Monthly Archives: July 2011

Ang Pag-aayuno at ang Pang-espirituwal na Kadalisayan

 

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Bismillah walhamdulillah wassalatu wassalamu ‘ala Rasoolillah

يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُواْ كُتِبَ عَلَيْكُمُ الصِّيَامُ كَمَا كُتِبَ عَلَى الَّذِينَ مِن قَبْلِكُمْ لَعَلَّكُمْ تَتَّقُونَ

O kayong mga sumasampalataya! Iginawad sa inyo ang pag-aayuno katulad ng pag-gawad nito sa mga nauna sa inyo, nang sa gayon kayo ay maging mga Muttaqoon.

Ang layunin ng pag-aayuno ay upang magtamo ng Taqwa o a pagiging may kamalayan sa Diyos at pagkatakot kay Allah. Ang kakayanan upang masugpo ang mga pasaway na kalikasan ng sarili, sa isang banda, at ang pag-linang ng lakas ng sarili, sa kabilang banda, ay lubos na kailangan sa kaparaanan ng paglilinis ng kaluluwa. Ito ay dahil sa panahon ng pag-ayuno sa Ramadan, maraming mga pagkakataon, biyaya at mga kaparaanang maaring makamtan at magamit nang ang kaluluwa ay malinisan.

Una, ang pagpatawad ng kasalanan ay may positibong naidudulot sa paglinis ng kaluluwa. Ang pagipon ng mga kasalanan ng nagdaang taon ay nagdudulot sa kunsensya ng endless guilt at ang pakiramdam na ang kasalanan ay napapatawad ay nagbibigay ginhawa sa napapagod na puso. Hindi ka ba nagtataka na kung papaano hindi makatulog ang mga tao sagabi sapagkat sila ay nakapinsala sa iba o di kaya’y nakipag-away sa iba? Ang mabigat na pasanin na ito sa kaluluwa ng nananampalataya ay natatanggal kapag may pagkakasunduan na muli. Kagaya nito, si Allah swt, dahil sa kanyang awa, ay nagpapatawad sa mga nag-aayuno na nagsasanhi naman ng paghupa ng masamang pakiramdam mula sa kanyang nagdaang kasalanan laban kay Allah. Sinabi ni Propeta Muhammad:

من صام رمضان ايمنا و احتصابا غفر له ما تقدم من ذنبه

Ang sinuman ang nag-ayuno sa buwan ng Ramadan, habang siya ay may Iman at may Ihtisab, ang kanyang nagdaang kasalanan ay papatawarin para sa kanya.

Ang hadeeth na ito ay nagbanggit ng dalawang saligan/kundisyon upang mapatawad ang mga kasalanan. Una, ang nag-aayuno ay dapat na Mu’min. Ang Al- Ihtisab naman ay may tatlong kahulugan: pagkakaroon ng matatag na panindigan, pag-asa sa gantimpala at pagiging malugod sa gawain (ng pag ayuno) na hindi tinuturing na ang gawain na ito ay isang mabigat na pasanin.

Pangalawa, dapat ay maramdaman niya na gumagawa siya ng isang bagay na lubhang mahal at natatangi kay Allah. Ang bawat Gawain ng apo ni Adan ay katumbas ng sampu hanggang pitong daan bilang, liban lang sa pag-aayuno na gagawaran ng gantimpala ni Allah, Al Kareem ang Higit na Mapagbigay.

Pangatlo, dinadalisay ang espiritu ng pag-aayuno sa paglinang ng napakahalagang katangian ng pagkamatiisin. May tatlong uri ng pagiging matiisin: Pagiging matiisin sa pagtupad ng mga obligasyon, pagiging matiisin sa pag-iwas sa mga ipinagbabawal at ang pagiging matiisin sa panahon ng kalamidad. Ang lahat ng tatlong ito ay nasasanay sa nag-aayunong tao sa pamamagitan ng pagsagawa ng mga obligasyon ng mga gawain ng pag-aayuno, pag-iwas sa mga masasama, madudumi, walang saysay, at makasalanang mga gawain at ang pagigiing matiisin sa mga paghihirapan na maaring maganap habang nag-aayuno.

Pang-apat, ang pag ayuno ay nagpapaaalala sa tunay na dahilan ng paglikha at ng diwa ng Islam. Na sa pag-samba kay Allah, di maiiwasan na sumuko sa Kanyang Kagustuhan muna; na mauuna muna si Allah bago ang sariling hangarin. Lalo na sa mga nakatira sa mga bansang di-Muslim na nakakadama ng tukso na kung saan ang lahat ay kumakain at umiinom habang ikaw ay nagpipigil sa sarili dahil gusto mong sundin ang kagustuhan ni Allah.

Panglima, ang lahat ay tila bagang bumabagal sa buwan ng Ramadan (lalo na sa mga bansang Muslim), at karaniwan na (ang mga tao) ay walang lakas ng gumawa ng mga bagay na walang kabuluhan. Samakatuwid, magkakaroon ng maluwag na panahon ng mag-isip at mag-muni muni. Ito ay nagbibigay sa isang tao ng maraming panahon ma mag-isip tungko sa kanyang buhay at marahil sa mga kasamaan na kanyang nagawa.

Pang-anim, ang pagdama at pag-gawa ng isang gawain ay tunay na nagbibigay ng kasiguraduhan kaysa sa pag-saksi lamang. Ilang ulit na tayong nakakita ng mga larawan ng mga malnourish na bata as Afrika at nakadama tayo ng awa sa kanila, subalit di pa rin natin mararamdaman kung papaano magutom at makatikim ng sakit ng gutom sa ating tiyan. Ito ay dapat na magdudulot sa atin na maging mapagsalamat sa mga biyaya ni Allah.

Pangpito, ang pag-aayuno ay nakakatulong upang makamit natin ang ating potensyal bilang tao. Mayroong iilan sa atin na nag-iisip na ang mga obligasyon at ipinagbabawal sa Islam ay napakahirap o hindi maaring ipatupad lalo na sa mga di-Muslim na lipunan kaya’t ating hinahayaan ang ating sarili na gumawa ng mga Haram na gawain dahil iniisip natin na wala na tayong magagawa hinggil dito. Subalit sa Ramadan, hindi lang ang haram ang ating iniwasan, ngunit pati na rin ang Halal. Kung may kakayanan tayong umiwas sa mga pinapahintulutan, papaano pa kaya ang mga ipinagbabawal. Ito ay higit na totoo sa mga naninigarilyo! Katunayan ang pag-ayuno ay pagsasanay sa unti-unting pag-iwas sa nakakahumaling na epekto ng paninigarilyo.

Pangwalo, ay ang pagtungo kay Allah at pag-unawa ng pangangailangan sa Kanya. Kapag babawiin ni Allah ang ating pangunahing pangangailan bilang mga tao, sino ang makakatulong sa atin? Isipin natin na tatanggalin ni Allah ang ating panlasa o pagkabusog. Dahil tayo ay ipinanganak na buo ang ating pandama at mga kamay at paa, tayo ay nakakalimot na sa katiyakan ito ay hindi naman talaga atin. Ang katotohanang ito ay maliwanag na matutunghayan sa mga taong may sakit tulad ng Stroke na paralisa ang kalahati ng katawan. Ang kanyang kalahating katawan ay nakakabit parin sa kanya, nakikita niya ito, subalit hindi ito ay kayang igalaw at minsan ito pa ay hindi niya nararamdaman na nandoon pa rin. Subhanallah!

Pangsiyam, narinig na natin ang hadeeth ng Propeta: “Ang sinuman ang makapangako sa akin ng kung ano ang nasa pagitan ng kanyang balbas (dila) at ng nasa pagitan ng kanyang hita, aking ipapangako sa kanya ang paraiso”. Di mo ba nakikita? Ang pag-aayuno ay tumutulong sa atin na maging maingat sa ating mga sinasabi at maging maingat sa pakikipag-ugnayan sa kabaro natin.

Pangsampu, pinapaalala sa atin ng pag-aayuno na hindi tayo narito upang kumain at uminom lamang; ika nga, ang ating pag-iral ay di lamang upang busugin ang ating makamundong hangarin; na nandito tayo para sa mas mataas na dahilan, at ito ay ang pagsamba kay Allah. Sa medaling salita, tayo ay kumakain di lamang upang tayo ay mabuhay subalit upang sumamba sa Manlilikha. Ito ay ang nag-bubukod sa atin mula sa mga moderno at secular na materiyalistik na tao na kumakain lamang upan mabuhay, o di kaya’y mas masahol pa, iilan sa kanila na nabubuhay lamang upang kumain.

Labing Isa, ang pag ayuno ay pagkakataon na mapatunayan natin kay Allah ang ating malinis na hangarin. Ang lahat ng uri ng pagsamba ay nakikita ng iba pati na ang pagkawang gawa na kung saan alam ng tumatanggap na may nag-bigay sa kanya ng patago. Subalit sa pag-aayuno, walang nakaalam kung totoo ngang nag-ayuno ka nga o patagong sumubo ng pagkain sa iyong bibig liban lamang si Allah. Ang kadalisayan sa gawain ay isang pangunahing pangangailangan sa pagtanggap ng mga gawain at tagumpay.

Labing Dalawa, natutulungan ng pag-aayuno ang sakit na ‘maghangad pa na marami’. Kapag mapag-isip isip lamang nga tao na siya ay nabubuhay sa isa’t kalahating kainan lamang sa isang araw, at ito lang ang kanyang tunay na pangangailangan. Ilan sa atin ang may ganitong sariling-gawa na pangangailangan, na gawa gawa lamang natin na ating pinaniniwalaan. Ilan sa atin ang nagsasabi na “Hindi ko kayang mabuhay kung walang smart phones o may V8 na sasakyan o tatlong palapag na bahay”? Ating ginagastos ang ating yaman sa mga bagay na hindi naman talaga pangangailangan.

Higit sa lahat, malaki ang papel ng Taqwa sa lahat ng ito. Itong lakas na gumawa ng mga ipinag uutos ni Allah, ang pagpipigil sa sarili na pumipigil sa atin upang maiwasan ang mga ipinagbabawal ni Allah sa atin, at itong pagmamahal kay Allah na nagdudulot sa atin na gumawa ng mga bagay higit pa sa Kanyang ipinag-uutos. Ang pag-ayuno sa Ramadan at ang Tarawih, ay nilalaman ang lahat ng ito, nililinis ang ating espiritu at ginagawa tayo na papalapit ng papalapit kay Allah. Sinabi ni Allah: “Ang sinuman ang may galit sa Aking kaibigan, ako ay nagpapahayag ng digmaan sa kanya. Napapalapit ang Aking alipin (tao) sa Akin sa pamamagitan ng pagtupad ng mga obligasyon na Aking iginawad sa kanya; at ang Aking alipin ay patuloy na papalapit sa Akin sa kanyang pag-gawa ng mga Sunnah na gawain hanggang siya ay Aking mahalin. At kapag mahal Ko na siya, Ako ay (nagiging) kanyang pandinig, ang kanyang paningin na kanyang nakikita, ang kanyang kamay na kanyang ginagamit, at ng kanyang paa na kanyang ipinanglalakad. Kapag siya ay hihingi sa Akin, tunay na pagbibigyan Ko siya, at kapag siya ay humingi ng kanlungan, Akin itong ibibigay sa kanya. (Bukhari)

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China raising money for Sulu sultan’s shrine

Posted on July 12, 2011 05:46:14 PM

http://www.bworldonline.com/content.php?section=Arts&Leisure&title=–China-raising-money-for-Sulu-sultan%E2%80%99s-shrine&id=34597

China raising money for Sulu sultan’s shrine

ZAMBOANGA CITY — The Chinese government is ready to provide up to one billion yuan, or about P6.6 billion, for the development and rehabilitation of Sulu’s Sultan Paduka Batara’s Historical Shrine in Dezhou City, Shan-Dong province.

Tausug visual artist Rameer A. Tawasil, who was part of a six-man delegation from Mindanao that visited eastern China last month, said the project aims at honoring and raising awareness about the history and roots of Sultan Batara who died there during an official visit in the early 15th century.

Mr. Tawasil, who was asked by Chinese officials to help design a museum that would be built within the compound of the sultan’s tomb, told BusinessWorld the shrine, which houses a mosque, is the most visited landmark in Shan-Dong province.

Mr. Tawasil said his museum design will showcase Tausug and Moro architectural forms such as the ukkil, the Tausug style of wood carving.

“This symbolic move of the Chinese government really sends a strong message that they value their centuries-old relationship with the people of Sulu,” the Moro artist said.

He said some new buildings inside the compound will be given to Muslim descendants of Sultan Batara. The project, he said, is expected to be finished within three years.

He said that six years from now, the people of Shan-Dong province will celebrate the 600th year since Sultan Batara’s visit and that local officials are planning to make commemorative stamps to highlight the celebration.

Part of the proposal discussed during the meeting with Chinese officials last month, Mr. Tawasil said, was to build a replica of Sultan Batara’s shrine in Sulu province. He added that a marker to highlight the friendship of Sulu and China was also discussed.

Mr. Tawasil also said that he had proposed that he do a mural that will depict the sultan’s life, emphasizing that murals are visual and are easily understood both by foreign visitors and the locals. The compound, he said, has an approximate area of seven hectares and was put under “state protection” in 1988 by the Chinese national government.

Based on historical texts compiled by Sururul-Ain Ututalum and Abdul-Karim Hedjazi in the book The Geneology of the Sulu Royal Families, three sultans from Sulu archipelago went to China in 1417 to pay a visit to Chinese emperor Yongle of the Ming Dynasty. One of the sultans fell ill and died in Dezhou City.

“The Emperor Yongle was very sad at the news. He sent his minister to Dezhou to cope with the matter and granted the distinguished overseas guest a magnificent funeral that was as formal as for a Chinese king,” part of the epitaph of the sultan said.

At least 10 people, including the sultan’s two sons, were left behind in China to look after the tomb. As years passed, the sultan’s sons and Chinese locals married. In 1731, during the time of Yongzheng of the Quing Dynasty, the descendants of Sultan Batara were naturalized as Chinese citizens under the surnames Wen and An, the book said.

In 2005, the descendants of Sultan Batara visited the Philippines through the auspices of the Federation of Filipino-Chinese Associations, a visit that coincided with the celebration of the 30th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic ties between the People’s Republic of China and the Philippines.

An Jin Tian and his son An Yuan Chi representing the An family, and Wen Hai Jun representing the Wen branch, all from Shan-Dong province in eastern China, finally visited Sulu, their ancestors’ homeland, for the first time in more than 600 years. — Amilbahar S. Mawallil




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Education and religion

By Amina Rasul, Surveil at Business World, posted on July 21, 2011 08:38:06 PM
__________________________

BEIJING — It is wet here in Beijing and I am glad that I am spending three days indoors, with 20 experts on religion, education, and social development. We are participating in a small conference focusing on Islam and security, hosted by the Institute for Global Engagement (IGE) of Washington DC and the Chinese government’s think tank, the Institute of Ethnic Minority Groups.
While listening to Chris Seiple of the IGE focus our attention on the role that religion can play in helping communities grow stronger in a rapidly modernizing and globalizing world or its role to create societal instability, I could not help but think of President Benigno Simeon Aquino III’s forthcoming State of the Nation Address (SONA) on Monday. What will PNoy announce on the peace processes that affect Mindanao? What will he announce as part of the agenda to reform the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, now that he has approved the law postponing the ARMM elections?
Certainly, many groups espousing a variety of issues are expecting the President to mention their advocacies. And typical of post-SONA discourses, some sectors will probably criticize the President’s speech for lack of details and specific plans.
For Muslims in the Philippines, there is an expectation that the SONA will go beyond the obligatory call for peace and development in Mindanao. To my mind, investment in education is clearly required to lay a strong foundation for peace and development in Mindanao, especially Muslim Mindanao. For instance, why isn’t government investing more in literacy for adults? If a mother is illiterate, can you expect her to raise educated children? The Magbassa Kita Foundation Inc. (MKFI) supported by the USAID is implementing the Literacy for Peace and Development (LIPAD) to help our communities find their wings to fly out of an oppressive situation. No-brainers.

Islamic Education and Peace
However, let me devote this column to an aspect of education not as well discussed or supported by government’s policymakers: the role of the madrasah or Islamic schools. First, Muslims thank the Aquino administration and the Department of Education for releasing over P250 million last week to pay for the salaries and strengthening of the madrasah and the Arabic Language and Islamic Values Education (ALIVE) program of the public schools in Muslim communities.
It is estimated that there are between 600 and 1,000 madaris (plural of madrasah) in Mindanao with a total student population of between 60,000 and 100,000. Aside from the madaris, the DepEd has 459 public schools nationwide now offering ALIVE to Muslim students as part of their civic education.

