Tuesday, December 5, 2006

Tawalisi in Pangasinan?

I have an insatiable longing about the history of this province. Talking about the history, we cannot neglect what our textbooks in schools are saying about Princess Urduja who was undeniably sculpted in our minds as the province hero. Everytime we talked about Princess Urduja we have to mention Pangasinan.

Who is Princess Urduja? "Urduja was a princess who was the ruler of a city called Kaylukari in the land of Tawalisi mentioned in the travel account of Ibn Battuta (1304 - possibly 1368 or 1377 C.E.), a Muslim traveler from Morocco who was on his way to China. Princess Urduja was described as a daughter of a king named Tawalisi of a land that was also called Tawalisi. The ruler of Tawalisi, according to Ibn Battuta, possessed many ships and was a rival of China, which was then ruled by a Mongol dynasty. Ibn Battuta sailed for 17 days to reach China from the land of Tawalisi."

Our Capitol's name is "Urduja Palace". A statue of Princess Urduja stands at the Hundred Islands National Park. And there was the the Urduja hotel in Urdaneta City. Almost all of us believe the story of Princess Urduja.

But I got a problem with our history. With the sources I read, I am doubtful about the location of the story of Princess Urduja. We've come to live with what they taught us without understanding the source. Here's the full text in the Cathay and the way hither on the Travel of Ibn Battuta interpretted by Henry Yule.

This Tawalisi is a great difficulty. The French translators say, " The Isle of Celebes, or rather perhaps Tunkin;" Dulaurier, "The coast of Camboja, Cochin-China, or Tunkin ; " Lassen, "By this name no place can be meant but Tonkin ; " whilst Walckenaer identifies it with Talual, a small island adjoining Bachian, one of the Moluccas. This last suggestion seems to have been based on the name only, and all have been made in connection with the assumption that the Mul-Jawa of our author is Java, which we have seen that it cannot be.

It seems to me impossible that Tawalisi should be Cambodia, Cochin-China, or Tunking, for two conclusive reasons (1) that the voyage from Mul-Jawa to Tawalisi occupies seventy-one days, and is considered by our traveller's shipmates an unusually good passage ; (2) that the last thirty-seven days of this time are spent on the passage of the Bahr-al-Kdhil, disturbed by neither winds nor waves, a character which in this case we should have to attach to the China Sea, the very metropolis of Typhoons.

But I do not find it easy to get beyond a negative. Indeed, considering that Killer-Karai is the real name of a port in South India, and that Ur duja is a name which our author in a former part of his travels has assigned to one of the Queens of Mahomed -Uzbek Khan on the Wolga, and has explained to mean in Turkish 'Born in the Camp,' whilst the Lady of Tawalisi herself is made to speak not only to the traveller but to her own servants a mixture of Turkish and Persian, a faint suspicion rises that Tawalisi is really to be looked for in that part of the atlas which contains the Marine Surveys of the late Captain Gulliver.

Putting aside this suspicion, no suggestion seems on the whole more probable than that Tawalisi was the kingdom of Soolo or N.E. of Borneo. "Owing to some cause or other," says Crawfurd, "there has sprung up in Soolo a civilisation and power far exceeding those of the surrounding islanders. A superior fertility of the soil, and better means of maintaining a numerous and concentrated population, has probably been the main cause of this superiority ; but whatever be the cause, it has enabled this people not only to maintain a paramount authority over the whole Archipelago (i. e. the so-called Soolo Archipelago), but to extend it to Palawan and to the northern coasts of Borneo and islands adjacent to it." Adopting this view, we should have the Bahr-al-Kali:it in the sea between Java Borneo and Celebes, where hurricanes are unknown, and stormy weather is rare. And, the time mentioned by Ibn Batuta, if we suppose it occupied in the voyage from the upper part of the Gulf of Siam through the Java Sea and Straits of Macassar to Soolo, a distance of some 2,200 nautical miles, over a great part of which the ship had to be towed, would seem much less improbable than if the course were to Cochin-China or Tonkin. The naval power of Tawalisi is one of the most prominent features in the narrative, and the Soolo people have been noted throughout the seas of the Archipelago for the daring exploits of their piratical fleets from our earliest acquaintance with those regions. It would seem also from Ibn Batuta's expression, "the load of two elephants in rice," that elephants were used in Tawalisi. Now the elephant is alleged by Dalrymple to exist in Soolo, and though Crawford doubts the fact, there seems no sufficient reason for his doubts. It is known, moreover, to exist in the adjoining part of Borneo, which may have belonged to Soolo then as it does now, and though not used now it was found in a domesticated state at Brunei by Magellan's party in 1521. These are the only portions of the Archipelago east of Sumatra in which the elephant is known.

Jose Rizal disagreed with the scholar Henry Yule who said:

"Indeed, considering that Killa-Karai is the real name of a port in South India, and that Urduja is a name that our author in a former part of his travels has assigned to one of the Queens of Mahomed Uzbek Khan on the Volga, and has explained to mean in Turkish 'Born in the camp,' whilst the Lady of Tawalisi herself is made to speak not only to the traveler but to her own servants a mixture of Turkish and Persian, a faint suspicion rises that Tawalisi is really to be looked for in that part of the atlas which contains the Marine Surveys of the late Captain Gulliver."

In a letter to A.B. Meyer of the Dresden Museum, Dr. Jose Rizal wrote:

"I cannot accept Yule's suggested suspicion that Tawalisi may be found only in Gulliver's Geography. While I have doubts regarding the accuracy of Ibn Batuta's details, still I believe in the voyage to Tawalisi. There are details that only the reality of the statements could have furnished, details which could not have been invented -- like the change in the government of Kailucary, previously ruled by the son of the King, etc. Besides, what possible interest could Ibn Batuta have had in falsifying? In this travel account, he introduces nothing in favor of his religion or to himself, nor does he mention new marvels or entertaining adventures. The traveler had visited so many and such beautiful countries much more interesting than Tawalisi. He would not go out of his way to discredit them in order to invent an insignificant incident. That after his return he tried to embellish his travels with some exaggerated and fanciful details is possible. But imagination, love of the marvelous or a certain confusion produced by the multitude of things seen can equally well have been the cause.

"The principal data in which I think this ought to be sought are the distances, which do not vary with time and I give preference to these over details regarding names and customs. Travel from Kakula, in Mul-Java, to Tawalisi usually took 74 to 84 days. Ibn Batuta spent 71 days, 34 going under sail and 37 days rowing. From Tawalisi to Canton was 15 days with a favorable wind. These details argue for Ibn Batuta's veracity since travelers usually make the lands they invent remote.

"With these two data, and knowing the average attainment of Ibn Batuta's ship was from eight to 10 geographical leagues (15 of these to the degree) -- from the Maldives to Bengal, 43 days, from Bengal to Barahuagan 15, we may trace two arcs, one from Canton with a radius of 180 geographical leagues -- on the supposition that with favoring winds the day's sail might be 12 leagues, and the other arc from Kakula (between Java and Sumatra) of 430 leagues 7 radius -- calculating that by oars the speed would only be half. The intersection of these arcs, we should find, would be exactly in the neighborhood of the northern part of the Philippines."

Rizal was the voice then, so our history books follow. If Rizal was right

1. Where are those Turkish and Persian- speaking Pangasinenses?
2. What happened to the elephants which existed in Pangasinan? It would be harder to believe than the story of the Princess.

Are we just content with what Dr. Jose Rizal had to offer or Henry Yule had more substance?

If Tawalisi is not in Pangasinan, our history is wrong and there should be no Princess Urduja.

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