Limahong - A Chinese Pirate Who Invaded the Philippines - Part 1

Limahong, or Lin Feng, also known as Lim Ah Hong or Limahon was a Chinese pirate and warlord who invaded the northern islands of the Philippines and also established a short-lived kingdom in Pangasinan. He built up a reputation for his constant raids to ports in Guangdong, Fujian and southern China. He is noted to have twice attempted and failed to overthrow the Spanish city of Manila in 1574.
There are different stories about Limahong with some degrees of historical accuracy. According to some legends, Limahong was from a Chinese Noble family; did something that offended the Emperor or Empress of the day which made them hire a pirate to rush him away from danger. He was leaving his homeland forever. This pirate sailed south to the natural harbor at Batangas, and as far north as safe harbor in Pampanga with Lim Ah Hong in tow. Lim Ah Hong, took to the pirate who saved him and was treated as a son. When the pirate died, Lim Ah Hong inherited the fleet and being of noble birth was a natural leader.
He was very successful at relieving the Spanish Armada of their gold which is why he began to appear in history books and ships logs. One of his safe harbors was Batangas with its deep waters. Lim Ah Hong found the local ladies to his liking. He took a wife but as a Chinese warlord was allowed as many concubines as he could afford, he populated the province of Batangas with his wife and countless concubines who gave forth progeny of whom there are several direct descendants.
Another tale is that Limahong was born as Dim Mhon. Since he was young, he started to do criminal activities, including robbery. He met and became a protege of an old pirate, Tial-lao. When Tial-lao died, Lim became his heir, inheriting the old pirate's fleet and around 2,000 pirates. His numerous attacks on ports and ships throughout southern China made the authorities issue a warrant for his capture. This brought him to pursue his criminal activities on higher seas, far from China's reach.
And there’s another tale that Li-ma-hong also known as Lin Feng or Li Tao Kiem, was born in the port town of Tiuchiu in the province of Cui Tam. At an early age he manifested a martial spirit and joined a band of corsairs which for a long time had been the terror of the China coasts. On the demise of his chief, Tai -La Ong, he was unanimously elected the new leader. Pursued at length in all directions by the imperial ships of war, he was determined to conquer the Philippines. Presumably the same incentives which encouraged the Spanish conquistadores to conquer lands and overthrow dynasties, the vision of wealth, glory and empire, awakened a like ambition in the Chinese corsair. He was able to accumulate 40 ships which increased to 95 ships when he took over the fleet of another pirate, Vin To Quiam. He came to be the notorious king of the waters of southern China.
On the death of Governor-General Miguel Lopez de Legazpi, the Government of the Colony was assumed by the Royal Treasurer, Guido de Lavezares. During this period, the possession of the Philippine Islands was unsuccessfully challenged by a rival expedition under the command of a Chinese pirate, Limahong. For the many attacks committed by him against private traders and property, the Celestial Emperor of China outlawed him.
It was in late 1573 that an army of 3,000 outlaws, bandits, and pirates led by Limahong fled to the island of Luzon. There, he and his band of outlaws sought refuge, established their own kingdom and waged war with the Spanish Empire.
By this time, a force of 40,000 soldiers and 135 ships was sent by the Wanli Emperor to kill and capture the pirates. Limahong and his troops first arrived in Ilocos Sur in early 1574 where they had a run-in with the Spanish commander, Juan de Salcedo.
A few troops were sent ashore to get provisions. While returning to the junks, they sacked the village and set fire to the huts. The news of this outrage was hastily communicated to Juan Salcedo, who had been pacifying the Northern Provinces since July 1572, and was at the time in Villa Fernandina (now called Vigan). Li-ma-hong continued his course and anchored on the Ilocos coast of Cagayan where a few Spanish soldiers were stationed under the orders of Juan Salcedo, who was still in the town of Vigan. Under Salcedo’s direction, preparations were made to prevent the enemy entering the river, but such was not Li-ma-hong's intention. After that brief struggle with the Spanish army, his troops set sail again.
In his sea-wanderings he happened to fall in with a Chinese trading junk returning from Manila with the proceeds of her cargo sold there. This he seized and learned that Manila was a new and relatively unprotected city though already occupied by the Spaniards. From this information and the knowledge that China had a no-war policy with its neighbors during that time, he decided to capture Manila and make it his kingdom. The captive crew were constrained to pilot his fleet towards the capital of Luzon. From them he learnt how easily the natives had been plundered by a handful of foreigners, the probable extent of the opposition he might encounter, the defenses established, the wealth and resources of the district, and the nature of its inhabitants.
Salcedo, naturally supposing his course would be towards Manila, also started at the same time for the capital with all the fighting men he could collect, leaving only 30 men to garrison Vigan and protect the State interests there. With the remainder he reached the coast at Parañaque, a village seven miles south of Manila.
It was November 29, 1574. The inhabitants of the town of Paranaque, a royal encomienda, was under heavy attack from the forces of this Chinese corsair, who were on their way to Intramuros, the seat of Spanish rule in the Philippines. Folk accounts have it that the inhabitants were at first disorganized, until a man from a barrio, by the name of Galo, came forward and took command. Under his able leadership, and with the arrival of Spanish forces led by Captain Juan de Salcedo from Ilocos, Limahong was repulsed and the occupation of the town was prevented.
The strong resistance of the barrio residents shocked the Chinese pirate, who thought that capturing Manila would be easy. What Limahong did not expect was that the defenders of the community, that would later be known as Don Galo, despite being ill-equipped, would fight to the end, so much so that the sea in front of the barrio turned red with their blood. The battle became known as the "Red Sea Incident".
The Parañaqueños not only saved their town, but they contributed decisively to Limahong's abandoning his plans to conquer the area. In appreciation for Galo's leadership and heroic deeds, the Spanish authorities granted him the title of "Don". The barrio later on was named after him - Don Galo or Dongalo.
Until next time. The Philippine history continues. . .

