Strengthening the ties that binds: Celebrating Philippine-China Friendship Since 1417

600 years of Enduring Friendship, Beyond Borders, Beyond Time

600 years of Enduring Friendship, Beyond Borders, Beyond Time exhibit

Last June 9, the Federation of the Philippine-Chinese Association and the Kaisa Heritage Foundation hosted “600 years of Enduring Friendship, Beyond Borders, Beyond Time” in celebration of the anniversary of the visit of the Sultan of Sulu to China. In this event, Ms. Teresita Ang See launched her book titled “The Ties that Bind: The Saga of the Sultan of Sulu in China”

Teresita Ang See in her book mentioned that “Throughout history, the Chinese and the Filipino peoples have been bound together by an intertwining fate and destiny.” She said even during pre-Hispanic times, the Philippines has already established a friendly trade and cultural relation exchanges with China.

One of the stories of trade exchanges and tribute missions during pre-colonial period was the historic royal visit of Sultan Paduka Batara to China for a tribute mission in 1417. Accompanying him in his journey were two other Muslim leaders as well as 340 members of their delegation, including Batara’s two wives and three sons. The Chinese annals identified Batara as the “eastern king” and the most superior among the three chieftains. He is also considered the first Sulu diplomat.

Teresita Ang See

Unfortunately, Sultan Batara became ill and died on his way back to Sulu. The Chinese Emperor gave his friend a funeral “as formal as for a Chinese king,” As a sign of the Chinese’s respect to this historical and friendship, the Royal tomb of the Sultan has been made to a heritage park. It is the only tomb of a foreign monarch where a thriving village of his descendants still takes care of the tomb and the mosque until today.

Also present in the event was Princess Kiram, daughter of Sulu Sultan Jamalul Kiram III, who acknowledged that her forefather, Padukan Batara was indeed the first diplomat from Sulu. She said even before the arrival of the Spaniards, during the time there was no Philippines yet, the trade in Sulu was carried by Moros and Chinese.

Princess Kiram

Another good news announced in the event is that the group of Filipino adventurers led by former DENR Undersecretary Arturo Valdez will eye to retrace the Sultan’s journey to China onboard ancient boats made of wood, called the “balangay”. In this voyage, three balangay replicas are sailing to the city of Dezhou to commemorate the friendship that began 600 years ago. This will be the continuation of a journey that started seven years ago but was unfinished because of bad weather.

A miniature Balangay as a symbol of the historical friendship between Philippines and China

Throughout the years, there have been great achievements in China-Philippine relations since the establishment of the diplomatic ties and spoke highly of the extensive and fruitful cooperation in political, economic, cultural and other fields. Recently, the two countries have also pledged to further enhance mutually beneficial relationship in the years ahead.