MY, MY, MY MARAWI: Selfies, Networking at a Global Forum

MARAWI CITY (MindaNews / 30 October) —  Even while at the comfort room at Dusit Thani where the Global Autonomy Federalism Forum was ongoing , I was shamelessly making chat with acquaintances new and old. This is what we in the organization, Young Moro Professionals Network,  call networking, meet and greet harhar, sans protocols pa hehe with selfies all around at the organizer IAG’s tarpaulin booth.

The Swiss Ambassador was petite and had white hair like from a fairytale. She gladly welcomed a handshake like a true diplomat, and so many other tall people from the West. An Irish Assemblyman asked me about my assembly work in the past, revives the political memories (and I was only one year in ARMM).

This wasn’t just a forum for academics , peaceniks and the usual faces of civil society, writing notes from the 50 plus speakers of a dozen countries.

Around my table were Abhoud Syed M. Lingga of the MILF talks, Mayor Jess Burahan of Sulu, development executives Cris Cayon, and co-Mindanews writer Jowel Canuday, Oxford alumnus scribbling away on their laptops, Salma Rasul of PCID etc. It was a full house, a reunion of like-minded researching anew on a new spectrum.

It was fun to have socials during breaks, substantive conversations too. Ishak Mastura reminded we are way beyond the dialogue about readiness, we as Moros are ready for political self-destiny.

Tingting Cojuangco asked for our research on terrorism as she is finishing her book on Mamasapano. Christian Monsod spoke on improving systems, affirming social justice.

Met some Duterte loyalists, yuppies, a lawyer and Makati-looking executives at the table at the back . They seemed fun and gladly took selfies with former Justice Secretary Agnes Devanadera hehe.

This forum was also a reunion, 400 had arrived and it was a whirlwind. Jon Malaya, a debater from UP, who I rubbed activist notes with, now heads the PDP Laban Training Institute. Interesting. Violeta Gloria of Iligan’s peace movement was around too, writing actively away aside from my editor boss Carol Arguillas of

The MNLFs and MILF leadership were here. Behave Sam hehe. Was lucky to have time to make chika with them informally, Thanks Marjanni of the youth movement for the chats.

ARMM family was also around, dragging me to host the ARMM night. Narrator work, anew.

Braved the big ballroom and asked some questions in the open forum about our political maturity and readiness as a people for new institutional arrangements.

Thought provoking was one country example where its young voted no to a separation because their identity had already evolved to being identified with the one state and thus the central government.

And again my kapal mukha, prodded the young Moro Professionals (YMPs)  to gather and talk, even plan . And because we were at the usual multi-tasking, I had to leave them after bringing them together in one table after the whole conference, to meet up with family. Flight after all was also the next day, haay.

At the end of the day, I liked the advise about doing better in the things we do. Be a better researcher, SAM .

And with more perks in this rare moment inside a Makati hotel aside from the buffet breakfasts, thanks Institute of Autonomy and Good Governance for the newly-launched book on Federalism and autonomy papers, cool. (MindaViews is the opinion section of MindaNew. 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