THIS BLESSED HOUSE: We can pierce the darkness of hate, bias and prejudice

(Speech delivered at the launching of the book, “Rays of the Invisible Light – Collected Works by Young Moro Writers,” at the ARMM Regional Library in Cotabato City on Tuesday, September 15, at 4 p.m. Gutierrez “Teng” Mangsakan II is also the book’s editor.)

Gutierrez “Teng” Mangansakan II, editor of "Rays of the Invisible Light: Collected Works by Young Moro Writers,” at the book launch on 14 Sept. 2015 at the ARMM Regional Library in Cotabato City. Photo courtesy of Loren Hallilah Lao
Gutierrez “Teng” Mangansakan II, editor of “Rays of the Invisible Light: Collected Works by Young Moro Writers,” at the book launch on 14 Sept. 2015 at the ARMM Regional Library in Cotabato City. Photo courtesy of Loren Hallilah Lao

COTABATO CITY (MindaNews / 17 Sept) – This book launch is a happy and emotional occasion for me.

I am happy because we are doing this in Cotabato, the city of my birth, surrounded by friends, family and loved ones. I hope that by the end of the day, the family and community of readers and writers will flourish in this city.

I am emotional because we are holding this launch in a library. One of the persons to whom I dedicated the collection spent his early years in a library. I am talking about no less than the ideological father of the Bangsamoro revolution, the amirul mujahideen of the Bangsamoro people, my late uncle Salamat Hashim. Thus, it can be said that the library is the cradle of the revolution.

It took me eight years to make this book. After the launch of Children of the Ever-Changing Moon in 2007, I thought of doing a follow up the next year, but life got in the way. Some of the writers became lawyers. Some left the country. Others abandoned writing altogether. I made five films.

In Rays of the Invisible Light, some of the writers from the previous anthology contributed their works while others answered our call for submissions or were convinced to submit via word of mouth. So this journey of eight years is composed of old and new voyagers.

What really propelled me to pick up where I left off in 2008 was the Mamasapano Incident earlier this year that resulted to the wide demonization of the Bangsamoro people. Suddenly we were consigned as the Devil’s minions, incapable of anything good, undeserving of respect and dignity. Suddenly it was time for our voices to be heard. Suddenly we needed to shatter the stereotypes and labels. Like rays of the invisible light, we can pierce the darkness of hate, bias and prejudice.

And now the book is here. I would like to acknowledge the voyagers who joined me in this journey. (Poetry by Mohammad Nassefh Macla, Sahara Alia Silongan and Kristine Ong Muslim; Short fiction by Arifah Macacua Jamil, Diandra-Ditma Macarambon, Reinna Bermudez and Loren Hallilah Lao; Essays by Datu Shariff Pendatun III, Iyyah Sinarimbo, Pearlsha Abubakar, Janesa Mariam G. Ladjiman. Part of the book is an excerpt from a film by Mangansakan. Special mention was made of Jamil, “a member of the staff of Senator Bongbong Marcos,” one of BBL’s loudest critics.)

I hope you can patronize our little book, and tell your friends and family to buy the book. May we become instruments in the propagation of the loftiest dreams of the Bangsamoro.

[MindaViews is the opinion section of MindaNews. Gutierrez Mangansakan II is the director of prize-winning films Qiyamah (best feature film, 2013 Young Critics Circle of the Philippines Film Desk), Obscured Histories and Silent Longings of Daguluan’s Children (best film and best director, 14th Cinemanila International Film Festival), and Cartas de la Soledad (NETPAC Prize for Best Asian film, 7th Jogjakarta-NETPAC Asian Film Festival. He edited the groundbreaking anthology of essays by young Moro writers Children of the Ever-changing Moon (Manila: Anvil Publishing, 2007). He has received several local and international artist residencies and fellowships, among them the International Writing Program of the University of Iowa, U.S. in 2008, and the University of the Philippines National Writers Workshop in 2015. He is currently editor of New Durian Cinema, a film journal devoted to the discussion and celebration of the Regional Film New Wave in Southeast Asia.]