The Philippines and Its Species-Rich Ecosystem - Part II


Philippine fauna forms a distinct subdivision within the Malayan region and provides evidence of the land bridges that once linked the archipelago with mainland Asia via Borneo. Palawan is especially rich in wildlife, which is closely related to Borneo’s. The wildlife of mainland Mindanao and Sulu also show affinity with Borneo, while northern Luzon has species in common with Taiwan and the Asian mainland.
Although the fossilized remains of elephants, have been found, the Philippines today has few large mammals. The absence of major predators means an abundance of small animals.


Tarsier - Photo by Wikipedia

There is a variety of fauna. Each September, migratory birds stop over on their way south from a chilling China. The Philippines is home to several indigenous birds and animals: sea turtles, mouse deer, tarsiers, and the Philippine eagle to name a few.

Carabao wikipedia

Carabao - Photo by Wikipedia
The strong domesticated carabao (water buffalo) is widely used in farms – as a form of transport and for tilling the soil. The carabao have no sweat glands and they cannot work in intense heat. In areas where it is too hot for carabao, farmers use zebu (Brahma cattle). In many places you will see ponies providing transportation.
Tamaraw Tamaraw - Photo by Wikipedia

Wild water-buffalo, probably descended from domestic animals, can be seen in Luzon, Mindoro, the Calamian group, Masbate, Negros and Mindanao, but a very small buffalo, called the tamaraw, on Mindoro, is native to the Philippines. This tiny buffalo, savage and untameable, often attacks and kills the larger water-buffalo, nearly twice its size.
The Philippine has quite a few kinds of mammals, but no marsupials. On the tiny islands of Balabac, between Palawan and Borneo, a kind of mouse deer ranges, one of the smallest deer in the world. Axis deer found on Sulu were probably introduced a century or two ago. On the islands of Basilan, Mindanao, Leyte, Samar and the Calamian group, red and brown deer occur, related to the sambar deer of Asia. Another deer, found on Masbate, Panay and Guimaras (between Panay and Negros), and native to the Philippines, is dark-colored with buff spots.
Two kinds of wild pigs and a kind of monkey can be seen on most of the larger islands, and tiny primates called tarsiers are found from Basilan to Samar. Squirrels live on the eastern islands, and also on Palawan, and a strange anteater called the pangolin, on Palawan.

Colugo - Photo by Wikipedia

Carnivorous animals of the Philippines include shrews and otters, two kinds of civet cat, and a small wild-cat. Bats and flying foxes are very common, and another strange flying mammals is found in the Philippines – the colugo, which looks vaguely like a cross between a bat and a flying squirrel, and is sometimes called a “flying lemur”.

