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Rajah Soliman

Rajah Soliman was the last native ruler of Maynilad, a Muslim kingdom on the southern delta of the Pasig River. He was the most important native chief when Martin de Goiti and Juan de Salcedo landed in 1570. He is known as Ladya Soliman , Raha Mura (young raha) or Rajah Soliman. He was related by marriage to the Sultan of Brunei and he ruled Manila jointly with his uncle, Rajah Matanda.

Goiti burned most of Maynilad and Legazpi arrived in 1571 and concluded a peace pact with Soliman.

Rajah Soliman was the last native ruler of Maynilad, a Muslim Kingdom on the southern delta of the Pasig River. He was considered as the "greatest king of Manila" and most important native chief when Martin de Goiti and Juan de Salcedo landed there in 1570. Spanish sources refer to him as Rajamora or Raja Mura. The Spanish transcription of Rajang Mura is Young Raja. He was related by marriage to the Sultan of Brunei. His wife was a daughter of a close relative of the Brunei Sultan. He ruled Manila jointly with his uncle Rajah Matanda.

Soliman and his warriors learned to use gunpowder and manufacture weapons. They learned how to use cannons and lantakas from the Chinese who came to the shores of Maynilad centuries ago. These weapons were made in a storeroom by the house of Soliman.

When the first Spanish expedition headed by Martin de Goiti reached Manila in 1570, Rajah Soliman would not allow them inland. He gave instruction that he would meet the Spaniards on shore. He came bearing himself haughtily, and his words sounded as warning to the Spaniards. He was willing to make peace with the Spaniards, but they must remember that his people were not like the pintados - referring to the Visayans who were subservient. He further stated that his people would not tolerate any abuse and they would repay with death the least thing that touched their honor. Then Soliman left without inviting the Spaniards into the town.

Rajah Soliman's behavior showed that he was no friend to the Spaniards. In the afternoon of the first meeting on June 4,1570, Soliman's men, armed and holding ropes, conducted bold inspection of the Spaniards on shore. The Spaniards got irritated, but kept their cool for the sake of peace.

The mission of peace spoken by de Goiti in his conferences with Rajah Soliman implied recognition by the Maynilad rulers of their vassalage to the king of Spain and payment of tribute as a token of that vassalage. But Rajah Soliman would not accept peace on that basis. He let it be known to de Goiti that he would never pay tribute. He considered the implication of de Goiti's proposition as an affront to his honor and dignity.

On the morning of the second day - June 5, Soliman sent an envoy with a message to Goiti that no Spaniard could bring their ships into the river. So de Goiti asked for another meeting and immediately went ashore and entered the fort. In the meeting held with the Maynilad rulers, terms of peace were discussed.

They agreed that the Spaniards would be allowed settlement in Manila and no tribute would be exacted. In the afternoon of the drawing up of the peace pact, the Spaniards became anxious at the news they received that Rajah Soliman was mustering all his warriors for a military review, but the shots would be directed in the air. Causing more suspicion to the Spaniards was the rumor that Soliman was just waiting for the rain to pour, a condition wherein the Spaniards' muskets could not be fired. And then he would attack the Spaniards.

Caused by misunderstanding, hostilities ensued the next day. As a result, the Spaniards, superiorly armed, attacked and burned Maynilad. Many of its inhabitants perished and the large house of Soliman with its valuables turned into ashes.

Some of those captured by the Spaniards stated that Rajah Soliman ordered the attack on the Spaniards and had fired the first shot which pierced the side of de Goiti's ship.

In 1571, the Adelantado Miguel Lopez de Legazpi became the head of the second Spanish expedition to Maynilad. It was in pursuance of the order of the King of Spain to colonize the Philippines. Rajah Soliman did not welcome him. But through the prodding and intercession of his uncles, Rajah Matanda and Lakandula, who were convinced by Legazpi's honeyed words of goodwill, Soliman reluctantly went with them and concluded a pact with the Adelantado.

According to their terms of the agreement, the Spaniards were allowed to settle in the old site of the burned town of Maynilad and would have the right to collect tributes from the other inhabitants. The Maynilad rulers and their descendants were granted exemption from paying tributes.

The native rulers remained faithful to their pledge of friendship to Legazpi when he finally ruled Maynilad.

Shortly, Rajah Matanda died and Legazpi formally declared Rajah Soliman as the successor of his deceased uncle. Rajah Soliman received the senorio of Maynilad with Spanish approval in April of 1572.

Two years after the death of Legazpi in 1574 Rajah Soliman and Lakandula headed a local revolt in towns north of Maynilad. It arose over the system of government apportionment of encomiendas to the Spanish officials. Certain lands of Soliman and Lakandula were given and assigned to encomenderos in utter disregard of their patrimonial rights.

Initial conciliatory talks between Fray Geronimo Marian and the two leaders held in Pagaga were unacceptable to Rajah Soliman so he took his men to another village. He was the greatest problem of Marian, because he did not act fairly in whatever the Spaniards were concerned, nor did he regard them with friendly eyes. Capitan Juan de Salcedo, the conciliator, effected peace first with Lakandula. Later, Soliman yielded to the assurance that the rebels' complaints would be given due attendance by the Spanish government.

After this incident, the name of Rajah Soliman was no longer mentioned in Spanish accounts and chronicles. The exact date of his death, therefore, remains unknown and has become the topic of controversy among present day historians.

Rajah Soliman
( -1571)

The last rajah of Manila, noted for his daring and bravery. Nephew of Rajah Lakandola. Of all of the early rulers of Manila, he was feared most by the Spaniards. He was killed on June 3, 1571, in the Battle of Bangkusay.


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