Category Archives: Personal Accounts

Who is Nelly Sindayen?

Nelly Sindayen (April 7, 1949 – April 4, 2009) was a journalist. She was best known for her longtime association with Time magazine as a correspondent based in Manila.

What is her connection to Sulu? She was born in Siasi, Sulu to a Christian father and a Muslim mother.

She earned her journalism degree from University of Santo Tomas. She worked for the Manila Bulletin and various news agencies before joining Time magazine in the mid-1970s.She remained with Time until 2007, when illness disabled her from returning to work.

While at Time, Sindayen scored a notable scoop in 1983 concerning the supposed kidnapping of Tommy Manotoc, future son-in-law of President Ferdinand Marcos. Sindayen reported for Time that Manotoc had in fact gone to the Dominican Republic to obtain a quick divorce, then headed to the United States to secretly marry Marcos’s eldest daughter, Imee.

She is also reported on the controversies that hounded President Joseph Estrada, and narrated an eye-witness account on an aborted coup plot against President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo in February 2006.

She suffered a severe diabetic stroke in June 2007 and died from lingering complications on April 4, 2009, three days before her 60th birthday.


Who is Ben Rodriguez?

Born on September 17, 1923, in Jolo, Sulu, Ben F. Rodriguez spent six decades of his life in the profession of journalism.

An alumnus of Sulu High School, he started his collegiate education at Silliman University, Dumaguete City.

In the middle of his collegiate education, Rodriguez had to stop with the outbreak of World War II. He was conferred the Purple Heart, a United States military award. He subsequently completed his Bachelor of Science and Literature degree, major in journalism, at the University of Santo Tomas (UST) in 1949.

After graduating from UST, Rodriguez, popularly known as Mang Ben, started his career in journalism as a cub reporter of the Manila Bulletin. He covered virtually every area – the airport, Customs, weather bureau, police, City Hall, government corporations, the courts, Senate, and Malacañang. He also served as provincial news editor, deskman, and news editor.

In 1972, he assumed the Editor-in-Chief position of Bulletin Today, a position he held up to 1983.

From 1986 to 2004, he served again as Editor-in-Chief of Manila Bulletin until he retired in 2004. His connection with the Manila Bulletin did not end, however, as he continued to serve as a member of the Board of Directors.

Mang Ben was conferred numerous awards, including Outstanding Alumnus in the field of journalism, from the University of Santo Tomas, Silliman Outstanding Alumnus in Journalism, and an honorary Doctorate in Journalism from the Pamantasan ng Lungsod ng Maynila. He served as President of the National Press Club for two terms – 1982-83 and 1983-84.

Who is Shaldilyn Bangsaja?

Shaldilyn Bangsaja was born in Jolo, Sulu. When she was in Third Grade, the worsening socio-political unrest in the Province drove her family to relocate her to Zamboanga City to stay with relatives. There she continued her studies and eventually found…

Who is Dr Carmen Abubakar?

Dr. Carmen Abubakar has served the academe most of her life, believing that teaching is a profession that fulfills her because it allows her to nurture young minds. Carmen knows that the core of the Bangsamoro problem is rooted in the need for knowledg…

Who is Aida Rivera-Ford?

Aida Rivera-Ford was born in Jolo, Sulu. She became the editor of the first two issues of Sands and Coral, the literary magazine of Silliman University. In 1949, she graduated with an AB degree, major in English, cum laude. In 1954, she obtained an MA in English Language and Literature at the University of Michigan and won the prestigious Jules and Avery Hopwood for fiction.
She taught at the University of Mindanao and Ateneo de Davao University where she was the Humanities Division Chairperson for 11 years. In 1980, she founded the first school of Fine Arts in Mindanao –the Learning Center of the Arts, now known as the Ford Academy of the Arts.
In 1982, the city of Davao recognized her contributions to culture and the arts through Datu Bago Award. In 1984, she was an awardee in the Phil. Government Parangal for Writers of the post-war years. In 1991, she was a Gawad CCP awardee for the essay in English. In 1993, she was the recipient of Outstanding Sillimanian Award for her contributions to literary arts and culture. In 1993, the UP ICW named her National Fellow for Fiction. She became the director of two NCCA Mindanao-wide Creative Writing Workshops and two UP National Writers Workshops. As of 1997, she was the president of the Mindanao Foundation for Culture and the Arts.