A lot has been written about the conflict in Mindanao and how to bring about peace and development to the millions of Muslims, Christians, and Lumads who continue to suffer from poverty and powerlessness. For conflict-affected communities, the centerpiece of any administration’s strategy has been, and continues to be, the formal peace process. It is an attempt to bring about a politically negotiated settlement to the conflict in Mindanao.
We, at the Philippine Center for Islam and Democracy (PCID), continue to support the peace talks. We are, in fact, one of the local civil society organizations that are involved with the International Contact Group. But based on our experience, we know that there are complementary initiatives that can potentially bring about peace in Mindanao without waiting for the signing of a peace agreement. For instance, the strengthening of madrasah education is one of the ways to ensure that a culture of peace can be established that can support the gains of the peace process.
Education in the traditional madrasah focuses on Islamic values, Islamic religion, and the Arabic language. The madrasah system is a highly valued tradition that is instrumental in the preservation of Islamic religion and culture. The madrasah tradition is considered vital for the Muslim community. It is both an educational and socio-political institution that has, since its founding, kept the Muslim community united in their faith.
Its significance is highlighted by the fact that the 1996 Final Peace Agreement between the government and the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) guaranteed state support for Islamic education.
There are several types of madaris. Traditional or Weekend Madrasah refers to classes that are held on weekends (Saturdays and Sundays) only or on days agreed upon by the teachers and students. There is no formal curriculum, hence it is non-graded and may have multi-age groupings. The students in this type of madrasah are also likely the students enrolled in public schools.
The formal madrasah offers hierarchically structured education and sequential learning generally attuned with the formal education system and offers kindergarten, primary, and secondary education. As former Education Undersecretary Monaros Boransing noted, most traditional and formal madaris are not recognized by the Department of Education (DepEd) if their curriculum is not compliant with the government’s national educational system. As such they are outside the formal system of national education, and not subject to government supervision and control.
Thankfully, government (national and ARMM) and the madaris administrators have been collaborating on the development of the Integrated Madrasah, which offers the public school curriculum as add-on to Islamic religious subjects and Arabic.
Despite the initial steps taken to encourage development of the madrasah system in the country, many challenges remain. The madaris continue to grapple with poor curriculum and quality of instruction, inadequate facilities and inadequate funding. Financial support for the madaris has been largely non-existent and there is also minimal coordination and networking among the different groups involved in madrasah projects. Better linking between and among the different groups would avoid duplication of projects and allow organizations to build on the success of others. This has the potential of maximizing the impact of the various programs and focusing efforts, not to mention resources, on areas that require greater support.
Apart from upgrading its capabilities so that it can become part of the national education system, the madrasah can also become the heart of the community and be the center for community outreach. PCID has been working since 2004 with Muslim religious leaders to this end. We are working on capacity building for the aleemat of the Noorus Salam (Light of Peace) who teach in the madrasah to provide services to the community: health, literacy, livelihood training, peace education, civic education and interfaith dialogue.
We have worked with our aleemat to utilize the Islamic peace education module we had developed, which draws on the Qur’an and the hadith to teach about peace and rights, and responsibilities. (If a religious school does not teach about peace and responsibilities and rights, who can?)
The initiative of the PCID to engage the Muslim religious leaders allows us to build their capacity and the madrasah to help our Muslim communities find the will and the ability to deal with the many problems that confront us, to include poverty, marginalization, armed conflict, and the lure of lawlessness.
And so as President Aquino III enters the second year of his presidency, we hope that his administration can support the development and institutionalization of Madrasah education. (Under the previous administration, there was a DepEd Road Map for Upgrading Muslim Basic Education: A Comprehensive Program for the Educational Development of Filipino Muslims.)
We believe that this is an important part of any efforts to bring peace in Mindanao. It is a program that respects the cultural and religious identity of the Muslims and provides a platform for the development of a culture of peace in the region.

My Idealism has ended but the Ideas have not

 

There was something nice about being young: naïve and carefree, the world at that time is a blank canvass, an undefined and boundless potential. The mind is fresh enough to perceive ideas, that are shape not by experience but by unbridled imagination. My lack of experience was compensated by insatiable hunger for information. And so I remember reading everything readable I can lay my eyes on, including the Green Book of Qadafi, supposedly, a ‘Muslim’ version of the Red Book or the Das Capital of Carl Marx.

And yes, I wanted to change the world, well, specifically Mindanao. The Bangsamoro narrative was slowly introduced to my pscyhe during the Ramos-Misuari era and SPCPD and what not. Thus I saw my self, primarily as somebody from the Bangsamoro – hence I wrote under the pen name “albangsamori”. With Armed Revolution romanticized by Che Guevara and Che Guevara Wannabes,  and being influenced by that,  I was furious and indignant that Misuari had to make a peace deal with the government. This belief (that we need war to achieve change), which I now believe to be misdirected, was reinforced by misunderstanding the Islamic methodology of Al Amru bil Ma’roof wa nahtu ‘anil Munkar (Enjoining what is good and forbidding what is bad).

Once I was with a wise man, Mr. Ibn Hajr Turabin, a father of a friend. He told me for Muslims to get back their homeland, they have to buy Mindanao (or some of its portion).  It sounded like a joke to me then, but now, to me at least,  it makes more sense than fighting an unwinnable fight.

And so the years gone by, and to my disappointment, the world has still not change.  My idealism has waned. I no longer wanted to write using the pen of ‘albangsamori’.

Having said all these, I am aware that this shouldn’t stop me from communicating my ideas about my homeland.

Category: Uncategorized

AFP SOLDIERS RUN AMOK IN MARAWI CITY

SOLDIERS RUN AMOK IN MARAW CITY
MARAWI CITY, July 17, 2011-
At around 7:30 PM yesterday, 16 July 2011, a team of AFP soldiers in full combat gear belonging to the 65th IB of the Philippine Army swept the busy street of the Commercial Center of the Mindanao State University (MSU) Main Campus at Marawi City brandishing their high-caliber firearms in utter disregard of the civilian populace, who are mostly students, teachers and on-campus residents.
People were alarmed and panicked at what they saw. “It is if there was an on-going military pursuit operation. The soldiers were menacingly pointing their guns at us. One of them carried a K3 machine gun. We all ran and took cover in fear,” said one of the civilian witnesses to the incident who refused to be identified for security reasons.
Upon investigation by the MSU Campus Police, it was learned that the soldiers were stark drunk, angry and deliberately provoking trouble because one of them was mauled and wounded in an earlier incident; so they want to take their revenge on any Moro civilian.
The military rampage was triggered by an earlier incident. At around 5:30 p.m, same day, a soldier from the same AFP unit by the name of Pvt. Emilson C. Canonigo boarded a passenger jeep (Via ISIS Terminal) and took the front seat. According to the testimony of the passenger jeep’s driver, Pvt. Canonigo was drunk and appeared to be looking for trouble. Further according to the driver, Canonigo, whom the driver did not know at first to be a soldier, suddenly pointed his .45 caliber pistol at him (driver), told him to follow his (soldier’s) direction, and then demanded that the driver surrender to him his day’s earnings.
When they reached Barangay Biaba Damag near ISIS Terminal, the driver suddenly stopped the vehicle and grabbed the pistol pointed at him by the drunken soldier. As they struggled for the gun, it went off accidentally with the bullet hitting Canonigo’s right knee. The driver then asked for help from civilian bystanders who responded by subduing the drunk soldier and beating him in the process to disarm him. They then brought him to the Marawi Philippine National Police (PNP) Station, and it was only then and there that they found out that the armed holdup suspect was a soldier assigned to a Philippine Army detachment in Marantao, Lanao del Sur. PNP personnel immediately brought him to Amai Pakapak Medical center for first aid where subsequently army elements belonging to the 103rd Brigade of the AFP, the mother unit of Pvt. Canonigo’s outfit, upon learning that one of their personnel was in custody, rushed to the hospital and forcefully took him back to their camp.
There was an altercation between the PNP and AFP over the custody of the soldier but later the Marawi PNP acceded to the wishes of the soldiers.
It was later alleged by the soldiers that their comrade was a victim of kidnapping and robbery and pointed an accusing finger at the driver and the bystanders who helped him. However, this attempt to twist the story was dispelled by the fact that the driver and the civilian bystanders immediately turned themselves over to the PNP station and executed their affidavits and complaints against the said soldier. They also turned over the pistol taken from Canonigo. Besides, kidnappers would normally not bring their victim to the PNP station. In this case, the first thing that the driver and the civilian bystanders did when they subdued Pvt. Canonigo was to bring him to the nearest PNP station.
In a related incident, following the rampage of Canonigo’s army buddies at the MSU Campus, PO1 Jabbar Oaferina Lao filed a report at PNP Station Marawi stating that that day at around 8:45 PM at Brgy. Rapasun, MSU, Marawi City personnel of the Philippine Army discharged their firearms in front of his residence. He also said that the same Philippine Army soldiers kicked and hit his car and were under the influence of alcohol. He further averred that they were looking for trouble to avenge the earlier mauling of their comrade, Canonigo.
SAKSI Islamic Radio Forum, a civil society organization, condemned these series of related incidents and called on the authorities to investigate the matter and punish those responsible soldiers.
Meanwhile, MOGOP (Muslim Organization of Government Officials and Professionals), an International Monitoring Team (IMT) – Civilian Protection Component (CPC) member, is now documenting said incidents and will formally forward their report to the IMT-HEAD of MISSION OFFICE in Cotabato City.
Filed by Drieza Lininding, Marawi City
Category: Uncategorized

2011 Hijrah calendar

January
Muharram 1432 – Shafar 1432
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat

126
22732842951627384
9510611712813914101511
1612171318141915201621172218
2319242025212622272328242925
30263127

February
Shafar 1432 – Rabi’ I 1432
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat

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Burning of Jolo (pagsud sin tianggi)

I don’t know the exact term to be applied to the burning of Jolo City in Sulu. It is known to the Tausug as “pagsud sin tiyanggi” which literally mean “Raiding Jolo City”. Tiyanggi does mean market; Jolo is its equivalent in the Tausug understanding because Jolo or Suba’ Bawang was a market center since 11century until today. Who raided Jolo, the question may arise?

Jolo City proper was burned down to ashes and bodies of Tausug Shahid were piling over the streets. The cadavers of the Philippine soldiers were also there – after all they were both victims by the savagery of conspirators. The Tausug MNLF Mujahidin were outnumbered by the Philippine forces.

The still remaining tough infrastructure that was standing was the Jolo Central Mosque known as Masjid Tulay. This was built in 1884 by cleaning the sands to be used – so it was properly built through Islamic rituals.

The Jolo City was controlled by the Tausug MNLF Mujahidin in 3 days, driving the Philippine soldiers out from the vicinity – does it mean that soldiers of the Philippines comes first occupying the city?

Revealed by the Jolo Brigade Commander that it was fifteen minutes more to defend; Philippine forces might have surrendered the Military Brigade in Jolo to the Tausug MNLF Mujahidin.

MNLF reinforcement was from Bus-Bus area headed by Mass Leader Hadji Asmara Paradji. They were in the Jolo Municipal Hall and around Bus-Bus Ice Plant.

Mass Leader Salip Agnan Akarab, Salip Elmi, Abduhajan Imam Sapie along with Apu’ Tuan Abduhadi Hatib Hasan were defending around Asturias area, they were the forces from Bud Agahun while forces of Commander Yusop Jikiri from Pasil were defending Tanjung , Alat, Tulay and mosque areas. MNLF Forces driven out the Philippine soldiers that were stationed in Umbul Duwa (Kilo Meter 2).

Apu’ Tuan Abduhadi fell near Asturias Bridge and Mass Leader Ibba from Parang fell near Sulu Hospital and Tigbau. Their fallen martyred bodies were not rescued.

My father’s team was around Jolo boundaries to secure and held the reinforcement forces from the Philippine soldiers to enter into the city, they were in Bud Puti’ over Tagbak. My father accounted to me to understand the raiding of Jolo, where the mujahidin fell in the defence of the country, faith and people – saying that “without this effort in the name of God, the Tausug might be found only in its name today”.

The famous ever written in the pages of history, a statement that were scribed by Talib in Notre Dame of Jolo College wall building. He was using his comrade’s blood, the Shahid that runs this way, “in kami parang sabil nagbawbug sin hula’, bangsa iban agama (we took oath to defend our country, people and faith”.

Sad to say the wall were this statement was scribed had already gone – it was through the renovation of the wall. According to some stories, this statement, even it would get painted, it would still embossed out to the surface. It then was covered by cloth – it would still appear. This was the witness of event in the era of perpetrations to the Tausug and their homeland.

Ibnu from Makupa, Pasil entered the Jolo City with his only weapon, Barung – many Philippine soldiers fell in his Barung. Commander Saral Jahandal was wounded in his leg and was taken alive by his comrade Mass Leader Apa’ Muksan known as Bululu’. Around Tigbau many dead bodies were found and decaying and got strong unpleasant smells that were hard to get near off.

In this incident, Jolo Mayor Barli Abubakar was accused of extending assistance to the Tausug MNLF Mujahidin – where his son Nijam Abubakar was also involved in the forces.

The defence to Jolo City was ordered by Commander Biansuy Lim, Chairman for Lupah Sug Revolutionary Command. He was among the Batch 90” that were trained in Libya with MNLF Chairman Nur Misuari.

The defence was to against the propaganda of the Philippine government to recruit the masses of joining Amnesty program by Ferdinand E. Marcos known as Bagong Lipunan.

This defence also was triggered by the masses in Jolo that MNLF is an inutile forces that cannot defend the civilians or the masses, saying “bukul pa in taynga ku sin pagsud sin tiyanggi yan”, this saying was roughly mean “I was only a child when I heard that defending the Jolo City. If not of this defence the masses were all have joined the Bagong Lipunan.

Estimated around 28 thousand Philippine soldiers were entering Jolo that time to combat MNLF Mujahidin. If the MNLF Mujahidin in Patikul were not outnumbered by Philippine forces and got a little supply of arms and bullets, the Philippine forces might not stay alive and can never enter Jolo for reinforcement.

Still the MNLF Mujahidin could stand their side to defend the masses because of their integrity and pledged to God that they will never go home without winning their homeland to get free from the savagery of the Philippine Government.

Their courageousness comes from their pledge to Islam segregating their selves from shame to become “dayyus”. A dayyus cannot be accepted in the hereafter if they failed to defend the sanctity of their faith, country and people.

I am not here to blame who were the bad guys and good guys, the fact that Tausug defended their homeland; it was the fault of the Philippine government not to get out from the Sulu unconquered territory. It is not also to let the Tausug reminisce the hatred towards the Philippine government but to mourn the fallen and martyred Mujahidin that were defended this territory for over 3 decades now.

Let this be the healing process of hatred to put peace at large – we cannot find peace ever more without compromising to it. Since the Tausug had been the administrator of this country – let them govern their own.

Philippine shall leave Sulu in the name of peace, justice and humanitarian considerations. There can never be a solution to this angst without leaving this country to run their own.

If the Filipinos asserted their independence from America and wanted to live peacefully and happily, they should have understood and felt how Tausug longed for their country’s independence – justice may compel.

Now that there are people who are doing the right thing to put compromise over the independence of Sulu, so please hear them – so that there are no more war and distrust and social destructions among people living here. Many lives had been wasted – nothing from this could bring positive outcome to the end!

It’s been 36 years since the burning of Jolo that was occurred in 7 February 1974 and since February is the month of love for those who believe or to be exact for the date, the February 14, let hear the whispers of the Tausug to let Sulu independence ring in their heart once in for all!

see original post from Neldy Jolo via facebook

sing!

I was in Singapore on two occasions in a span of a month this summer. The first one was for the inaugural Southeast Asian Film Festival where Limbunan was invited as its closing film. I flew in four weeks later for the Asia On The Edge Conference.

