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Royal Rumble: A Sabah Claimant Speaks
One of the heirs of the hotly-contested territory gives his lighthearted two cents.
By: Ibba Rasul-Bernardo  |   Published on: Mar 7, 2013 - 7:00am

[Ed's note: Ibba Rasul-Bernardo is descended from the viziers of the Sultanate of Sulu, and his family holds a small claim over Sabah. At present, Ibba is a Manila-based writer, a social entrepreneur, techie, motorcycle rider, and a long-time colleague of Spot.ph editors. We asked him for his two-cents' worth on the Sabah-Philippines-Malaysia debacle, and this is what he had to say.]

(SPOT.ph) I was brought up in a family that valued brains and achievement over money and titles. I was also brought up to not brag, especially about things unearned. Which is why being a royal was never a big part of my upbringing.

As a snot-nosed kid, I was even a bit embarrassed to ask about our royal lineage for fear of getting a very stern lecture from my mother, Amina Rasul (who is royalty; dad is, like Princess Diana, a commoner). Besides, royal pedigree doesnt change the fact that I am a dork.

So my heritage passed into history until this Sabah situation arose. We recently had a family meeting with some of the heirs. Here we discussed the history of Sabah and our legal rights to it. I always knew that we had some claim and now I know how legitimate it really is.

The author (right) during his wedding, dressed in royal wear patterned
after the Grand Vizier of the Sulu Sultanate

The Lineage

To say my great-grandfather Hadji Butu was great is an understatement. There are poems about him in the Tausug oral tradition. He was the vizier or wazir (Prime Minister) to three Sultans, he freed his slaves, he was the first Muslim Senator of the Republic of the Philippines, and most of all he was a man of peace and learning. He was married to Princess Hadja Salma who in turn was first cousin to Queen Dayang Dayang Hadja Piandao. You can clearly trace Sabahs claim through these powerful women, and through them I claim a tiny percentage of Sabah.

My Grandfather Ambassador Abraham Rasul, after whom Im named, succeeded Hadji Butu as Prime Minister to the Sultanate. He was given the power by the Sultan of Sulu to discuss the pursuit of Sabah with President Macapagal, and afterwards, President Marcos.

My family was where the Sultans got their viziers. In Game of Thrones terms, we were the Hand of the King and the title was passed down from first son to first son.

Sadly, Im the first son of the first child who was a daughter. So Im not in line to be a Vizier or Prime Minister to the Sultan. In another life, I would have been a Datu with my own retainers and warriors. I might have even started a revolution against my cousin Tariq, to whom the title would officially fall to. Lucky for Tariq, times have changed...plus, hes also a cool young man for whom I have a lot of affection.

