29 Jun No Comments Geejay Essays, Issue 43

by Carlo Jones Velayo

History is the fruit of power, but power itself is never so transparent that its analysis becomes superfluous. The ultimate mark of power may be its invisibility; the ultimate challenge, the exposition of its roots.
—Michel-Rolph Trouillot
Silencing the Past: Power and the Production of History


This paper illustrates the special “friendships” between the Americans and Muslim peoples of Mindanao, Philippines in the early 1900s. It is this author’s intent to (re)present the voices of past Muslim groups of Mindanao, through their engagement with the American military and government authorities. The stories uncovered by revisiting the past highlight the multifaceted nature of history as well as the challenges, opportunities and responsibilities inherent in the writing of history.

America’s “non-interference” policy

The turn of the century in 1902 marked a significant year in the relationship between the Americans and the “Moros” or the Muslim peoples of Mindanao. For the preceding three years, the Americans had pursued a policy of “non-interference” and “sought to win Moro friendship and neutrality by diplomacy.” (Gowing 1977:318) However, approaching mid-year, Military Governor and Commanding General Adna R. Chaffee addressed a letter, dated April 3, 1902, to the Lanao Moros, including the Sultan of Bayan, demanding “the delivery of the assassins and the restitution of the stolen property” or “suffer all the consequences.” (Annual Reports of the War Department (ARWD), 1902, IX:485) But to the other Muslim datus or chiefs of the Lake Lanao region, Chaffee ensured that “the Government has no cause of complaints, and it is earnestly hoped that they will continue the friendly relations now existing.” (Id.) While some have dubbed Chaffee’s letter as a “Proclamation of Friendship” (Lucman 2000:223) it did not prevent the Battle of Bayan taking place on May 2, 1902. Rather, the Battle of Bayan would be marked as the “first decisive battle” (Tan 2002:167) between the Americans and the Muslim peoples of Lake Lanao, just as the Philippine American War was drawing to a close.

On July 1, 1902, the Philippine Bill was passed by the United States Congress and heralded America’s decision to “exercise direct rule over the Moros with a view to preparing them for integration into the body politic of the Philippines.” (Gowing 1977:320) The transition from a policy of “non interference” between 1899 and 1902 to one of “direct rule” resulted in “friendships” of varying types; conditional, at best, but usually extremely volatile. The terms used by both the Americans and the Muslim peoples to describe such friendships ranged from malos (enemies) to amigos (friends) (Tan 2002:168) as well as “so called friendly Moros” to “bad hombres.” (Charles Hack Journal – Part 1, June 22, 1902) In light of such colourful language, what was the nature of these friendships? What did these friendships offer both parties? And to what extent were these conditional friendships sustainable? These terms not only inspire the title of this paper but also serve as signposts for the exploration that follow.

Our stage is Camp Vicars, Mindanao; the second largest U.S. military camp in the Philippines in 1902 and named in memory of the American officer killed at the Battle of Bayan. Enter our three protagonists: Commanding Officer of Camp Vicars, Major John J. Pershing, U.S. Army medical officer, Captain Charles W. Hack, and interpreter-cum-photographer, Dionisio Encinas. Diverse circumstances afforded these three individuals the opportunity to serve in Mindanao but their work, their lives and their stories intersect to provide rich narratives of this liminal period of Philippine-American colonial history.

Beyond a summary of battles lost and won, what follows is a (re)presentation of our protagonists’ relics—be they textual, pictorial or material—that illustrate their contributions in facilitating, negotiating and documenting these special bonds. Through the review of primary and secondary sources held at the U.S. Library of Congress, the U.S. National Archives and the American Museum of Natural History, this paper also advocates for the possibility of rediscovering the stories of history’s lesser-known agents; in this case the Muslim men and women of Mindanao. For the most part, the actions of Muslim datus were referenced in reports written by American officers and officials. In some cases however, letters written by Muslim leaders, such as Datu Dacula, were sent to American authorities, translated, archived and are now accessible for the sharing of new narratives. Ultimately, these rare original correspondence shed light on the “friendships” sustained or discarded by both parties and highlight the immense responsibility intrinsic in the writing of history for future generations.

Documenting A People
Dionisio Encinas, Photographer

The people herein depicted, are, as regards their houses, implements and weapons, mode of life, customs and religion, by far the most interesting of the several races and tribes inhabiting the Philippine Islands. They alone of all the peoples of the Islands were able for three hundred years to defeat all attempts of the Spanish Government looking toward their subjugation. They are, however, taking in a vastly different spirit the efforts of the United States
– Dionisio Encinas 1904:n.p.

In the introduction to his 1904 photographic collection titled Moros as seen in Mindanao and the Sulu Archipelago (hereafter Moros) [Figure 1], Dionisio Encinas stresses his accomplishment in presenting “the most unique and comprehensive collection of Moro scenes possible at the present time.” (Encinas 1904:n.p.) He cites “the well-known hatred of the Moro for all Christians, and their aversion to being photographed,” as the reasons for the “dearth of information” until the publication of his book.

Front cover of Moros as seen in Mindanao and the Islands of Sulu

Figure 1. Front cover of Moros as seen in Mindanao and the Islands of Sulu
[LOT 10277, Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division]

Dionisio Encinas attributes his “exceptional” access to key figures and events within the Muslim community to his three-and-a-half-year role as an interpreter to the Commanding Officers of the Department of Mindanao and Jolo. Moreover, after resigning from this role he established a photography business named ‘Piang Studio’ in Zamboanga, Mindanao, which he believes allowed him to “[win] the friendship and confidence of many Dattos or Moro Chiefs.” (Encinas 1904:n.p.)

Echoing the sentiments of Frank D. Millet, who asserted that the Philippines “remained outside the kodak zone” (Millet cited in Vergara 1995:1) while on assignment as a special correspondent for Harper’s Weekly during the Philippine American War, Encinas claimed to offer photographs of “the most interesting of the several races and tribes inhabiting the Philippine Islands.” More revealing however, is a notice on the final page of Moros, outlining that the photographs and the entire collection were available for purchase at the 1904 St. Louis World’s Fair.

While Encinas claimed that the Muslim peoples of Mindanao and Sulu were the most interesting of the Philippine Archipelago, they did not receive any more attention than, and were arguably overshadowed by, the other groups in the “Philippines Reservation” at the 1904 World’s Fair. In fact, in his book Displaying Filipinos, Vergara cites references to “The Bontoc Head-Hunters” in the Official Guide to the Louisiana Purchase Exposition and proffers that “[t]he dog-eating clearly sparked the most interest; one of the only two photographs of the [Philippines] Reservation in the Official Guide is that of a slaughtered dog over a fire, which was performed daily for the spectators.” (Vergara 1995:148)

Encinas’ publication however, challenges the notion that all Muslim peoples in the Southern Philippines were ‘wild savages’ simply because they were categorised by American authorities as belonging to ‘Non Christian Tribes.’ Among documentary photographs of a Moro town, village, market, sugar mill, foundry and industrial school, Encinas also provides evocative images of a Moro festival, a Moro spear dance, a Moro girl weaving cloth and Muslim groups throughout the Southern archipelago. Encinas’ presentation of the Muslim people, their life and culture in the early 1900s can be likened to Eduardo Masferré’s ability to intimately capture, several decades later, “the unique beauty of the people, places and lifeways of highland Luzon.” (Taylor 1998:142)

What particularly stands out in Moros is Encinas’ reportage of the “friendships” between Muslim peoples under the employ of the Americans in punitive expeditions against more “hostile” Muslim groups of Mindanao. Note three-photograph-composition entitled ‘Datto Paiguey and Followers.’ The first part of the caption reports that, “[t]his man is one of the few Dattos of the Lake Lanao region who have manifested friendship for the American Army.” This is immediately juxtaposed by the second part of the caption that reads, “[t]he Moro in the illustration A is engaged in sharpening his Bolo, which combines in one implement a universally used tool as well as a dangerous weapon.” (Encinas 1904:n.p.)

