MY MY MARAWI: Muslim professionals must be out there giving a solution

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Rendered at YMPN Northern Mindanao Assembly, El Salvador Resort, May 19, 2011

Let me share a situation.

If 500 Maranaos go to Iligan and Cagayan de Oro everyday and spent some 300 pesos (on an FX ride, gas and food) that would mean 150,000 pesos money for Iligan and CDO daily. But Iligan and CDO residents don’t come to Marawi except for the faculty of Mindanao State University (MSU).

Barbie dolls are produced by the millions yearly. How many malongs do you think are produced by us?

No sale means no income means no profit means no capital means no basic service means no economy results in narco-politics, kidnapping, recruitment to the underground, etc.

If for instance we use that 2.5 billion pesos for ARMM elections this year for education here is our calculation. Five thousand students in MSU will graduate in four years using 85 peso as tuition per semester.

This is my proposal: the corridor of CDO, Misamis, Iligan and Marawi has to be strengthened especially as the Laguindingan airport nears its launch next year.

We have to be in touch with operators of transport, travel, local government units, security forces to create income and mobility through cooperation. We have to build bridges and become connecters. We have to be out there giving the reason, giving a face to the solution.

Look at the gravity of catching up that we have got to do.

Two million refugees, at least 50,000 deaths, 535 mosques and 200 schools destroyed, and 35 towns and cities were ravaged in Mindanao in the last four decades brought about by the Moro rebellion, quoting Abhoud Lingga of the Institute of Bangsamoro Studies.

He noted that the Armed Forces of the Philippines spent P73 billion for the government offensives against the Moro rebels starting in the 1970, or an average of 40 percent of the AFP’s annual budget until 1996 that could have been used to build schools, farm-to-market roads, bridges, and livelihood projects to uplift the economic condition of the autonomous Muslim region.

Connectivity

When ARMM is bombed, suffers and victimized, the whole of Mindanao is headlined, thus we are giving back to Mindanao and this country to repair the image of havoc and chaos.

There is THUS the felt need for an influential “peace” constituency that supports the Bangsamoro aspiration from among Moros themselves. And that major constituency that can impact on the discourse to influence the national psyche is the professional sector, particularly the young and dynamic Moro, who will inherit the remnants of a post-conflict society. Young Moro professionals can articulate a positive contribution to society because of their education, skills and training thereby bridging the gap, stereotyping, misperception by the majority Filipino against a possible Moro territory bereft of democracy.

But the reality is that Muslim professionals are uninvolved in the discussion of the future of the Bangsamoro and the nation as a whole. They are apathetic and thus making the specter of Muslim voices in governance and media null and not worthy of attention. Muslim leaders are further factionalized by tribal, political and economic interests, weakening the foundation for a unified development thrust that has bred decades of poverty and maldevelopment in Muslim areas.

Islam encourages positive engagement in a diverse society. It teaches people to treat this world as a trust and encourages fraternity and peace. Muslims are taught that God created men into tribes and nations so that they may know each other, not that they may fight.

There is thus a need to support Muslim dialogue and intrafaith solidarity. There is also the need to push for capacitating civil society such as potential policy influentials like professionals and encourage their civic participation towards peace-building.

Strengthen the sectors among yourselves, i.e. doctors, lawyers so you find relevance. We are all busy but we improve professionally when we have a community.

Communicate: make that letter

Earlier, we talked about discrimination in boarding houses which ignore and do not allow Muslim boarders. Even before writing the Sanggunian or City Government and await a Resolution from them addressing discrimination and passing a legislation (which would take time), we need to write the owners of the boarding house owners questioning such signages as “ONLY CHRISTIAN BOARDERS ALLOWED” or related policies.

Everything has to start with articulation. We as connecters must write down what we want, speak it, express it and convince our supposed partners. Here is my communications lesson. The 5 W’s and 1 H should be basic in any ONE PARAGRAPH to speak about something. W is WHAT – for example – Muslim doctors organized Operation Tuli, W is WHO – the Muslim doctors, W is WHERE – at Nazareth, CDO, W is WHEN at what date and H is HOW by providing medical services for some 100 beneficiaries. W is WHY, the rationale for the medical mission to address the health needs of our poor community.  IMPACT is important thus add to its resulting positive benefit for the community such as improving the health status of our children.

It is in this way that we can make things happen.

Again congratulations to YMPN Northern Mindanao, the widest network of professionals in the country. (Samira Ali Gutoc describes herself as a multi-tasker. She is the lone woman in the Board of Directors of the Amanah Bank and is one of the founders of YMPN).

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