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13 Comments
  • Nafs
    If you are all claiming or knows everything about royalty, why don't you declare Jihad against Kafir, you just wasting your time claiming this and that, b*llsh*ts...
    2 months ago     Reply  
  • Nur Sampang
    Geek Datu, huwag kang mabahala sa mga inggit sa yo. Nakakatuwa ang sinulat mo - ginawa mo na parang Game of Thrones ang kwento ng Sulu Sultanate. Para sa mga magagaling na Tausug na nag-nginigitngit sa sinulat mo, dapat matandaan nila na ang titulo ni Hadja Piandao Kiram ay DAYANGDAYANG (titulo ng Prinsesa na puede lang gamitin ng anak ng Sultan) Hadja Piandao Kiram, anak ni Sultan Badaruddin. Namatay ang ama niya bago siya pinanganak at inampon siya ni Sultan Jamalul, na kapatid ni Sultan Badaruddin. Influential si DD Hadja Piandao sa Sultanate dahil pinakikinggan siya ni Sultan Jamalul. Kung lalaki lang sana siya, naging Sultan siya pero hindi pumayag ang Ruma Bichara na maging Sultana si DD Hadja Piandao. Alam mo ba na ginawa niyang Sultan ang asawa niya na si Datu Ombra Amilbangsa? Pero nagkaproblema din yun. Mahabang kwento. Namatay si DD Hadja Piandao na walang anak at mga kapatid na buhay. Sa shariah, ang magmamana ay ang mga relatives niya sa tatay at nanay. Kaya si Hadja Salma (asawa ni Hadji Butu), na pinsan ni DD Hadja Piandao sa nanay, ay magmamana. Lola ng nanay mo si Hadja Salma. Kaya tagapagmana na rin ang nanay mo dahil yumao na ang tatay niya, si Abraham Rasul, na Wazir ni Sultan Ismael at Sultan Mahakuttah.
    Mar 31 2013 @ 11:30am     Reply  
  • Nur Sampang
    Astagfirullah! Uway kamu sense of humor.
    Mar 31 2013 @ 10:30am     Reply  
  • Darul Jambangan
    Huy wai sipug. Ayaw naman kaw mag gural Datu sin wai duguh sin mga Rasul royal blood. makaluman sayan. haha makaulung in boy ini dyupang sin maas nya hehe.
    Mar 19 2013 @ 03:35am     Reply  
  • Datu Calbi Kiram
    No queen piandao. This be allow during times of sultan jamalul 2? Piandao get husband to have sultan. She make husband ombra amilbangsa sultan even just that man comoner like hadji bhutu comoner. Princes Tarhata is real heir because adopt by sultan jamalul because tarhata pretty face unlike dayang piandao is maitim and panget. Good hdji piandao no children. Her share go now to only Kiram relatives because Sabah is Kiram property. But she like her share go only to a Princess Tarhata and her children.
    Mar 18 2013 @ 11:11pm     Reply  
  • Prince Kiram
    This man lying. Dayang Piandao as common to all is relative of Kiram. She a Kiram and no child to her. So her nephews and nieces Kiram side will inherit her share. Because for Kiram only because property is belong to Kiram. No such thing as princess salma! Is she kiram? No kiram person with that name.
    Mar 18 2013 @ 10:26pm     Reply  
  • Paramount Geek Datu Ibba of the Royal Army of Dorkness
    Hello Mr Tausug Academc, I'd just like to direct your attention to this part of the article,
    "He (Hadji Butu) was married to Princess Hadja Salma who in turn was first cousin to Queen Dayang Dayang Hadja Piandao. You can clearly trace Sabah’s claim through these powerful women..."
    Princess Hadja Salma was my Great grandmother.
    Mar 18 2013 @ 01:38am     Reply  
  • Tausug Academic
    Mr. Bernardo, being a “royal” was never a big part of your upbringing because you were never a royal. And the reason why your mother would give you a "stern lecture" when you would ask her about your "royal" lineage is because your mother is not of royalty as well, and I can only imagine how it would be difficult for her to back up her claim. Sir, you are obviously a smart man, so you may find out the truth on your own. You can find genealogy charts in historical documents. Do not rely on your family's "narratives" because these "narratives" are laughable, to say the least.
    Mar 17 2013 @ 11:49pm     Reply  
  • Sultanate of Sulu and North Borneo
    The Tausug royalty succession system of the Sultanate of Sulu started in 1450--meaning even before North Borneo/Sabah (which was in 1650), and definitely before the very controversial and, dare I say, very erroneous McKaskie ruling (in 1939). Therefore, there was already a fixed system in place starting 1450 on how Tausug datus (princes) and dayang-dayangs (princesses) are determined--that is, one only becomes a datu or a dayang-dayang (as the case may be) IF AND ONLY IF one's FATHER is a datu. TITLE PASSES ON ONLY TO THE MALE HEIRS. Call it anti-feminist, but that is how it has always been since 1450--ASK ANY TRUE-BLUE TAUSUG. If your father is a datu and your mother is a commoner, you are a datu or a dayang-dayang. If your mother is a dayang-dayang but your father is a commoner, you are a commoner. It's that simple. Kaya pag pumunta ka sa Sulu, Mr. Paramount Geek "Datu" Ibba Rasul-Bernardo, pagtatawanan ka ng mga totoong Tausug for claiming something you clearly aren't! Please! Do not take advantage of the ignorance of most Filipinos regarding the royalty succession system in Sulu by telling them that you are a datu because some great great grand AUNT happened to be a dayang-dayang! Again, and I couldn't emphasize this more, TITLE PASSES ON ONLY TO THE MALE HEIRS! Your father is not just a non-royalty, he is also a non-Tausug! Where the hell did you get the idea that you are a datu?! TRUE TAUSUG DATUS AND DAYANG-DAYANGS WILL ALWAYS BE THERE, WITH OR WITHOUT SABAH! Sorry, but royal blood can never be bought!
    Mar 17 2013 @ 11:07pm     Reply   Hide replies
    • Paramount Geek Datu Ibrahim “Ibba” Rasul Bernardo, of the Royal Army of Dorkness
      Hello "Sultanate of Sulu and North Borneo", How dare you take the title "Sultanate of Sulu and North Borneo" I mean that's a whole bunch of pretty awesome people. Are you the embodiment of that rich historical royal house?

      Obviously, you aren't the whole Sultanate, just like obviously there is no such thing as the Royal Army of Dorkness. Do you seriously think that Paramount Geek Datu Ibrahim “Ibba” Rasul Bernardo, of the Royal Army of Dorkness is a real title? I mean are you the "Sultanate of Sulu and North Borneo"? Come on, Sultanate of Sulu and North Borneo chillax, it's not like I'm having calling cards printed with that as my title. I'm not sure it would even fit. Maybe with a very small font. It would be cool though to have a herald enter before I come in a room and announce me. But I digress. It's not like I go around trolling articles saying that I am the "Sultanate of Sulu and North Borneo".

      Also, please read a bit more of the article, where it clearly states that the title passes down from male heir to male heir. For your enlightenment the part I'm referring to below:

      "Sadly, I’m the first son of the first child who was a daughter. So I’m not in line to be a Vizier or Prime Minister to the Sultan. In another life, I would have been a Datu with my own retainers and warriors."