Another powerful composition featuring images taken at Camp Vicars is ‘Transportation of the Sick and the Wounded’ [Figure 2]. Encinas’ caption reads, “[d]uring the campaign against the Lake Moros in 1902, the methods shown above were employed in transporting the sick and wounded soldiers from Camp Vicars to Malabang, Mindanao, for medical treatment. Nos. 48 and C give a very good idea as to the men who did the work for the government, under supervision of American officers.” (Encinas 1904:n.p.)

Datto Paiguey and Followers. Camp Vicars, Mindanao.

Figure 2. No. 43 Datto Paiguey and Followers. Camp Vicars, Mindanao.
[LOT 10277, Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division]

To address initial confusion and lingering doubts that these “men” who were under the employ of the Americans were indeed Muslim, the caption of image number 45 reads, “No. 1 Datto Pedro. No. 2 – Datto Mundas. These two chiefs of the Lake Lanao region have been of great service to the American army during the various campaigns in this part of the country. Datto Pedro furnished Moro carriers for the transportation of supplies from Malabang to Camp Vicars, until the completion of the roads.” (Encinas 1904:n.p.)

Despite the carefully posed photographs of “friendly Moros” and captions verifying the “great service to the American army,” it was necessary to investigate what these friendships offered both parties and to find examples that could illuminate the extent to which these conditional friendships were sustainable.

Given the growing scope of materials available on the Muslim community in the Philippines, this paper focuses on America’s engagement with the Maranao around Lake Lanao and the Magindanao, particularly near the area of Cotabato [Figure 3].


In his 1965 Ph.D dissertation, Encampment of the Lake, Melvin Mednick notes that while, “there is no one language, which can be called “Moro” and is understood by the grouping as a whole… [t]wo of the languages, Magindanao and Maranao do have a high degree of mutual intelligibility.” (Mednick, 1965:16) For example, while the Maranao word for ‘bad’ is marata or rata, which is different to the Magindanao mawag, both the Maranao and Magindanao word for ‘good’ is written as either mapiya or mapya. One Maranao translation for the word ‘friend’ is layok, which can be linked to some of the translations for the Maranao word for ‘friendly,’ which includes lalayoken, mabobolayok, makalalayoka or malayoken. However, another Maranao translation for the word friend is aki, which is the same as the Magindanao term for the translation of “one who is trustworthy.” The element of ‘trust,’ implicit in any friendship, and which can be found in the Maranao and Magindanao translations of the word ‘friend’ serves as a fitting basis for our discussion of the friendships that sprouted during the start of the Moro American Wars.

Perception versus reality
The Hack Journals

But the past does not exist independently from the present. Indeed, the past is only past because there is a present, just as I can point to something over there only when I am here. But nothing is inherently over there or here. In that sense, the past has no content. The past – or, more accurately, pastness – is a position.
– Michel-Rolph Trouillot 1995:15

While Encinas claimed to have skilfully bridged the gap between “American and Moro” and “Christian and Muslim,” we need not accept his captions at face value. Vergara warns that, “[t]he caption also limits interpretation and reinforces the pre-constructed meaning even further… It is not only an act of limiting or restricting interpretation that is involved here, but one of directing.” (Vergara 1995:11) As such, additional primary and secondary sources of the events that transpired at Camp Vicars shed further light on the complexities of the friendships between the U.S. military and the Muslim peoples in Mindanao. One such source is the Charles W. Hack Papers, available in the U.S. Library of Congress Manuscripts Division. (Grefalda. Casinetto & Langlois 2011)

Dr. Charles Wesley Hack served as Captain and Assistant Surgeon at Camp Vicars, Mataling River and Cotabato, all in Mindanao, between March and October, 1902. Born on February 18, 1870, in Wathena, Kansas, Hack received his MD in 1897 from the University of Minnesota, where he was later a demonstrator in Anatomy. Hack served in the U.S. Army Medical Corps during the Spanish-American War and the “Philippine Insurrection.” (American Medical Association, hereafter AMA) Hack’s role as a U.S. Army medical officer complements Encinas’ photographs of the sick and wounded being carried by “friendly” Moros. Furthermore, despite Hack’s scientific training, in his journal entries he is able to navigate between the objective reportage of events and more personal accounts, peppered with candour. This approach provides a rich tapestry of Hack’s perception versus the reality of his engagement with the Muslim peoples of Mindanao.

In exploring Hack’s experiences at Camp Vicars in 1902, it is important to consider the duality between perception and reality or what Greg Dening (1996) refers to as the “distinction between actuality and reality.” (Dening 1996:60) Dening contrasts ‘actuality’ as being “known for its multivalent meanings” while ‘reality’ is “known in its simplicity of meaning, set in some hierarchy of acceptability.” (Dening 1996:60) Such demarcations will be used to unpack the nature of the friendships that were negotiated between the Americans and the Muslim groups of Mindanao.

Following his miserable experience at Cuyapo, Northern Luzon, Hack was keen to be deployed to the Southern Philippines. While aboard the Transport Bedford, en route to Mindanao, Hack reveals that, “no one seems to know just what we are going to do or very much about the Moro affair, but evidently there is going to be serious trouble with them as they are all armed.” (Charles Hack Journal Part 1 (CHJ1), March 22, 1902)

Hack provides further context to his situation by noting that, “the Moros are said to be something like the Sioux Indians, and bad fighters.” (CHJ1, March 22, 1902) This comparison is echoed by historian Robert Fulton who writes, “the armed conflicts between the United States and the Moros more closely resembled (and at the time were often compared to) the famous late-19th Century wars with the American Indian nations of the Great Plains; in violence and ferocity they were easily their equal.” (Fulton 2012) This description alone gives a sense of Hack’s perception of what the Moro Campaign would be like, based on his knowledge of America’s engagement with the Sioux Indians in the United States.

Upon his arrival in Mindanao in late March, 1902, however, Hack observed that, “the Moros here in Cottobatto being very friendly everyone goes about unarmed, a thing that is hard for me to accustom myself to.” (CHJ1, April 3, 1902) Despite Hack’s use of the term “friendly,” which is consistent with Encinas’ captions, Hack maintained a cautious disposition towards the Magindanaos near Cotabato and the Maranaos of Lake Lanao.

Hack’s fears were founded on the sporadic attacks regularly launched by hostile Muslim groups against American troops. In one instance, he reports that,

[t]his morning two soldiers from this station (Malabang) [Figure 4] were out hunting and met several Moros, one of whom offered one of the soldiers some fruit. As he reached out for the fruit, another Moro nearly severed his hand from his body with a bolo knife. The natives also send in very threatening messages and say they will fight if the Americans come any nearer. So I presume we may expect trouble… Our Expedition will however, be very well equipped and will no doubt give the Moros a severe lesson if they resist. At present the column consists of about 1500 men, 1000 of which are fighting men and the rest friendly Moros, who go to work building roads, etc. (CHJ1, n.d., pp. 32-33)

While Hack does not explain where these 500 or so “friendly Moros” are from nor how they came to work for the U.S. army and government, it is understood that these men were assigned to the Americans by Muslim datus, based on agreements between Muslim leaders and the U.S. military. The negotiation of these agreements will be revisited later in this paper.

Even if Hack was weary of the potential for Muslim hostilities, his perception of the Muslim community in Mindanao was greatly challenged by his fascination for the Muslim culture and material culture objects, which he collected with the aid of Muslim interpreters or which he received from some notable datus.

Hack admits that, “[t]he Moro people and their savage customs and costumes are most interesting to me.” (CHJ1, April 3, 1902) His reference to the “savage” attributes of the Muslim peoples is characteristic of the racial rhetoric rampant in America at the turn of the twentieth century. However, Hack embraces the opportunity of being in the Philippines, afforded through his military service, and reveals that, “I have been having great sport watching the Moros… This is a field for the relic-hunter and I am making the most of my time as I fear my stay here is to be short. I am delighted with this place and my work.” (CHJ1, April 5, 1902) Already, we see Hack’s perception of the Muslim peoples of Mindanao shift, ever so slightly, when faced with the reality of his assignment at Camp Vicars.

