Paduka Batara


Royal Visitor to China



         The Philippines and China have had a long history of friendly relations and trade dating back to at least a thousand years. Although the earliest mention by the Chinese about the Philippines appeared in 977A.D., during the Sung period, there was evidence that they knew about the country as early as 400-100B.C., during the Han period. Chinese traders conducted their activities through the port of Tongkin. Many parts of the country were well known in China for their products. This was especially true of Sulu area, whose exquisite pearls were much sought after in the Celestial Kingdom, as China was called. Trade between China and the Philippines intensified during the Ming period (1368-1644A.D.). Principality from Sulu and other kingdom in Southeast Asia sent missions to the Imperial court in Beijing to pay tribute The payment of tribute did not mean the surrender of their political authority to the Chinese since China never ruled any part of Asia far from its borders It was simply an acknowledgement of the superiority of the civilization of China. In return, the Chinese emperor accorded the tribute-paying “barbarian” countries trading privileges, which provided them with great prosperity.


         The Ming Shih, or the Annuals of the Ming period, preserves a pleasant episode in the friendly relations between Sulu and China:


         In 1417, the 15th year of the reign of Emperor Yung Lo (Pinyin, Yung Le), a Sulu chieftain named Paduka Batara came to the imperial court to pay tribute. (“Paduka” is not really a name but a title of Malay nobility.) Known in the Ming Shih as Pa-Tu-Ko-Ha-La (Patugohada), the eastern king Sulu, Paduka was an accompanied by the western king, Ma-Ha-La-Chiq-Ko-La-Ma-ting (Maharajah) and the queen of the cave king Ba-To-Ko-Pa-La-Pok (Paduka Prabu) of Ka-La-Ba-Ting (Klaibatagan). The Eastern Kingdom appears to be Jolo and, the western kingdom, Tawi-Tawi. Klaibatagan is in North Borneo. They arrived with their families and headmen numbering more than 340 persons. After presenting to the Emperor their tribute, which consist of a letter with gold characters inscribed upon t, along with pearls, precious stones, tortoise shells, and other articles of value, the two chieftains were confirmed as rulers of their respective kingdom and were each presented with seal, a commission, a complete court dress, a cap, a girdle, a horse with trappings, insignias of their rank and title, and other things. They were also provided with quarters inside the imperial palace, and attendants were assigned to them at their disposal. (In some accounts, the cave king, or the king of the mountain of Klaibatagan, paduka prabu, was also present during the visit; thus there were three chieftains, instead of just two.)


         After staying in China for 27 days, the two rulers signified their intention to return to their homelands The emperor, Yung Le, provided each of them with a girdle adorned with precious stones, a hundred taels of gold, 2,000 taels of silver, 10,000 taels in paper money, 200 pieces of plain silk, 2,000 strings of cash (small money denomination), a robe embroidered with golden snakes, another embroidered with dragons, and a third embroidered with kilins, a mythical Chinese beast resembling a unicorn.  


         While journeying from Beijing to the coast, Paduka the eastern king, fell ill. He was taken to the imperial hall in Tekchow in Shantung (Pinyin, Shandong) province, where he died. Upon learning of this visitor’s death, the emperor ordered the authorities concerned to take care of the funeral rites and Paduka the posthumous title of “Reverence.”


         Paduka’s widow, concubines, and a retinue of 10 persons stayed behind in the Chinese province to care for the tomb and observe a three-year morning period while his eldest son, Tu-Ba-Hap (Tumahan), return to Sulu to assumed his father’s throne. After completing the mourning period, most of Paduka’s relatives returned home, too, leaving only his second and third sons, An-Tu-Luk (Antulu) and Wun-Ha-La (Wenhala), to conduct the sacrificial rites for their father and to take care of this tomb and monument. Their descendants adopted their family names “An” and “Wun” (Wen), respectively. Thus the Ans and Wuns of Tekchow were of Suluan extraction.


         During the Ching period (1644-1911A.D.), the reigning sultan of Sulu, Mahmud Badr-ud Din, sent an envoy in June1733 to Emperor Yong Cheng with a memorial expressing his gratitude for the kind treatment his ancestor Paduka had received during his visit to China 300 years earlier. It also conveyed his request for the tombs of Paduka’s descendants to be repaired while his descendants who were still alive are bestowed with proper pensions.


         The emperor referred the matter to his minister of protocol who, after a period of study, Recommended that the sultan’s requests be granted. The emperor then issued an order to the authorities concerned to locate the positions of all the monuments, temples, and honorary gateways connecting Paduka’s tomb and those of these descendants that needed to be repaired. Also, a representative for each of the and Wun families was elected to take charge of the sacrificial rites for their ancestors, and bestowed crowns and belts. Henceforth, the practice of sacrificial rites by both families became an official rule observed traditionally in the Celestial Kingdom.            




Raquel Escoses