Wang Wanggao in search of Limahong

Limahong Channel – Photo Credit:
The Viceroy of Fokien, having heard of Limahong’s daring exploits, had commissioned a ship of war to discover the whereabouts of Limahong, his imperial master’s old enemy.
Wang Wanggao, known in Spanish sources as Omocon, who was commissioned to capture Limahong dead or alive, arrived in Philippine waters and encountered the Spanish soldiers in Bolinao, Pangasinan.
The envoy was received with delight by the Spaniards. He was invited to accompany them to Manila to meet the Governor. Wang Wanggao went to Manila accompanied by Field Marshal Salcedo where the former was dined and entertained.
To cap it all, the governor ordered Salcedo and the soldiers to deliver to Wang Wanggao all Chinese pirates captured in Pangasinan. Then he ordered everything necessary for the voyage to be fully prepared, which was done within a few days. In return for all this kindness, Wang Wanggao offered to take along with him to China some Augustinian friars to spread Roman Catholicisim. The Governor willingly accepted the offer. Wang Wanggao departed with two priests, Martin de Rada and Gerónimo Martin amidst the salvo of goodwill and friendship. The two priests were commissioned to carry a letter of greeting and presents to the Viceroy who received them with great distinction but objected to their residing in the country.
According to Restituto Basa, author of Footnotes on Pangasinan History and The Story of Dagupan, Limahong married a certain Princess Kabontatala who helped him dig the channel. It’s still possible to see the “Limahong Channel” as it flows from Domalandan between Labrador and Lingayen to the sea. A marker has been placed at the channel commemorating his failed attempts to occupy Manila. A monument of Limahong can also be seen at the wharf in Barangay Lucap in Alaminos, Pangasinan. The Limahong Channel remains a tribute to their endeavor.
On his escape, Limahong had to abandon the troops employed in this maneuver. Many of Limahong ’s people were unable to travel with the reduced fleet and joined the local population. Many Chinese left behind became the ancestors of numerous old mestizo families in Lingayen and Dagupan. Some of these men, losing all hope, and having indeed nothing but their lives to fight for, fled to the mountains to escape the clenched fist of the Spanish rule. Hence it is popularly supposed that from these fugitives descends the race of people in the hill district north of that province still distinguishable by their oblique eyes and known by the name of Igorrote-Chinese.
 Today, many of the native Pangasinenses possess some tint of Chinese blood in their veins, and they are still distinguishable by their oblique eyes and light complexion. Many citizens of Lingayen and other towns in this part of the province and along the Agno River are of Chinese ancestry.
Meanwhile, Limahong and remnants of his forces were able to join up with Li Mao and Chen Dele to pirate the South China coast in 1589. After which, no more news was heard from him.
Philippine Guide by Jill & Rebecca Gale de Villa
Insight Philippines by Discovery Channel
Philippine Handbook by Carl Parkes

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