Sadly, most of these animals face extinction. The incessantly over-expanding human population, however, encroaches relentlessly on natural habitats. Deforestation and hunting have caused many species of animals that once ranged broadly to be confined to specific areas. Wild pigs are an exception: they have adapted well to the changing environment.
Bird life in the Philippines is abundant – over 700 species have been recorded. Pheasants are confined to Palawan, but jungle fowls are found almost everywhere, and a strange megapode (or incubator bird) builds next mounds in the warm ash on volcano slopes. Water and shore birds include snipe, plover, turnstone, herons, bitterns, and ducks.
About 50 kinds of birds of prey live in the Philippines, ranging in size form a sparrow-sized falcon to the large monkey-eating eagle – twenty kinds of birds of prey are found nowhere else in the world. Some twenty kinds of kingfishers, most of them native to the Philippines, live along the streams and waterways.
A dozen kinds of hornbills occur only in the Philippines. One kind of cockatoo and about twenty kinds of parrots and parakeets live in the forests, as well as larks, barbets, broadbills, starlings, orioles, weaver finches, nuthatches, titmice, shrikes, tailor birds, thrushes, flycatchers, swallows and swifts. The swift whose nest, collected for soup, is eaten with relish in Asian countries, lives in some parts of the Philippines.
About twenty kinds of woodpeckers, and the same number of cuckoos and honeyeaters are found here, and some twenty-eight species of colorful sunbirds. Some of the other kinds of birds in the Philippines are frogmouths, beebirds, and night-hawks.
The Philippines has over 20,000 types of insects, including ants, termites, locusts, land-leeches, butterflies, moths, beetles, cockroaches, mosquitoes, and wasps. One of these wasps, the tiger hornet, is among the most feared of jungle creatures in the Philippines – just as terrifying as any of the venomous snakes of the region. Nesting in small colonies low to the ground, these large black insects have a four-inch wingspan, and a bright orange strips across the abdomen. Occasionally they nest on a jungle path, where an unwary person might disturb them. One or two bites cause intense pain but, if the whole group of wasps attack, they can kill the strongest of men in a very short time.
Filipinos are very fond of honey, especially in places where sugar cane does not grow. Honey bees are encouraged to nest in trees with easy access.
Philippine Crocodile Philippine Crocodile - Photo by Wikipedia

Land and freshwater reptiles include many small lizards, such as skinks and geckoes, and large goannas, venomous snakes, the reticulated python and other pythons and boas, and the only sea-snake in the world known to have adapted itself to a life in fresh water (found in lake Taal). Land turtles are also common, and a crocodile grows to a length of 25 feet, and may measure about three feet across the back.
About 40 kinds of frogs live in the Philippine region – most of them closely related to species found in Borneo. Scientists believe that these reached the islands on canoes laden with produce, or crossed many centuries ago when the Philippines region was connected to Borneo by land bridges.
The seas on the western side of the Philippines and between the islands, fairly shallow and warm, support a huge variety of marine creatures. Sea mammals are represented by dolphins, dugongs, and whales. The largest marine animal in these waters is the striped whale. Turtles, sea snakes, coral snakes, and the huge estuarine or sea-going crocodile are also common. Over 2,000 varieties of fish live in the Philippine region, including the smallest fish in the world, only half an inch long when fully grown. Most of the fish are of Indonesian origin, with some Chinese and Japanese kinds, and others similar to fish found near Tonga, Samoa, and Hawaii. Tereapon, catfish, perch, mudfish, mullet, milkfish, trevally, long-tom or garfish, shrimps, crabs, oysters, and squid are caught close to shore by commercial fishermen. Salmon, herrings, and other fish are farmed in tidal pools. Oceanic fish are anchovy, bonito sailfish, marlin, sharks, mackerel, barracuda, jewfish, bass, snapper, tuna, and many others. Many kinds of colorful reef shells come from the warm seas close to the islands.
The Philippines by John Cockcroft
Philippine Handbook by Carl Parkes
Philippine Guide by Jill & Rebecca Gale de Villa

On Writings - Quote 1