My father taught me so many valuable lessons in life. He was known for his wisdom and compassion. There was one lesson that he believed was the most vital of all – the value of "Maratabat."
Maratabat, a term widely practiced in our culture, encompasses a sense of honor, pride, and integrity. It taught us to act with kindness, respect, and humility towards others. My father embraced Maratabat wholeheartedly and strived to pass on this invaluable lesson to his children.
Early this year, my father was suffering from Stage 4 pancreatic cancer. Wanting to ensure that I fully understood the value of Maratabat, he called me to visit him in the hospital for a heartfelt conversation.
"Muss," he began, his voice filled with warmth and love. "I have led a fulfilling life, filled with joy and contentment. And I owe much of it to our family and the Maratabat of the Iranun people."
Curious, I sat close to his bed, eager to learn from him.
"Maratabat of the Iranun people can have a positive or a negative effect. If recognized properly, it can be the essence of living with integrity and honor. It teaches us to treat all individuals with respect, regardless of their position or wealth. It compels us to choose kindness and compassion over cruelty and greed," he explained.
He added, “if not recognized in this manner, Maratabat can be a source of negative pride and oftentimes leads to conflict and rido. You must know the difference.”
My father then shared stories of times when he stood up against injustice, remaining humble yet resilient. He recounted how, even amidst challenging circumstances, he always chose the positive path of Maratabat.
He told me of a time when he forgave those who wronged him, instead of seeking revenge. How he extended genuine empathy towards those who were less fortunate, and how he upheld the dignity of others, even when it wasn't easy.
"One of the most important lessons I learned is that Maratabat is demonstrated through actions, not just words. It is not enough to speak kind words; we must live that kindness every day," my father advised me.
"Remember, that Maratabat is not just about our own honor; it's about respecting the honor of others as well. It is about treating everyone with fairness and compassion," he continued.
As my father’s voice trailed off, there was a bittersweet silence that filled the room. I was deeply moved by his words, and tears welled up in my eyes.
My father died last September 10 in our home in Cotabato City. Since his passing, our family has observed the twenty-day prayer rituals.
My father has touched the lives of so many individuals as a datu and as a lawyer with more than sixty years in practice. In the last few days, I witnessed how so many people loved and honored him. People coming from different walks of life visited his final resting place giving respect and honoring the Maratabat that he gave to the Iranun people.