Rather than a relic-hunter however, it may be more appropriate to describe Hack as a collector of authentic material culture and objects of significance. This is revealed in the following diary entry: “Most of the arms I have are very old, some have probably been in families for generations and are valuable from that standpoint. Some of the officers buy new things (arms) that show on the face of them that they were made to sell and not for use, but I do not care for that kind. Some of mine have killed people, which also adds to their value, and to my small collection of the various styles of arms in use here.” (CHJ1, July 15, 1902)

Hack was cognizant of the attributes that determine the significance of the objects that he was collecting, not merely as souvenirs but authentic pieces representative of the Muslim peoples of Mindanao. In fact, one of Hack’s greatest legacies during his service at Camp Vicars is the wealth of knowledge that he developed about Muslim peoples through his procurement of material culture and his direct contact with the Moro people, both of which he documented in his journal.

In particular, we gain an insight into the interaction between Hack and his Muslim aide, whom he refers to as “Bud” or his “Moro Muchacho [boy].” (CHJ1, June 22, 1902) While Hack only makes a handful of references to Bud in his 94 page journal, we can deduce that Bud was of great service to Hack. Following the cyclone of July 26, 1902, and the subsequent downpours, for example, Hack attributes much of the clean up process to Bud, stating that, “[a]ll of my things were out in the rain for some time, as I had to go to the hospital and so leave all to my muchahcho (boy).” (CHJ1, August 8, 1902)

There is also an instance when we witness Hack’s compassion for Bud, writing that, “[m]y poor Moro Muchacho would always seek shelter in my tent, and sometimes I would stay in bed when the shooting began.” (CHJ1, August 18, 1902)

Bud was also instrumental in procuring certain objects for Hack’s growing material culture collection. Among them, he notes that

One ring is interesting as it is made of silver braided wire work with a white set that looks like ivory. It was stolen from a Datto and my Moro Muchacho bought it for me. The interesting part is that it is an Anting-Anting ring, or charm-ring, and is believed by the Moros to possess the power of keeping off all sorts of evil. My boy, “Bud”, says that I cannot be killed in a fight with this ring on. (CHJ1, June 22, 1902)

We do not know Hack’s reaction to this particular superstition nor his belief in such claims. And unfortunately, this particular object is not part of the Hack collection at the American Museum of Natural History (AMNH). Yet, it must have had some impact on Hack, if he was inclined to write about it in his journal and not simply dismiss nor dispute the claim of the ring’s powers.

Moreover, Hack documents the knowledge that he gains from Bud about particular customs of the Muslim groups. Having procured a campelan (a large two handed bolo), Hack writes,

[t]he Moros have a custom of every time they kill someone, putting a mark of some kind on their bolo, like the desperate characters of our frontier used to cut notches in their gun stock when they killed a man. So my Moro boy showed me twelve marks on one. (CHJ1, September 30, 1902)

The bond between Hack and Bud exemplifies a special friendship, if not merely a close working relationship, between an officer of the US military and a member of the Muslim community, regardless of whether this was indicative of the overall relationship between the two groups.

One relic that is of historical, aesthetic and social significance is a silver kris or sword that was made for and given to Hack by Datu Piang. In the manuscript catalogue prepared by the AMNH, the object is described as a “large kris, banate wood top, black braided handle with one silver band, wavy blade signed with the name of the maker, Datto Piang.” Additionally, it is inscribed, “This kris was made for Dr. C. W. Hack by Datto Piang in 1902 at Cottobatto, Mindanao, P.I. Datto Piang was famous as a very fine Kris-maker.” (AMNH No.1926-29, 70.1/7755) The final sentence in this description attests to the significance of this particular object in Hack’s collection. Mindful at the time of the significance of such a gift, Hack writes,

[i]t is the custom of the Dattos to give presents to their visitors, and as I have been called professionally to the Harem of several of them, I have received a number of presents, one a very handsome “Kris” from Datto Piang with a silver inlaid blade and his name inlaid in silver. (CHJ1, April 13, 1902)

This quote also highlights the importance of the custom of gift giving among the Muslim groups, that they extended to their American friends and visitors. Speaking with historian and Philippine material culture expert, Patricia Afable, the extensive notes that reference this particular kris is significant given the number of weapons and battle pick-ups from the Philippines that fill the storage facilities of museums and attics around the United States, and around the world, that have little or no accompanying documentation. (Patricia Afable, personal communication, September 7, 2012)

In fact, Hack’s writing of this silver kris provides a useful insight into the environment in which the Muslim peoples of Mindanao lived, as well as their lifestyle in the early 1900s. For example, on April 13, 1902, Hack explains how he came to meet Datu Piang and describes his observations when engaging with the Moro peoples:

To return to my trip… it was all new to me; about 35 miles up the river, with its low winding banks, that overflow with every high tide, the overhanging tropical foliage, Moro villages, here and there an alligator to cause a rustle on board, until we came to an old Spanish fort “Reina Regenta”, which is now garrosoned [sic] by our troops. Here we rested for a while and enjoyed the fort, with its crumbling walls which tell both of struggles against enemies and [t]ime. Near the fort is the village of Datto Piang and Datto Ali the most powerful combination in this (the Rio Grande) valley, which we visited on our return. The Moros are Mohammedans, and are divided into tribes under a ruler, called “Datto”, whose power is that of an absolute […] monarch. They have Sultans but there seems to be no general head to the Moro Tribe. The Dattos have harems, slaves, etc. and to their ideas – live in fine style. That is: they do no work and collect all th[eir] revenue from their tribes. (CHJ1, April 13, 1902)

This passage reveals the complex social stratification of the Muslim communities in Mindanao at the turn of the twentieth century. While sultans and datus were recognised, as Hack observes there was no “absolute monarch” to rule over all of the Muslim groups in Mindanao. As such, we begin to understand why there were some datus who were open to befriending the Americans and even arranging for their followers to serve the Americans against the other datus who resisted American colonial rule.

The case of Datu Piang is also important in the overall story of America’s engagement with the Muslim peoples of Mindanao. Hack notes that Datu Piang and Datu Ali were the most powerful combination in the Rio Grande Valley. But scratch the surface and you realise the inner complexities of the relationship between these two Magindanaon strongmen.

Historian Patricio Abinales (2000), who has written extensively on the history and the contemporary issues of Mindanao’s statehood, documents in his chapter, “From Orang Besar to Colonial Big Man,” how Datu Piang became the most powerful Magindanaon orang besar or “big man/big men” at the end of the 19th century but faded into obscurity by his death in 1933. Abinales highlights the way in which Datu Piang aligned with Datu Ali to undermine the aging Datu Uto and monopolise on the trade of commodities and slaves in the Rio Grande Valley at the end of the Spanish colonial era. Datu Piang also reinforced this partnership by giving his favourite daughter, Minka, as wife to Datu Ali. However, with the arrival of the U.S. Army and the formal abolition of slavery throughout southern Mindanao, the Piang-Ali alliance would quickly unravel.

In early 1903, Datu Ali and his men revolted against the Americans but were forced to withdraw to the jungle and engage in guerrilla-type attacks until Ali was killed in a siege on October 22, 1905. Abinales reveals that

American tenacity in pursuing Ali was not the main reason for his death. Rather, it was the betrayal of his own father-in-law, Datu Piang, that brought about his end. Piang had earlier masterminded the divorce of his daughter from Ali on the grounds of spousal abuse… With his daughter back in his home, Piang had no qualms about giving Ali to the Americans.
(Abinales 2000:202)

To think that on April 13, 1902, Hack reported that, “Datto Ali is to go to the United States soon, so no doubt there will be a great deal heard of him and Major Febiger who is to accompany [h]im, so it may add interest to know they are among my new friends of this place…” (CHJ1, April 13, 1902) Datu Ali was originally invited to the 1904 St. Louis World’s Fair and borrowed a large sum of money from Datu Piang to cover travel expenses for himself and his entourage. (Magdalena 2012) In the end, Datu Ali’s invitation was revoked and “found his exclusion by the American authorities from the St. Louis Exposition as an insult and a reason to fight against American rule.” (Tan 2002:171) Moreover, Hack’s reference to Major Febiger and Datu Ali as “new friends,” serves as a fitting juxtaposition to the description of Datu Ali as the United States’ “worst enemy” in the caption of a postcard that documents the meeting of Secretary Taft and Datu Piang in Figure 5a and 5b.

