We Who Mourn*

We Who Mourn*

You mourn for the loss of the 44 who perished in our cornfields.
We, too, mourn not only for them but for our dead:
18 Mujahideens, a little girl and four other civilians caught in the crossfire.
Not counting those massacred in Corregidor almost 50 yrs ago
and over 60,000 who perished in our homeland through the years –
casualties and collateral damage of war.

You cry for justice for the 44.
We, too, cry for justice and peace
after what we have suffered through the centuries.
You have not seen the tears in our eyes.
The TV networks only showed the tears of those left behind by the 44.

You blame us, condemn us, and hate us – as if it was all our fault.
We were peacefully asleep when we heard gunshots.
It was still dark when armed men arrived in our place.
We did not know who they were.
We thought we were under attack from rival groups
or that the ceasefire agreement had been broken by the military.
If they were military or police, why did they not coordinate with us
or inform us of their presence?
They fired at us and we fired back.
There were also others who joined the fray.
It was kill or be killed.
We killed many of them.
They also killed some of our brothers.
A bloody encounter brings out the worst in each one of us.
In order to prevail we become ruthless.
And it takes a long time to put out the raging fire.
We found out too late that it was a misencounter.

You call it a massacre,
as if we planned the whole thing.
You call us terrorists harboring wanted terrorists.
You say only a dead Moro is a good Moro.
You say that we cannot be trusted.
And now you want to dash the only hope for a just and lasting peace –
the scrapping of our peace agreement that we have labored for so long.
And you want to unleash another all out war on us and our children.

Please remember this.
There will be no victors in this war. Only victims.
Next time it won’t just be 44 who will come home in body bags
and it won’t be only 18 of our Mujahideens that will be buried in our cornfields.
The number of widows and orphans will multiply.
Not counting the billions of pesos spent in bombs and bullets
that can better be used for the poor.

You want to unleash your armed might and subjugate us?
The Spanish conquistadores tried.
The American imperialists tried.
Successive presidents from Marcos to Erap tried.
They did not succeed.
You may turn our homeland into a no man’s land
and impose the peace of the graveyard.
But the traumatized orphans will grow up someday,
filled with hate and will swell the ranks of the Mujahideens
who will not be open to talk peace like us.
The spiral of violence will continue.
We will live in perpetual war that will be waged all over the country.
Is this what you want?

We are not your enemy. You are not our enemy.
Our ancestors welcomed your ancestors to our homeland.
The land which you claim as your own used to belong to us.
All we ask is for justice and a land we can call our own.
But we will not drive you away from our homeland
that you also regard as your promised land.

Our faith may differ but we have much in common.
The Christ you follow is the Jesus (peace be upon him) that we revere in the Qur’an–
as Isa ibn Maryam (Jesus Son of Mary) – born of the Virgin Mary,
al Masih (the Messiah), Al Nabi (the Prophet), who suffered and died
and ascended into heaven and will return as judge at the end of time.
We both believe in One God/Allah – the almighty, the merciful
and we both honor Abraham (Ibrahim) as our father in faith,
we are all children of Abraham, children of the one God/Allah.

We can embrace each other as brothers and sisters,
neighbors and friends, fellow Filipinos,
living in peace – a just and lasting peace
in our homeland that you also call your promised land.

We mourn together for our loss.
Let us work together to attain justice and lasting peace
so that what happened in the cornfields of Mamasapano
and other battlefields in Mindanao
will never happen again.

*This poem was not written by a Muslim or a supporter of the MILF but by a Catholic priest who wants to “walk in the shoes” of those hated by many Christians who support an all-out war in Mindanao and  the scrapping of  the Bangsamoro Basic Law. 

(Fr. Amado L. Picardal, CSsR or Fr. Picx of Iligan City is now based in Manila as Executive Secretary of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Phlippines-Basic Ecclesial Communities. He biked from Baclaran to Iligan for two weeks before Christmas 2014 to bring attention to climate change – MindaNews)