Building Hope

By Amina Rasul, Surveil, Business World Online, June 16, 2011.
_______________________________
I am in Yale for 10 days, participating in a small conference of religious scholars and activists.
Organized by The Reconciliation Program of the Yale Center for Faith and Culture at Yale Divinity School, the conference is entitled “Building Hope: Muslims, Christians and Jews Seeking the Common Good.” Dr. Joseph Cummings, the program director, wrote to me that 10 leaders from each faith community had been chosen for this opportunity “to consult with each other, to learn about one another’s faiths, develop lasting relationships with each other and help create the conditions for more peaceful and tolerant interactions among these faith communities in the twenty-first century.”
Intimidated, I wrote back to clarify that I am definitely not a religious scholar although I had been working with Muslim religious leaders since 2002. We at the Philippine Center for Islam and Democracy had realized that our ulama and aleemat have a critical role to play in the attainment of peace and development. Dr Cummings replied that activists such as myself were also invited to provide a needed perspective on today’s challenging peacemaking issues.
I am glad I came. It has been years since I have had 10 days to sit quietly and contemplate, albeit surrounded by learned theologians of the Abrahamic faiths.
On Wednesday, we had an afternoon session on peacemaking and tolerance. I was asked to share our experiences as a Muslim from Mindanao.
I related that the history and geography of the Philippines had been carved out of cultural and religious diversity. Two religious streams entered the Philippines. One, the Islamic, came in the 14th-15th centuries. The other, the Christian, arrived in the 16th century with the Spanish colonization of the country. These two religious streams resulted in the Islamization of much of Mindanao and the Christianization of a part of Mindanao and the rest of the Philippines.
The social landscape of Mindanao has long been defined by diversity. After centuries of western colonization, state attempts at integration, and continuing migration, the region is now shared by three major groups set apart from each other by their religious and cultural traditions: the Christians, the Muslims or the Moros, and the Lumads or the Indigenous Peoples.
Diversity — for the many communities that are characterized by it — can be both a blessing and a challenge. On the one hand, the positive interface between the cultural practices and faith traditions of the community’s diverse inhabitants has enriched Mindanao’s community life. But, on the other hand, the seemingly irreconcilable religious ideologies and tribal interests (for this purpose, I consider the Ilonggos a tribe) can often make it difficult for their adherents to look beyond their differences and search for common grounds.
The religious diversity is often threatened by the conflicts that have periodically conflagrated between the government and the liberation fronts of Muslims struggling for independence — the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF). Centuries of conflict have exacted a heavy toll on Muslim-Christian relations in the region. To many in these communities, their perception of the “other” has been filtered through the sufferings and hardships they and others in their communities have experienced during the war. Historical stereotypes persist — that of the Moros as “uncivilized heathens” and the Christians as “land grabbers” — and there is very little opportunity — and incentive — in the midst of the traumas of war, to calmly reassess these images.
While Muslims, Christians, and Lumads generally get along as neighbors despite their differences, it is the periodic breaking out of armed conflict and political controversies that strain the relationship of the peoples of Mindanao. Unfortunately, there are those who use religious differences to manipulate these political tensions and differences to further their own interests.
Thus, our leading ulama like to quote Surah 49, Verse 13 from the Holy Quran:
“O mankind! We created you from a single (pair) of a male and a female and made you into nations and tribes that you may know and honor each other (not that you may despise one another). Verily the most honoured of you in the sight of Allah is (he who is) the most righteous of you. And Allah has full knowledge and is well acquainted.”
Clearly, all Muslim faithful are enjoined by God to accept their neighbors who may not be of the same faith or culture.
They also like to quote: “Allah forbids you not, with regards to those who fight you not for (your) Faith nor driven you out of your homes, from dealing kindly and justly with them. For Allah loveth those who are just.” Surah 60, Verse 8.
This chapter of the Holy Quran further commands Muslims to treat their neighbors — those who have not committed aggression against their community or their faith — well and justly.
But the verses that gave us the most traction were those quoted in A Common Word: love of God and love of neighbor.
On Oct. 11, 2007, a group of 138 Muslim scholars, clerics, and intellectuals sent an open letter, entitled “A Common Word Between Us and You,” to Pope Benedict XVI and the leaders of other Christian denominations. Led by Prince Ghazi bin Muhammad of Jordan, A Common Word argued that “if Muslims and Christians are not at peace, the world cannot be at peace.”
In the Holy Qur’an, Allah enjoins Muslims to issue reach out to Christians and Jews, the Peoples of the Scripture:
“Say: O People of the Scripture! Come to a common word between us and you: that we shall worship none but God, and that we shall ascribe no partner unto Him, and that none of us shall take others for lords beside God. And if they turn away, then say: Bear witness that we are they who have surrendered (unto Him). (Aal ‘Imran 3:64)
A Common Word further details the commandment of God for us to love our neighbors. The Prophet Muhammad said: “None of you has faith until you love for your neighbor what you love for yourself.”
Rather than fight each other in conflicts where there can be no victor, the document urged Muslims and Christian to “vie with each other only in righteousness and good works.” It asked both religions to be good neighbors “be fair, just and kind to another and live in sincere peace, harmony and mutual goodwill.”
When I first heard these verses explained and discussed, I felt a strong pull to bring A Common Word to our divided communities in Mindanao. PCID started organizing small discussions with our ulama. This year, with the support of the Australian Embassy, we will be organizing regional intrafaith forums on A Common Word in Mindanao culminating in an interfaith conference in Manila.
A Common Word highlighted the two themes of love of God and love of neighbor as the foundation for serious dialogue or engagement between Muslims and Christians. The two themes are also the two great commandments of Jesus Christ, binding Muslims and Christians together around a set of theological and ethical principles.
Imagine what can happen if we can engage one another in talks where we can state our differences up front and so dialog with a clear conscience and sincerity. Imagine the good that can result if, instead of focusing on what divides, we dialog and collaborate to attain common ground.
Here in Yale, on a lovely sunny day, I will contemplate that lovely possibility and renew my commitment to dialogue.

Peace and Tolerance

By Amina Rasul, Surveil, Business World Online, July 07, 2011 
_______________________________________
Zamboanga City (Intrafaith Workshop on A Common Peace) — In the past 20 years, Mindanao, home to hospitable and kind peoples, has been better known to the world as home to terrorist cells (Al Qaeda, Jemaah Islamiyyah, Abu Sayyaf Group).
It is an abode made more uninviting by complexities of the armed conflicts between liberation fronts and the state. We have had armed conflicts for over hundreds of years, between the central government and Muslims or the Bangsamoro.
The social landscape of Mindanao has long been defined by diversity, with dramatic reversals in demographics under the Philippine Republic. A hundred years ago in Mindanao, Muslims and Lumad or indigenous peoples were the overwhelming majority. Today, Christians form the majority with 63% of the population.
The Christians, originally settlers from regions outside Mindanao, have established their homes in Mindanao over three generations. The Muslims or Moros belong to at least 13 ethnolinguistic indigenous groups that have adopted Islam as a way of life. The three largest groups are the Maguindanaon (people of the flooded plains) of Maguindanao, Sultan Kudarat, North and South Cotabato; the Maranaw (people of the lake) of the Lanao provinces, and the Tausug (people of the current) of the Sulu archipelago. The Moro Islamic Liberation Front are predominantly Maguindanao while the Tausug dominates the Moro National Liberation Front.
While Muslims, Christians, and Lumad generally get along as neighbors despite their differences, it is the periodic breaking out of armed conflict and political controversies that strain the relationship of the peoples of Mindanao. The political tensions and differences are manipulated by those who would use religious differences to recruit followers. This is why I am in Zamboanga City today to have discussions with Muslim religious leaders of Zamboanga, Basilan, Sulu, and Tawi-tawi on A Common Word as the basis for tolerance and acceptance.
A Common Word expounds on God’s commandments to Muslims to love Him and to love their neighbors, referring to their brothers and sisters from the Abrahamic faiths. (acommonword.com)
The Holy Quran commands, “Say: O People of the Scripture! Come to a common word between us and you: that we shall worship none but God, and that we shall ascribe no partner unto Him, and that none of us shall take others for lords beside God. And if they turn away, then say: Bear witness that we are they who have surrendered (unto Him). ( 3:64).
The Holy Quran also says: “O mankind! We created you from a single (pair) of a male and a female and made you into nations and tribes that you may know and honor each other (not that you may despise one another). Verily the most honoured of you in the sight of Allah is (he who is) the most righteous of you. And Allah has full knowledge and is well acquainted”. (49:13)
These two themes are also commandments of Jesus Christ, binding Muslims and Christians together around a set of theological and ethical principles. After all, in the New Testament, Jesus Christ said: “Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is One. / And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ This is the first commandment. And the second commandment is this: ‘You shall love your neighbour as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” (Mark 12:29-31)
However, finding common ground does not mean glossing over differences. It is clear that there are important differences that cannot be brushed aside for dialogue. But the meaning of dialogue and engagement is to state one’s differences so that we can talk to one another with a clear conscience and sincerity. Instead of focusing on what divides, A Common Word stressed what is common between the two religions: love of God and love of neighbor.
Long ago, the peoples of Mindanao had already realized the truth of the message underpinning A Common Word. As the implementation of the 1996 GRP-MNLF Peace Agreement remain problematic and the GRP-MILF talks unresolved after a decade, the peoples of Mindanao have realized that creative solutions must be implemented to finally end the conflict that has robbed millions of them of a bright future. We realize that Mindanao is our common land, a land that we can only enjoy if we can forge a common peace.
Interfaith dialogue has become a vital tool in forging a common peace for Mindanao, advancing as it does mutual understanding between people of different faiths and facilitating collaborative action across religious lines. Dialogue among the Christian and Muslim clergy has been an enduring element of interfaith dialogue in Mindanao.
Peace advocates know that the involvement and support of religious actors is critical to the success of peace building in the region. When they truly espouse the goals of dialogue, religious professionals — the ulama, the priests, and the pastors, among others — have the capacity to guide and motivate their members to move from fear and distrust toward greater understanding and mutual tolerance.
The problem lies in the manipulation — even the perception of manipulation — of such dialogues. In 2009, for instance, government tasked the influential Bishops-Ulama Conference (BUC) to conduct multi-stakeholders dialogues after the failure of the government negotiations with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front. These dialogues, after the conflagration that left 700,000 homeless in August 2008, were criticized by many stakeholders as pro-government.
The contributions of interfaith dialogue programs toward the larger task of peace building in Mindanao are significant. However, the dialogues, successful at the high level, do not really reach the religious actors at the grassroots, especially the Muslim religious. We need to engage our ulama and imams to become more pro-active and thus neutralize negative manipulation by political powers.
A Common Word is a significant document that gives us a powerful platform for strengthening interfaith dialogue and collaboration amongst the Muslims who view interfaith dialogue as something driven by the Christian churches. This year, with the support of AUSAID, we in the Philippine Center for Islam and Democracy will have discussions of A Common Word down to the village level by engaging our ulama, aleema, civil society, and our youth through workshops. In October, we will have a national forum to which we will invite leaders of the different faiths.
Reaching out simultaneously — from grassroots and at the national level — will generate more synergy for establishing a truly pluralistic society.
While it is true that a political resolution to the conflict has yet to be reached by the warring parties, more than three decades of committed work at enhancing dialogue between the Muslim and Christian communities in Mindanao has succeeded at least in building bridges and advancing greater understanding among people of different faiths. After all, we go to the same schools, buy at the same markets, do business with one another. As far as peace is concerned, the foundation for a truly successful peace process is in the hands of the people and their faith leaders, who continue to talk to each other and live with each other on common ground.

Source: http://www.bworldonline.com/content.php?section=Opinion&title=Peace-and-tolerance&id=34384 

Our untold story

By Noralyn Mustafa, Kris-Crossing Mindanao, May 2, 2011, Philippine Daily Inquirer
______________________________
OUR HISTORY, a son told me once, is a history of conquest written by colonizers. That is why, he went on rather resentfully, we celebrate our defeats, very seldom our victories.
Maybe not much has been written about our victories, I said, trying to sound authoritative by quoting an eminent history professor who told me during a seminar-workshop on local history, “if it is not written, it is not history,” which sparked a violent exchange between my son and me which I would rather not reproduce here due to lack of space.
This is not to say that our historians have not been writing. But I remember browsing through the exhaustive bibliography compiled by the late Dr. Alfredo Tiamson (I still have the autographed copy of the first edition that he gave me; I bought myself a copy of the second, updated edition) and sad to say, most of the listing consists of dissertations, theses and monographs, while many of the larger works are reinterpretations and updated analyses of primary and even secondary sources. In other words, nothing risky.
But then there is always this cautiousness that is sometimes mistaken for trepidation among academics that one assumes is dictated by the rigid rules they have to work with, because any wayward statement that cannot be grounded on an unassailable footnote could threaten to scramble up the academic initials after their names into an anagram. So that unless you are an avid student of history, they usually come across as plain boring.
Which is why I find the writings of archaeologists and anthropologists more exciting. There is always a sense of adventure in the way they base their speculations on material evidence, and with mechanical and other scientific tools available like DNA analysis and carbon-dating, together with artists’ concepts of the subject, we are irresistibly drawn into a reconstruction of the past, according to how we perceive the evidence, guided by what is presented to us, and our stock knowledge and sentiments. It therefore becomes an interactive movie in our mind.
So it was engrossing, as always, to read the latest column of my favorite historian and fellow columnist Ambeth Ocampo (“Been there, done that,” Inquirer, 4/27/11) who, I was happy to note, shares my concerns on our historiography, especially concerning local history, and as important, the content of history textbooks.
Meeting Asian historians during a conference on Southeast Asian Historiography in Penang, Malaysia a decade ago, Ocampo writes, made him realize that we and our Southeast Asian neighbors “face the same problems: the content of school history, the accuracy and interpretation of history in textbooks, teacher training and the delivery of history in the classroom, how to deal with the colonial past, etc. (underscoring mine).”
The last clause is especially relevant to Mindanao, particularly in our never-ending peace negotiations which, as of this writing, is ongoing. This has to do with the interpretation of history by groups with their own particular interests, objectives or agenda.
It will be noted that history as interpreted and written for their propaganda literature by separatist groups such as the Moro National Liberation Front is a history not only of defeat but also of bitterness and resentment, with the objective only of uniting the Moro peoples against the perceived enemies: colonization, and the institutions that abetted the injustices of colonization—government and Christianity.
This was very important in validating their “struggle,” and certainly necessary in soliciting the support of Islamic countries like Libya, which was the first Middle East country to provide financial assistance and which, it is widely known, sponsored the nomination of the MNLF for observer status in the powerful Organization of Islamic Conference (OIC).
Then there is the problem of how local history is written, if written at all. During the conference he attended, Ocampo says, a historian asked him: “Isn’t the history of the Philippines nothing but a local history of Manila?” a remark, he writes, that has haunted him since.
Well, hindi ka nag-iisa, Ambeth. This is a main grievance of the Moros. Like my son said, our history was written by the conquerors, and since they were fighting the Moros to the end, they only wrote about their victories against the infidels, pagans and savages, which was how they saw the people they called “Moros,” with the same revulsion with which they regarded the real, original Moros who subjugated them for close to 900 years. And like I told my son at the end of our discussion, ours is really a history of omission and commission, on the whole an untold story.
But like the biblical Pharaoh Ramses said, “So shall it be written, so shall it be done.”
If it is not written, it is not history.
Which was the idea that lay, I suppose, behind the title of Ambeth’s piece. Up to now, over a century after the colonizers left, we don’t even know each other. More tragically, we don’t even know ourselves.
The consequences? Hilarious, to say the least. We perceive our problems at the shortest visible distance, so that our solutions are as astigmatic: the problem is the traffic, the solution, ban wang-wang and penalize counterflow. Problem solved, while Rico Puno lists down the names of police jueteng (illegal numbers game) protectors in the privacy of Camp Crame. There are simply people who like keeping lists.
“I took every opportunity to visit the Visayas and Mindanao to learn more about their heroes, their food, their culture, and their history that isn’t represented in our textbooks,” Ambeth Ocampo writes.
You’d be surprised just how much there is untold of our story as a people, as a nation. What a pity. Because it is a very beautiful, fascinating, marvelous story.

Twisting Islam

By Atty Mehol K. SadainWriter’s Note: Twisting Islam was first published in the May 5 & 7, 2000 issues of the Philippine Daily Inquirer. I wrote this upon the request of friend Marites Vitug who wanted non-Muslims to understand the kidnapping situa…

Sebenarnya,kita semua sedang dicaturkan

“As for them, they are but plotting a schemeAnd I am planning a schemeTherefore grant a delay to the Unbelievers: Give respite to them (for awhile)(At-Thaariq, 86:15-17)Saya telah memberitahu anda semua tentang mereka yang cuba mencaturkan dan siapa ya…

Category: Uncategorized

What is youth?

This is another pieace written by a foremost Tausog writer, the late Ibrahim Jubaira._____________________________Some night back, my oldest boy was reading aloud a poem entitled, “To the Filipino Youth,” with passable accent and enunciation. When…

Reforms in the time of (ARMM) election

A lecture delivered by Atty. Mehol K. Sadain, former Comelec commissioner, in the RTD on the ARMM Election: To Postpone or Not? Congressional Internship Program for Young Mindanao Leaders, House of Representatives, Quezon City, March 28, 2011.

