MARAWI CITY (MindaNews / 23 October) – Ten years after the Philippine government finally and officially recognized the “Bangsamoro” and three years after the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) was born, the Bangsamoro celebrated yet another historic day on Tuesday, October 18 by asserting their right to write their own history as part of rectifying historical injustices committed against them.
The Bangsamoro Commission for the Preservation of Cultural Heritage (BCPCH) and the Mindanao State University (MSU) signed that day a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) for the writing — and righting — of Bangsamoro history through the publication of a “compendium / anthology of Bangsamoro history,” and an annual journal on Bangsamoro Studies.
It will be Bangsamoro history, no longer through the lens of the non-Moro but “now through the lens of the Moro” and hopefully taught not just as a course within the BARMM but beyond, Elin Anisha-Guro, Vice-Chancellor for Research and Extension, said as she welcomed everyone to the MOA signing on what MSU System President Atty. Basari Mapupuno described as a “monumental project,” a “massive, daunting, very challenging undertaking – one definitely not for the fainthearted.”
“This day marks as an important undertaking not only of the Commission and the Mindanao State University System but to the Bangsamoro nation,” said Dr. Salem Lingasa, Commissioner for Maguindanao and BCPCH chair.
He explained that the Bangsamoro’s identity is “deeply rooted in our history and culture that has been a testament of both our struggles and aspirations… Alhamdulillah, the dream to chronicle our stories had finally commenced into a reality.”
“We see it as a quest for truth, for justice for our people, especially those who had valiantly foughtagainst subjugation or conquest, and defended Bangsamoro homeland,” Mapupuno said.
According to the MOA, the BCPCH will “set the direction on the writing of the Bangsamoro History in line with the larger objectives of the Bangsamoro Transition Authority Parliament to rectify the historical injustices through writing and promotion of a comprehensive and inclusive history based on the perspective of the Bangsamoro.”
The MSU System’s technical expertise on research and development, it said, will aid the BCPCH in implementing activities on the writing and promotion of Bangsamoro history that are “reflective of the Bangsamoro’s struggle for self-determination, including the rectification of historical injustices in a form of a comprehensive narrative.”
“More compelling and urgent”
BCPCH Commissioner for Lanao del Sur Robert Maulana Marohombsar Alonto, a member of the peace panel of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) that negotiated the Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro in 2012 and Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro in 2014 noted that that writing of Bangsamoro history has become “more compelling and urgent in the face of current historical revisionism and distortionism that seek to destroy the legitimacy of the Bangsamoro struggle and therefore undermine Moro right to self-determination.”
He said they are now seeing both subtle and patently crass distortions in present narratives about their Moro heroes and shuhada or martyrs in the struggle against colonialism. He recalled watching recently a documentary film that purports to glorify the heroism of “our ancestor and greatest hero, Sultan Muhammad Dipatuan Qudarat and the film ended with the conclusion that the Spaniards were less of an enemy to the Sultan than the Moros who opposed him.”
“This is the typical blame-the-victim game played over the world on colonized peoples. I will not delve further into this because we will leave it to our Moro historians to correct these distortions by coming out with the truth as they put the Moro historical narratives into written form so that they can be formally taught in our schools in the BARMM,” he said.
Alonto noted that these distorted versions of history, despite the peace agreements, “would like to make people in this country and in the international community believe that we, Moros, did not and do not possess the historical, moral and legal right to struggle for our right to self-determination.”
He cited the Jabidah Massacre of 1968 which is being criticized now as a “hoax.”
Alonto stressed that the Jabidah Massacre on Corregidor Island “was the crucial turning point in modern Moro history” that led to the establishment of the Moro liberation movement and its various formations like the Mindanao Independence Movement, Moro National Liberation Front, Bangsa Moro Liberation Organization, and Moro Islamic Liberation Front.
Without the Moro struggle launched by the liberation movement, the Bangsamoro, according to Alonto, “would not be enjoying self-rule today through the BARMM and its predecessors.”
The BARMM in transition is still far from perfect, he said, but “in the continuing assertion of our right to self-determination, this time through peaceful parliamentary means, the incremental gains from such assertion will ultimately, Insha’Allah, bring us nearer to the ideal concept of self-rule.”
