MORO IN EXILE: Why, you ask?

AFRICA (MindaNews/14 February) — Bakit parang nasa same side si ARMM Governor Mujiv Hataman at Moro Islamic Libreration Front nego panel chair Mohagher Iqbal? Hindi ba gobyerno si Mujiv at rebelde si Iqbal? This question must have crossed the minds of those watching the Senate hearing on Mamasapano last Thursday.

Well, this is what most people in Luzon and Visayas and even some parts of Mindanao don’t get about the Moro psyche. The moment they see their conflict narrative – their history – being derided, Moros will come out of the woodwork in defense of that narrative. It doesn’t matter if they are with the government, with the rebels, in the private sector, civil society, academia, NGOs, they will rush to the defense of that narrative.

Why, you ask?

Because our narrative, our history, and our collective memory of the strings of injustices we have endured over the centuries is the only thing we have left. We have lost our lands. We are now small minority even in Mindanao, the same land we spilled so much blood to defend against foreigners. Visitors to Mindanao now are more likely to run into Cebuanos than Maguindanaons. We have also lost the waters that we used to command with our paraus. The fishing trawlers that now harvest the rich waters of the Moro Gulf and the Sulu Sea come from Negros and Cebu. Last but not the least, we have lost our sovereignty to a nation that took much longer than us to rise up to the Spanish only to take their place and succeed where they failed – the colonization of Mindanao.

So, we have nothing left to pass on to the next generation except the sad memory of our glorious past and our valiant history of resistance. Take that away, paint our history of resistance as nothing more than a series of terrorist attacks, ignore the tens of thousands who died in the hands of armies sent from Luzon and Visayas in the last quarter of the previous century, ignore our contribution to the defense of freedom against colonizers – do this and you will be surprised at the sort of people who will come out to take exception with you.

These past couple of weeks, Muslims and Moros have been pilloried, have been the object of all sorts of insults. Kinuyog sa media, social and mass. Kinargahan pa ng mga nagmamarunong na mga politico sa kongreso.

Instead of cowering, however, more Moros have come out to defend their conflict narrative.

Do you now understand why?

[MindaViews is the opinion section of MindaNews. Zainudin “Zen” Malang is a proud Moro. He was founder and Executive Director of the Mindanao Human Rights Action Center (MinHRAC), and former member of the Civilian Protection Component of the International Monitoring Team and Third Party Monitoring Team in the GPH-MILF peace process. He is presently based somewhere in Africa]