Battle of Bankusay Channel

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Battle of Bankusay Channel
DateJune 3, 1571
LocationBankusay Channel in Tondo, Manila, Philippines
Result Spanish victory
Tondo dissolved and became a territory under the Spanish Empire

Indigenous polities[1][2] of Macabebe[3] and Maynila[3]

Spain Spanish Empire[3]

Commanders and leaders
Tarik Sulayman and Rajah Sulayman Miguel López de Legazpi
40 caracoas (warships), around 2,000 warriors 27 vessels, 280 Spaniards, 600 native allies

The Battle of Bankusay (Filipino: Labanan sa Bankusay; Spanish: Batalla de Bankusay), on June 3, 1571, was a naval engagement that marked the last resistance by locals to the Spanish Empire's occupation and colonization of the Pasig River delta, which had been the site of the indigenous polities of Maynila and Tondo.[1][2]

Tarik Sulayman, the chief of Macabebes, refused to ally with the Spanish and decided to mount an attack at Bankusay Channel on Spanish forces, led by Miguel López de Legazpi. Sulayman's forces were defeated, and a chief was killed. The Spanish victory in Bankusay and Legazpi's alliance with Lakandula of Tondo, enabled the Spaniards to establish themselves throughout the city and its neighboring towns.


Miguel López de Legazpi was searching for a suitable place to establish the Spanish colonial capital after being forced to leave first Cebu and then Iloilo by Portuguese pirates. In 1570, Martin de Goiti and Captain Juan de Salcedo, with food stocks diminishing, discovered a rich kingdom on Luzon and saw its potential. De Goiti anchored at Cavite, and tried to establish his authority peaceably by sending a message of friendship to Maynila. Rajah Sulayman, its ruler, was willing to accept the friendship that the Spaniards were offering, but did not want to submit to its sovereignty. Thus, Sulayman declared war.[4] As a result, De Goiti and his army attacked Maynila in June 1570. After a stout fight, Sulayman and his men were forced to flee uphill. After the Spaniards had left, the natives returned.

In 1571, the Spaniards returned with their entire force consisting of 280 Spaniards and 600 native allies, this time led by Legazpi himself. Seeing the Spanish approaching, the natives set the city on fire and fled to Tondo. The Spaniards occupied the ruins of Maynila and established a settlement there. On May 19, 1571, Legaspi gave the title "city" to the colony of Manila.[5] The title was certified on June 19, 1572.[5]

A Kapampangan leader of the Macabebe tribe, later identified as Tarik Sulayman, refused to submit to the Spaniards and, after failing to gain the support of the chieftains of Maynila and Tondo (Lakandula, Matanda) and nearby old settlements of the present day Bulacan province mostly Hagonoy, Bulacan, gathered a force composed of Bulacan and Kapampangan warriors.


On June 3, 1571, Tarik Sulayman, supported by Rajah Sulayman, led his troops down the Pampanga River and fought the battle in the bay of Bangkusay, off the port of Tondo.[6]

The Spanish ships, led by Martin de Goiti, were ordered to be fastened two-by-two which created a solid mass formation which seemed to be an easy target. The native warships were lured by this deception and they surrounded the Spanish. The Spanish, surrounded by the native boats, open fire and the native fleet was scattered and destroyed.[6]

The chief who died at Bankusay is sometimes identified as Rajah Sulayman of the Rajahnate of Maynila, Lakandula's contemporary. However, it is clear in the Spanish records that Rajah Sulayman was able to survive the battle by escaping to Pampanga and it was the nameless Kapampangan chief, identified as Tarik Sulayman, that fell in the battle.[6]


Legazpi was able to establish a municipal government for Manila on June 24, 1571, which eventually became the capital of the entire Spanish East Indies colony and subsequently the capital of the Philippines.

The initial population of the city was around 250.[6]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Junker, Laura Lee (1998). "Integrating History and Archaeology in the Study of Contact Period Philippine Chiefdoms". International Journal of Historical Archaeology. 2 (4). 
  2. ^ a b "Pre-colonial Manila". Malacañang Presidential Museum and Library. Malacañang Presidential Museum and Library Araw ng Maynila Briefers. Presidential Communications Development and Strategic Planning Office. 23 June 2015. Archived from the original on 9 March 2016. Retrieved 27 April 2017. 
  3. ^ a b c Piedad-Pugay, Chris Antonette (6 June 2008). "The Battle of Bangkusay: A Paradigm of Defiance against Colonial Conquest". National Historical Institute Website. National Historical Institute (now National Historical Commission of the Philippines). Archived from the original on 25 April 2009. Retrieved 30 April 2012. 
  4. ^ Filipiniana: Act of Taking Possession of Luzon by Martin de Goiti. Accessed September 06, 2008.
  5. ^ a b Blair 1911, pp. 173–174
  6. ^ a b c d Joaquin, Nick (1990). Manila, My Manila. Vera Reyes, Inc. pp. 18–20. 

Further reading[edit]