Postcard of Secretary Taft greeting Datto Piang

Figure 5a. Postcard of Secretary Taft greeting Datto Piang
[Source: LOT 5613, Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division]

Back of postcard of Secretary Taft greeting Datto Piang.

Figure 5b. Back of postcard of Secretary Taft greeting Datto Piang.
Caption reads: “Datto Piang is the father-in-law of Datto Ali the worst enemy
the United States Army encountered in the Philippines.”
[Source: LOT 5613, Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division]

The way we would analyse today the web of deceit spun by Datu Piang against his own son in law is a good case in point to understand Greg Dening’s challenge that we should return “to the past those qualities of the present that it once possessed.” (Dening, 1996, xv) He explains that “to do that we have to enter into the experience of those actors in the past who, like us, experience a present as if all the possibilities are still there.” (Dening, 1996, xvi) As such, even though Hack could not have predicted in 1902 how the relationship between Datu Piang and Datu Ali was to pan out a few years after his service in Mindanao, Hack’s role as medical officer afforded him incredible access to key Muslim leaders, manifest in the silver kris gifted by Datu Piang as well as in his writing of these interactions.

Moreover, while women are not widely referenced in the materials researched in this study, it should be noted that women were not absent from the photographs nor the recording of events between Americans and Muslim groups. For example, in Hack’s earlier discussion about Datu Piang and Datu Ali, he references the custom for datus to have multiple wives, noting that, “Ali and Piang are more modest in their demands for women than some other Dattos and only have seven or eight wives apiece. One old man, just across the river from the town, has about fifty now and used to have eighty wives.” (CHJ1, April 13, 1902)

Moreover, in Moros, Encinas has an image of Princess Radjaputri [Figure 6] and notes,

[t]he subject of the above half-tone is probably the wealthiest Moro woman in the Island of Mindanao. She is the widow of Datto Utto, and rules the followers and village over which he presided, near Cottabato, on the Rio Grande. American women visiting in the neighbourhood invariably call at the royal residence and receive a hearty welcome, often being treated to a novel entertainment furnished by the dancing girls who form a part of the numerous retinue of the Princess. (Encinas 1904:n.p.)

Princess Radjaputri and attendants. Cottabato, Mindanao

Figure 6. No. 100 Princess Radjaputri and attendants. Cottabato, Mindanao
[LOT 10277, Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division]

We notice the interconnected nature of this study, given Hack’s dealings with the likes of Datu Piang, who took over the mantle of Datu Uto as the most powerful datu of Maguindanao in the late 19th century.

Speculation aside, there is immense scope for further studies to be conducted on the role of women in establishing and maintaining friendships between the Americans and the Muslim peoples of Mindanao, such as those facilitated by the widow of Datu Uto. In fact, as some historians point out, in relation to colonial history the challenge is “…to locate women as subjects to critically stretch the scope of the archive in ways that redefine what kinds of reading and writing are historically germane.” (Stoler 2009:48)

Conditional friendships
The Pershing Papers

Even those relics that we would count more traditionally as documents – diaries, letters, logs, books – are cultural things as well and have encoded in their forms, materials, and shapes expressions of meaning beyond their messages.

– Greg Dening 1996:42

On June 22, 1902, Hack writes,

I think I did some good at Vicars and made some friends. One of my patients, an old Sergeant, passed through here a few days ago on his way to the Base Hospital, and as he was very weak I helped him off his horse and carried him to my own tent and had him lie down on my bed. I sat down to talk with him and ask him about matters at Camp Vicars and he told me several of my patients had died. I remarked that I was sorry to leave there and his eyes filled with tears and he told me they were all sorry to see me go. He stayed one night here in little Hospital and before he left next morning came around and thanked me for what I had done for him during my care of him. (I refer to this merely as it is rather unusual in the army to have men come to an officer in that way.) (CHJ1, June 22, 1902)

The element of trust and compassion described in this exchange between Hack and another American officer is in stark contrast to the ongoing distrust that Hack held for members of the Muslim groups. I include this reference as it may serve as a yardstick by which to gauge the friendships that were being negotiated between the two sides. More importantly, the significance of Hack’s journal is enhanced due to his role as medical officer and confidant to the U.S. officers, notably Major John J. Pershing who was instrumental in the ongoing negotiations with the Muslim groups around Lake Lanao [Figure 7].

Major John J. Pershing [centre] holding “a Council at Camp Vicars.”

Figure 7. Major John J. Pershing [centre] holding “a Council at Camp Vicars.”
[Source: Visual Materials from the JJPP [graphic], Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division
Unprocessed in PR 13 CN 1976:136, Container 3, Folder 7]

While at Mataling River, Hack reports that, “[t]he new commanding officer at Camp Vicars is Major Pershing, a fine officer. I think he is a good friend of mine and have no doubt he will get me away from here soon.” (CHJ1, June 30, 1902)

Upon his return to Camp Vicars, Hack assesses Pershing’s negotiations of peace treaties revealing that,

Major Pershing is trying to make a treaty with the Moros but has not made much headway so far. He took two companies of Infantry and visited the Bayan Moros where white people have never been but once before, although it is only about two miles from camp… We were met on the trail by friendly Dattos from other parts who were trying to add in formulating a peace treaty… Then old “Sayuduceman,” one of the heads of the Moro church and an avowed enemy of the Americans was brought out and introduced to the Commanding officer. There were about 500 Moros, all heavily armed, many having guns of various patterns. For a time everything looked so war-like that the Commanding officer sent for Lieut. Sunderland and for me to examine our revolvers and to join him. Altogether it was rather an interesting situation… Major Pershing was careful to select a spot enough to one side to prevent firing without hitting us. However, no trouble occurred and the old man who had said he would never be a friend to the Americans gave the Major his hand and expressed his friendship. How much all this will amount to remains to be seen. We learn more and more every day about Moro treachery and I fear we will never obtain peace until we first let them feel the American power… (CHJ1, August 8, 1902)

Hack is clear about his distrust for the Muslim leaders’ declaration of friendship for the Americans, given the persistent nature of “Moro treachery.” In an entry written on August 18, 1902, a mere 10 days after the one above, Hack witnesses further betrayal and laments,

I have just finished the worst week of my Philippine experience and if we are not permitted to act out and do something soon I fear we will all be crazy or killed. I spoke recently of a trip to Bayan and peace treaties, etc. and at that time it looked as if the Moro question were in a fair way to right itself. Now, however, everything looks worse than ever. About midnight on August 11 (1902) we were startled by firing from the outposts, and a call to arms, followed by cries for help and call for a doctor… When we arrived, we found the guard of four men had been attacked by a party of 15 or 20 Moros, who had surprised them in their tent and with spears and bolos had cut them up in a most horrible manner.” (CHJ1, August 18, 1902)

This surprise attack is reminiscent of the “amigo warfare” that was common in parts of Luzon during the Philippine-American War, during which “Filipinos were friends during the day or when confronted, but at night or when no one was looking, they were guerrillas.” (Ileto 2002:7)

[H]ow long this will go on, no one knows, but surely until we go out and whip the hostile bands of sabages [sic], and this we are told we cannot do until after election, which is more than two months distant. This is a very unpleasant prospect, if we have to sit idly by and be shot up every night for two months yet before we can do anything. (CHJ1, August 18, 1902)

Hack’s frustration and growing disbelief for a sustainable peace treaty is understandable given that Pershing was involved in a conference with the Sultan of Bayan and Bucayawan, Datu Amai-Tampogao and Datu Grande on Saturday May 24, 1902; three weeks after the Battle of Bayan.