      It could be you took it a bit too literally, which wasn't the intended outcome. When I say "in another life" I mean in another plane of reality or another dimension, think of Fringe.

      Also I'd like to add for further clarity, the title "Hand of the King" is from a great work fantasy called "Game of Thrones" written by R.R. Martin. You might have missed that fictional reference as well. It's definitely a good read, I highly suggest it.

      FYI "The Army of Dorkness" or AoD as it is more commonly known, is an online guild which has spanned many many virtual empires from Ragnarok to Tantra to World of Warcraft. And I luckily was the Guild Master or Dork King of the AoD. So I guess you could call me Paramount Geek Sultan of the Army of Dorkness if you prefer.
      Mar 18 2013 @ 01:05am     Reply  
  • SuluSultanate
    Hadji Butu was a traitor to the Sulu Sultanate. He conspired with the US and commonwealth to include the Sultanate to the Philippine Republic without the knowledge of the sultan. As his prize, he was given a high position in the Philippine Government. the Sultan cursed and condemned Hj.Butu acts of treachery to the sultanate.

    Hj. Butu was never a part of the Sulu Royal Family. thus, Mr.Ibba is not considered as heir.
    Mar 17 2013 @ 10:28am     Reply   Hide replies
    • Paramount Geek Datu Ibrahim Ibba Rasul Bernardo, of the Royal Army of Dorkness
      Hello SuluSultanate,

      Are you by any chance related to Sultanate of Sulu and North Borneo. There seem to be quite a few of you with similar names.

      It seems like you haven't read the whole article and I'd just like to refresh your memory as to who had the claim. Please read the excerpt below.

      "He was married to Princess Hadja Salma who in turn was first cousin to Queen Dayang Dayang Hadja Piandao. You can clearly trace Sabah’s claim through these powerful women..."

      Also I've found quite a few articles online regarding Hadji Butu from very legitimate sources. Wiki, the Philippine Senate to name a few, but I haven't found anything to substantiate any claim other than he was a brilliant man of peace. If you haven't heard of it, Google is a great way to find information.

      http://en.wikipilipinas.org/index.php?title=Hadji_Butu
      http://www.senate.gov.ph/senators/former_senators/hadji_butu.htm
      Mar 18 2013 @ 01:27am     Reply   Hide replies
      • SuluSultanate
        Hey Datu Dork of the Sultanate of Dorkness. Dont just rely on this info. Ask the elders of true blue blooded REAL heirs so you may know what transpired between the sultan and hj.butu upon his arrival in Jolo port in connection to my previous writing.

        Please accept my apologiy for being frank your HIGHNESS... dork.
        Mar 18 2013 @ 09:31am     Reply  
    • Paramount Geek Datu Ibrahim Ibba Rasul Bernardo, of the Royal Army of Dorkness
      Hello SuluSultanate,

      Are you by any chance related to Sultanate of Sulu and North Borneo. There seem to be quite a few of you with similar names.

      It seems like you haven't read the whole article and I'd just like to refresh your memory as to who had the claim. Please read the excerpt below.

      "He was married to Princess Hadja Salma who in turn was first cousin to Queen Dayang Dayang Hadja Piandao. You can clearly trace Sabah’s claim through these powerful women..."

      Also I've found quite a few articles online regarding Hadji Butu from very legitimate sources. Wiki, the Philippine Senate to name a few, but I haven't found anything to substantiate any claim other than he was a brilliant man of peace. If you haven't heard of it, Google is a great way to find information.


      If you want know a bit more please check out these links:
      http://en.wikipilipinas.org/index.php?title=Hadji_Butu
      http://www.senate.gov.ph/senators/former_senators/hadji_butu.htm
      Mar 18 2013 @ 01:28am     Reply  
  • Kabo ng Malaysia
    Sabah Massacre.faikure to protect the right of filipinos.yung bibitayin nga sa Middle East nakiki usap tayo.yung Ampatuanskahit maraming witness.pinagbigyan na ipagtanggol ang sarili kumuha abugado. ito pa kayang Sabah? Team Mala-Pili
    Mar 09 2013 @ 03:45pm     Reply  
  • justanobserver
    i met kiram when he was running for the senate. he was tricked by GMA's party to run. they thought that they would be getting financial support from GMA for the election, they were wrong. they had to sell their house to cover election expenses. the guy and his wife is very nice. i hope and pray that they can reclaim sabah or something good will happen to their family.
    Mar 08 2013 @ 03:10pm     Reply  
  • bosler
    the problem cropped up as the philippines is working out a peace plan with the milf's and malaysia and at this, the mnlf's feel 'neglected'. even while the philippine gov't. was shouting to the whole world that a peace plan was in the making, the fact that nur misuari was not included in the process will mean a lot of trouble for us. and now it has started to show!!
    Mar 07 2013 @ 10:37am     Reply  
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