________________________________
I chose to title this talk “Reforms in the Time of Election” because I believe that we can have reform in the ARMM even if we go through an election. In fact, I think present circumstances being what they are now, we simply have to go on with the ARMM elections this year, and introduce reforms in the process.
I will present my position in four parts, and I will present these parts as simply as possible:
The first part is a short discourse on the meaning of autonomy.
The second part is a presentation of the justifications given for the postponement of the ARMM elections and the appointment, in lieu of the election, of its officials; and my brief reaction to these justifications.
The third part consists of the legal provisions that are pertinent to the ARMM elections, their postponement and the appointment of officials, together with a discussion of these provisions.
Finally, the fourth part is the election option, and my recommendations on how the Aquino administration can go about instituting reforms while having elections.
First, some caveat and explanations: I am refuting the proposed election postponement and appointment not because I am anti-government, but because I think there are more reasonable, practical and legally arguable recourses, which will equally address the reform concerns of this government while at the same time, abiding by the law.
Neither does it mean that I am anti-reform, as in fact, I shall be outlining what and how reforms may be undertaken without destroying the ARMM constituents’ right to suffrage.
It does not also mean that I am against those who favor postponement and appointment. My position is not about personalities; it is about the law. I have many friends who are for postponement and appointment. Some of them may even be among those being eyed for appointment. My position is not about who gets appointed or elected. It is about respecting the law because I believe that the reforms we conceive are best implemented within the bounds of law.
We now go to the meat of this talk.
I. 
For the first part, we ask: What is autonomy, or for that matter, what is regional autonomy as embodied in the Constitution and in the Organic Law of the ARMM or R.A. 9054?
There is no direct and specific definition of “autonomy” in our laws, but Webster’s Dictionary (Ninth Collegiate Edition) defines it as “the quality or state of being self-governing”. “Autonomous” on the other hand is defined as “having the right or power of self-government, undertaken or carried on without outside control.”  The 1987 Constitution provides for it in Art. X, Secs. 15 to 21, and R.A. 9054 or the Organic Act for the ARMM states that regional autonomy is governance and administration of the region “in accordance with the laws enacted by the Regional Assembly and this Organic Act”, meaning R.A. 9054 [Art. III, Sec. 1, R.A. 9054]. The primary responsibility of governing the ARMM is vested in the Regional Government [Art. I, Sec. 1. R.A. 9054], and the President merely exercises “general supervision” over the “autonomous regions” [Art. X, Sec. 16, 1987 Constitution] and over the “Regional Governor” [Art. V, Sec. 1, R.A. 9054] to “ensure that laws are faithfully executed.” [Art. X, Sec. 16, Constitution].
In other words, even if we say that what we have in the ARMM is limited autonomy, in the sense that certain controls are exercised by the national government, these controls are, however, limited and circumscribed by law and the Constitution. The spirit of the law is toward “autonomy”, such that the powers of the national government to intervene in this autonomy are provided by law.
Please note that both the Constitution and the ARMM Organic Act are in agreement that the President’s role in the ARMM is to see to it that the laws are obeyed. On this basis alone, the President should be wary of moves that tend to violate the provisions of R.A. 9054, as well as, and particularly, the Constitution.
II. 
We move to the second part: the justifications offered for postponement and appointment.
Allow me to draw the justifications for postponement from House Bill 4146 itself and its explanatory note, and please bear with me as we analyze the propriety and advisability of each of these justifications.
The explanatory note says: “(T)he ARMM elections had been marred with intervention of elected national officials, and even of other local elective officials as these officials were already in office at the time the ARMM elections were being conducted… The ARMM autonomy would be safeguarded if the elections for the ARMM are conducted simultaneously with the elections for the national and other local officials as mandated by the Constitution.”
Allow me to comment on the practical side, and leave the legal discussion for Part 3. If the problem with the ARMM elections is due to the “intervention of elected national officials which marred these elections”, then the proper solution is for this government to abandon the practice of past administrations, and refrain from intervening in the ARMM elections. This problem is an offshoot of national intervention, and not inherent to ARMM elections per se. Secondly, to say that the reason why these officials, whether national or local, are able to intervene in the ARMM elections is that they are already in office at the time of the ARMM elections, is to forget that whether or not you schedule the ARMM outside or with the national elections, these so-called national and local officials will still be in office during the campaign and actual elections in May. Having simultaneous elections does not mean that the incumbent officials can no longer intervene. The truth is THEY WILL STILL BE IN OFFICE, and will have more reasons to intervene because they may ALSO BE SEEKING REELECTION. It is not correct to say that their chance of intervening is lesser when they are also seeking re-election. Experience tells us that they will be compelled to intervene more because their re-election or the election of their chosen candidates may be at stake.
2. The explanatory note says: “It bears emphasis that pushing through with the 2011 elections may mar the ongoing peace talks with the insurgent groups which can disrupt and worsen the peace and security situation in the region.”
We have been having peace talks and ARMM elections from the 90s to the present, and there has been no instance, when the ARMM elections have significantly “marred the ongoing peace talks”. This reason is not valid, unless the government wants the ongoing peace talks to be factored into the ARMM elections. And if this is the case, then it is as if the government is saying that we should make this elections dependent on the outcome of the peace talks, which is complete anathema to the idea of suffrage. My point here is that it appears to be a negation of the will of the ARMM electorate for ARMM governance to be promised to a group (whether the MNLF or the MILF), as if the ARMM is part of the “spoils of war”. Finally and on a more practical consideration, we cannot even be sure that the peace negotiations will be completed in time for the resetting of the ARMM elections in 2013. In other words, why make something definite (the scheduled ARMM elections) dependent on something indefinite (the completion of the peace negotiations)?
3. The explanatory note says: “Likewise, the election will just throw ARMM in a vicious cycle characterized by misgovernance and corruption, which it is currently in. Under the same ineffective leadership, ARMM’s development will continue to be an impossible goal.”
First of all, I believe that this statement will be contradicted by all past ARMM regional governments and governors, and each will have their own arguments as well as list of achievements to show that their leadership is or was not “ineffective”. That is not my point though; I think all past and present governors can argue for their own administrations. The danger in this justification is that it presumes and pre-judges that the incoming ARMM officials who will be elected if the elections push through in 2011, will be ineffective, and will be corrupt and will not know how to govern. I think this does not speak well of our politicians or political hopefuls, as well as the Muslims or Moros in general. The presumption or pre-judgment is rather rash and uncalled for. Are we GOD who can tell how the next ARMM officials will govern, before they are actually elected and given the chance to govern? Worse, is the present administration saying that all the ARMM politicians are corrupt, ineffective and do not know how to govern?
4. The explanatory note says: “With the ending of the term of the incumbent officials … significant reforms will be introduced in the regional government with the appointment of Officers-in-Charge towards the achievement of peace and security in the region. The interim period will allow the region’s new governing mechanism, with the aid and support from the central government, to improve its capabilities in addressing the issues in beleaguering the region. Introducing reforms can be a major agenda of the national government… In two years, the introduction of reforms can initiate the transformation of ARMM into the self determining unit as envisioned by the Constitution which will hopefully continue upon the election of its officials in 2013.”
This is the bill’s argument for appointment. Without yet going into its legality, allow me just to focus on its practicality and common sense. Again this assumes that we can only have reform or this government can only implement reforms if it chooses or appoints its own OIC in place of erstwhile elective officials. The fallacy in this argument is that it pre-supposes that all appointive ARMM officials will be automatically effective in implementing government reforms, while those to be elected in the 2011 elections, if it pushes through, will be automatically ineffective. I say that the justification is fallacious because if it is true then we should by now have a well-reformed bureaucracy considering that all of its officials are appointive. We all know, however, that our bureaucracy is far from ideal and reformed; hence, how can we be assured that the appointment of ARMM officials will bring about the much needed reforms in two years time? More to the point, why violate the right of suffrage to bring about reforms the achievement of which cannot be guaranteed in two years time?
The truth is that NO appointive official or officials can guarantee ARMM reform because reform is the result of so many interventions, one of which is national government support. And national government support that is apolitical can and should be extended by this administration to the ARMM leadership, whether it is appointed or elected. The bottom line is you do not need appointive officials to introduce reforms. The truth is if the national government is serious about reforming the ARMM, it has all the powers to push any elective regional officials to implement reforms in the ARMM.
5. Finally, the explanatory note says: “(T)he two year period will enable the Commission on Elections to institute electoral reforms such as purging of the voters’ list and biometric voters’ registration.”
I will reserve my comments on this for the fourth part of this lecture.
III.
Let us now go to the third part and discuss the legal provisions that are pertinent to the ARMM Elections, and the possibility of postponing it and appointing otherwise elective officials.
There are areas here where the constitutionality or unconstitutionality of the provisions of H.B. 4146 is a gray area, particularly in the “resetting” or “synchronization” portion. I would like to believe that the final say here is with the Supreme Court. On the other hand, there are provisions in H.B. 4146, particularly in the “appointment” part where the 1987 Constitution is very clear, and which stands to be violated if the appointment of ARMM OICs is pushed through.
Let us look at the pertinent legal provisions, and let us first focus on the provisions which clearly affect the constitutionality of H.B. 4146:
The CONSTITUTIONAL PROVISIONS
ART. X. SEC. 16.
“The President shall exercise general supervision over autonomous regions to ensure that laws are faithfully executed.”
Compare this to ART. VII, SEC. 17.
“The President shall have control of all the executive departments, bureaus and offices. He shall ensure that the laws be faithfully executed.”
There is a reason for the difference in the words used: “general supervision” for the autonomous regions (which is similarly found in the local government provisions), and “control” for the executive departments, bureaus and offices. You will also note that the power of “general supervision” by the President over the autonomous regions is “to ensure that laws are faithfully executed”, which gives us an idea of the primordial importance of the law above all else — or of the primordial importance of R.A. 9054, which is the law governing the ARMM. As a rule, the power of “general supervision” does not necessarily include the power “to appoint” — ESPECIALLY IF THERE ARE PROVISIONS IN THE CONSTITUTION OR THE LAW THAT MITIGATE OR ARGUE AGAINST APPOINTMENT, or to put it differently, ESPECIALLY IF THERE ARE CONSTITUTIONAL OR LEGAL PROVISIONS THAT SAY THAT OFFICIALS SHOULD BE ELECTED.
So we ask, does the Constitution or R.A. 9054 mandate the election of ARMM top officials? The answer is a resounding YES!
ART. X. SEC. 18.
“The Congress shall enact an organic act for each autonomous region with the assistance and participation of the regional consultative commission composed of representatives appointed by the President from a list of nominees from multisectoral bodies. The organic act shall define the basic structure of government for the region consisting of the executive department and the legislative assembly, both of which shall be elective and representative of the constituent political units. x x x
The creation of the autonomous region shall be effective when approved by a majority of the votes cast by the constituent units in a plebiscite called for the purpose, provided that only provinces, cities and geographic areas voting favorably in such plebiscite shall be included in the autonomous region.”
We have therefore seen that the Constitution itself states that “the executive department and legislative assembly (of the autonomous region) … shall be elective and representative of the constituent political units.”
Because of this constitutional provision, R.A. 9054 likewise provides for elected, instead of appointed posts, thus:
The PROVISIONS OF R.A. 9054
ART. VI, SEC. 2. Election of Regional Assembly
“The Regional Assembly shall be composed of Members elected by popular vote, with three members elected from each of the legislative districts.”
ART. VII, SEC. 1. Executive Power
“The executive power shall be vested in a Regional Governor. He shall be elected by the qualified voters of the autonomous region”.
We therefore have a situation here, where the law, R.A. 9054, provides for elections BASED on the constitutional provision which provides for the same. In effect, if you advocate appointment you are going against Art. VI, Sec. 2 and Art. VII, Sec. 1 of R.A. 9054, which are in turn based on Art. X, Sec. 18 of the Constitution. If you want to appoint, you therefore have to amend these provisions. Without such amendment, the appointment will not only violate R.A. 9054, it will also GO AGAINST Art. X, Sec. 18 of the Constitution, a VERY CLEAR CASE of unconstitutionality of H.B. 4146. You cannot justify appointment by citing the residual powers of the President. In the first place, residual powers can be invoked only if there is NO CLEAR GRANT of POWER. If the grant and LIMITS of POWER are clearly provided for either by law or by the Constitution, you have to institute amendment/s to enable you to exercise such power. Otherwise, the power thus exercised is either contrary to law or contrary to the Constitution, or both. Secondly, residual powers that are not so provided by law are usually exercised only during times of exigency, which is not the case in the ARMM today.
The foregoing provisions are pristine clear, when the provisions of law are clear and express, there is no room for interpretation or construction. This is a basic rule in statutory construction.
Now, let us go to the resetting and synchronization of the ARMM elections to 2013:
The main legal arguments of the proponents of postponement are:
The Constitution provides for National and Local Elections synchronization;The ARMM elections have been reset so many times in the past without any amendment to the Organic Law; hence, a resetting this time, will not also need an amendment;Even if a change in R.A. 9054 needs an amendment and a plebiscite, H.B. 4146 is not actually amending R.A. 9054, but R.A. 9333 which amended R.A. 9140 and did not go through a plebiscite; hence, in the event H.B. 4146 becomes a law, it will not also need a plebiscite; andResetting the ARMM elections may be done through the passage of a law without a plebiscite because even the 1987 Constitution allows Congress to pass a law to change the election date without need of a plebiscite.
Unlike R.A. 6734 or the previous regional autonomous charter, R.A. 9054 contains a specific date for the ARMM elections, in this wise:
ART. XVIII on the Transitory Provisions, Sec. 7.
The first regular elections of the Regional Governor, Regional VG and members of the Regional Legislative Assembly under this Organic Act shall be held on the second Monday of September 2001. The Commission on Elections shall promulgate rules and regulations as may be necessary for the conduct of the said elections.
The provision may directly refer to the FIRST regular elections under R.A. 9054, but together with the other pertinent provisions in R.A. 9054, it provides a good basis for determining the proper date of ARMM elections.
Here are the other pertinent provisions:
ART. VI, SEC. 4. Term of Office
The members of the Regional Assembly, including the sectoral representatives, shall have a term of three years which shall begin at noon on the 30th day of September next following the day of the election and shall end at noon of the same date three years thereafter.
ART. VII, SEC. 7. Terms of Office of Elective Regional Officials.
The terms of office of the RG, RVG and members of the RA shall be for a period of three years, which shall begin at noon on the 30th day of September next following the day of the election and shall end at noon of the same date three years thereafter. The incumbent elective officials of the autonomous region shall continue in effect until their successors are elected and qualified.
If we look at all three provisions, we can see that if ever we do not consider the 2nd Monday of September 2001 as the date of the succeeding ARMM elections on the ground that Art. XVIII, Sec. 7 is transitory and applies only to the first ARMM elections, still, Art. VI, Sec. 4 and Art. VII, Sec. 7 on the terms of office will tell us that any specification of the subsequent elections in the ARMM should be close to September 30, the date specified for the beginning of the term of office of elective ARMM officials.
Synchronizing the ARMM elections with the national and local elections in May will result in a long period — almost five months — of waiting before the duly elected ARMM officials can assume office, unless you also amend the September 30 date, or unless Congress passes a law changing the date of our national and local elections to August or September.
The constitutional provision on synchronization is not sacrosanct (and absolute) for several reasons:
The provision is in Art. XVIII, Sec. 1 or in the Transitory Provisions of the 1987 Constitution. It provides:
“The first elections of Members of the Congress under this Constitution shall be held on the second Monday of May 1987. The first local elections shall be held on a date to be determined by the President, which MAY be simultaneous with the election of the Members of the Congress. It shall include the elections of all Members of the city or municipal councils in the Metropolitan Manila area.”
As can be seen in the above provision, not only is it transitory, it is not also mandatory, as indicated by the used of the words “MAY BE SIMULTANEOUS”.As can be seen in the following constitutional provisions, the 2nd Monday election date is not even constitutionally fixed. What is fixed is the RIGHT OF CONGRESS to provide the date or other dates BY LAW, as can be seen below:
ART. VI. SEC. 8.
Unless otherwise provided by law, the regular election of the Senators and the Members of the House of Representatives shall be held on the second Monday of May.
ART. VII. SEC. 4.
Unless otherwise provided by law, the regular election for President and Vice-President shall be held on the second Monday of May.
What all these mean is that if there is already a law setting the ARMM election date and that law happens to be the Organic Act of the ARMM, then any move to change it should pass the proper procedure for amending R.A. 9054. More to the point, if H.B. 4146 wants to change the ARMM election date and synchronize it with the national and local election date in the 2nd Monday of May, the one way of doing it is for a LAW TO BE PASSED BY TWO THIRDS OF THE HOUSES OF CONGRESS VOTING SEPARATELY, AND THEREAFTER SUBJECTED TO A PLEBISCITE.
Incidentally, Art. VII, Sec. 7 of R.A. 9054 also provides for a situation where no election is held, or even if one is held, the officials are not proclaimed and have not qualified. The said section declares: “The incumbent elective officials of the autonomous region shall continue in effect until their successors are elected and qualified,” in short, we have here a law that specifically provides for hold-over instead of appointment. Until this is brought to the Supreme Court and struck down by the Honorable Court, the provision may be used.
It is basic in Constitutional Law that the Court will not exercise its power of judicial review unless a case ripe for adjudication is filed before it. This also applies to past laws (like R.A. 9014 and 9333) which according to the proponents of postponement and appointment supposedly changed the ARMM election date without going through a plebiscite. We should note that these laws were not brought to the Supreme Court for the Court to rule on their constitutionality or compliance with R.A. 9054. Their implementation being political and administrative actions, it does not necessarily imply that they are legal because the Court has not ruled on their legality, and the Court has not so ruled because their implementation was not brought to the Court’s attention. In other words, they cannot be used to justify a change in R.A. 9054 that does not go through a plebiscite, in accordance with Art. XVII, Sec. 3 of R.A. 9054, as follows:
ART. XVII, SEC. 3.
Any amendment to or revision of this Organic Act shall become effective only when approved by a majority of the vote cast in a plebiscite called for the purpose, which shall be held not earlier than sixty days or later than ninety days after the approval of such amendment or revision.
The other argument of the postponement and appointment proponents is that H.B. 4146 amends R.A. 9333, which in turn, amended R.A. 9140 (on the fixing of election date), and hence DOES NOT INVOLVE ANY AMENDMENT of R.A. 9054. This being the case, and inasmuch as it is only R.A. 9054 that went through a plebiscite and hence, requires a plebiscite for revisions or amendments, then they argue that H.B . 4146, not being amendatory to R.A. 9054, but only to R.A. 9333; the same does not need a plebiscite. Again, this is a fallacy that strains logic because no matter how you look at it, when you amend R.A. 9333 (or for that matter R.A. 9140) which are both transitory laws, YOU ARE IN EFFECT AMENDING R.A. 9054 which contains the election date, the term of office and the date of assumption to office by the duly elected and qualified ARMM officials.
By way of concluding our discussion on Part III, we saw that “election”, the “date of elections”, the “terms of office and assumption to office of the duly elected officials”, and the “holdover” by the incumbent in case their successors are not elected or have not qualified, BEING PART OF THE PROVISIONS OF R.A. 9054, then changing them should ALWAYS be subjected to a plebiscite as provided for by law or R.A. 9054.
IV.
NOW for the fourth part, which is the holding of elections, and our recommendations on how electoral and other regional reforms can be instituted.
We start by noting that today, time is not on the side of the proponents for postponement and appointment. At the risk of making it difficult for COMELEC to prepare for the elections in August 2011, and therefore jeopardizing the electoral exercise, a prolonged period of uncertainty will take its toll on the remaining five months or so, for COMELEC to prepare for the elections.
As a rule, it is not advisable to be vacillating between holding or postponing elections at a time when the COMELEC is in the midst of election preparation, because this will have an adverse effect on the readiness of the COMELEC to conduct the elections.
The time element therefore argues for conducting the elections so that the COMELEC can go full blast in its preparations.
What about the matter of safeguarding the elections, or diminishing the chances of fraud, as this is a frequent complaint against ARMM elections (as if the elections in other part of the country are already fraud free)?
It might interest you to know that in the entire country, it is the ARMM that has the biometrics of all the voters. In other words, voters’ biometrics is 100% complete in the ARMM, hence, the region is ripe for the implementation of the Automated Fingerprint Identification System (AFIS) which can identify double or multiple registrants and therefore neutralize them come election time. Considering that the AFIS has been acquired by the COMELEC in 2009 (or maybe early 2010), then by this time, it should have already done its work in the list of ARMM voters. These lists of voters can already be cleansed of multiple as well as under-aged registrants. And after the new lists of ARMM voters are eventually cleansed, their biometrics can in turn be included in the counting machine program so that THE MACHINE WILL ONLY ISSUE BALLOTS TO VOTERS WHOSE BIOMETRICS ARE RECOGNIZED BY THE MACHINE. This will effectively eliminate substitute voting, which is the bane of many elections in far away precincts. COMELEC, however, needs time to do this, and it cannot fully utilize the remaining time, if the possibility of postponement keeps dangling over their heads.
Hence, we can therefore reduce the incidents of electoral fraud in the coming ARMM elections.
Considering, however, the limited time available, the best recourse is to go on with the present elections in 2011 (whether on the 2nd Monday of August or of September), and if there is any need for amendments to institute reforms or to synchronize elections in 2013, then these amendments may be passed and subjected to a plebiscite on election day or anytime between election day and the 2013 mid-term elections. In the meantime, whoever gets elected should now be subjected to the “general supervision” powers of the President to ensure that the intended reforms are implemented, or at least commenced by the newly- elected officials.
I believe that any national government, by virtue of its administrative and fiscal ascendancy over the regional government, will always have the power to compel those elected in 2011 to be serious in the reform campaign. And I also believe that the ARMM constituents will most likely follow their elected officials than those appointed by the national government, in the move to institute reforms in the region. Finally, I strongly believe that if there is anybody highly interested in reforming the ARMM, it is the Moros or the Muslims themselves. It is not fair to deprive them of their right to choose their leaders, and to vigorously push for true autonomy, because of electoral problems that can be found anywhere in the country. Neither is it fair to pre-judge them and their leaders by thinking that they will elect poor leaders, or the elected leaders are not capable of conceptualizing and implementing reforms. Finally, it is not lawful to do away with legally and constitutionally-mandated autonomy and election provisions without going through the proper procedure for changing the organic act or the constitution.
THE BEST WAY TO INTRODUCE REFORM IS TO DO IT WITHIN EXISTING LAWS.