In this particular conference, Pershing implores the Muslim leaders present to gain the cooperation of the two most defiant Muslim authorities in the Lanao region – the Sultan of Maciu and the Sultan of Bacolod. The “minutes” of the conference were recorded in Pershing’s notebook entitled, ‘Letters sent and conversations held with Moros of Lake Lanao at Camp Vicars.’ The excerpt below exemplifies the frankness used by both Pershing and the Sultan of Bayan:

Pershing – “Allright, I leave it to you three all equally friends of the Americans. If you can persuade him [Maciu] that we have the best of intentions you will be doing a signal service for us. After that I want you to see what can be done with Bacolod too?”

Bayan – “Very well: I think if we can get Maciu that Bacolod will be friends – “

Pershing – “Bacolod has written that he was our friend – “

Bayan – “Yes, but he is not, he has lied to you. His people are threatening to kill your soldiers on the road.”

Pershing – “Yes. We think him false. But we think that all Moros who are not our friends do not understand our customs and intentions, they do not know us as you do.” (JJPP, Container 1)

This particular exchange highlights Pershing’s transparency in his dealings with the Muslim leaders. While he was idealistic in achieving friendships through the promotion of American customs, he made known his awareness of the crippling uncertainty faced by the American army. Bowditch captures the situation faced by Pershing and other Americans in his summation that, “the Americans were well aware of the ambiguity of Muslim responses, noting that even those who professed to be their “allies” and “friends” could be the first to break into revolt, especially in the volatile district of Lanao.” (Bowditch cited in Abinales 2000:195)

As an example of this ambiguity, on the day prior to the conference described above, Pershing wrote to the Sultan of Maciu and the Sultan of Bacolod imploring them “to present themselves at Camp Vicars to talk about how the American rule could help their people and warned them of serious consequences for any act of defiance and hostility.” (Tan 2002:169) The sentiments were reminiscent of those expressed by General Chaffee in the letter of April 13, 1902, described in the introduction of this paper. Yet, once again, the response was loud and clear as “the Sultan of Bacolod wrote Pershing, demanding that the Americans return to camp or leave Maranao territory because they were not welcome as friends.” (Tan 2002:169)

Understanding the fickle nature of these declarations of friendship, it is a testament to Pershing’s commitment that he continued to convene meetings and negotiate the support of the Muslim leaders around Lake Lanao. Historian Robert Fulton (2012) praises Pershing’s persistence, open mindedness and insight to meet with the Muslim leaders whom were willing to broker allegiance with the Americans. Fulton makes the following observation:

Pershing’s strategy has often been described by historians as one of divide and conquer. But the Moros, by the very nature of their societal institutions, were already divided. Rather, Pershing focused on sorting out who were his friends, who were his enemies, and who were in between. He sensed that at some point (correctly) he would have to fight some of the most recalcitrant datus. Unlike Baldwin, he knew he could not fight everyone, and it would be most unwise to fight someone he did not have to and unnecessarily add more enemies as a result. (Fulton 2007:145)

Samuel Tan proffers a somewhat different view on the efficacy of these negotiations and peace treaties, concluding rather that it was Pershing’s “show of might” that ensured compliance among the Muslim peoples of Lake Lanao. Tan concludes that

the psychological make-up of the Moro was particularly annoying and frustrating to American colonial rule, as it was to the Spanish. No amount of written treaties signed in pompous and ritualistic ceremonies or verbal assurances of tribal leaders could ensure faithful compliance in the absence of impressive military demonstration like, for instance, the historic march and show of might by Capt. John Pershing around Lake Lanao in his 1902-1903 campaigns against defiant Lanao datus.” (Tan 2002:277)

Beyond debates contrasting Pershing’s active and passive approaches in dealing with the Lanao leaders, Hack’s journal provides important insights into the logistics of these meetings. For example, Hack writes about the “passes” issued by Pershing to the Muslim leaders, which outlined how many weapons, if any, could be carried to and from the camp for such conferences. Hack also relates the issuance of these passes to the Muslim peoples he employed to collect material culture declaring that, “I have a Moro out hunting for curios for me and if he meets with success I will try to send whatever he gets to the United States to be cared for until my return. Our relations here are becoming so unfriendly with the Moros that they bring in but few things now, and Moros are not allowed to carry arms into camp or on the trail without a “pass”, and passes are given out only to Dattos and head men of the tribes.” (CHJ1, August 8, 1902)

These passes enabled the U.S. Army to place conditions on their friendships with the Muslim groups of Mindanao. They were able to limit the number and type of weapons in the possession of “friendly” Muslim groups and monitor their movements, under the guise of curtailing unnecessary attacks from more “hostile” Muslim groups and individuals. Therefore, the question arises as to whether or not the Muslim datus and their followers benefited from these passes or letters.

In grappling with this question, there are two images in Pershing’s pictorial collection at the Library of Congress that may not lead to a definitive answer but nonetheless may be of interest. The first image is of Datu Pandi-in of Dansalan, Lanao, P.I. displaying a letter presented to him in September, 1902, by Major John J. Pershing. Despite his old age, Datu Pandi-in looks stoically into the camera as he holds in both hands the letter that he received more than four decades prior. The second image is of the actual letter, which is acknowledged and dated by American commanding officers leading up to and during the Second World War in the Philippines.

The letter reads as follows:

Dansalan, Lanao, PI,
September 4, 1902

To whom it may concern:

The bearer, Datu Cali sa Madaya-Seguiaren, alias Datu Pandi-in of Dansalan, Lanao, is known to me as an influential datu. He has consistently supported American rule and government in his province. He is the nephew of Datu Amay Manabilang, and is the brother of Datu Amay Korot. He belongs to the conservative factions and he’s supported government authorities since first established in Lanao.

He was the first datu who aided the undersigned for maintaining peace and order in his province and has surrendered 63 fire-arms of different kinds. He was given a permit with fifty men to carry weapons; and free of charge of any government transportation; and authorised to buy 6 revolvers at U. S. price.

Therefore, I recommend him to the friendly consideration of the government agencies.

John J. Pershing

(Noted by numerous U.S. servicemen in the 1930s and 40s)

This letter issued by Pershing to Datu Pandi-in, similar to the passes issued to Muslim datus, demonstrates the legacy of the conditional friendships that were negotiated by Americans with the Muslim groups in Mindanao. These sources also shed light on the language used by the Americans to outline and enforce the “conditions” of said bonds. While it is easy to simply dismiss the value of these documents, the example of Datu Pandi-in of Dansalan demonstrates that Muslim leaders placed great significance in these agreements, which served them in the subsequent years and decades.

Reading between the lines

What I call “watermarks in colonial history” are indelibly inscribed in past and present.
The visibility of watermarks depends on angle and light. Watermarks are embossed
on the surface and in the grain. As I use the term here, they denote signatures of
a history that neither can be scraped off nor removed without destroying the paper.
Watermarks cannot be erased.
– Ann Laura Stoler 2009:8

In her book, Along the Archival Grain, Ann Laura Stoler beautifully demonstrates the richness of the stories unearthed from the “official” and the “non-official” documents regarding the Netherlands Indies, held at the Nationaal Archief at Prins Willem-Alexanderhof in The Hague. Stoler muses that the Dutch colonial archival documents “serve less as stories for a colonial history than as active, generative substances with histories, as documents with itineraries of their own.” (Stoler 2009:1)

Finding documents with itineraries of their own was a similar experience when discovering letters written by Muslim datus to the American commanding officers and government officials of the Department of Mindanao and Jolo. Compared to relics thus far in this paper, these letters transform datus into historical agents and while an English translation of their script is required, these primary sources revive the voices of Muslim leaders.

Take for example this letter regarding an incident that took place in Malabang in 1900 written by Datu Dacula of Cumalarang to “his friend” American General Kobbe, based in Zamboanga, Mindanao [Figure 8]. Written in Arabic script but using the local language, the letter is an example of a Kirim text. In the letter, Datu Dacula advises the General about the “murder” of his son, Datu Amirul Umbra, allegedly by “people of Datto Piang… together with the Americans.” (Dacula 1900) There are lengthy responses, including official reports from Major J. E. McMahon and Major L. M. Brett, offering eyewitness accounts of what transpired at Malabang, who was responsible for the death of Datu Amirul and others, and who was responsible for firing the first shot.

