BECAUSE of its geographical nature, the Philippines’ diverse nature will always be one of its greatest strengths and greatest source of division. Throughout its history, the Philippines always found itself in disunity – particularly between its Christian and Muslim citizens. And this great divide may very well be the reason of the incomplete story of the Philippines, the unfinished history of the Filipinos.
Historically speaking, the Moros are known to be last frontier of the anti-colonialist groups in the archipelago and are widely known to have established their own governments through the Sultanates. However, despite their strong contribution in the Filipino history, an average Juan dela Cruz would probably identify most of them as “terrorists” or “rebels.” And in some aspects, would treat them as second-class citizens.
But why did the Philippines end up in such a division and will the country ever reconcile? Perhaps, the most important thing to understand here is the educational inclusion of the Moro history. Yes, the average Filipino child is aware of the heroism of Jose Rizal and Andres Bonifacio but almost none of them would probably learn about the powerful display of heroism by Sultan Kudarat or Datu Utto.
The truth is, they should. Because the degree of the Southern revolution against the colonizers were at the same efforts if not more and it’s a disgrace that Christian Filipinos would treat the Moros the way the Spanish colonizers treated them; where in fact, they were actually on the same side during the inquisition.
Another thing that Filipinos should remove from its culture of hate is the use of inappropriate words degrading the very existence of the Moros like the use of the word “Moro Moro” which refers to anything that would result into failure and havoc and is also used in many plays depicting the Moros as the enemies and bandits.
It is with this culture corruption that Filipinos and Moros are heavily separated because of the obvious bigotry and direct insult to the latter.
Just like what President Rodrigo Duterte asserts, the Philippines will never be able to move on until it settles its centuries-long rift with the Moro people and this has been manifested in the dedication of the government in the peace process.
This is the reason that with every inch and every way possible, the entire country should join the Philippine government in making sure that the Philippines and the Moro fronts seal a peace deal, so that, one day a boy named Miguel could sit side-by-side with a child named Abdul; all under one Filipino identity.
Plus, the Moro groups can help the government in pacifying the rise of violent extremism amongst their tribes because these extremist groups are born out the of decades-long peace talks with no socio-economic impact to them and their families.
But if the government manages to feed a local Moro family three times a day with an assurance that they get to keep their identity as a people, then, this country can live up to its founding mantra that all Filipinos are equal.
Davao City Interschool Muslim Student Organizations President Shajeed Palanan once told his colleagues that in order to become one with the Filipinos, the Moros and Filipinos alike should start forgiving each other and start to rethink their respective viewpoints on history.
Fr. Joel Tabora, SJ of the Ateneo de Davao University would always remind his community that a single Mindanao identity is the first step to attain a common Filipino identity.
This is also similar to what the Moro Islamic Liberation Front Chairman Al Hajj Murad Ibrahim said during one of the youth conferences in Camp Darapanan that their generation might have failed to achieve peace during their time but with the seeds that they have planted, maybe our generation can reap its fruits.
And this is true in many ways because if both sides remain covered by their pride and anger, then the rift will continue for another century and when you look at the results of this divide, there is no real winner.
In order to maximize the fullest potentials of this nation, the Moros and Filipinos alike are obliged to embrace each other and work together to rebuild this country. No Moro should be left out in the history of this nation because, at the end of the day, the Moro story is part of the Filipino story. (Jorjani Sinsuat)