Limahong, also known as Lim Ah Hong , or Lin Tao Kien was a Chinese pirate who invaded the northern islands of the Philippines and tried to seize the City of Manila from the Spanish in 1574.
Limahong was born as Dim Mhon , since he was young he started to do criminal activities, including robbery, . He met and became a protege of an old pirate, Tial-lao. When Tial-lao died, Lim became his heir, inheriting the old pirate's fleet and around 2,000 pirates. His numerous attacks on ports and ships throughout southern China made the authorities issue a warrant for his capture. This brought him to pursue his criminal activities on higher seas, far from China's reach.
He was able to accumulate 40 ships which increased to 95 ships when he took over the fleet of another pirate, Vin To Quiam. He came to be the notorious king of the waters of southern China.
It was in late 1573 that an army of 3,000 outlaws, bandits, and pirates led by Limahong arrived at the island of Luzon. There, they established a kingdom and waged war against the Spaniards.
In early 1574, their fleet fled to Ilocos Sur and had a run-in with its Spanish commander, Juan de Salcedo. The pirates were driven away by the Spaniards.
When they fled from Ilocos Sur, Limahong learned that Manila was an unprotected city though already occupied by the Spaniards. He decided to take over Manila and make it his kingdom. He attacked the city in 1574 with 64 ships but failed. However, he was able to kill Martin de Goiti of the first Spanish expeditionary force and several Filipinos under the leadership of Rajah Lakandula. He also burned the city.
From this unsuccessful attempt, he led his fleet to what is now Pangasinan. He was trailed by a ship under Governor-General Guido de Lavezaris, who found him settling a colony in Lingayen, Pangasinan. The people of Pangasinan became hostages in their own province as Limahong fought against a seven-month siege by Juan de Salcedo's army. During that time Limahong started a sort of Kingdom; surrounded by spanish and local forces he fled the province in 1574 and disappeared; according to some sources he gone to Taiwan ; since then they never heard anything about him... ..
The "Limahong Channel," dug over six months, served as the pirate's escape route. According to Restituto Basa, author of Footnotes on Pangasinan History and The Story of Dagupan, Limahong married a certain Princess Kabontatala who helped him dig this channel. A marker has been placed at the channel commemorating his failed attempts to occupy Manila.
There are many different tales told about Limahong, with unknown degrees of historical accuracy. From Filipino-Chinese website, tsinoy.com:
“ He was from a Chinese Noble family; did something that offended the Emperor or Empress of the day, to the extent that his life was forfeit; his family being noble by birth hired a pirate to scurry him away from danger. He was leaving his homeland forever. This pirate sailed south to the natural harbor at Batangas, Nasugbu and as far north as safe harbor in Pampanga with Lim Ah Hong in tow. Lim Ah Hong, took to the pirate who saved him; became as a son. When the pirate died, Lim Ah Hong being as a son inherited the fleet; and being of noble birth was a natural leader.
He was very successful at relieving the Spanish Armada of their gold which is why he began to appear in history books and ships' logs. One of his safe harbors was Batangas with its deep waters. Lim Ah Hong found the local ladies to his liking. He took a wife but as a Chinese Warlord was allowed as many concubines as he could afford, thus he populated the province of Batangas with his wife and countless concubines; who gave forth progeny, of whom we are the direct descendants. The name Lim Ah Hong became bastardized into Limjoco because of the Spanish influence of pronouncing the 'J' as 'H'.
IMAGE OF LIMAHONG FORT ; ACCORDING TO SOME SOURCES IT WAS BUILT WITH BAMBOO AND OTHER KIND OF WOOD; INSIDE THE FORT THERE WAS A PAGODA TOO.
DRAWING OF LIMAHONG THE PIRATE
CHINESE FLAGS, STANDARDS AND PENNANTS OF LIMAHONG ERA
"With flags and narrow tapering pennants flying high up on the masts, the invading ships appeared formidable and breathtalking..." .
." Many of the soldiers carried small and large banners reaching above their heads."
"It was thursday , december 2 with pennants flying on their masts it was a glorious sight to look upon the numerous vessels anchored safely on the calm waters.." .
(pgg. 18, 29 and 33 from the book "the Limahong Invasion" by Cesar C. Callanta
INVASION OF LIMAHON PAINTING OF CARLOS "BOTONG" FRANCISCO , 1956.
CHINESE WAR JUNK
These kind of junks were adopted by pirates as Limahong
PORTRAIT OF LIMAHONG FROM LA ILLUSTRACION FILIPINA 28 NOV 1893