This incident serves as an example of Trouillot’s (1995) vernacular definition of history as being the interplay of “what happened” and “that which is said to have happened.” However, the details of the fight are of secondary importance to the language used by Datu Dacula to communicate his disapproval of America’s support for and collaboration with the people of Datu Piang in the death of Dacula’s son.

Letter of Datu Dacula to General Kobbe on May 31, 1900

Figure 8. Letter of Datu Dacula to General Kobbe on May 31, 1900
[Source: Item 49B, Box 1, Entry 2105, Record Group 395, NARA]Page 1 (left), English translation (right)

Letter of Datu Dacula to General Kobbe on May 31, 1900

Page 2 (right), Page 3 (left)

Datu Dacula attests that “As [Amirul] was leaving the rancheria the people of Piang fired upon his party by order of their chief, Datto Inuk and his people doing the shooting together with the Americans and killing Datto Amirul on the spot.” Dacula is clear in his statement that “there is not [sic] reason why Piang and the Americans should behave in such a manner.” In fact, Dacula cites that “when the American Government took possession of the archipelago, the Sultan of Mindanao was told by them that in establishing themselves here they would attach us to them through friendship, the Sultan then issued an order forbidding the Dattos to cause any conflicts to the Americans.”

Not only does Datu Dacula employ the terms of “friendship” in his argument against the collusion between Datu Piang and the Americans, he continues by blatantly questioning “how is it that the Americans [sic] authorities tolerate the people of Piang to commit certain abuses?”

Such abuse of power by Datu Piang was widely publicised at the time. In fact, Abinales refers to an article in The American written a few months after the incident in Malabang, which claimed that, “Piang did not hesitate to abuse his power, knowing fully well that his indiscretions would be ignored by the Americans. The latter looked the other way when Piang used force against those who opposed him and to collect taxes for the state and tribute for himself.” (Abinales 2000:204)

What is even more outstanding is the fact that Datu Dacula juxtaposes the relationship between the Muslim people with the Spanish to that with the Americans to persuade the latter not to side with one datuship, such as Datu Piang, or one Muslim group over another. In his concluding paragraph, Datu Dacula confidently points out that, “the Spaniards may have not been good but during their domination which extendee [sic] for three hundred years never a similar case occurred and never one of my subjects was imprisoned. The American Government which only is here three years has already give [sic] us motif of disgust.”

Compared to Stoler’s focus of “archiving-as-process,” this study is limited to “archives-as-things.” (Stoler 2009:20) This particular letter from Datu Dacula however, provides insights into the reporting chain of command at Camp Vicars as well as in the U.S. Army in the Philippines more broadly. After initial referral (or 1st Endorsement) to the Commanding Officer at Cotabato, as noted earlier, this letter was sent to Major J. E. McMahon (2nd Endorsement) and referred to Major L. M. Brett (4th Endorsement at Figure 9) for their official reports on the situation. The fifth and final endorsement, signed by Pershing in his capacity as Assistant Adjutant General at Cotabato, outlines that the letter was referred to the Acting Inspector General for investigation and report.

4th Endorsement from Major L. M. Brett.

Figure 9. 4th Endorsement from Major L. M. Brett.
Item 49B, Box 1, Entry 2105, Record Group 395, USNARA

However, this letter is also quoted in full in the 1902 Annual Reports of the War Department (ARWD). As part of Volume IX of the report, the following explanation appears at the end of the letter:
This incident is here related in some detail, because it resulted in bitter feeling of the Malabang and Lake Moros toward the native inhabitants of the Rio Grande Valley, and had had an important bearing upon the intercourse between us and the Malanaos [Maranaos], as the Lake Moros call themselves. . . . (ARWD, 1902, IX:482)

This statement proves that Datu Dacula’s letter was not just buried in the bureaucracy of the Department of Mindanao and Jolo but escalated as far as to be included in the 1902 ARWD, presented to the House of Representatives of the 57th U.S. Congress. Unfortunately, the inclusion of Datu Dacula’s letter in such an important report did not mitigate the Americans from favouring one Muslim datu over another even after the events at Malabang in 1900.

Instead, ever the diplomat, John J. Pershing responds on behalf of General Kobbe to Datu Dacula, who is addressed as “my brother” [Figure 10]. Pershing glosses over the “truths” raised by Datu Dacula and uses the guise of friendship to downgrade Dacula’s demands, insisting that “the Datto’s letter has been referred to the Commanding Officer at Cottabato for investigation and report and the General expects to make a visit to his friends the moros in that section of the country as soon as his duties will permit.” Pershing also reiterates that the General “sends his wishes for a long life to his friend Datto Dacula and all his people,” before also signing off with “your brother.” (Pershing 1900)

Letter from John J. Pershing to Datu Dacula

Figure 10. Letter from John J. Pershing to Datu Dacula
Item 49B, Box 1, Entry 2105, Record Group 395, USNARA

The overly emotive language used by both Pershing and Datu Dacula in their correspondence juxtaposes with Weber’s belief that, “[b]ureaucracy develops… the more completely it succeeds in eliminating from official business love, hatred, and all purely personal, irrational, and emotional elements which escape calculation.” (Weber cited in Stoler 2009:40) Looking at the letters exchanged between Datu Dacula and General Pershing highlights the tenuous and volatile relationships that were forged between the Americans and the Muslim groups under the banner of “friendship” in the early 1900s. While the case of Datu Pandi-in demonstrates the longevity of such “friendships,” these agreements were only sustainable due to the conditions placed by the Americans and which were outlined in documents that were required to be on the person of Muslim datus and their followers. For historians today, these letters and passes serve as relics that demonstrate the degree to which both parties overtly used the terms of “friendship” and even “brotherhood” to simultaneously ensure and demand peace among the warring Muslim groups and with the new colonial power.

Missed opportunities

[D]ocuments in these colonial archives were not dead matter once the moment of their making had passed. What was “left” was not “left behind” or obsolete.
– Ann Laura Stoler 2009:3

Despite the close bond that developed between Hack and Pershing at Camp Vicars, Hack would only accompany Pershing on one punitive expedition to Lake Lanao before taking up an opportunity in Cotabato to relieve Dr. Najeeb Saleeby.

My friend Dr. Saleeby is soon to go away, and I will try to visit him before he goes. He has devoted himself to the study of the Moros and conditions concerning them until now he has great piles of manuscript and much valuable information, which he has accumulated due to his friendliness toward the Moro people and his knowledge of Arabic. The Government has taken much interest in his work, as it should, so he now proposes writing a book which will no doubt be very valuable as well as interesting. I had hoped to help Dr. Saleeby in arranging his manuscript and helping him correct it but now I fear he will leave before I have a chance to see his work. There are so many things I want to know about the Moros, that I could find out in helping the doctor in his work. (CHJ1, October 7, 1902)

As a Syrian-born-Christian-American, Dr. Saleeby’s command of the Arabic language and his interest in the Muslim peoples of the Philippines, resulted in the 1905 publication of his book Studies in Moro history, law, and religion. While Saleeby was appointed to key official roles in working with the Muslim peoples of the Philippines, he would be continually disappointed by the American authorities’ dismissal of his advocacy for more culturally-aware policies in America’s “direct rule over the Moros,” which as outlined in the introduction of this paper, had the intention of, “preparing them for integration into the body politic of the Philippines.” (Gowing 1977:320) In his 1913 monograph titled The Moro Problem, Saleeby recommended that “[w]ell organised datuships properly provided with Moro courts and datuship councils mark the main basic structure on which rests the whole solution of the Moro problem.” (Saleeby 1913:29) Given Saleeby’s extensive knowledge and close engagement with the Muslim peoples of Mindanao, it does not make sense why Saleeby’s recommendations were not recognised by the American colonial authorities.

