MY, MY MARAWI: Empowering Muslim children: our contribution to peace talks

CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY (MindaNews/30 April) — – While our eyes are glued to the wedding of the century between Prince William and Kate and the resignation of impeachment subject Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez, little stories on the ground like Muslim volunteerism deserve a page in our recording of history. It is in these little acts of Muslim-Christian bayanihan that our country will overcome decades of mistrust  and may help facilitate a peace agreement still nowhere in sight. Two days ago, the 21st round of GPH-MILF peace talks concluded in Kuala Lumpur. No breakthrough was entered into, notes a news write-up.

While  peace agreements are tackled at a high-level, we need to start the groundwork of peace-building to avoid another failed agreement such as the MOA-AD (Memorandum of Agreement on Ancestral Domain (MOA-AD)  in 2008.

There is a high level of mistrust against Muslim governance, even a mistrust against a possible Muslim friend, a potential traydor?

Thus, the relevance of YMPN (Young Moro Professionals Network) which makes it a mission to bridge everyone. What better way to start the relationship-building than with our kids. Taking care that our kids are empowered bodily is paving the way for a healthy generation. A child is one of the greatest creations. When he/she arrives on earth, he has rights and deserves the care of health, food and nutrition. Thus, we are fulfilling rights and obligations as their elders to provide them their necessities.

Circumcision, vaccination, vitamin and milk in-take are just some of the things which would make children grow up healthy. Adopting healthy lives confirm our commitment to leading a halal life. Halal means permissible or lawful, and its opposite, haraam, literally means unlawful or forbidden. Islamic doctrine mandates that Muslims are allowed to consume only halal foods. Beyond food intake, halal lifestyles means healthy living.

On a note on food intake (noting many of our kids seem to be malnourished in ARMM), Cagayan de Oro companies and food establishments should take note that halal stamping means noting that companies use ingredients without swine, dog, blood of animals, animals with canine and snakes which are considered haraam.

Companies should coordinate with Islamic halal-certifying councils that require slaughtering of animals in accordance with Islamic law and hygienic practice .

Once halal certified, companies should be required to hire Muslim workers in the supply and production divisions of food companies to monitor that “farm to plate,” that no haram components would be mixed or added in the process.

Our proposals then for sustaining these activities are :

– Accredit associations like the YMPN in local health boards to conduct this kind of health awareness programs

– For YMPN to come out with halal lifestyle lectures and modules to share to religious leaders (for sermons), offices and communities

– For YMPN to advocate halal use by restaurants and malls, possibly come out with a list of halal-carrying establishments

– Conduct a statistical survey of the real number of Muslims in communities by the National Statistics Office (NSO) to know their needs

– Tap halal experts even ustadzes to be consultants to our local government units, malls and companies (to give employment to religious learned).

May I also congratulate you again for making history in having the first Moro History Exhibit in ShoeMart (Cagayan de Oro). This Heritage Month, again we reiterate our offer to share Moro identity and ancestry as our contribution to nation-building. May we be ready for Ramadan in July to celebrate again Muslim-Christian partnership in this Friendship City.

Do open Facebook to know about YMPN and Mindanao Youth Speak. Thank you and more outreach to reach out!

May I thank the sponsors and organizers of the first major outreach program of  the YMPN in n Northern Mindanao and Operation Tuli in Cagayan de Oro City. Daghang salamat and hail to YMPN Northmin chairperson Hamida Guro, former ABC president in Lanao del Sur, National  Commission on Muslim Filipinos (NCMF)-Region 10 Dir. Ogie Gandamra and staff, a fellow federalism advocate Governor Oca Moreno, fellow youth empowerment advocate Cagayan de Oro City Vice-Mayor Ian Acenas, Regional Directors who helped, project lead doctor Ali Macatanong and our brave Muslim and Muslimah doctors and volunteers and invaluable medida friends. (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).