1000 to 1200 (estimated)

The increased trade with Arab and Chinese peoples was impetus for the seafaring Sama-speaking people, originally from the Zamboanga Peninsula, to move in greater numbers to the Sulu Archipelago. Based on linguistic evidence, the same Sama speakers ranged on boats as distantly as Samar Island, which may have been named after them (and Abaknon, the language of the island of Capul, just immediately south of Samar, is a Samalan language), and the coasts of what are now northeastern Mindanao and the islands of Timor, Sulawesi, and Borneo/Kalimantan. Around this time, the boats of Butuan area (already found by archaeologists and named balangay, a local word recorded during the first encounter with Europeans) were significantly large and likely used by Samalan navigators.

1001 to 1005

A people called “Sanmalan” — assumed by scholars to be “Samalan” — appeared in the records of tribute missions to the Sung Dynasty court in China, together with other exotic peoples the Middle Kingdom scribes called Arabs, Syrians, Tibetan, Uighurs, and so forth. Early mention of Sanmalan or Sama-speaking people in the context of long-range seafaring, is understandable to archaeologists, anthropologists, and historians today, following reconstructions of Sama travel to and from Butuan in northeastern Mindanao; and through a vast map in island Southeast Asia. Indeed, the first Philippine tribute mission to China appears to have come from a P’u-tuan — Butuan — described in the Sung Shih (Sung Dynasty History) — and would likely have been undertaken by Sama speakers. Animists, confident navigators, and traders, Sama peoples would diverge into various language groups, among which are: Yakan, Sama Balangingi, Sama Pangutaran, and Sama Dilaut.

1100 to 1300

Tausug speakers started arriving in the Sulu Archipelago from their original homeland in northeastern Mindanao. These first arrivals were mostly women and their children with Sama-speaking husbands, with whom they traveled. Sama navigators spent the monsoon months in the area of Butuan, at the mouth of the Agusan River, before heading back to Zamboanga and Sulu and to other islands of what is now the Philippines and Indonesia. The earliest associations of Tausug speakers (linguistically deeply related to Butuanon and Sugbuhanon or Cebuano speakers) with Sama groups were with the Pangutaran or Western Sama and the Balangingi or Northern Sama. These mixed language families initially settled in the western part of the island of Jolo, in what is now Jolo City. It was thus that a Visayan language (linguists classify Tausug, Cebuano and Butuanon as Visayan Austronesian) took root in the southernmost reaches of the Philippine archipelago. Once it took root, Tausug — which absorbed a substantial number of Sama words, particularly in relation to the sea and navigation — became the lingua franca of the Sulu Archipelago since.