan Jamal ul-Azam, the Sultan of Sulu, in taking the offensive against the Spanish. Evidently, Sulu needed the slave shipments Uto had been able to provide. In the same year, he stated in a letter to the Governor of Mindanao (Colonel Carraga) that he has a large contingent to accompany him, which included at least 18 datus and 600 men. At the peak of his power, he had as many as 5,000 slaves. In turn, the Spanish attacked Bakat, Buayan's major stronghold (cota or kuta), and occupied it. However, Uto was able to regain the stronghold and force the Spanish to sign a peace accord in May 1875. The leaders of the Pulangi River Basin gravitated towards Uto's leadership, and this made them able to keep the Spanish at bay. Included in the areas wherein Uto's influence grew were Talayan, Buluan, and Tumbao. The Spanish saw his "ingenuity in manipulating friendships and debt relationships to suit his ends." He solidified his alliances by friendship and marriage. For instance, he had a total of 60 wives. While keeping his administration small, mainly composed of a council, it was his personality which built a coalition with the neighboring leaders. His domain extended from Lake Buluan to Sarangani Bay. However, to conceal his true rank as sultan, Sultan Tambilawan (Sultan Bayao's son and Uto's cousin) was installed as the titular "Sultan of Buayan," even though Tambilawan was Sultan of Kudarangan, a sultanate within Buayan. This made him retain the title of datu, a strategy aimed to confuse the Spaniards on who was the real ruler of Buayan.

However, peace did not last long. The new Governor-General of the Philippines, José Malcampo, 3rd Marquis of San Rafael, renewed the military campaigns in Mindanao. In 1876, the Spanish captured Jolo. The following year, the Spanish were able to convince the sultans of Cotabato and Tumbao to make an alliance against Buayan. Nevertheless, due to the signed peace accord, the Spanish did not dare to venture into Buayan itself. Due to this success, Malcampo was granted the victory titles of Count of Jolo and Viscount of Mindanao. On 20 July 1878, Sultan Jamal ul-Azam signed a treaty recognizing Spanish sovereignty, but the Tausug made an issue by testing the limits of the treaty. By 1880, other sultanates began to emerge in the Pulangi River Basin. With this development, Uto made plans to defend the area against the Spanish. The Tausug and the Chinese began to supply him arms in exchange of slaves. In particular, Buayan began to receive Enfield and Spencer rifles, as well as assorted pistols. Meanwhile, the Spanish began to see in him the making of the next Muhammad Kudarat. Therefore, in 1885, the succeeding Governor-General Emilio Terrero y Perinat launched yet another military offensive in Mindanao, with himself personally leading the Spanish forces. This prompted Federico Roldan, Governor of Cotabato, to attack Buayan. In 1886, two Spanish corps under General Serina razed Bakat to give way to the construction of a new fort and a railway from Iligan to Lake Lanao. However, the project was abandoned as Uto's forces harassed the Spanish, gathering the metal used in construction to produce krises. Nevertheless, it was apparent that Uto would not dare to take the offensive. Attempting to break Buayan's defenses, the Spanish utilized artillery. While managing to destroy some strongholds, it was not enough to open up Uto's territory.

Nevertheless, his followers began to fall to the Spanish offensive. Among them were Datu Kambing, Datu Kaliz, and the Sultan of Talayan. Meanwhile, Sultan Tambilawan pledged loyalty to the Spanish thereafter. On 10 March 1887, Uto signed a peace treaty made by the Spanish. By 1888, his allies defected and his prestige lost. Nevertheless, while the military campaigns of the Spanish ended, Uto remained "unconquered.

Later life and death

While he lost most of the influence he possessed prior to 1888, Uto remained strong in local politics and tried to gain the title of sultan (a title he never used at the peak of his power). For instance, from 1888 to 1896, the Sultanate of Maguindanao had no sultan. While it is apparent that Uto wanted to be sultan of two sultanates (Buayan and Maguindanao), he backed his brother-in-law, Datu Mamaku, to take the vacant position in Maguindanao. Meanwhile, the Spanish wanted to place as sultan a Sibugay datu allied to them. Sultan Mangigin succeeded as sultan in 1896. Despite the American occupation of the Philippines, Uto remained a powerful figure in the area until 1899. Since he would disappear in the political scene by 1900, and his wife marrying Mangigin in 1906, it may probably be estimated that Uto have died anytime within this period. Nevertheless, he was able to meet with William Howard Taft, then Governor-General of the Philippines (1901-1903). Meanwhile, his unofficial successors continued their resistance, this time against the Americans. Among his former companions who would resist American rule in Mindanao include Datu Ali and Datu Djimbangan. Another successor, Datu Piang, would prefer to cooperate with the Americans. In the process, he crowned himself Sultan of Mindanao, much to the dismay of Uto. Piang formerly served as a minister of Datu Uto.

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