Who is Kerima Polotan-Tuvera?

Kerima Polotan-Tuvera is a distinguish writer. In 1952 her short story The Virgin won two first prizes – the Free Press short story prize of Php1,000 and the Palanca Memorial Award. In 1957 she edited the Carlos Palanca Memorial Awards for Literature, a book containing English and Tagalog prize winning short stories from 1951 to 1952.
Her novel The Hand of the Enemy (1962) won the Stonehill Award of Php10,000 for the Filipino novel in English. Some of her famous short stories are : “A Place to Live In”, “Gate”, “The Keeper”, “The Mats” and “The Sounds of Sunday”. Adventures in a Forgotten Country is her latest collection of essays. She is the editor of Focus Philippines, the Orient News and the Evening Post.
In 1968, she published Stories, a collection of eleven stories which she claimed a “thin harvest” for the twenty years she had been writing. But they were certainly her best, several among the most frequently anthologized stories even today.
In 1970, she wrote Imelda Romualdez Marcos, a Biography. That was the same year that she collected forty-two of her hard-hitting essays during her years as a staff writer of the Philippine Free Press and published them under the title Author’s Circle.
In 1976, she edited the four-volume Anthology of Don Palanca Memorial Award Winners. In 1977, she published another collection of thirty-five essays, Adventures in a Forgotten Country.
In the late 1990s, the University of the Philippines Press republished all of her major works.
She now has a book titled The True and The Plain, a collection of essays about her childhood memories.
The city of Manila conferred on Polotan-Tuvera its Patnubay ng Sining at Kalinangan Award to recognize her many contributions to its intellectual and cultural life.

Who is Danny Tan?

Daniel Surian Tan [or more popularly Danny Tan] is a Filipino composer, songwriter, musical director and arranger. He won the grand prize in the 1st APBU Golden Kite World Song Festival in Malaysia, 4th International Midnight Sun song Festival in Finl…

Who is Asec Emil K. Sadain?

Engineer Emil Kiram Sadain’s most admirable trait of being one of the most competent engineers the Department of Public Works and Highways has ever produced, has undoubtedly made it easier for him to be promoted as Assistant Secretary of the Department of Public Works and Highways on 20 July 2009 at 45 years of age.
His career in public service at the Department started in 1986 as Senior Civil Engineer at the then Ministry of Public Works and Highways. He then moved to the DPWH Project Management Offices (PMOs) holding various engineering positions: from 1987 to 1996 at the Rural Water Supply-PMO, 1996 to 1998 at the Foreign-Assisted Projects of NCR, 1998 to 2003 at the Major Flood Control-PMO. He was designated as OIC-Project Director of Mount Pinatubo Emergency-PMO in March 2003 and Feasibility Studies-PMO in August 2004. After which, he was transferred to the President’s Bridge Program Office as its Executive Director. Now as Assistant Secretary, he is also the alternate representative of the Secretary in the Light Rail Transit Authority (LRTA) Board.
He attended seminars, workshops and other related studies in Tokyo, Japan, notable among these are the Flood Control and River Management Course conducted by the Japan Bank for International Cooperation (JBIC) in 2001; Overseas Training for Construction Supervision of the Agno and Allied Rivers Urgent Rehabilitation Project conducted by the Overseas Economic Cooperation Fund (OECF) in 1999; and Water Supply and Wastewater Management Course conducted by the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) in 1992.
He was Resource Speaker during the World Conference on Disaster Reduction with the topic “Making Japanese Experience Replicable in Anti-Disaster Work: The Pinatubo Volcanic Disaster” held in Kobe, Hyogo, Japan in January 2005. Lecturer on the 1st Southeast Asian Water Forum on “Flood Mitigation Project in Ormoc City” in November 2003 in Chiang Mai, Thailand. Resource Speaker on the “Philippine Water Supply: An Overview” in March 1992 in Hokkaido and Tokyo, Japan.
He has engaged himself in various national and local organizations relating to his profession as Engineer such as Philippine Institute of Civil Engineers (PICE), Philippine Society for Sanitary Engineers, Philippine Waterworks Association and Society of Filipino Geodetic Engineers. He served as President of the PICE Lungsod ng Maynila Chapter from 2008 to 2010.
He obtained his Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering Degree from the Western Mindanao State University in 1985 and passed the Civil Engineers Licensure Examination in November of the same year. He further studied and finished his Bachelor of Science in Sanitary Engineering at the National University in 1991. He garnered 2nd Place in the Sanitary Engineers Licensure Board Examination in 1992. He completed his Masteral in Construction Management at the University of the East in 1995. As former Professor/Faculty Member of National University-Manila from 1992-1994, he taught graduating civil and geodetic engineering students the fields of Project Construction Management, Wastewater Engineering and Laws, Water Supply Engineering and Laws/Ethics and Contracts.
In June 2001, he was conferred as Career Executive Service Eligible per CES Board Resolution No. 346. On 21 January 2010, he was conferred original appointment to CESO Rank II. As a CESO exemplar, he regularly serves as “Interviewer” in the structured Panel Interview System, which is the Final Stage in the CES Eligibility Process.
He was born on 16 January 1964 in Jolo, Sulu. A very devoted Muslim family man, Assistant Secretary Sadain was selected as “Huwarang Pamilyang Filipino for Mindanao” in 1999. He is happily married to businesswoman Marilyn dela Cruz, by whom he has five (5) children: Abdel Rashid, Sarah, Lian Irvin, Iman and Mian Sophia.


