After I got home today I spent a lot of time reading about the pirate raids in the Philippines between the 1600′s to the mid 1800′s.
Every year the raids would happen, the boats would come from the South, because the raiding tribes depended on slavery as a basis of their economy. They would sail in on the southwestern monsoon, raid coastal communities and go up the rivers to capture people and steal the harvests.
Most captives were sold at the slave market in Jolo. Some very unlucky people were sold to be used in human sacrifice by some tribes that lived in the mountains. The loss of people and crops set up a cycle of poverty. Spain was too far away and too disconnected to help. Eventually, forts were built to warn people of the arrival of the raiders, eventually churches were built with thick walls to protect against invaders. While people from all over the region were game for the slave market, Filipinos were known for trying to escape.
In Boac, Marinduque, the church doubled as a fortress. One time during a pirate raid, the people appealed to Our Lady for protection. According to the story that has passed down through time, a lady in white appeared on the ramparts and held her arms up – signalling the pirates to stop. The boats retreated. There is a similar story from Zamboanga.
The passage to Jolo was incredibly cruel and savage. Once captured, the people were stripped and constrained with rattan collars. If they showed any resistance, they were caned. The food was exceedingly meager.
I often wonder if the floating fear that I remember in the Philippines, of not ever going out alone, of always being with a companion, hearkens to those lost times of invasion and disappearance.
Over the slave raiding era, 200,000 Filipinos were captures and sold into slavery. I never heard a word about this in school. The raiders sailed as far north as Ilocos. They went up the rivers in Pampanga. Bicol, Marinduque, Samar, Leyte, Cebu, Masbate, Mindoro, all were plundered and left desolate.