In our modern world, when our neighbor gets into a fight, we sometimes hear the word “huramentado” or phrase like “Naghuramentado iyong kapitbahay,” as a description to the person who gone mad or went out of control. In our history, huramentado refers to the Moro people who sacrificed their lives to protect Mindanao and their areas during the Philippine-American War and the American occupation of Mindanao.       

Huramentado comes from the Spanish word juramentar which means “the one who took the oath,” they were also known as a skillful and fiercely Moro (Tausug tribe of Sulu) warriors who fought against the Americans. As they were known as “the one who took the oath,” they underwent rituals by way of shaving, binding their body parts of cloth to lessen the bleeding in battle and to allow themselves to withstand the enemy longer, and taking an oath, which is likely putting hand on the Quran. The huramentados were armed with swords only such as kampilan, kris, or any types of daggers aiming to kill the enemy, compared to advanced weapons of the Americans. They are most likely expected to die in a battle, believing that it is their sacred duty to perform to be included in paradise which is their road to salvation. This kind of sacrifice is associated with the Islamic way of jihad.

According to the historians, huramentados became invincible in battle because of their faith with a combination of their bravery and eagerness to defend their land against foreign invaders. When the US Army encountered the huramentados, they were shocked when it took almost six bullets of .38 caliber revolver to kill them in battle. Most American soldiers got terrified by the acts of huramentados which led to change their weapons into pump-action shotgun to easily kill them. It also resulted to change their service firearms from .38 caliber revolver to .45 caliber M1911 pistol which the word “stopping-action” known for, because it is said that it only took one bullet to kill huramentados with this gun.  According to General John Pershing, the leader of the American Expeditionary Force at that time, huramentados were the fiercest men he ever seen in battle.

Aside from the Philippine-American War, the huramentados also participated in WWII, doing the same thing they did to Americans that outmatched the Japanese suicide attack known as kamikaze.

To this day, we likely associate the word “huramentado” to a mad man. In searching our past, we know that there are also heroes who fiercely defended our nations against foreign invaders like our known heroes. The bravery of our Muslim brothers will always be remembered as one of the most remarkable warriors in the battlefield and had a place in shaping the historical narrative we knew today.