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. 

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…

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).

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…

Jolo-born entrepreneur bags "US Woman of Year" award

MANILA (August 17, 2009) – An entrepreneur who was born in the capital town of Jolo, Sulu Island in Mindanao was named to receive the prestigious “International Woman of the Year” award from a US-based organization for her humanitarian services especially to advance the cause of women and children,

The US-based Pearl S. Buck Foundation announced its selection of Rosalind Wee, a food ingredients formulator and socio-economic advocate as its awardee to 2009 in recognition of her outstanding commitment to the education, health and psychosocial development of Amerasian and displaced children.

Amerasians refer to the children born out of the union of women and American military officers and men while on assignment to the Philippines and other Asian countries.

Wee became the third Filipino woman to receive the award, which was also bestowed on former president Corazon Aquino who died on August 1 and Mrs. Amelita Gordon, the former mayor of Olongapo City in Zambales province, Central Luzon and the mother of independent Senator Richard Gordon.

Wee also joins the ranks of women who were recipients of the same award like Burma’s detained 1997 Nobel Peace Prize awardee Aung Sang Suu Kyi, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, the wife of former president Bill Clinton; Toni Morrison, the 1994 Pulitzer and Nobel Prize winner for literature; and the late actress Audrey Hepburn.

When notified about the award, Wee said: “It came as a total surprise and I am so honored to accept it for our country. I was so overwhelmed to find out that I am the third Filipino woman to receive it.”

Wee is to receive the award during a ceremony to be hold in Perkasie, Pennsylvania in September.

The award was named after Pearl S. Buck, the first woman to receive the Pulitzer and Nobel prizes for literature. It was established 30 years ago to honor women who have broken barriers with professional achievements and a strong history of humanitarian pursuits, particularly in women and children.

And in the foundation’s reckoning, Wee fits the bill because despite having no peripheral vision and just 25 percent vision in both eyes, she still pursued her endeavors.

She emerged legally blind after a harrowing 14-hour surgery to remove a brain tumor the size of a golf ball lodged between her optic nerves.

In pursuit of her voluntary for the Pearl S. Buck Foundation Philippines for the past four years, Wee went to several places in the Philippines, visiting displaced kids and their families.

Wee is also the president of the Philippine Federation of Local Councils of Women who main thrust is to teach women in the grassroots to pursue their micro businesses to augment family income.

She also represents the women sector of non-government organizations at the Women’s Center National Gender and Development Council at the state-owned Technical Education and Services Development Authority.

Wee is married to businessman Lee Hiong Wee of Zamboanga City also in Mindanao. They have six children, four of whom are married and have six grandchildren.

Living life on a full plate, she plays golf with her group, called the Tagaytay Highlands Ladies in the resort city of Tagaytay, Cavite province in Southern Luzon.