Through the years, Western Mindanao State University has evolved from a secondary school in Zamboanga City with roughly 26 students in 1904 to a Provincial Normal School with 990 scholars, later converted to Zamboanga State College in 1969 and now to a Royal University cultivating thousands of undergraduate and graduate students.
Eight years ago, the Sultanate of Sulu and North Borneo through the Paramount Sultan, Dr. Ibrahim Bahjin Shakirullah II, conferred the honorific title “Royal University of the Realm” to WMSU for “all generations until the end of time,” thus the institution is entitled to use the regal label in the issuance of all its official documents.
Founded in 1457, the Sultanate of Sulu and North Borneo governs the islands of the Sulu Sea and parts of Sabah, Malaysia. It was upon the resolution of the Rumah Bichara (Legislative Body) of the Sultanate during its regular session dated April 16, 2005 that the Sultan of Sulu proclaimed WMSU as a Royal University on July 20, 2005, the 14th of Jumada Al-thani (sixth month in the Islamic calendar). The royal proclamation was inspired by the following historical circumstances to wit:
In the early 1900’s, the royal Dayang-Dayangs or Princesses of the Sultanate first attained their higher education at WMSU which was then known as Provincial Normal School. These princesses who set foot on the grounds of the old normal school and walked the corridors of the normal hall were scholars of the American government. Among them were Princess Tarhata Kiram, Princess Putli-Intan Julkarnain, Princess Indah-Taas Abirin and Princess Piandao Kiram. And in later years, the other royalties of the Sultanate also graduated in the same academe.
The University, during the presidency of Dr. Eldigario O. Gonzales, has furthermore contributed to the restoration movement of the Sultanate on March 23, 2003. Datu Hj.Dr. Ibrahim Bahjin, Vice Chairman for External Affairs of the restoration movement even dubbed WMSU as a bastion of ideological growth and excellence. Dr. Gonzales, the president of the movement, was later named “Honorary Datu” by the Paramount Sultan on April 16, 2005.
The legislative body of the Sultanate has also recognized the book entitled “The Sultanate of Sulu—the Unconquered Kingdom” which was written by former WMSU Vice President for Corporate Affairs Prof. Clemencio M. Bascar. The book which is centered on the Sultanate being unsurpassed by the Spanish invasion for hundreds of years has according to the Rumah Bichara, motivated the royal families of the Sulu Sultanate to strengthen their bond in restoring the governance of their lost kingdom.
Furthermore, the Ruma Bichara has also appreciated the concerted efforts of the academe in extending its facilities and services of its professors as lecturers during conferences relevant to the Sultanate and in promulgating the public’s knowledge of the Sultanate including retired WMSU Professor Emmanuel D. Mangubat’s writings in his former column in Zamboanga Today entitled “Bato-Bato sa Langit.” Prof. Mangubat, who received the honorary title “Datu,” on April 16, 2005, has extensively written about the Sulu Sultanate in his column. The retired Mathematics professor, who was the leading advocate of the restoration movement, released the book “Sulu Sultanate: Its Establishment with Historical, Political and Legal Implications” on December 2005, five months after the conferment of the Royal University title.
In addition to the regal title bequeathed to the leading university in the region, WMSU is also conferred a right to use the title in the issuance of its diplomas, transcript of records, insignias and banners on formal occasions. Similarly, an inscription of “Royal University” may also be engraved in buildings and offices within the university premises and external studies units.
With the august title affixed to the oldest State University in the region, WMSU is expected to continue wielding its legacy as the center of excellence in fulfilling its mission of breeding regal-quality professionals. (AJ Dalugdug – PAO/WMSU)