UVP Cotabato Relief Operations

July 2, 2011THE SITUATION (and how we made a change)This is what’s happening now somewhere in Cotabato The whole pathway is floodedKids playing with their father’s PedicabOthers would stay at the top of a tricycle to keep themselves dryAnd Boats a…

Soung (Jolo) and the Sooloos (Tausugs)

From Vol. v, pp. 343-390 (mainly verbatim) of Charles Wilkes’s [41] Narrative of the United States Exploring Expedition during the years 1838, 1839, 1840, 1841, 1842 (Philadelphia, 1844). It is one of the earliest accounts written by an American of the…

Who is Abraham Iribani?

He is popularly known as the highest ranking Tausog in the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) with the rank of Assistant Secretary. He is also DILG Representative to the National Amnesty Commission and the Government Peace Negotiating Panel for Talks with the MILF.
He was born in Jolo, Sulu on February 26, 1957.  His father was the late Pailan “Pal” Iribani, a trained Community Development worker and Public School Teacher from Tapul, Sulu.  The family is known locally for courage, just leadership, and honesty in government service.  His mother was the late Sabdatul Burahan who descended from a family of SHARIF in Tapul Island (those who are believed to have descended from the noble family of Prophet Muhammad, SAW).  Because of this bloodline and having performed the Hajj, he is now conferred the noble title of HABIB by people who know his lineage.  Both parents are natives of Tapul, Sulu.  Both died in the aftermath of the bloody fighting in the town of Jolo in February 1974 between government forces and the MNLF rebels.
He finished his elementary studies at Pang-Pang Elementary School, Tapul, Sulu, (FIRST HONOR), in 1968. He graduated high School VALEDICTORIAN (with 444 graduates) from Sulu high School in 1973 and was awarded Boy Scholar of the Year, he studied as an Academic Scholar at the Mindanao State University (MSU), 1973-1975; recipient of a National Integration Study Grant Program, 1973-1975; recipient of a scholarship grant from the Islamic Development Bank; 1984-1986; and a National Defense College of the Philippines (NDCP) scholar, 1999-2000 where he finished Master in National Security Administration (MNSA).
Trained and served as a banker for 20 years at the Philippine Amanah Bank (now Al-Amanah Islamic Investment of the Philippines). Started as a Bank Trainee in 1978; Disbursing Clerk in 1979; Loan Evaluator in 1979; Loan officer in 1980; underwent training on international Banking at PNB in 1981; Budget Officer in 1982; Chief Loan Officer, 1985; Manager for Corporate planning in 1987; specialize studies in advance Bank Management at the Asian Institute of Management (AIM) in 1989; and was appointed member, Board of Directors in 1997. Retired from the service in January 1998 to run for Senator in the 1998 National Election.
He was actively involved in the GRPMNLF Peace Talks that produced the historic 1996 Peace Agreement. He served as MNLF Peace Emissary, Chairman of MNLF Secretariat and MNLF Spokesman. He was “trusted Peace Emissary,” who (in the words of Ambassador Manuel Yan, Chairman of the GRP Panel) was constantly in contact with the GRP panel in troubleshooting the critical stages of the negotiations.” The Peace Process brought him into productive interactions with top government officials, representatives of the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC), the MNLF and other Muslim rebel leaders, the Diplomatic Community in Manila, the Peace Advocates and other NGO groups, other political and economic leaders of the government, the business community and the media. His exemplary performance in such a delicate job showed maturity in his character, professional competence, respectability and the ability to handle issues of national concern. Moreover, the complexities of the Mindanao Peace process gave him intimate knowledge of the affairs of the Muslims in terms of Peace and Development. He facilitated the settlement of clan feuds in Sulu in 1993.
President Ramos addressed him “Peacemaker” (1996). Speaker Jose De Venecia, Jr. sent him a historic note with the words; “Great Muslim Leader, and outstanding Filipino, spokesman of Mindanao Development and Negotiator for Peace” (1995). Then Presidential Candidate and now Executive Secretary Renato De Villa introduced him as “The Symbol of Peace” in the 1998 National Election.
As Negotiator of the November 27-28, 2001 Hostage Crisis in Zamboanga City, he negotiated the release of 118 hostages from the hands of more than 200-armed men loyal to former ARMM Governor Nur Misuari. The crisis started when the armed men led by Julambre Misuari who identified themselves as MNLF loyal to Misuari, engaged government troops in an early morning gun battle at the Cabatangan government complex in the early morning of November 27. By 6 AM, AFP air assets pounded the area with bombs but the armed men managed to slip out and gathered 118 people as hostages. By 10 AM, Asst. Sec. IRIBANI got inside the compound where Julambre and his men were holding the hostages. Negotiations started. The crisis lasted only for 36 hours with the release of the hostages without RANSOM and without any further harm to them in return for the safe passage of the armed men out of Zamboanga City. President GMA was monitoring the crisis from Malacanang with specific instructions to SOUTHCOM Commander General Roy Cimatu to end the crisis peacefully.
The crisis ended peacefully without any further bloodshed and without any payment of ransom or commitment on anything on the part of the Government while the armed men were allowed to leave the City.

In private and public forum, he always advocate the need for PEACE and DEVELOMENT in Muslim Mindanao arguing that “DEVELOPMENT cannot be achieved without peace and REAL AND MEANINGFUL PEACE cannot be achieved without HONOR and JUSTICE.”  His writings, publications and papers presented include the following:
  • An MNSA thesis at the NDCP with the title “GRP-MNLF Peace Talks, 1992-1996” (2000, Unpublished)
  • “The GRP-MNLF Peace Talks and the 1996 Peace Agreement,” Institute of Islamic Studies, University of the Philippines (2001, awaiting publication)
  • “A Development Plan for Muslim Mindanao,” Sanggunian:  The Philippine Local Government Journal, Vol. 1, No 9, Sept 1999
  • “The Mindanao Challenge,” a presentation made at the National Defense College of the Philippines, March 2000
  • “Federalism:  From the Muslim Perspective” a presentation made at the National Defense College of the Philippines, July 2000
  • “View of the Mindanao conflict,’ a lecture delivered at the Command and General Staff College, Philippine Army, Fort Bonifacio, June 2000
  • “The Historical Perspective of the Mindanao Conflict: a paper presented at the University of the Philippines, June 2000
  • “What could be the Most Effective response to the Jihad call of the MILF?”   A paper presented at the national Security Council  meeting, July 2000
  • “The Mindanao Peace Process,” a lecture delivered at the University of the Philippines, August 2000
  • “A Call for Peace,” a lecture delivered at La Salle University, Manila, august 2000
  • “The Socio-Cultural Dimension of the Mindanao conflict,” a speech delivered at the National Defense College of the Philippines,         September 2000
  • “Human rights:  The Muslim Experience During Martial Law Years,” La Salle University, Manila, September 2000
  • “GRP-MNLF Peace Talks and Bangasamoro Autonomy,” Ateneo de Manila, September 2000 
  • “The Mindanao Conflict:  Marcos and Estrada,” Ateneo de Manila, October 2000
  • “Learning the Lessons of History Could Lead us to National Unity and Peace,” a paper presented at the National Historical   Institute, November 2000
  • Strengthening Democratic Institutions from Economic, Political and Sociological perspective (The Muslim View)” Ateneo de  Manila, February 2001
  • What Could Be the Best Option to Pursue Peace in Muslim Mindanao?  A paper presented at the National Defense College of   the Philippines, March 2001
  • “The GRP-MNLF Peace Process,” a presentation made at the conference of Muslim Leaders held at the AIM, Makati, March  2001
  • “The MNLF – Lessons Learned for the MILF,” Institute for National Security Studies, National Defense College of the  Philippines (NDCP), June 1, 2001
  • Guest at Radio and TV Live shows from 1993 to 2000 on the Mindanao Issue.
Joined the MNLF to pursue the legitimate struggle of Muslim for political autonomy through peaceful negotiations.  He rose to become its Special Peace Emissary, Chairman of the MNLF Secretariat during the Peace Talks and MNLF Officials Spokesman until the signing of the 1996 Peace Agreement.
He organized the Zamboanga City Chapter of the Beta Phi Upsilon Fraternity in 1977.  The Fraternity was founded in 1966 in Musuan, Bukidnon.  He became a member in 1975 while a student at MSU, Marawi City.
He is also a lifetime member of the Asian Institute of Management (AIM) Alumni Association since 1989 and the National Defense College of the Philippines (NDCP) Alumni Association since 2000.  He is also a founding and elected Member of the Board of Governors of the newly organized Movement for National Security Advancement (MNSA) organized and duly registered in February 2001.  The members are graduates of the NDCP.
He is Executive Vice President of the Moro Islamic Solidarity of the Philippines whose membership comes from the ranks of prominent leaders of the Muslim Ulama, Muslim Professionals and MNLF all over the country.  An elite group of MNLF members called the MNLF Spider Division Command who were former officers and enlisted men of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the Philippine National police (PNP) organized themselves into a group called MNLF Spider Organization of Peacemakers and elected him Chairman.  The organization is duly registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).
He is commissioned in the Reserve Force of the AFP, Philippine Army with the rank of Lieutenant Colonel with AFSN 0-134094 covered by General Order No. 1264 dtd December 2000.
Traveled to Libya as representative of the MNLF upon the official invitation of the Libyan Government, January to March 1988; Member of the MNLF Delegation as Chairman of the MNLF Secretariat during the four rounds of GRP-MNLF Formal Peace talks and one special PIC Session held in Jakarta between October 1993 and August 1996.  Member of the MNLF Delegation to the Special Session of the OIC in New York, USA in October 1995.  Member of the ARMM and MNLF Delegation that visited Malaysia in December 1996.  Guest speaker in an international forum upon the invitation of the Muslim Youth Movement of Malaysia (ABIM), Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, August 1997.  Official guest of the US Government under the International Visitor’s Program from June to July 1998.  Visited Brunei on a business trip in August 1999. He had his family performed the Hajj in Makkah, Saudi Arabia in 1996.
He started the Philippine Council for Islam and  Democracy  together with Nasser Marohomsalic. 
He passed away May 2006. 
Source: 

Who is Irene U. Hassan?

IRENE U. HASSAN popularly known as one of the editors of the Tausug-English Dictionary: Kabtangan iban Maana. She is a native Tausug. She was born and grew up in Jolo town, M.H. del Pilar St., Asturias.Irene Hassan’s Father’s family is from …

Who is Madge Kho?

Madge Kho left Jolo in 1969 for the U.S. She worked as a legal rights advocate for the past 25 years. From 1976-1986, I worked as a paralegal and later as the Community Education Corodinator of the Asian Law Caucus, a non-profit agency providing free l…

