In My Eyes
By Edward B. Antonio
Like any other Filipino who reacts naturally to comments, I, too, is somewhat affected by Senator Mar Roxas’ pronouncement during the Cebu leg presidential debates when he said, “Mga Muslim na mananakop,” referring to the insurgents who besieged Zamboanga City in 2013.
“Ilan ba ang hostages doon? 200 mahigit. Ilan ang namatay? Isa. Ilan ang mga namatay na sundalo? 10. Ilan ang mga namatay na pulis? Walo,” he narrated.
“’Yan po ang mga casualty sa pagsisiguro na minimal ang mga civilian casualties doon sa pagsakop ng Zamboanga ng mga Muslim na mananakop,” he added.
This statement earned Roxas the ire of the Muslims, as if these Muslims are no longer Filipinos but conquerors.
Muslim lawyer Zed Dituculan didn’t like the “Muslim na mananakop” remark of Roxas when he bragged of his stay in Mindanao during the siege which resulted in numerous casualties.
“Will I hear our LP Muslim friends rebuke Mar on his spontaneous statement, ‘mga Muslim na mananakop’? I hope Mar will apologize for such a wrong statement. Or are you (Mar Roxas) simply pointing that Muslims in Mindanao are not Filipinos?” he said.
Ditucalan, who identified himself as a Muslim lawyer, said the remark made him “proud of the gallantry of my race” but pointed out that Roxas’ diction showed the presidential bet’s view of Filipino Muslims.
“But you just painted how you perceive the Muslims in the south. I am afraid that you might be the greatest enemy of the Muslim Filipinos if you get elected President. You just “Trumped” my admiration,” he said.
“Pinagtanggol pa naman kita nong batikusin ka maging Datu ng Lanao. Now, I am retracting my defense to you. Too bad. I just remember that you were among the killers of the Memorandum of Agreement-Ancestral Domain (MOA-AD). Now, I can’t help but wonder if you were sad or happy about the demise of the BBL,” he added.
Another FB user, Ahmad Javier posted: “Lumalabas sa bibig ang laman ng puso” and this comment generated 542 shares and more than a thousand reactions of likers and bashers.
Iyyah Sinarimbo wanted to teach Roxas of the “untold history of Mindanao as she posted these comments in her FB account:
“Clearly, you know nothing about the true meaning of being a Muslim and the true essence of Islam for you to easily generalize the people part of the community. We are not terrorists. We are the victims and I fear we will remain the victims as long as people like you desire to lead our country. If you truly want to right what was wrong, include the Jabidah Massacre in our history books. Teach the younger generation about how one by one, during Marcos’ reign, the sultanates all over Mindanao started to disappear because the datus were killed. Do not erase us from history” she said.
Were the Muslims really the conquerors of Mindanao as perceived by Mar Roxas during the Cebu debate, fellas? Which came first to the country, the Christians or Muslims?
Well, history has these things to say, fellas:
The Islam faith was first brought over by Arab traders in the late 13th and early 14thcenturies, at least 200 years before Spanish explorers first introduced Christianity to the 7,107-island archipelago. These Muslim merchants came from present-day Malaysia and Indonesia to the southernmost points in the Philippines, namely the Sulu islands and Mindanao. At that time, the inhabitants there were animists who lived in small, autonomous communities. The Arab newcomers quickly converted the indigenous population to Islam, building the Philippines’ first mosque in the town of Simunul in the mid-14th century.
The Muslim settlers didn’t just bring their religion and architecture, however—they also brought their political system, establishing a series of sultanates in the southern Philippines. The most celebrated of these rulers was the Sultan of Sulu, whose capital was Jolo. The first official Sultan of Sulu was an Arab from Sumatra named Abu Bakr, who crowned himself around 1450. He gained power in part by marrying the daughter of a Malaysian trader named Rajah Baguinda, who held sway over Sulu although he never gave himself the title of sultan. Like many other Arab rulers, he established his dynasty’s legitimacy by claiming to be a direct descendent of Muhammad.
A similarly influential sultanate was established on the island of Mindanao about 50 years later, and Muslim influence rapidly ascended northward up the archipelago, reaching as far as the current capital of Manila on the island of Luzon. In fact, when the Spanish first arrived in the mid-1500s, they were dismayed to encounter such a strong Muslim presence; they had, after all, only recently expelled the Moors from Spain, after nearly 800 years of conflict. The Spanish nicknamed the Philippines’ Muslim inhabitants the Moros, a corruption of the word Moors.
In other words, the Muslims are the earlier inhabitants in Mindanao, establishing their communities there 200 years ahead of the Spanish colonizers who introduced the Christian faith.
Many Muslim brothers know well about this part of our history. Has LP’s Mar Roxas forgotten this part of our history?
“Mga Muslim na mananakop? Make that mga Kristianong mananakop,” says Amron Saibaya, a Muslim vendor plying his trade in the poblacion.
“Tama, mga Kristianong mananakop! Allahu akbar!—God is most great!’ exclaimed his companion, Ahmed.
Mang Maing just muttered, “Amen.”#