Unfortunately, Hack’s intention to work with Dr. Saleeby would also not come to pass. Instead, Hack was offered a role in Manila and following a short trip to Hong Kong he commenced in February, 1903, his duty as District Medical Inspector, Bureau of Health for the Philippines. Even in this role, Hack mentions his willingness to return to Mindanao albeit for pragmatic reasons:

In my own district I have white men, a darkey, Chinese, Philippinos and one Porto Rican as inspectors, so one may imagine what kind of a working force I have. Major Carter told me he might send me back down south for a while to look after the Moros until the cholera passes over. This I would like very much, as I enjoy the southern islands more than Luzon. Manila is the most expensive city I have ever been in and one gets so little for the money in return. (Charles Hack Journal Part 2 (CHJ2), February 5, 1903)

Overlooking Hack’s pragmatism and racist slur, and highlighting instead Hack’s fascination for the Muslim culture as well as his direct contact with the Muslim community in Mindanao, the question that needs to be asked is why Hack did not pursue an extension of his assignment at Camp Vicars. We can only speculate whether or not there was a role earmarked by Pershing for Hack, especially in light of the establishment of the Moro Province in 1903.

In one of his final entries at Camp Vicars, Hack writes:

Letters and messages of a friendly character are daily coming in from heretofore hostile Dattos and Major Pershing is planning a trip across the Lake to confer with some of our worst enemies, who now express themselves willing to accept peace terms. He has asked me to try to delay my departure until after his return and accompany him across the Lake, which of course I would be delighted to do, but I have no way of getting the necessary delay. He has been so kind to me and is such a fine officer, that leaving him is my greatest regret about going away. When one finds a commanding officer who appreciates services when satisfactory, it is hard to leave. (CHJ1, October 23, 1902)

On June 27, 1903, Hack makes one final reference to Major Pershing in his journal, reporting that, “Major Pershing is in Manila sick and soon goes home on a liner.” (CHJ2, June 27, 1903) Hack would similarly follow suit and return to the United States in July, 1903, via Hong Kong, Shanghai, Nagasaki and Yokahama and arriving in San Francisco in late August 1903.

Perhaps the reason why Hack did not remain any longer at Camp Vicars is as simple as Hack notes in his second, though much shorter journal. On May 15, 1903, Hack writes, “I believe two years in the tropics is long enough for anyone.” (CHJ2, May 15, 1903)

Whatever the reason, following Hack’s arrival in the United States, he married Miss Gwendolyn Kelley in Columbus, Ohio, on May 10, 1905. (The Minneapolis Journal 1905) He took out a New York State Medical License in 1918, before transferring to the United States Public Health Service Commission Corps. Hack died of nephritis in Vera Cruz, Mexico, on September 25, 1923. (AMA)


This paper (re)presents the onset of the Moro-American Wars in Mindanao by intertwining the writings of Charles W. Hack, the photographs of Dionisio Encinas, the papers and pictorial collections of General John J. Pershing and the letters written or received by Muslim leaders, such as Datu Dacula and Datu Pandi-in.

Hack’s descriptions about the people he met, the places he visited and the knowledge he gained from the material culture he collected, provides insights into the lives of the Maranao and Magindanao peoples during America’s engagement with these groups in the early 1900s. These insights add another dimension, or better still to borrow from Dening; return the “present” to the pictures taken of the past by Encinas and other photographers of the time.

In essence, all of these relics contribute to the larger puzzle of Philippine American history in order to better appreciate the nuanced relationships between the Americans and the Muslim groups of Mindanao at the turn of the twentieth century. Through these relics we not only see and read about America’s perception of their engagement with the Muslim groups, we are also given the opportunity to rediscover the voices of the Muslim peoples who engaged with the American officials. Yes, the majority of the relics examined in this paper amplify the voices of the Americans. However, it is important to note that the stories of the Muslim community regarding the Moro-American Wars exist and continue to be unearthed. It is hoped that more researchers continue to be inspired by the people, the culture and the history of Mindanao, and ultimately pursue projects relating to this dynamic and fascinating part of the Philippines.


This research was funded by an Australia Awards Endeavour Research Fellowship and would not have been possible without the support of Dr. Paul Michael Taylor and the Asian Cultural History Program, Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History. Research was also conducted at the American Museum of Natural History, U.S. National Archives and the U.S. Library of Congress. In particular, I am indebted to Remé Grefalda who not only helped me to discover the journal of Charles W. Hack but also to discover so much about my own personal story through this study of Philippine-American history. As I cannot list everyone who contributed to this research, I dedicate this paper to all of my family and friends, new and old, all over the world. You all continue to teach me that we travel to acquire new experiences, to engage with new ideas and to see life through a new lens.

Editor’s note: Velayo’s Reference List of Sources can be found in the Bibliography Section of this issue under the title of this essay.


While the exact date is contentious, the end of the Philippine-American War was declared on July 4, 1902. Shrouded in further debate is the name of this conflict that occurred between the Americans and the people of the Philippines between 1899-1902. Historically, it has been referred to as the “Philippine Insurgency” or the “Philippine Insurrection.” Robert Fulton however, notes that, “what the Americans had called ‘an insurrection’ was now known as the Philippine American War.” (Fulton 2007:11)

“The so-called “Philippine Bill,” passed by the US Congress on July 1, 1902, recognised the distinction between the Moros, Pagans and Christian Filipinos and the consequent necessity for providing different forms of government for the different groups of people.” (Elliott cited in Gowing 1977:72)

Moros as seen in Mindanao and the Sulu Archipelago was “entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1904, by Dionisio Encinas, in the office of the Librarian of Congress.” (Encinas 1904:n.p.)

I had seen images attributed to Piang Studios relating to the Philippines and the Philippine-American War in David Prescott Barrows’ Papers during my 2011 internship at the Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley. Through this research project, I have discovered that Encinas’ prints are also part of the archival records of the U.S. Corps of Engineers, the U.S. Signal Corps and the pictorial collections of American military and civil authorities, such as General John J. Pershing, just to cite a few examples.

The notice reads as follows: “This book and original photographs of the subjects therein, as well as other scenes of Moro and Filipino life, in 5×7 size or larger, suitable for mounting and framing, may be had from the Philippine Photograph Company, Inc., Philippine Exhibit, L. P. E., St. Louis, Mo., during the World’s Fair, and after January 1, 1905, from the publisher at Zamboanga, P. I. For further particulars address during the Louisiana Purchase Exposition, D. Encinas, 3716A Cook Avenue, St. Louis, Mo.”

For more about the “unprecedented scale of the United States government’s display of living peoples in the “Philippines Reservation,” see Vergara 1995 and Afable & Quizon 2004.

As Gowing reports, “the official census of [1903] made a distinction between the “civilised” and the “wild” inhabitants of the Philippine Islands and placed the Moros under the latter category.” (Gowing 1977:45)

In his article, ‘Interpreting Eduardo Masferré’s Photographs from Highland Luzon,’ Paul Taylor revisits pertinent images of the Smithsonian’s collection of Masferré’s photographs and concludes that, “Masferré himself was both linked to and somewhat marginalised from the cultures he depicted. His own story reflects impinging foreign circumstances and historical intrusions that seem absent from the photographs he most loved.” (Taylor 1998:140)

While the terms “Muslim peoples” and “Muslim groups” are used predominantly in this paper, the term “Moro” is retained from primary and secondary sources. The terms “Lanao Moros” or “Lake Moros” were widely used in the captions of Encinas’ photographs as well as official reports from the early 1900s, perpetuating the Spanish allusion to the Moors that ruled Spain for eight centuries with their Muslim counterparts in the Philippines. Despite the negative connotations, Gowing notes that, “[i]n the 1970s, as fighting between Muslims and Christians in the south dramatically escalated, the name “Moro” began to come back into common and accepted use – on both sides. If the tragic conflict has accomplished nothing else, it has at least given the Muslims a new confidence and self-awareness. Some openly speak of themselves as the Bangsa Moro (the Moro nation) as distinct from the Bangsa Pilipino.” (Gowing 1979:ix-x) Indicative of the term’s pertinence, on October 15, 2012, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF)

