The Subanon are believed to have established themselves on Mindanao Island during the Neolithic Era, or New Stone Age, the period in the development of human technology beginning around 10,000 BC according to the ASPRO chronology (between 4,500 and 2,000 BC).[clarification needed] The evidence of old stone tools in Zamboanga del Norte may indicate a late Neolithic presence. Ceramic burial jars, both unglazed and glazed, as well as Chinese celadons, have been found in caves, together with shell bracelets, beads, and gold ornaments. Many of the ceramic objects are from the Yuan and Ming periods. Evidently, there was a long history of trade between the Subanon and the Chinese long before the latter’s contact with Islam
Rajahnates and Hindu-Buddhism
In the classic epoch of Philippine history (900 AD onwards), the people of Mindanao were heavily exposed to Hindu and Buddhistinfluence and beliefs from Indonesia and Malaysia. Indianized abugida scripts such as Kawi and Baybayin was introduced via Sulawesi and Java, and the cultural icons of the sarong (known as malong or patadyong), the pudong turban, silk, and batik and ikatweaving and dyeing methods were introduced. Artifacts found from this era include the Golden kinnara, Golden Tara, and the Ganesh pendant. These cultural traits passed from Mindanao into the Visayas and Luzon, but were subsequently lost or heavily modified after the Spanish arrival in the 16th century.
The Hindu-Buddhist cultural revolution was strongest in the coastal areas of the island, but were incorporated into local animistbeliefs and customs tribes that resided more inland. The Rajahnate of Butuan, a fully Hindu kingdom mentioned in Chinese records as a tributary state in the 10th century AD, was concentrated along the northeastern coast of the island around Butuan. The Darangen epic of the Maranao people harkens back to this era as the most complete local version of the Ramayana. The Maguindanao at this time also had strong Hindu beliefs, evidenced by the Ladya Lawana (Rajah Ravana) epic saga that survives to the modern day, albeit highly Islamized from the 17th century on wards.
Sultanates and Islam
The spread of Islam in the Philippines began in the 14th century, mostly by Muslim merchants from the western part of the Malay Archipelago. The first Mosque in the Philippines was built in the mid-14th century in the town of Simunul. Around the 16th century, Muslim sultanates: Sulu, Lanao and Maguindanao were established from formerly Hindu-Buddhist Rajahnates.
As Islam gained a foothold over most of Mindanao, the natives residing within the Sultanates were either converted into Islam or obligated to pay tribute to their new Muslim rulers. The largest of the Muslim settlements was the Sultanate named after the Maguindanaoans. Maps made during the 17th and 18th centuries suggest that the name Mindanao was used by the natives to refer to the island, by then Islam was well established in Mindanao and had influenced groups on other islands to the north.
Spanish Colonization and Christianity
On 2 February 1543, Ruy Lopez de Villalobos was the first Spaniard to reach Mindanao, he called the island “Caesarea Caroli”after Charles V of the Holy Roman Empire (and I of Spain). Shortly after Spain’s colonization of Cebu, they moved on to colonize Butuan and the surrounding Caraga region in northeast Mindanao and discovered significant Muslim presence on the island. Over time a number of tribes in Mindanao converted to Roman Catholicism and built settlements and forts throughout the coastal regions of the island. These settlements endured despite incurring attacks from neighboring Muslim Sultanates. The most heavily fortified of these settlements, apart from a short period in 1662 when Spain sent soldiers from the city to Manila after receiving a threat of invasion from the Chinese general Koxinga, was Zamboanga City.
By the late 18th century Spain had geographic dominance over the island, having established settlements and forts in most of Mindanao; including Zamboanga City (Which was then settled by Peruvian soldiers) and Misamis Occidental to the northwest, Iligan City, Misamis Oriental, Bukidnon, and Camiguin Island to the north, Butuan and the Caraga region to the east, and Davao in the island’s gulf coast. Spain continued to engage in battles with Muslim Sultanates until the end of the 19th century.
In the Treaty of Paris in 1898 Spain sold the entire Philippine archipelago to the United States for $20 million. The 1900 Treaty of Washington and the 1930 Convention Between the United States and Great Britain clarified the borders between Mindanao and Borneo.
In 1939 the Philippine government encouraged citizens from Luzon and Visayas to migrate to Mindanao. Consisting mostly of Ilocanos, Cebuanos, and Illongos. Filipino settlers streaming into Soccsksargen led to the displacement of the Blaan and Tboli tribes.
World War II
Davao City was among the earliest to be occupied by the invading Japanese Forces. They immediately fortified the city as a bastion of the Japanese defense system. It was subjected by the returning forces of Gen. Macarthur to constant bombing, before the American Liberation Forces landed in Leyte in October 1944.
In April 1942 Mindanao, along with the rest of the Philippines, officially entered World War II after Japanese soldiers invaded key cities in the islands. Many towns and cities were burned to the ground in Mindanao, most notably Davao City, Zamboanga City, Lanao, Cagayan de Oro, Iligan City, and Butuan. In the months of April and May 1942, Japanese forces defeated US troops commanded by Gen. William F. Sharp and Gen. Guy O. Fort, in a battle that started at Malabang (a town close to Gandamatu Macadar, Lanao) and ended close to the town of Ganassi, Lanao. Filipino soldiers and local guerrilla fighters were actively fighting Japanese forces until liberation at the conclusion of the Battle of Mindanao.
Violent conflicts in the southwestern regions of Mindanao, that began in the 1960s, led to the 1971 Manili Massacre, Pata Island Massacre, the founding of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF), Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), and the formation of the Ilaga.
Under President Ferdinand Marcos’s administration, the government was said to have encouraged Christian settlers in Mindanao, causing many locals to be displaced. The forced land seizures by Luzon and Visayan settlers have resulted in ongoing conflict as the original owners seek ancestral land reclamation.
In March 2000 President Estrada declared an “All Out War” against the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), after the militant group committed a series of terrorist attacks on government buildings, civilians, and foreigners. A number of livelihood intervention projects, from organisations such as USAID and the Emergency Livelihood Assistance Program (ELAP), aided in the reconstruction of areas affected by constant battles on the island.
In May 2017, President Rodrigo Duterte declared martial law on the entire island group of Mindanao following the Marawi Siege by the Maute terrorist group. Thousands of civilians were killed by the terrorist group during the siege, and more than 180,000 people were forced to evacuate Marawi City.
Tropical storm Sendong (international name, Washi) made landfall on 15 December 2011 in Mindanao. The recorded 24-hour rainfall in Lumbia station of PAGASA reached 180.9 mm causing the overflow of the Cagayan de Oro River. The deadly storm killed 1,268 people with 49 others listed as missing. Most of the casualties were from the cities of Cagayan de Oro and Iligan. Those who survived were rendered homeless, seeking shelter in evacuation centers.