Elections and power do not mean much to them but they care for the present to guard their past and serve the future.
They owe much of their identity to history. They revel in Moro history, once a civilization, embattled by defence and its downfall.
The contemporary Muslim is reviving its lost dignity, an evolving person, who deals with multiple realities and its different laws – Philippine law, Islamic law and the local ijma, tradition.
Away from the klieg lights of Manila's media are stories of women, young people, professionals who surpass limitations so that they can rise above their poverty. They seek access to schooling, work and travel. Women form a major part of the diaspora up North, away from the local conflict. For the local women, they are faced with multiple burdens, being mother, father while the men are away in the fields.
Their experiences are largely ignored in the distribution of wealth and power by the central elite. The disconnect reflects in the recently-concluded elections.
Not much howl from Muslims was raised against perceived electoral cheating in the South. For after all, why point towards the South alone, when the killings occurred in the North?
Among themselves, the Muslims must contend with cleavages in power – gender politics, datuism, ethnic-based power brokering. The dynamics are real, solutions to the conflict won't be easy.
As our generation faces crucial tests in post-Southern war reconstruction, we ask our elders to help us co-create, co-realize and co-own the solutions to this never-ending conflict in the South. Can we ever have that homeland that is not merely defined by borders but a homeland we can rightfully call our own, when we are each masters of our destiny? (My, My, My Marawi is Samira Gutoc-Tomawis’ column for MindaViews, the opinion section of MindaNews. Samira describes herself as a “freelance writer, peace advocate, artist-wannabe, co-convenor of the Young Moro Professionals Network, currently writing a book on militarism in the Philippines and also MindaNews’ correspondent in Marawi City and Lanao del Sur.” You can reach her at [email protected])