MY, MY MARAWI: No talk of religion and politics here please

MAKATI CITY (MindaNews/01 July) — The evening vibe was youthful and energetic among hijabbed (veiled) and spunky individuals around a veranda of the California Pizza Kitchen of Greenbelt. The night sky was bright and the buildings talked business. My Malaysian seatmate who was a finance journalist in Kuala Lumpur was impressed with Manila and Filipinos despite the few positive stories abroad about the Philippines.

The evening was not about speed dating, transferring from one table to the other. People were sharing notes and about themselves, all sharing the same message. Learn, Empower, Earn, Return. Table to table, they networked in the largest Islamic business leaders’ platform’s World Islamic Economic Forum Young Fellows ‘ dinner at Greenbelt 1 , Makati.

Straight from Bongao’s ARMM International Business Conference, I was called out of the blue by fellow I-invest’s Aleem Guiapal, a young Director of the National Commission on Muslim Filipinos who is travelling here and there in his debonair suit to present a better image of Muslim Filipinos. And he may be doing a good job getting to host this dinner along with his fellow Young Moro Professionals.

“(It takes) one person, making one phone call, one meeting, one handshake, to make partnership in the Muslim World a reality,” WIEF Foundation (publication) quotes King Abdullah of Jordan .

And this is what happened in the Philippines when Makati’s CEOs get together with Muslim business personalities.

SPIN and Young Moro Professionals hosted with former YMPN Chairperson Baibon Sangid and YMPN/former MYSPEAK Director Aleem Guiapal (NCMF) giving the welcome remarks . YMPN Chair Bai Rohaniza Sumndad-Usman (Teach Peace) lent support along with other YMPN officers and ARMM friends.

No religion, no politics is discussed here, shared the jolly but very senior Malaysia’s Former Deputy Prime Minister Tun Musa Hitam, chairperson of the WIEF Foundation. He was grounded and knew well how to gel with the youthful crowd despite his illustrious record of having held the chairmanship of three publicly listed companies, the Malaysia China Business Council and other various posts

“WIEF gets the right priority because there is absolutely no denial that the only way to ensure a better world is to concentrate on the women and youth of the world,” said Hitam on the WIEF Foundation’s corporate profile publication.

Journalists, CEOs, dawah, and other young Muslim leaders from Bangladesh, Iraq, UAE, Nigeria, UK were across the tables each sharing notes about their efforts and work in their respective countries. The Iraqi delegate was saying we had to speak more about injustices, another said not to believe everything seen in media. Manila CEOs architect Amor Maclang, Ronald Goseco (Ayala), Noreen Bautista (Eco Ingenuity) , Gian Javelona (Orangeapps, a school mobile portal application ) and a former Miss Philippines World shared time.

South African Ebrahim Patel, Chair of the WIEF Young Leaders Network added that the changing of dynamics of the world has challenged the way business is carried out… (which) demands for a new generation skilled in leadership.

The next night, they were hosted with dinner at Mandarin by a young ARMM Governor Mujiv Hataman, the first governor from Basilan and an Eisenhower fellow.

I am excited to find ways to join the October World Islamic Economic Forum in Dubai . Indeed the Muslim world has a great potential to contributing to humanity’s betterment, not just oil, history, spice and halal foods but definitely energy from its youth bulge, a sector worth investing in. [Samira A. Gutoc-Tomawis, Ll.B., is former assemblywoman, women sector, of the Regional Legislative Assembly, Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao; former director, Al-Amanah Islamic Bank, Inc.; former director, Marawi Resort Hotel, Inc. See her blog at]