Melvin Mednick notes that, “each of the Moro groups speaks a different language and the name of the language is also the name of the group…” (Mednick 1965:16)

“The proximity to [Lake Lanao] gives the language its name ma’ranao which means “residing near, or, in the vicinity of, a lake.” (Mednick 1965:23) When the first systematic census was conducted in the Philippines in 1903, it revealed that of the 706,529 people in the geographic unit that comprised Mindanao, Sulu and Palawan, there were “about 250,000 Maranao around the fertile areas of Lake Lanao.” (Tan 2002:151-152)

“The homeland of the Magindanao people is the basin of the Pulangi River or the “Rio Grande” in Spanish accounts… The word “magindanao,” which means “to be inundated,” comes from the propensity of the Pulangi to overflow its banks periodically, flooding the whole countryside and giving the impression that the Magindanao heartland is one vast lake, or danao. The whole length of the Pulangi from its mouth to Matincauan in the northeast is inhabited by the Muslim Magindanao people who live in rancherias or settlements, characterised by strongly knit kinship associations presided over by a datu who is the head of the dominant lineage.” (Ileto 1971:1)

Conklin (1955) believes that “Maranao and Magindanao retain 87 per cent of basic lexical items and are separated in time by 4.6 centuries.” (Conklin cited in Mednick 1965:23)

The two main online dictionaries consulted for these Maranao and Magindanao translations were www.maranao.info/glossary.html and www.bansa.org.

Once again we see the use of the term “Philippine Insurrection” rather than the “Philippine-American War.”

Warwick Anderson similarly reports that, “[s]cattered across the archipelago in posts and garrisons medical officers often remarked on how fighting in the Philippines now called to mind the occupation of “Indian country” before the coming of the railroads, in advance of the cultivation and settlement of the West. Indeed, officers and enlisted men in the Philippines, on occasion, would even refer to Filipinos as Indians and squaws.” (Anderson 199442:57-58)

For more about the racial rhetoric of America’s colonial engagement with the Philippines, see Paul A. Kramer’s (2006) The Blood of Government: Race, Empire, The United States and the Philippines.

According to Tan, the American view of heroism is marked by the number of enemies killed, regardless of the means, and/or pursuing the enemy without regard for one’s life or safety.” In comparison, “while also subscribing to the same foregoing notion of heroic criteria, the Filipino looked at heroism beyond the military conduct or values of war. They looked to the mystical dimension of conflict, usually displayed, as is the case of the Moro and tribal reactions, in the triumphal use of charms, anting-anting, spells, and other devices and symbols of their faith in the supernatural or supranatural. It was in this ultimate trust in the Unknown beyond themselves that the perception of what was truly heroic found meaningful essence. (Tan 2002:279)

John Joseph Pershing (1860-1948) served three tours in the Philippines (1899-1903, 1907-1908, 1909-1913). “He was the first Caucasian ever to cross Lake Lanao and supported the campaign for “Mindanao for Mindanaons.” (Lucman 2000:n.p.) He was appointed Military Governor of the Moro Province between 1909 and 1913, before serving as Commander of the American Expeditionary Force (AEF) in World War I.

As noted at the start of this paper, the Battle of Bayan or the Battle of Padang Karbala in Bayan took place on May 2, 1902. Tan argues that, “contrary to expectations, the Maranao defeat in Bayan did not deter other communities from their armed opposition to American presence and rule. It only succeeded in dividing the Maranaos into two factions called by the Americans and Maranaos as the amigos (friends) and malos (enemies).” (Tan 2002:168)

In his chapter ‘War in Mindanao,’ Tan gives a useful summation of the “Maranao Defiance,” outlining the “three groups of lake Moros [that] had to be dealt with according to their traditional position or maratabat: (1) the Bayabaos who lived in the north and west side of the lake with Marawi as their center, (2) the Onayans who occupied the southern part of the lake with their center at Bayan, and (3) the Macius believed to be the oldest, who lived in the east side of the lake with center at Masiu and Taraca. (Tan 2002:166-167)

Fulton similarly refers to meeting transcripts to arrive at his appraisal of Pershing’s approach with the Muslim leaders, stating that,

[f]or a farm boy from Laclede, Missouri, Pershing demonstrated remarkable insight… Many of the datus of this warrior culture were openly blunt with Pershing, making clear their opposition to American policy. Some disliked him personally, but they knew exactly what to expect from him and, weighing the consequences, would at the very least cooperate or not hinder the Americans. One by one he gained their respect and with that, the basis for acceptance, if not true friendship. (Fulton 2007:145-146)

Colonel Frank Baldwin was the commanding officer at Camp Vicars prior to Major John J. Pershing. In relation to Baldwin’s handling of the Battle of Bayan, Hack writes, “Old “fire-eating” Colonel Baldwin seized the opportunity to win fame and promotion and started a large expedition against the savages.” (CHJ1, July 1, 1902) After the Battle of Bayan, Baldwin was promoted to the rank of Brigadier General.

This collection forms part of Record Group 395: Records of U.S. Army Overseas Operations and Commands, 1898-1942, United States National Archives.

Tan argues that colonial written sources are highly questionable because of their biased treatment of Muslims and other non-Christian groups. He notes, “[t]his leaves the historian with only the written indigenous sources of Muslim origin called Kirim in Maguindanao and Jawi in Tausug-Sama societies for historical purposes. (Tan 2003:1)

According to Trouillot, “human beings participate in history both as actors and as narrators… In vernacular use, history means both the facts of the matter and a narrative of those facts, both “what happened” and “that which is said to have happened.” (Trouillot 1995:2)

[W]hat insights into the social imaginaries of colonial rule might be gained from attending not only to colonialism’s archival content, but to the principles and practices of governance lodged in particular archival forms. By “archival form” I allude to several things: prose style, repetitive refrain, the arts of persuasion, affective strains that shape “rational” response, categories of confidentiality and classification, and not least, genres of documentation… [Along the Archival Grain] looks to archives as condensed sites of epistemological and political anxiety rather than as skewed and biased sources. (Stoler 2009: 20)

Stoler argues that, “[i]ssues were rendered important by where they appeared, how they were cross-referenced, where they were catalogued, and thus how they were framed… Some reports were meticulously scrutinised, others were carelessly read and set aside. Archival convention, however, dictated that all were abundantly cross-referenced in ways that produced paths of precedent and mapped relevance.” (Stoler 2009:50)

Following his service as Captain and Assistant Surgeon, U.S.V., on duty in the Department of Mindanao from May, 1901, to January, 1903, Saleeby was appointed Assistant Chief of the Bureau of Non-Christian Tribes, in charge of Moro Affairs from February to August, 1903, and Superintendent of Schools and Member of the Legislative Council of the Moro Province from September, 1903, to June, 1906. (Saleeby 1913:title page)

Tan argues that, “What accounted for the irreconcilable attitude of the Moro to colonialism was the root of his culture in Islam… Although this cultural bedrock had not been obvious in the formulation of colonial policies, it had been implied in the Saleeby approach to “the Moro Problem,” which received no encouragement from higher authorities and contributed to Saleeby’s disappointment with the educational thrust of the Americans in Moroland during his term as superintendent of education in the Moro Province.” (Tan 2002:277)

“On June 1, 1903, the Moro Province was established with political jurisdiction separate and different from the apparatus governing the colonised Filipinos in Luzon and Visayas. Moro Province was divided into five districts – Zamboanga, Lanao, Cotabato, Davao and Sulu.” (Lucman 2000:276) Interestingly, Gowing writes that, “The policy makers determined that the path of “indirect rule” marked out by the Dutch in the East Indies and the British in Malaya would not be taken by the Americans in Moroland. Rather, steps were to be taken to bring the Moros within the civil political structure of the Philippines. At the same time, the wisdom and the experience of the military officers who had had immediate contact with the situation in Moroland would not be set aside.” (Gowing 1977:72)

© Carlo J. Velayo