Sūlū, from Sūlūk, from Ahlul Sūlūk

Benj Bangahan, M.D.

Our motherland’s name should be written—and pronounced—with each of its syllables bearing a diacritic mark on top to indicate prolongation of the vowel, hence, S
ūlū. It’s no wonder then that some used to spell it as Sooloo, but whichever orthography is used, the point is that the first and the second syllables are prolonged.

About the only source of the word o
r name is the Ahlul Sūlūk, a term used to refer to those “people of the path (to Allah)”, or those Awliya who came one after another from the Jāwī area or Southeast Asia to Islamize the motherland. The old Tausug folks used to metaphorize them as the “7 Brothers”. Although most likely they totaled more than seven, the monicker catchingly got stuck. And so, when on occasion some ‘learned” men and women found time to make bantering exchanges, the calling was used for an easy reflection of what they wanted to mean.

From S
ūlūk, Sūk was derived, mainly because of lingual “laziness”—Tausugs are fond of contracting the letter “l” in a word for a quick enunciation. That’s why we have “maas” from “malaas”, “māyu’” from “malayu’”, “wa’” from “wala’”, “Bangingi’” from “Balangingi’”; and of course “Sūk” from “Sūlūk”. These original term and the spin-off are not totally non-functional yet—the Malaysians still call us “Orang Sūlūk”, and among our brothers Sama, the Bangingi’ call us “A-a Sūlūk”, whereas the others prefer “A-a Sūk”.

ūk”, somehow got twisted of sorts, and got transformed to “Sūg”. The logical explanation is that, depending upon the accuracy of the one saying the word, and the keenness of the ears of the others who are listening, “Sūk” can easily be misheard and accepted as “Sūg”. The letters “k” and “g” at the end of the word can come in indistinguishable to some ears, especially in a distance. The present name “Sūlū” must have been engendered from an error of some irresponsible and unmindful western history writers who could not care less about the accuracy of the word or its source. Nonetheless, from the above, to me Sūlūk’s only possible source is the Arabic “Ahlul Sūlūk” or the Sufis/Awliyas who came to Islamize the area, in that, while it has been transformed, miswritten, mispronounced and contracted to other forms, these spin-off terms all connote the same thing: the name of our motherland which encompasses the areas ruled by the sovereign Sultanate of Sūlū. Hence, algebraically, Sūlū=Sūlūk=Sūk=Sūg, as explained by the above etymologic derivation.

The most popular, nay infamous, source of the name, as propagated by western writers, is “sug”, the water/sea current. But, first, there is no sea-current in the area that is formidable enough to merit its being used as the source of the name. There are currents, but they are so-so ones. Second, “sug” the current is awkwardly inadequate to be the source of the etymologic derivation of S
ūlū and Sūlūk. There are also some people, especially those who have been to Arabic countries to study “madrasa” and learn the Arabic language, who get titillated into claiming—after having known that the Arabic word “Suq” means market—that it is the source of the name. But again, like the sea-current “sug”, this Arabic word is insufficient to support an etymologic transformation into Sūlūk and Sūlū. Besides, there was not enough number of Arab merchants—while we accept that many are good in the field—who had put up a huge market in our land. But, yes, there was a flea market in the main town, and the Spaniards called it “tiange”, from where “Tiyanggi”, the Tausug name of Jolo, was derived. (Excerpt from Bangahan’s original article “Sūlū, where did the name come from?”)

Source: https://www.facebook.com/benj.bangahan?fref=ts