“That name will be Bangsamoro”
It was only 10 years ago, on October 7, 2012, when the Philippine government finally, officially recognized the Bangsamoro.
That Sunday noon in Malacanang, President Benigno Simeon Aquino III announced to the nation and the rest of the world, that the peace panels of the government and the MILF – then watching his announcement livestreamed from Malacanang into the State Room of the Palace of the Golden Horses in Kuala Lumpur, venue of the peace negotiations – had reached a framework agreement that would give birth to a new autonomous political entity whose name “symbolizes and honors the struggles of our forebears in Mindanao” and “celebrates the history and character of that part of our nation.”
“That name will be Bangsamoro,” Aquino said.
The BCPCH and MSU have teamed up on the writing of the Bangsamoro History “as the flagship legacy” of the MILF-led Bangsamoro Transition Authority (BTA).
The 80-member BTA is the interim government of the BARMM during the transition period that started in 2019, was supposed to end on June 30, 2022 but was extended to June 30, 2025.
MSU System is a multi-campus university of eight autonomous campuses — MSU-Main in Marawi City, MSU-IIT (Iligan Institute of Technology) in Iligan City, MSU- TCTO (Tahiti College of Technology and Oceanography), MSU-Naawan in Misamis Oriental, MSU-Maguindanao, MSU-General Santos, MSU-Sulu in Jola and MSU Bug in Zamboanga Sibugay.
Four of these campuses are in the BARMM. The autonomous region comprises six provinces — Lanao del Sur, Maguindanao (recently divided into Maguindanao del Norte and Maguindanao del Sur), Basilan, Sulu and Toyi-toyi and the cities of Marawi, Limitans and Cotabato.
MSU is also tasked to ensure that the writing of the Bangsamoro History “shall not include any form of discrimination, preference, and prejudice against any other religion, culture, and people.”
Framework for Bangsamoro Historiography
The university system is expected to develop a framework for Bangsamoro Historiography, facilitate seminars, conferences and other related activities for the promotion of Bangsamoro history and facilitate the writing of Bangsamoro history through the publication of a compendium/anthology of Bangsamoro history, and “initiate a publication of an annual journal on Bangsamoro Studies with the consent and approval of BCPCH.”
The BCPCH has initially allocated 5 million pesos for the project.
Maupin said everyone in the Charms Pavilion who attended the MOA signing has an idea of what this enterprise entails and demands of the people who will be involved in it. And what it means to our people, especially the younger generations.”
“We owe them the Truth,” Maupin said, “adding it does not have to be the WHOLE truth, for no history book can record the WHOLE truth about a certain era in the life of a society. But what must be written must be true; true in the sense of being faithful to facts.”
“To properly provide compass or signposts, the recorded past must be free of misrepresentations or distortions, and of exclusion or omission of important facts and truths. Historians must swear only to unvarnished or unalloyed truth” he said.
“This is the kind of report that we of this generation should leave as a legacy to the future generations,” he added.
The BCPCH on June 27 held its first consultation on the writing of Bangsamoro history with Moro historians Dr. Tirmizi Abdullah from Marawi City, Dr. Kalbi Asian of Sulu, Dr. Noor M Saada from Tahiti, Damone P. Sad jail of Basilan, Dr. Alamo Kadin from Cotabato City and Dr. Rufai Cagogo-Guiam from General Santos City.
Among the early Moro historians who wrote books on the Moro are the late Cesar Adib Majul and Samuel Tan.
Mohagher Iqbal, BARMM Education Minister and head of the Peace Implementing Panel of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, wrote “Bangsamoro: A Nation Under Endless Tyranny” under his pen name, Salah Jubair, its first edition published in Pakistan in 1984 by the Islamic Research Academy.
In April this year, Prof. Mansoor Limba launched his book “Kabuntalan Through the Centuries: A Narrative of History and Culture.”
Early next year, the Ateneo de Manila University Press will launch Datu Michael Mastura’s book, “The Rulers Of Magindanao In Modern History, 1515–1903: Continuity and Change in a Traditional Realm in the Southern Philippines.” (Carolyn O. Arguillas / MindaNews)