The Princess and Us-A A +A
By Luci Lizares
Saturday, March 16, 2013
SHAMEFULLY, I am one of those many Filipinos who had really no comment about the Sabah issue when it started. It was so far away and usually the bottomline is really that there is really nothing I can do about it so why fuzz and add to the stresses of daily living?
Facebook has its function other than just to keep tabs of what’s happening in friends’ lives. It also has its serious purpose of awareness and awakening us to certain ideals.
Raffy Alunan, a friend and a relative on the Tana Dicang Alunan side, was speaking up. Raffy, former DILG Secretary, is more than just a gorgeous face. When he opens his mouth, there is something to be said and we should listen.
Raffy is very troubled about this problem in Sabah and the killings and my attention was caught. I would read his posts and perhaps call it kismet.
On the evening of March 9, I was playing with my remote and saw that Boy Abunda had for his guest Princess Jacel Kiram. Some things just fall into place. After almost an hour of interview, I acquired a vivid picture of the history and story of what’s happening on this issue.
As we celebrate Women’s International Month this March, my choice for the Woman of the Hour who deserves much recognition and honor is Princess Jacel Kiram. She is cut above the rest and we applaud her for knowledge, her principle and her passion to speak and do whatever she can for her cause, which is really the cause of the whole country.
Princess Jacel Kiram is the eldest daughter of Sultan Jamalul Kiram III and Dr. Cella Kiram. The name Jacel is coined from Jamalul and Cellah. Her father is the Sultan of the Sultanate of Sulu and her mother is a doctor who is now retired.
From the moment she appeared on television, Princess Jacel was pure royalty minus the gold blings and the diamonds and pearls. She was in a modest beige blouse and black pants with a black sequined hijab.
Her makeup was simple but she exuded charming elegance. Truly bred in protocol and breeding, she sat up straight with her two feet either neatly together or with one behind the other. No crossing of legs for this princess.
Not in the genre of “princesses,” Jacel works, her sister works in a call center and her mother though retired accepts consultancy because times are hard and they must all work in order to live decently.
She was most impressive during the interview because, no matter how much Boy Abunda pounded (playing the devil’s advocate) on her, she never lost her cool demeanor, was focused to their rightful claim and not for one bit wavered to acknowledge this was a political maneuver of Malaysia to ruin the political party, or “usaping pera,” or to hamper the peace talks.
She likewise denies his insinuation that there might be people of interest in our country who influenced her father into doing this to destabilize the government or some people in the ruling party
She was steadfast to say that it is unacceptable to call the people who went to Sabah as terrorists and in fact explained that, to be labeled as such would distance or prevent help from the United Nations or other international help. To be labeled as terrorists, these people have nowhere to go but death.
Boy Abunda further questions that this act jeopardizes the 800,000 Filipinos in Malaysia and the relations between the two countries.
Her reply was concise. The reason why we need to get back Sabah is its resource of 73 billion dollars and there is no reason for any Filipino anymore to live a miserable life.
Boy continues that couldn’t this be done in a more diplomatic way and she answered that all measures have been exhausted but to no avail. It may not have been the best way but to occupy your own territory was the last recourse.
Princess Jacel was surprised at the outcome of this because she or they thought that the government would be supportive. Boy again states that how can you expect support when the reaction of Malaysia was belligerent.
She cited that some people in our government are even echoing the statements and decisions of Malaysia.
I like what she said: “Palagi nalang ba tayo tuta? Kailan ba tayo magiging aso?”
Further she asserts: “What is predominant here is Honor beyond Life. What is life without honor? Malaysia is never the owner of Sabah because it was given by the sultanate of Brunei to Sulu and the fact that they are paying rental (padya) up to now is clear evidence is that it is not theirs,” Princess Jacel continues.
All throughout the interview, Princess Jacel made her pronouncements clear. She was sincere, precise and unafraid. In her Kasunduan or testimony, she states: “Ako, si Princess Jacel H. Kiram, mahal ko ang Pilipinas dahil ako ay Pilipino. Kaya nangangako ako nga babawiin natin ang Sabah!”
There were four panelists who were awed with Princess Jacel.
Amina Rasul, herself a Muslim, and lead convenor of the Philippine Center for Islam and Democracy states: “Napalucky ang Sultan kay yung tunay nya na spokeswoman is fantastic. She comes across as a young Muslim woman who knows her history and who cares for her people. Yan ay isang importanteng factor if you are going to be a Princess of the Sultanate. I feel proud of the way Jacel talked to the people about the aspirations of the sultanate.”
Vann Ybiernas says as a student of history: “All of our problems started because of weakness. Mahina ang sultan ng Sulu that’s why na-agaw sa kanila ang Sabah. The lesson to be learned for the Philippines as a country moving forward is - we cannot afford to be weak anymore as a country. We can look at it when we talk about the Spratlys. In the future, if our country wants to protect our national interest, we have to be a strong country.”
Dennis Kho, a physician, believes that now “it is clear that this fight is not only for the Kirams but for the whole country. This is a fight for the right of the Philippines on Sabah.”
Nini Borja, a company president, expresses two points: First is political management. Hindi basta lang ang bitaw nang bitaw nang statements. Second point is the Tausugs should pursue their claim to Sabah in the name of humanity kasi kanila yun eh…makikita naman na kanila yon..atin yon.”
Professor Clarita Carlos, political analyst, says that Jacel is a fascinating person. While it is difficult for her to listen to a whole hour, she did listen. She was enthralled and she smiles and says…”There will be hope…great hope.”
Atty Harry Roque, lawyer and political analyst: “Malaysia has a big problem. They say that the Filipinos in Malaysia are terrorists. But looking at Princess Jacel, that is not the face of a terrorist. And she gave me hope that this new generation of Muslims can in fact change the tide of history and they can make the difference. I never thought that anyone from Sulu could discuss the issue in the manner that she did. It made me so happy that there is hope for this country and it is in the young people like this Princess that will spell the difference in our lives.
This young Princess is fighting not only for their sultanate but for all of us Filipinos. Doesn’t she deserve all our support? Indeed Sulu and Sabah may be too far away, but our prayers transcend distance, tie and space.
We may be of different religions but we have the same God who listens to all our prayers and supplications.
Published in the Sun.Star Bacolod newspaper on March 17, 2013.