US-Spain Treaty of 1898

The Treaty texts is taken from “The Statutes At Large of the United States of America from March 1897 to March 1899 and Recent Treaties, Conventions, Executive Proclamations, and The Concurrent Resolutions of the Two Houses of Congress” (Volume XXX)  published by the U.S. Government Printing Office, 1899. 
Copy courtesy of the U.S. Library of Congress, Asian Division and document copy researched by Madge Kho of Somerville, MA and lifted from this link …
________________
Treaty of Peace Between the United States and Spain
December 10, 1898
The United States of America and Her Majesty the Queen Regent of Spain, in the name of her august son Don Alfonso XIII, desiring to end the state of war now existing between the two countries, have for that purpose appointed as plenipotentiaries:
The President of the United States, William R. Day, Cushman K. Davis, William P. Frye, George Gray, and Whitelaw Reid, citizens of the United States;
And Her Majesty the Queen Regent of Spain,
Don Eugenio Montero Rios, president of the senate, Don Buenaventura de Abarzuza, senator of the Kingdom and ex-minister of the Crown; Don Jose de Garnica, deputy of the Cortes and associate justice of the supreme court; Don Wenceslao Ramirez de Villa-Urrutia, envoy extraordinary and minister plenipotentiary at Brussels, and Don Rafael Cerero, general of division;
Who, having assembled in Paris, and having exchanged their full powers, which were found to be in due and proper form, have, after discussion of the matters before them, agreed upon the following articles:
Article I.
Spain relinquishes all claim of sovereignty over and title to Cuba.
And as the island is, upon its evacuation by Spain, to be occupied by the United States, the United States will, so long as such occupation shall last, assume and discharge the obligations that may under international law result from the fact of its occupation, for the protection of life and property.
Article II.
Spain cedes to the United States the island of Porto Rico and other islands now under Spanish sovereignty in the West Indies, and the island of Guam in the Marianas or Ladrones.
Article III.
Spain cedes to the United States the archipelago known as the Philippine Islands, and comprehending the islands lying within the following line:
line running from west to east along or near the twentieth parallel of north latitude, and through the middle of the navigable channel of Bachi, from the one hundred and eighteenth (118th) to the one hundred and twenty-seventh (127th) degree meridian of longitude east of Greenwich, thence along the one hundred and twenty seventh (127th) degree meridian of longitude east of Greenwich to the parallel of four degrees and forty five minutes (4� 45′) north latitude, thence along the parallel of four degrees and forty five minutes (4� 45′) north latitude to its intersection with the meridian of longitude one hundred and nineteen degrees and thirty five minutes (119� 35′) east of Greenwich, thence along the meridian of longitude one hundred and nineteen degrees and thirty five minutes (119� 35′) east of Greenwich to the parallel of latitude seven degrees and forty minutes (7� 40′) north, thence along the parallel of latitude of seven degrees and forty minutes (7� 40′) north to its intersection with the one hundred and sixteenth (116th) degree meridian of longitude east of Greenwich, thence by a direct line to the intersection of the tenth (10th) degree parallel of north latitude with the one hundred and eighteenth (118th) degree meridian of longitude east of Greenwich, and thence along the one hundred and eighteenth (118th) degree meridian of longitude east of Greenwich to the point of beginning.
The United States will pay to Spain the sum of twenty million dollars ($20,000,000) within three months after the exchange of the ratifications of the present treaty.
Article IV.
The United States will, for the term of ten years from the date of the exchange of the ratifications of the present treaty, admit Spanish ships and merchandise to the ports of the Philippine Islands on the same terms as ships and merchandise of the United States.
Article V.
The United States will, upon the signature of the present treaty, send back to Spain, at its own cost, the Spanish soldiers taken as prisoners of war on the capture of Manila by the American forces. The arms of the soldiers in question shall be restored to them.
Spain will, upon the exchange of the ratifications of the present treaty, proceed to evacuate the Philippines, as well as the island of Guam, on terms similar to those agreed upon by the Commissioners appointed to arrange for the evacuation of Porto Rico and other islands in the West Indies, under the Protocol of August 12, 1898, which is to continue in force until its provisions are completely executed.
The time within which the evacuation of the Philippine Islands and Guam shall be completed shall be fixed by the two Governments. Stands of colors, uncaptured war vessels, small arms, guns of all calibres, with their carriages and accessories, powder, ammunition, livestock, and materials and supplies of all kinds, belonging to the land and naval forces of Spain in the Philippines and Guam, remain the property of Spain. Pieces of heavy ordnance, exclusive of field artillery, in the fortifications and coast defences, shall remain in their emplacements for the term of six months, to be reckoned from the exchange of ratifications of the treaty; and the United States may, in the meantime, purchase such material from Spain, if a satisfactory agreement between the two Governments on the subject shall be reached.
Article VI.
Spain will, upon the signature of the present treaty, release all prisoners of war, and all persons detained or imprisoned for political offences, in connection with the insurrections in Cuba and the Philippines and the war with the United States.
Reciprocally, the United States will release all persons made prisoners of war by the American forces, and will undertake to obtain the release of all Spanish prisoners in the hands of the insurgents in Cuba and the Philippines.
The Government of the United States will at its own cost return to Spain and the Government of Spain will at its own cost return to the United States, Cuba, Porto Rico, and the Philippines, according to the situation of their respective homes, prisoners released or caused to be released by them, respectively, under this article.
Article VII.
The United States and Spain mutually relinquish all claims for indemnity, national and individual, of every kind, of either Government, or of its citizens or subjects, against the other Government, that may have arisen since the beginning of the late insurrection in Cuba and prior to the exchange of ratifications of the present treaty, including all claims for indemnity for the cost of the war.
The United States will adjudicate and settle the claims of its citizens against Spain relinquished in this article.
Article VIII.
In conformity with the provisions of Articles I, II, and III of this treaty, Spain relinquishes in Cuba, and cedes in Porto Rico and other islands in the West Indies, in the island of Guam, and in the Philippine Archipelago, all the buildings, wharves, barracks, forts, structures, public highways and other immovable property which, in conformity with law, belong to the public domain, and as such belong to the Crown of Spain.
And it is hereby declared that the relinquishment or cession, as the case may be, to which the preceding paragraph refers, can not in any respect impair the property or rights which by law belong to the peaceful possession of property of all kinds, of provinces, municipalities, public or private establishments, ecclesiastical or civic bodies, or any other associations having legal capacity to acquire and possess property in the aforesaid territories renounced or ceded, or of private individuals, of whatsoever nationality such individuals may be.
The aforesaid relinquishment or cession, as the case may be, includes all documents exclusively referring to the sovereignty relinquished or ceded that may exist in the archives of the Peninsula. Where any document in such archives only in part relates to said sovereignty, a copy of such part will be furnished whenever it shall be requested. Like rules shall be reciprocally observed in favor of Spain in respect of documents in the archives of the islands above referred to.
In the aforesaid relinquishment or cession, as the case may be, are also included such rights as the Crown of Spain and its authorities possess in respect of the official archives and records, executive as well as judicial, in the islands above referred to, which relate to said islands or the rights and property of their inhabitants. Such archives and records shall be carefully preserved, and private persons shall without distinction have the right to require, in accordance with law, authenticated copies of the contracts, wills and other instruments forming part of notorial protocols or files, or which may be contained in the executive or judicial archives, be the latter in Spain or in the islands aforesaid.
Article IX.
Spanish subjects, natives of the Peninsula, residing in the territory over which Spain by the present treaty relinquishes or cedes her sovereignty, may remain in such territory or may remove therefrom, retaining in either event all their rights of property, including the right to sell or dispose of such property or of its proceeds; and they shall also have the right to carry on their industry, commerce and professions, being subject in respect thereof to such laws as are applicable to other foreigners. In case they remain in the territory they may preserve their allegiance to the Crown of Spain by making, before a court of record, within a year from the date of the exchange of ratifications of this treaty, a declaration of their decision to preserve such allegiance; in default of which declaration they shall be held to have renounced it and to have adopted the nationality of the territory in which they may reside.
The civil rights and political status of the native inhabitants of the territories hereby ceded to the United States shall be determined by the Congress.
Article X.
The inhabitants of the territories over which Spain relinquishes or cedes her sovereignty shall be secured in the free exercise of their religion.
Article XI.
The Spaniards residing in the territories over which Spain by this treaty cedes or relinquishes her sovereignty shall be subject in matters civil as well as criminal to the jurisdiction of the courts of the country wherein they reside, pursuant to the ordinary laws governing the same; and they shall have the right to appear before such courts, and to pursue the same course as citizens of the country to which the courts belong.
Article XII.
Judicial proceedings pending at the time of the exchange of ratifications of this treaty in the territories over which Spain relinquishes or cedes her sovereignty shall be determined according to the following rules:
Judgments rendered either in civil suits between private individuals, or in criminal matters, before the date mentioned, and with respect to which there is no recourse or right of review under the Spanish law, shall be deemed to be final, and shall be executed in due form by competent authority in the territory within which such judgments should be carried out.
Civil suits between private individuals which may on the date mentioned be undetermined shall be prosecuted to judgment before the court in which they may then be pending or in the court that may be substituted therefor.
Criminal actions pending on the date mentioned before the Supreme Court of Spain against citizens of the territory which by this treaty ceases to be Spanish shall continue under its jurisdiction until final judgment; but, such judgment having been rendered, the execution thereof shall be committed to the competent authority of the place in which the case arose.
Article XIII.
The rights of property secured by copyrights and patents acquired by Spaniards in the Island of Cuba and in Porto Rico, the Philippines and other ceded territories, at the time of the exchange of the ratifications of this treaty, shall continue to be respected. Spanish scientific, literary and artistic works, not subversive of public order in the territories in question, shall continue to be admitted free of duty into such territories, for the period of ten years, to be reckoned from the date of the exchange of the ratifications of this treaty.
Article XIV.
Spain will have the power to establish consular officers in the ports and places of the territories, the sovereignty over which has been either relinquished or ceded by the present treaty.
Article XV.
The Government of each country will, for the term of ten years, accord to the merchant vessels of the other country the same treatment in respect of all port charges, including entrance and clearance dues, light dues, and tonnage duties, as it accords to its own merchant vessels, not engaged in the coastwise trade.
Article XVI.
It is understood that any obligations assumed in this treaty by the United States with respect to Cuba are limited to the time of its occupancy thereof; but it will upon termination of such occupancy, advise any Government established in the island to assume the same obligations.
Article XVII.
The present treaty shall be ratified by the President of the United States, by and with the advice and consent of the Senate thereof, and by Her Majesty the Queen Regent of Spain; and the ratifications shall be exchanged at Washington within six months from the date hereof, or earlier if possible.
In faith whereof, we, the respective Plenipotentiaries, have signed this treaty and have hereunto affixed our seals.
Done in duplicate at Paris, the tenth day of December, in the year of Our Lord one thousand eight hundred and ninety-eight.
[Seal] William R. Day
[Seal] Cushman K. Davis
[Seal] William P. Frye
[Seal] Geo. Gray
[Seal] Whitelaw Reid
[Seal] Eugenio Montero Rios
[Seal] B. de Abarzuza
[Seal] J. de Garnica
[Seal] W. R. de Villa Urrutia
[Seal] Rafael Cerero

Of Sambouanga and Sooloo

Below is an extract from Pierre Sonnerat’s Voyage aux Indes orientales et à la Chine, … describing Zamboanga (Sambounga) and Jolo (Sooloo).
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Sambouanga forms the chief establishment of the Spaniards on this island; it is situated on the southern coast of it. According to our observation, it lies in l20° 13′ long. and 6° 54′ lat. differing considerably from the observation of Mr. Gentil, who places it in 7° 20′ lat. apparently after some bad Spanish charts.
The Spaniards have constructed a considerable fort, with stone and brick, and capable of the defence of the bay. The inhabitants are placed within a palisade, abutting on one side to the fort, and on the other to a small wooden battery of 14 guns, which commands the environs of the town.
Sambouanga costs the King of Spain a great deal, and makes no return. This post was established for the purpose of checking the incursions, of the Moors of Jolo on the neighbouring islands; notwithstanding which these latter are not a whit less frequent in their visits to the bay of Antigue and that of Manila, carrying off not only the fishing boats which fall in their way, but vessels richly laden. They are even daring enough to attack the inhabitants of Sambouanga, they land out of the range of the guns, and harass them close to the palisade; these unhappy beings are thus prevented from quitting their houses; they cultivate the land under the protection of cannon, of which they are compelled to avail themselves of several pieces in such fields as they are desirous of tilling.
The soil is fertile, and requires little culture; it produces rice abundantly. The cattle are very numerous, and of live value. The King having turned some loose upon an immense plain which adjoins the settlement, they have multiplied to such a degree, that when was there they were estimated at six thousand. A wooden fort, of eight guns, has been constructed in the middle of the plain to check the Moors. Upon another plain, separated from this by a chain of mountains, the, Span iards have turned horses and cattle, which have likewise increased prodigiously; both plains are bordered by a thin wood, full,of stags and wild hogs. The rivers, as is the case in the island of Luçon, produce a great deal of gold.
A particular species of cocoa is found at Sambouanga, the tree which produces it differs in no respect from that with which we are acquainted; its fruit has the same form, but is a little less in size; the husk is not of a fibrous consistence like that of common cocoa, the flesh of it is analogous to the artichoke; it has its flavour, and, perhaps, we assigned a greater degree of delicacy to it, because we had not the means of comparing them: if this fruit is allowed to grow old on the tree, it changes its nature, and becomes stringy, in this state its taste is tart, and the cocoa is no longer tit for eating. I carried six to the Isle of France, but they did not succeed.
There is a volcano on the south side of Mindanao which burns incessantly, and serves as a landmark to vessels frequenting this navigation.
The island of Jolo, or Sooloo, seems to be the point of demarkation between the Philippines and the Moluccas. The Dutch pretend that it is a dependency on the Moluccas. and the Spaniards are so much persuaded it is one of the Philippines, that they have repeatedly attempted an establishment there; and not having succeeded by mild measures, they have endeavoured to render themselves masters of it by force. Every attempt has failed: the Jolois have never been induced to acknowlege but their own sovereign.
The English have had a factory on a small island to the east of Jolo, but they have been obliged to abandon it.
The French have attempted to form an establishment there. The King of the island, as a proof of his friendly intentions towards the nation, had even desired the French flag. I believe, however, there was good reason for not persevering in the attempt, as, sooner or later, the adventurers would have been the victims of the inhabitants, who are naturally warlike and,fierce, though under the government of a good prince.
It was under the administration of M. Poivre, at the Isle of France, that a kind of alliance was formed between the French government and the Sultan of Jolo, M. Poivre had had some intercourse with his Prince, the most powerful of all the sovereigns in the Philippine Archipelago; and he had availed himself of it, to direct to that island the first expedition in search of the spice plants, under the command of M. de Tremigon. The Frenchmen attached to this expedition were hospitably received at Jolo. Alymudin, the Sultan, not only offered them his aid in the conquest, but a considerable, territory in his dominions.
Jolo is only a small island of 30 to 40 leagues in circumference: it notwithstanding merits the at, tention of, the European powers, on account of its being so well adapted for the cultivation of spices, and generally for commerce.
It produces a great many elephants; amber is found there, and there is a pearl fishery. Its harbour is a retreat for the Moors, who piratically infest these seas, distress the navigation of the Spaniards, and carry off in their incursions the colonists, of whom they make slaves; the coast is furnished with fish sufficient for the daily food of the inhabitants; here likewise are gathered the birds’ nests so highly esteemed by the Chinese.

To be or not to be ‘Bangsamoro’

By Noralyn Mustafa
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 01:13:00 08/11/2008

MANILA, Philippines – In one of the last few scenes of Eddie Romero’s unforgettable “Ganito Kami Noon, Paano Kayo Ngayon?,” when the Spaniards were packing up and the Americans were already running all over the place as the new colonizers, Kulas or Everyman (or Juan dela Cruz), played by Christopher de Leon, wanders into a group of young boys and asks them “Pilipino ba kayo?” The boys simply looked at him, the expression on their faces eloquently wondering what he was talking about.
It was ridiculous, I know, but after I watched the movie I asked the same question among a random sample—market vendors, fisherfolk, people in the countryside. I got the same reaction. That was in the late ’70s.
Then I tried the same survey with the term “Moro.” Some were visibly amused, some asked what it meant, some said that they heard the word in “Tagalog” movies, especially when a “juramentado,” properly swinging a kris dripping with blood, was featured.
When the Moro National Liberation Front (of which the Moro Islamic Liberation Front is supposedly a “splinter group”) concocted the term “bangsamoro,” ostensibly to unite the different ethnic tribes that were members of the MNLF, as well as the population of Mindanao and Sulu, I thought it wise to first ask my mother, through force of habit actually.
Unfortunately my timing was terribly off, as she happened to be lost in her latest Barbara Caldwell romance (which she usually finished in a day or two, with time to spare for cooking and micro-managing the household); she just threw a side glance at me, asked what it was all about, and gave a wild guffaw, which was her usual reaction to anything ludicrous, outrageous or simply funny, and went back to her romance.
But perhaps a little scrutiny of her biological and racial background will hopefully explain this very unpatriotic behavior.
She was the daughter of a Meccan Arab of the Quraish tribe, belonging to a clan that reportedly proudly traces its genealogy right to a daughter of the Prophet, and her maternal grandfather was a Yemeni, a scholar who at the age of 12—according to my grandmother, his daughter—was turned over by his parents, along with other selected boys, to the clerical hierarchy to study Islamic scripture in the caves of Hadramaut, never to be with their families until they “graduated.”
Both came with the last batch of Arabs who came to the Sultanate of Sulu (which included then the provinces of Tawi-Tawi, Basilan, Palawan and the Zamboanga peninsula) and Mindanao. If I remember correctly, in this last batch were the great-grandfather of university president and lawyer Adel Tamano, and the patriarch of the Bajuneid clan whose better known member is MSU professor and former chancellor Monir Bajuneid, who was very much involved in the earlier stages of the GRP-MILF peace negotiations.
Why did these Arabs keep on coming to these southern islands up until the turn of the 20th century, a country so strange and so topographically different from their rocky and desert lands? One thing was certain, they did not come for livelihood projects because almost all never had to work a day in their lives here.
I have knowledge—through family lore—of my grandfather at least, and I believe he was typical of them. The youngest of seven brothers, he asked for his entire inheritance in gold so he could travel light and set off on his mission to preach Islam and teach Arabic to children.
I would like to think that he established the first madrasah in the country (there are pictures of him in his Arabic class in the old history and geography grade school textbooks, one of them with my uncle, his only son, as model for the photo shoot) in Sulu, Zamboanga and Basilan.
This madrasah was integrated into the public school system of the American government as part of its “pacification” drive. My grandfather was appointed “supervisor” of these schools, but he declined a single dollar in salaries, although he had one demand—a PX privilege card so he could regularly purchase his supply of butter, honey, etc.
I could write a book about my Arab grandfather—and maybe someday I will—but it is my mother’s “background” that is the present topic and the question: Would she have agreed to being called “bangsamoro”?
I don’t think so. Although she had lived in Jolo from her 17th birthday up to the day she passed away in October 1996, she insisted she was a “Zamboangueña.” She was born and raised in what is now Zamboanga City, in the ancestral home in Magay, the only “Muslim” house in a Christian neighborhood referred to as the “brick house” because of its brick tile roof.
She went to school in what was formerly known as the “Moro Settlement School,” later named St. Albans School, managed by the Episcopalian (Anglican) church, affiliated with the Brent School system, where she was a member of the tennis and basketball teams, and was placed in the soprano section of the school and church choir.
Although she worked as a teacher in Sulu until she retired, it was a must for her to go “home” to Zamboanga whenever possible, and years of speaking Bahasa Sug never diminished the fluency of her Chabacano (it is spelled with a “b” in the Spanish dictionary).
Now, would she have agreed to having some barangays in Zamboanga City included in the Bangsamoro Juridical Entity? I certainly don’t think so.
The Spanish authorities requested my grandfather to be the wazir of Sultan Haroun Al-Rashid of the Palawan royalty, probably to make him more acceptable to the Tausugs, in order to settle a bitter rivalry in succession between the more popular Datu Amirul Muhminin (who would be proclaimed Sultan Jamalul Kiram II, the last sultan of Sulu) and his brother.
In Palawan is a town called Batarasa. It is named after a sultan of Sulu.
Would I agree to having Palawan included in the BJE?
I don’t think so. It is Tausug ancestral domain. And I am a Tausug.

