A fearless Maranao warrior, Amai Pakpak, also known as Datu Akadir, born in Buadi sa
Kayo, lived and died for the cause of Muslim freedom. He was famous for his heroic military
exploits against the Spaniards, particularly in his defense of the legendary Kota Marahui (Marawi),
the fortification made of earth and stone, which he had built. The Kota served as a bulwark against
the Spanish invasions of 1891 and 1895.
Today, Kota Marahui is now known as Camp Amai Pakpak. The nearest landmark, located
several meters away, is the Agus 2 hydraulic plant.
Since 1650, when the Maranaos routed the Spanish expeditionary forces sent by Governor
Corcuera, Lake Lanao had been free of foreign intrusion. It was not until 1891that the Spaniards
sent another invading force to try to capture the lake area.
Personally led by Governor-General Valeriano Weyler, the campaign, begun in April,
aimed to establish military strongholds in key points over Lanao and Cotabato. To carry this out,
Weyler organized more than a thousand troops who were transported to Iligan Bay by four ships
packed with military supplies. The main objective was Kota Marahui, which had been heavily
fortified by cannons and guns, the Muslim warriors manning them ready to sacrifice their lives.
On August 19, Marahui fell, but the following day, Amai Pakpak and his forces reconsolidated and
launched a fierce counterattack, proving that despite Marahui’s loss, the rest of Lanao was not
about to give up.
On August 21, 1891, the Spaniards launched a two-pronged attack. They bombarded the
fort, overwhelming its defenders. Both sides sustained heavy casualties, though Amai Pakpak and
his men who survived the onslaught eluded capture by retreating into the lake settlements. There,
they regrouped. The Spaniards did not savor their initial victory for long. Three days later, the
Muslims were back -- a bigger and more formidable force that compelled them to withdraw in
their own redoubts in North Lanao.
Henceforth, the Muslims regularly staged lightning raids, in small units, against enemy
settlements in southern Misamis Oriental and Iligan. This went on for four years. In time, the
colonial government decided that if the stalemate were to end and the Muslim settlements around
Lake Lanao subdued, the campaign on land should be bolstered by naval support – a strategy that
had found success elsewhere in Mindanao. Thus, a fleet of four steel-armed light gunboats was
sent to the lake within a period of one year, from 1894 to 1895.
Knowing that the absence of any major confrontation with the enemy was only temporary
and that the Spaniards were just biding their time, the Muslims braced themselves for the big
ahead. In the four years of relative peace, they rebuilt their forts, including that of Amai Pakpak,
strategically placing on their stonewalls more massive cannons. In the end, however, these
preparations proved of no avail. Amai Pakpak’s warriors were simply no match to the 5,000
strong, well-armed Spanish force backed up by four gunboats. Thus, on March 10, 1895, after the
first two kotas were captured by the enemy, Fort Marahui also fell. Amai Pakpak died fighting with
his men, including his son and 23 datus. Among those who managed to survive, some escaped to
other kotas, others built new ones. For the Spaniards, it was an uneasy victory, for the surviving
Muslim warriors continued to wage the struggle made more glorious by Amai Pakpak’s supreme
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