Occupational hazards

JOLO, Sulu – Behind museum curator Oswalda Cabel is an enormous frame upon which Allah’s name is written 100 times in Arabic. But one wouldn’t know it immediately, even if he or she understood Arabic. Each inscription makes its own picture – one looks …

The Nostalgic Garden

JOLO, Sulu – The way Noralyn Mustafa narrates it, Jolo’s apocalypse had a date: February 7, 1974. “First the MNLF [Moro National Liberation Front ], then the military burned Jolo to the ground,” she says. Jolo is the dusty capital of the Sulu archipela…

Ang Dugong-bughaw ng Malaking Astana

This is a Filipino translation of Ibrahim Jubaira’s Blue Blood of the Big Astana. This translation was done by Sofia Guillermo.
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Bagamat ang puso ay maaaring wala nang pakialam, ang isip ay palaging maaaring magbalik. Ang isip ay palaging maaaring magbalik sapagkat palaging mayroong mga bagay na maaaring maalala: ang mga mababagal na araw ng kalungkutan sa pagkabata; ang mga masasayang panahon sa ilalim ng init ng araw; ang lihim na pag-ibig at mapagbirong kapalaran, at iba pa. Kaya naiisip ko na naaalala mo rin ako.
Naaalala mo ba? Sobra ng isang taon matapos akong maulila, nagpasya ang aking tiyahin na ilagay ako sa ilalim ng pangangalaga ng iyong ama, ang Datu. Noon panahong iyon, ang mga datu ang may tungkuling tumingin sa mga mahihirap at mahihina. Samakatwid, tama ang aking tiyahin na ipaalaga ako sa iyong ama. Dagdag pa, napakahirap niya kung kayat sa ginawa niyang iyon ay hindi lamang niya nabawasan ang kanyang mga pasanin kundi ay natiyak din niya ang aking kagalingan.
Subalit hindi ko maatim na mahiwalay sa aking tiyahin nang kahit sandali. Para siyang naging ina sa akin at habampanahon ko siyang titingnan nang ganito.
“Parang awa mo na, Babo,” nagmakaawa ako. “Bigyan mo lang ako ng kaunti pang makakain. Hayaan mo akong lumaki nang kasama ka at ipagtatayo kita ng bahay. Balang araw ay mababayaran din kita. Sabihin mo sa akin kung ano ang maitutulong ko pero parang awa mo na, Babo, huwag mo akong paalisin…” Talagang umiyak ako.
Ipinatong ni Babo ang kanyang mahinahong kamay sa aking balikat. Katulad ng kamay ni Inay. Bahagya akong napatahan pero maya-maya ay napaiyak akong muli. Ang epekto ng kanyang haplos ay lubhang emosyonal.
“Makinig ka sa akin. Tahan na—sige na, tahan ka na. Hindi na natin kayang magpatuloy nang ganito,” sabi ni Babo. “Ang aking paggawa ng banig ay hindi sapat para masaplutan at mapakain tayong dalawa. Talagang mahirap, anak, talagang mahirap. Kailangan mong umalis. Pero dadalawin kita linggu-linggo. Ibibigay sa iyo lahat ng iyong kailangan sa bahay ng Datu.”
Sinikap kong makita si Babo sa kabila ng aking mga luha. Pero saglit lamang, ang pag-iisip na makukuha ko ang anumang aking naisin ay kumapit sa musmos kong isipan. Tumahan ako.
“Sabihin mong pupunta ka,” himok ni Babo. Sa wakas ay pumayag ako, limang taong gulang lamang ako noon—at masunurin.
Pinaliguan ako ni Babo noong hapon. Hindi ako napaatras o gininaw, sapagkat ang dagat ay maligamgam at nakapagpapasigla. Maingat niyang nilinis ang aking mga kuko. Tapos kumuha siya ng isang dakot ng buhangin, ipinahid ito sa aking likod, at hinilod ang aking libaging katawan, laluna sa likod ng aking mga tainga. Matapos nito ay binuhusan niya ako ng sariwang tubig. Napakalinis ko na! Subalit ang mga damit ko ay panay nisnis…
Binilinan ako ni Babo bago kami nagtungo sa iyong malaking bahay: Huwag kong kalimutang halikan ang paa ng iyong ama, at ang umalis kapag unutusan nang hindi tumatalikod; huwag kong tingnan nang diretso sa mata ang iyong ama; huwag akong magsasalita nang sobra; kailangan na palaging gamitin ang salitang “sila” at “nila”; huwag kong… Ay, Babo, napakarami para maalala.
Sinikap ni Babo na maging matiyaga sa akin. Paulit-ulit niya akong inensayo sa mga gawing maharlika at tradisyunal. At isa pa: sa halip na “oo” ay “Pateyk” ang dapat kong sabihin, at “Teyk” naman para sa “ano” o kung sumasagot sa tawag.
“Ay, Babo, bakit ko kailangang sabihin lahat niyan? Bakit ko talaga kailangang…”
“Halika na, anak; halika na.”
Lumakad kami noong hapon ding iyon. Malamig ang hanging humahaplos sa aking mukha. Hindi kami napagod sapagkat nag-uusap kami sa daan. Marami siyang sinabi sa akin. Sinabi niya na kayong nakatira sa malaking bahay ay may dugong-bughaw.
“Hindi pula tulad ng sa atin, Babo?”
Sagot ni Babo ay hindi, hindi pula tulad ng sa atin.
“At ang Datu ay may anak na babae na kasing-edad ko, Babo?”
Sagot ni Babo, oo—ikaw. At kung ako ay magiging masipag at magpapakita ng mabuting asal ay baka payagan akong makipaglaro sa iyo, ang anak ng Datu.
Tinanong ko rin kay Babo kung pwede kitang tusukin ng aspile para makita kung tunay ngang bughaw ang iyong dugo. Pero hindi na ako sinagot ni Babo. Pinatahimik na lamang niya ako. Ayan, naging madaldal na naman ako.
Bahay ba ninyo talaga iyan? Naku, napakalaki! Pinagsabihan ako ni Babu. “Hindi natin iyan tinatawag na bahay,” sabi niya. “Ang tawag natin diyan ay astana, ang bahay ng Datu.” Ah, sabi ko at tumahimik na lamang. Bakit hindi ito agad sinabi ni Babo?
Biglang napatigil si Babo sa kanyang paglalakad. Talaga bang malinis na ako? Ay, tingnan mo ang aking bingot (harelip). Nilinis niya ang aking bingot, ipinamunas ang kanyang tapis sa halos di-makitang uhog na lumalabas sa aking ilong. Poi! Mas mabuti na ngayon. Ako naman ay walang naramdamang pagbabago sa aking kapansanan. Lamang ay mas malinis ang aking pakiramdam.
Ako nga ba talaga ang batang tinutukoy ni Babo? Tumatawa ka, batang marikit na Dugong-bughaw. Masaya siguro na ako nga. O ang pagkaaliw ba sa aking bingot ang nagpatawa sa iyo? Hindi ako naglakas-loob na tanungin ka. Kinabahan ako na kung sakaling umayaw ka sa akin, ay pahihirapan mo ako. Kaya, nakitawa rin ako at ikaw ay natuwa.
Sinabi sa akin ni Babo na halikan ang iyong kanang kamay. Bakit hindi ang iyong paa? A, bata ka pa. Maghintay ako sa iyong paglaki.
Pero agad mong binawi ang iyong kamay. Naisip ko na baka nakiliti ka sa aking bingot. Subalit ako nama’y lubhang nalasing sa pananadaliang tamis na nadama ko at nagpasya ako sa aking loob-loob na araw-araw kong hahalikan ang iyong kamay. Hindi, hindi ito pag-ibig. Pabirong pagkakagusto lamang ito. Kung maipalagay mo lamang ang aking pagmamalaki sa malapit at nakalalasing na pakikipag-ugnay sa isang dugong-bughaw…
“Maligayang pagdating, munting ulila!” Para ba sa akin ito? Sa akin talaga? Tiningnan ko si Babo. Siyempre, para sa akin! Bukas-palad tayong ipinatuloy. Salamat sa kabutihang-loob ng iyong ama. At salamat na rin sa iyong pagtawa sa akin.
Hinalikan ko ang paa ng iyong Appah, ang iyong matandang, kagalang-galang, maghapong-namamahingang ama. Hindi siya nakiliti ng aking bingot tulad mo. Hindi niya ako tinawanan. Sa katunayan, nagpakita siya ng pagmamalasakit sa akin. Gayundin ang iyong Amboh, ang iyong mabait na ina. “Upo kayo, upo kayo; huwag kayong mahiya.”
Pero nandyan ka, kinukulit si Babo ng iyong mga walang-habag na tanong: Bakit ako ganyan? Napaano ako?
Para makuntento ka, marikit na Dugong-bughaw, ikaw na munting palatanong, kinailangan ni Babong magpaliwanag: Nadulas kasi ang Inay sa vinta noong anim na buwan ako sa sinapupunan niya. Ang resulta: ang aking bingot. “Kawawang Jaafar,” sabi ng iyong Appah. Mapapaiyak na sana ako pero nang makita kong tinitingnan mo ako, nahiya ako at pinigil ko ang aking luha. Hindi ko kasi maiwasang maging madamdamin. Sa palagay ko, may malaking kinalaman dito ang aking pagiging ulila sa pagkabata.
“Sa tingin mo ay magiging masaya kang tumira dito kasama namin? Hindi ka na mangungulila para sa iyong Babo?”
“Pateyk, magiging masaya ako,” sabi ko. Sa posibilidad na hindi na ako mangungulila para kay Babo ay napakislot ako. Subalit tinanguan ako ni Babo bilang pampalakas ng loob.
“Pateyk, hindi ko na hahanap-hanapin si… si Babo.”
At umalis si Babo bago matapos ang pag-uusap. Kailangan pa niyang maglakad ng limang milya bago sumapit ang dilim. Subalit hindi pa rin ako umiyak tulad ng maaaring inaasahan mo, sapagkat—hindi ko pa ba nabanggit?—nahihiya akong umiyak sa harap mo.
At iyan kung paano ako tumira sa inyo, naaalala mo? Kada linggo ay dinadalaw ako ni Babo tulad ng ipinangako niya. At kayo—kayong lahat—ay napakaraming bagay ang ikinuwento sa kanya. Na masipag ako—ay, walang kaduda-duda, sabi ng iyong Appah at Amboh kay Babo. At ikaw, munting madaldal na Dugong-bughaw, ay nakisali rin sa koro ng papuri. Pero palaging mapanghi ang aking tulugan, patawa mong dagdag. Ito ay sinundan ng sermon mula kay Babo, at hayag na pangako mula sa akin na hindi na muling maiihi sa aking banig.
Oo, dinalaw ako ni Babo, pinayuhan ako linggu-linggo, sa dalawang magkasunod na taon—ibig sabihi’y hanggang sa siya ay mamatay nang walang naiwan sa mundo kundi isang pamangkin na may bingot.
Naaalala mo? Ako ang iyong paborito at palagi mong gustong makipaglaro sa akin. Sa paglipas ng panahon ay nalaman ko kung bakit, natutuwa kang tingnan ang aking bingot. Kung minsan, tuwing naglalakad tayo sa dagat, napapatigil ka tapos tumitingin ka sa akin. Tinitingnan din kita, nagtataka. Pagkatapos, bigla kang mapapahagalpak sa tawa. Nakikitawa rin ako nang hindi nalalaman na pinagtatawanan ko ang aking sarili. Tapos kinukurot mo ako nang masakit para paiyakin ako. A, gusto mo akong pag-eksperimentuhan. Sabi mo na hindi mo malaman kung umiiyak ako o tumatawa: pareho lang ang galaw ng aking labi, sa iyong maliliwanag na mata. At kahit na sabihin mo ito ay hindi ako namula sa hiya. Sapagkat hindi ba’t nadulas ang aking ina sa vinta?
Iyan ang gawi mo. At gusto kong makaganti sa sarili kong paraan. Gusto kong tusukin ang iyong balat para malaman kung tunay ngang bughaw ang iyong dugo. Pero mayroong bagay tungkol sa iyo na nagbabanta laban sa panghihimasok ng isang ulilang may kapansanan. At wala akong magawa kundi ang makadama ng walang-saysay na pagmamalaki, umiyak at tumawa nang kasama ka—para sa iyo—para lamang mapagbigyan ang mapagbiro at imperyosong dugong bughaw na nasa sa iyo.
Naaalala mo? Mukhang payag akong gawin ang lahat para sa iyo. Umaakyat ako para pumitas ng buko para sa iyo. Hangang-hanga ka sa liksi at tulin ko sa pag-akyat sa puno ng niyog, habang natatakot na mahulog ako. Nagmamakaawa ka sa akin na bumaba kaagad, dali. “Hindi.” Pinupukol mo ako ng mga maliliit na bato tuwing tumatanggi akong bumaba. “Hindi, hindi pa rin.” Hindi ako naaabot ng iyong mga bato—kulang ang iyong lakas. Tapos nagbabanta kang magsumbong sa iyong Appah. “Sige lang.” Gustong-gusto ko ang nasa itaas! Tapos ay kumakanta ako habang tinitingnan kita sa ibaba. Wala kang anumang magawa. Sa isang bugso ng galit, sinusumpa mo ako, na mamatay sana ako. Sige, hayaan mo akong mamatay. Sa langit ay aakyat ako sa mga puno ng niyog. At magbabalik ang aking multo para dalhan ka ng… para dalhan ka ng mga buko mula sa langit. Tapos bumabalik ka. Kita mo? Ang isang utusan, ang isang ulila, ay maaari ring magdikta sa maganda at mapagmalaking Dugong-bughaw na pumarito o pumaroon.
Tapos namumulot tayo ng mga munting kabibi, at naghahanap ng sea-cucumber, o sumisisid para sa sea-urchin. O tumatakbo sa kahabaan ng puti at nakakasilaw na buhangin, ako sa likod mo—namamangha sa iyong malambot at matulin na mga paa at sa iyong lumilipad na buhok. Tapos ay tumitigil tayo, hinihingal, tumatawa.
Pagkatapos magpahinga sandali, tumatakbo tayo muli patungo sa dagat at nakikipagdigma sa malalakas na alon. Hinihilod ko ang iyong makinis na likod pagkatapos nating maligo sa dagat. Kumukuha ako ng sariwang tubig sa isang malinis na bao ng niyog at binabanlawan ang iyong malambot at ebonyang buhok. Makinis ang bagsak ng iyong buhok, kumikinang sa palubog na araw. Ay, napakaganda. Pagkatapos ay maingat kong ginugupit ang iyong mga kuko. Kung minsan ay napapakislot ka sa sakit. Tuwing nangyayari ito, nagmamakaawa ako sa iyo na paluin ako. Para lamang malaman mo ang pagkakaiba sa aking pag-iyak at pagtawa. At kahit ang sakit na ibinibigay mo sa akin ay may halong tamis.
Iyan ang gawi ko. Ang tangi kong paraan upang maipakita ang aking pagpapasalamat para sa mga bagay na natikman ko noon: ang iyong pakikipagkaibigan, tirahan at pagkain sa iyong malaking astana. Kaya sinabi ng iyong mga magulang na tunay nga akong magiging mabuting utusan.
Noong ikaw ay pitong taong gulang ay ipinadala ka ng iyong mga magulang sa isang paaralang Mohamedan. Hindi ako ipinadalang mag-aral nang kasama ka, pero bale-wala ito sa akin. Sapagkat hindi ba’t gawain ko ang dalhin ang iyong pulang Koran nang nakapatong sa aking ulo apat na beses sa isang araw? At masaya ka sapagkat inaaliw kita. At mayroon kang tagabuhat ng tubig. Isa sa mga hinihingi noon ay ang pagdadala ng tubig sa bawat pagpasok sa klaseng Mohamedan. “O, bakit? Ipagpaumanhin ang pagkautal ng aking bingot, subalit gusto ko po talagang malaman.” Tinitigan ako ng iyong Goro, ang iyong gurong Mohamedan, nang parang sinusuri ang aking buong sistema. Bobo. Hindi ko ba alam na kaydaling magagap ng ating puso ang paksa, tulad ng dahan-dahan at walang-patid na agos ng tubig? Puso, puso. Hindi utak. Subalit tumahimik na lamang ako. Kung sa bagay, hindi naman ako naroon para walang-galang na magtanong. Mahiya ka, mahiya ka, aking bingot, sa pagtatanong, tahimik kong pinuna ang aking sarili.
Ganyan ko ginampanan ang papel ng Epang-epang, isang utusan-alalay mo. At araw-araw ay naging mas masigla ako, humahakbang sa likuran mo. Para akong tapat at mapagmahal na asong sumusunod sa kanyang amo nang magaan ang paa at umaawit ang puso. Sapagkat ikaw, sa unahan ko, ay mistulang inspirasyon na kaya kong sundan nang walang-pagod, hanggang sa dulo ng mundo…
Ang nakakabagot na monotono ng pag-aawit mo sa Koran ay tumagal nang tatlong taon. Napakabagal mo raw, sabi ng Goro. Kung minsan, gusto niya ikaw paluin. Pero hindi ba’t alam niya na ikaw ay anak ng Datu? Naku, mahahagupit din siya. Subalit ang pamamalo sa isang ulilang utusan at ang pag-iipit sa kanyang mga biyak na labi sa dalawang piraso ng kahoy ay malinaw na pinahihintulutan. Kaya nakita ako ng iyong Goro bilang tamang-tamang kapalit mo. Kung paano ako napaiyak sa kanyang pamamalo! At kung paano natawa ang iyong Goro; hindi nagtagumpay ang mga kahoy na sipit na isara ang aking bingot. Palaging natatanggal ang mga ito. At ang buong klase ay napapahagalpak sa tawa—at nangunguna ka.
Subalit sa iyong maluwag na astana, hinahanda ka na para sa pagkadalaga. Matanda ako sa iyo ng isang Ramadan. Madalas ay nagtataka ako kung bakit ang bilis mong lumaki samantalang nanatili akong sintu-sintong unano. Maaaring ang pobreng pangangalaga sa aking maagang pagkabata ay may malaking kinalaman sa aking mabagal na paglaki. Subalit, sa isang banda ay masaya ako na hindi ako nakahabol sa iyo. Sapagkat kutob ko’y hindi mo na ako pahihintulutang tulungan kita sa ilang mga delikadong gawain—tulad ng paghihilod sa iyong likod tuwing ika’y naliligo—kung naging kasimbilis mo ang aking paglaki.
Naroon ako sa kama tuwing gabi, mag-isa, lasing sa mga pagkahumaling at damdaming nahahawig sa yaong sa lalaking nasa edad na. Inisip kita nang palihim, nang hindi nahihiya, nang may pagnanasa: isang dalagang Dayang-Dayang na nakahiga sa kanyang kama sa pinakamalayong dulo ng kanyang pinakaloob na silid; dahan-dahang tumataas-bumababa ang kanyang dibidb na parang tubig na hinahagkan ng hangin; mamula-mulang pisngi, nakahaplos sa malambot na unan; mga matang nangangarap ang tingin sa kalawakan—masaya, parang may hinahanap, makahulugan; malambot na puwit at malambot na mga braso; makinis at ebonyang buhok na umaalon…
Dayang-Dayang, mapapatawad mo ba ang isang may-kapansanan at ulilang-utusan kung siya’y mahibang at mawalan ng paggalang at takot sa iyong Appah? Mapapatawad mo ba ang kanyang ulol na paglalakas-loob kung lumundag siya mula sa kanyang higaan, sumugod sa iyong silid, niyakap ka, at kiniliti ang iyong mukha ng kanyang bingot? Gusto ko sanang ipagtapat na sa isang sandali, nananabik, nagugutom, nauuhaw… hindi, hindi, hindi ko masasabi. Magkaibang-magkaiba tayo ng tabas. Maging ang iyong kagandahan—ang malaking astana kung saan ka nakatira—ang iyong dugo… Marahil na maging ang mga daliri ni Allah ay hindi kayang ihabi ang ating mga tela sa pagkakapantay-pantay. Kailangan kong makuntento na lamang sa pribilehiyong pagmasdan nang madalas ang iyong walang-kawangis na kagandahan. Ang isang pangit na utusan ay hindi dapat lumampas sa kanyang makitid na hangganan.
Subalit hindi nagpatuloy ang mga bagay tulad ng dati. Dumating ang isang batang Datu mula sa Bonbon para hingin ang iyong kamay. Napakasaya ng iyong Appah na patuluyin siya. Walang mas mabuti pa, sabi niya, kaysa sa pag-iisang dibdib ng dalawang taong parehong may dugong-bughaw. Dagdag pa, tumatanda na siya. Wala siyang anak na lalaki na hahalili sa kanya balang araw. Kung sa bagay, ang batang Datu ay nababagay lamang na mapasahan ng sulong maharlika na ilang taon ding dinala ng iyong Appah. Subalit ako—ako ay iba ang pagtingin, syempre. Ang gusto ko ay… Hindi, wala akong maaaring kinalaman sa usapin ng iyong kasal. Sino ba naman ako?
Siyempre, tama ang iyong Appah. Guwapo ang batang Datu. At mayaman din. Mayroon siyang malawak na lupaing pinagtatamnan ng mga punongkahoy, niyog at abaka. At masaya ka rin. Hindi dahil sa mayaman siya—sapagkat mayaman ka rin naman. Sa tingin ko ay alam ko kung bakit: mas mahusay kaysa sa akin na mahihilod ng batang Datu ang iyong malambot na likod tuwing naliligo ka. Hindi kasinggaspang ng aking mga kamay ang sa kanya… Subalit, hindi ko ito sa iyo sinabi. Siyempre.
Inutusan ng iyong Appah ang kanyang mga pinamumunuan na magtayo ng dalawang magkabilang ekstensyon sa inyong astana. Malaki na ang inyong astana subalit kailangan pa itong palakihin pa sapagkat daan-daang tao ang darating para saksihan ang iyong maringal na kasal.
Pawisan ang mga tao. Katakut-takot ang pagmamartilyo, pagpuputol, at pagbubuhat habang nagtatayo ng mga haligi. Maraming kainan at daldalan. At pagnguya ng nganga at katutubong timpladong tabako. At pagdudura ng pulang laway pagkatapos. Sa loob lamang ng isang araw, gawa na ang mga ekstensyon.
Tapos dumating ang araw ng iyong magarang kasal. Maaga pa lamang ay puno na ng tao ang iyong astana para tumulong sa ritwal na pagkakatay sa mga baka at kambing. At para tumulong na rin sa paglamon sa iyong handang pangkasal. Dumami pa ang mga tao pagsapit ng gabi. Ang mga hindi na magkasya sa itaas ay nanatili na lamang sa ibaba.
Umaapoy sa gabi ang mga sulong gawa sa tuyong dahon ng niyog. Sinindihan ng mga halos hubad na mga katutubo ang mga ito sa lutuan. Ang iba ay nagbayo ng bigas para sa kakanin. At humuhulas ang pawis sa kanilang mga kayumanggi’t makikintab na katawan.
Sa bakuran ng astana, ang mga pinamumunuan ng batang Datu ay nagsayaw sa malalaking bilog. Mahusay na nagsasayaw ang mga binata mula sa bayan, maya-maya’y ikinekembot ang kanilang mga magagandang-hugis na balakang, maya-maya’y iginagalaw ang kanilang mga brasong malalambot. Maliksing gumagalaw ang kanilang mga paa nang halos hindi makita.
Ang mga lalaking mananayaw ay yumuyuko nang mababa, tangan ang kahoy na sibat, kris o barong sa isang kamay, at kahoy na kalasag sa kabila. Nagpalabas sila ng madugong labanan sa pamamagitan ng pagsugod sa sirkulo ng mga nagsasayaw at pakikipagtagisan sa isa’t isa. Ang mga katutubong plawta, tambol, gabang, agong, at kulintang ay malaki ang idinulot na sayang musikal ng gabi. Sayaw. Kanta sa tuwa. Musika. Ingay. Tawanan. Umapaw ang musika sa daigdig na parang pusong puno ng dugo, buhay na buhay, tumitibok. Subalit ang puso ko’y umaapaw sa sakit. Sumisigaw ang mga tao: “Mabuhay ang Dayang-Dayang at ang Datu, MURAMURAAN!” sa bawat intermisyon. At ako rin ay sumisigaw—parang makina, nang hindi ko namamalayan. Lubha akong mangungulila sa iyo…
Nagtakbuhan at nagsipag-gitgitan ang mga tao papanhik sa iyong astana habang inihahatid sa iyo ang batang Datu. Sapagkat maliit, nagtagumpay akong makasiksik papasok nang sapat ang lapit para makita ka nang lubos. Ikaw, Dayang-Dayang. Ang iyong mukhang hugis-buwan ay metikulosong pinulbuhan ng giniling na bigas. Ang iyong buhok ay mataas na nakapusod sa tuktok ng iyong ulo, at namumutiktik sa mga kumikinang na gintong pang-ipit. Ang iyong masikip at makinang na itim na bestida ay natatakpan ng manipis na alampay ng pinakapinong kulay-rosas. Napapalamutian ng mga gintong butones ang iyong damit-pangkasal. Tuwid kang nakaupo sa kutson, may mga katutubong burdadong unan na maingat na nakaayos sa iyong likod. Napakandang pinalambot ng ilaw ng kandila ang iyong mukha kung kayat nagmistula kang diyosang naaninag sa panaginip. Pirmi kang nakatingin pababa.
Dumating na ang sandali. Hinatid ng nakaturbang pandita, habang nagsasalita sa mala-sendang boses, ang batang Datu sa iyo, samantalang patuloy ang pag-awit ng mga dalaga sa likod. Hinawakan ng pandita ang hintuturo ng Datu at tatlong beses itong inilapat sa gitna ng iyong mga kilay. At sa bawat beses ay umalma ang aking dibdib at hindi ko mapigil ang paggalaw ng aking mga labi.
Naaalala mo? Napapaiyak ka, Dayang-Dayang. Sapagkat, sabi nga ng mga tao, malapit ka nang mahiwalay sa iyong mga magulang. Malapit ka nang dalhin ng iyong asawa sa Bonbon, at maninirahan ka doon bilang babaeng-nayon. Subalit nang di-sinasadyang makita mo ako, napangiti ka minsan, nang kaunti. Agad akong umalis sapagkat hindi ko matiis ang makita ka pang nakaupo sa tabi ng batang Datu at lubos ang kaalamang ako na nagpawis, nagpagod at nagsilbi sa iyo na parang aso ay… Hindi, hindi, kahihiyan sa akin na isipin pa ang mga bagay na iyan. Sapagkat hindi ba’t tungkulin lamang ito ng isang utusan?
Subalit tumakas ako noong gabing iyon, marikit na Dugong-bughaw. Saan? Kahit saan. Eksaktong pitong taon na ang lumipas. At ang mga taong iyon ay napakalaki ang naitulong sa akin. Hindi na ako sintu-sintong unano, bagamat ang bingot ko ay nananatili tulad ng dati.
Dagdag pa, nakaipon ako ng munting kayamanan matapos ang maraming taon ng pagbabanat-buto. Maaari sana akong kumuha ng dalawa o tatlong asawa, pero hindi pa ako nakakahanap ng sinumang kahawig mo, magandang Dugong-bughaw. Kaya, nanatili akong binata.
At ang Gulong ng Panahon ni Allah ay nagpatuloy at nagpatuloy sa pag-ikot. At heto, isang araw ang iyong asawa ay dinala sa San Ramon Penal Farm, Zamboanga. Pinagbuhatan niya ng kamay ang pamahalaang Kristiyano. Ninais niyang magtatag ng sariling pamahalaan. Gusto niyang ipamalas ang kanyang munting kapangyarihan sa pamamagitan ng di-pagbayad ng buwis sa lupa sa batayang ang kanyang lupain, sapagkat lehitimong ipinamana sa kanya, ay lubos niyang pag-aari. Hindi niya naintindihan na ang maliit na halagang dapat niyang ibinayad sa porma ng buwis ay gagamitin para protektahan siya at ang kanyang mga pinamumunuan mula sa mga mandaraya. Hindi niya natanto na, sa katunaya’y, siya mismo ay bahagi rin ng pamahalaang Kristiyano. Sanhi nito, namatay ang kanyang mga pinamumunuan nang nakikidigma para sa maling layunin. Ang iyong Appah rin ay nadawit sa kaguluhan at namatay kasama ang mga iba. Kinumpiska ang kanyang mga ari-arian. At ang iyong Amboh ay namatay sa sobrang kalungkutan. Ang iyong asawa, upang mailigtas ng kanyang buhay, ay napilitang sumuko. Ang kanyang mga lupain ay kinumpiska rin. Maliit na lamang na bahagi ang natira sa iyo para pagtamnan at patuloy na mabuhay.
At naaalala mo? Nagpunta ako isang araw sa Bonbon hinggil sa negosyo. At nakita kita sa iyong kapirasong lupa kasama ang iyong mga anak. Sa umpisa, hindi ako makapaniwala na ikaw nga iyon. Tapos tumingin ka nang matagal at malalim sa aking mga mata. Hindi nagtagal, ang pamilyar na mga mata ng Dugong-bughaw mula sa napakatagal na panahon ay nagpatigil sa sentido ng dating utusan. At hindi ka rin makapaniwala sa iyong nakita. Hindi mo rin ako agad na makilala. Subalit nang makita mo ang aking bingot na nakangiti sa iyo, nang may kaunting pagkahiya, nakilala mo ako. At masaya ako rito.
“Ay, Jafaar,” gulat mong sinabi at awtomatikong binitawan ang iyong janap, ang iyong primitibong dulos. At akala mo na patay na ako, sabi mo. Sumpa, sumpa. Iyan pa rin ang iyong prangka at madaldal na gawi. Parang kaya mo pa ring magbiro kahit na malapit nang mabura ng kalungkutan ang mga huling labi ng iyong kagandahan. Kahit papaano ay kaya mo pa ring itago ang iyong pighati at lungkot sa likod ng biro at tawa. At masaya rin ako dito.
Ah, sasabihin ko sana sa iyo na ang Jafaar na nakikita mo ngayon ay ibang-iba—malaking ang iniunlad—na Jafaar. Siyanga. Pero sa halip ay: “Ay, Dayang-Dayang,” pabulong kong sinabi, nababagabag na makita kang nagtratrabaho. Ikaw na inaruga sa maginhawa at marangyang buhay. Subalit, pinilit kong itago ang pag-unawa sa iyong kaawa-awang kalagayan.
Patakbong dumating ang isa sa iyong mga anak na lalaki na nagtanong kung sino ako. Ah, ako ay, ako ay…
“Ang iyong dating utusan,” agad kong sagot. O, sabi ng iyong anak, at nanatiling tahimik, at maya-maya’y nagbalik sa kanyang trabaho. Trabaho, trabaho, Eting. Trabaho, anak. Itali ang panggatong at dalhin sa kusina. Huwag mong pansinin ang iyong dating utusan. Hindi na siya babatang muli. Kawawang munting Datu, hirap sa trabaho. Kawawang magandang Dugong-bughaw, hirap rin sa trabaho.
Matagal na naghari ang kakaibang katahimikan. At matapos: Siyanga pala, saan na ako nakatira ngayon? Sa Kanagi. Anong ginagawa ko sa Bonbon sa araw na ito? Para kausapin si Panglima Hussin tungkol sa mga bakang balak niyang ipagbili, Dayang-Dayang. Mga baka? May lupa na ba ako? E, kung ang magandang Dugong-bughaw ay maaaring mabuhay nang parang babaeng-nayon bakit hindi ang isang lalaking tulad ng iyong dating utusan? Hindi kasi ako naging masuwerte bilang mandaragat, kaya bumaling na lang ako sa pagbibili at pagbebenta ng baka. Ah, sabi mo. Tapos tumawa ka. At sinabayan ko ang tawa mo. Walang sigla ang aking tawa. O hindi kaya ang sa iyo? Subalit tinanong mo ako kung ano ang problema. Ah, wala. Talaga, hindi seryoso. Pero, tingnan mo… At parang naintindihan mo habang nakatayo ako sa harap mo, nakasandal sa puno ng mangga, walang ginagawa kundi tumitig nang tumitig sa iyo.
Napuna ko na ang iyong kasalukuyang sarili ay gutay-gutay na alaala, multo na lamang, ng Dugong-bughaw ng malaking astana. Ang iyong mga rekurso ng kasiglahan at kagandahan at lakas ay parang naubos mula sa iyong dating kabigha-bighaning sarili, ibinuhos sa maliit na sakahang iyong pinagtatamnan. Siyempre, hindi ko inasahang magiging kasingganda ka ng dati. Subalit dapat ay nanatili sa iyo ang sapat na bahagi nito—mula sa dating panahon. Hindi mauulap na matang napaliligiran ng itim; hindi walang-sigla at tuyot na buhok; hindi sunog-sa-araw na balat; hindi kulukulubot at kalyuhing mga kamay; hindi…
Parang higit na higit mong naiintindihan. Bakit ako nakatingin sa iyo nang ganyan? Sapagkat matagal mo na akong hindi nakikita? O iba pa? Ay, Dayang-Dayang, hindi ba’t bagay para sa pagmamalasakit ng iyong dating utusan ang malubhang pagbabago sa iyo? Agad mong ibinaling ang iyong mga mata mula sa akin. Pinulot mo ang iyong janap at binusisi ang malambot na lupa. Parang hindi ka makakapagsalita muli nang hindi mapapaiyak. Tinalikuran mo ako sapagkat ayaw na ayaw mong makita kitang luhaan.
At sinikap kong maintindihan kung bakit: ang makita ako ay bumuhay sa mga lumang alaala. Ang makita ako, makausap ako, makantyawan ako, ay ang makita, makausap, at makantyawan sa lumipas na panahon sa napakasayang astana. At napahikbi ka habang iniisip ko ito. Alam kong humikbi ka sapagkat nanginginig ang iyong mga balikat. Pero sinikap kong magkunwari na hindi ko napapansin ang iyong impit na pag-iyak. Nagalit ako sa aking pagpunta at pagpapaiyak sa iyo…
“Maaari na ba akong umalis, Dayang-Dayang?” mahina kong sabi, nilalabanan ang sarili kong mga luha. Hindi mo sinabing oo. At hindi mo rin sinabing hindi. Subalit ang iyong pagtango ay sapat na para makaintindi ako at umalis. Umalis patungo saan? Mayroon bang lugar na pupuntahan? Siyempre. Maraming lugar na maaaring puntahan. Subalit bihira ang lugar na gustong balikan.
Subalit may pumigil sa akin matapos akong makapaglakad ng isang milya. Mayroong pwersang nagsusumikap na tumulak sa akin pabalik sa iyo, at nagpapalimot sa akin sa mga baka ni Panglima Hussin. Ang bawat kutob ko ay nagsabi sa akin na tama ang bumalik sa iyo at gumawa ng anuman—marahil magmakaawa sa iyo na tandaan ang bingot ng iyong dating Jafaar, para lamang mapatawa ka at sumaya muli. Gusto kong tumakbo pabalik at punasan ang luha mula sa iyong mga mata sa aking putong. Gusto kong kumuha ng sariwang tubig at banlawan ang iyong tuyot at magulong buhok, nang sa gayo’y maibalik ito sa umaagos na kakinisan at kakaibang kinang. Gusto kong gupitin ang iyong mga kuko, haplusin ang iyong kalyuhing mga kamay. Ninais kong sabihin sa iyo na ang lupa at mga bakang aking pag-aari ay sa iyo. At higit sa lahat, nag-aapoy akong lumipad pabalik at hingin ko na iuwi kita at ang iyong mga anak. Bagamat ang simple kong tahanan ay hindi kasinglaki ng iyong astana sa Patikul, kahit paano’y magiging masaya at pansamantalang kanlungan ito habang hinihintay mo ang paglaya ng iyong asawa.
Ang pagnanais na ito na bumalik sa iyo, Dayang-Dayang, ay malakas. Subalit hindi ako bumalik sapagkat may pag-aalinlangang biglang dumapo sa akin: wala akong dugong bughaw. Ang mayroon lamang ako ay bingot. Maging ang mga daliri ni Allah, marahil, ay hindi tayo kayang ihabi, kahit ngayon, sa pagkakapantay-pantay.