The ARMM Cultural Village: Experience the richness of the Bangsamoro  

COTABATO CITY (MindaNews / 20 June) — The ARMM Cultural Village has set the bar high for heritage and culture-based education, as it presents the Bangsamoro not merely as remnants of the past but as a living community composed of different ethnolinguistic groups that constantly evolve with the times. It allows the people, Bangsamoro and non-Bangsamoro alike, to experience the richness of the Bangsamoro. This experience, to me, is priceless.

It is something people look forward to, not just because of the grand displays of culture but because of the chance to go beyond looking and the opportunity to learn directly from the Bangsamoro people. It also affords the people the opportunity to travel to parts of the ARMM that they would otherwise have limited access to.

ARMM Governor Mujiv Hataman, assisted by curator Marian Pastor Roces, cut the ribbon to open the ARMM Cultural Village in the compound of the Office of the Regional Governor in Cotabato City on June 18, 2018. The exhibit, which runs until end of December 2018, focuses on celebrating the diversity of cultures of the region’s five component provinces — Maguindanao, Lanao del Sur, Basilan, Sulu and Tawi-tawi. Photo courtesy of ARMM Bureau of Public Information

To some, the Cultural Village also means the opportunity to come “home,” especially to those who have chosen to leave their hometown so they could serve the people as officials and employees of the ARMM Regional Government.

While the ARMM regional government allocates some fund for the villages, the vision we have for their villages are actually realized through the personal efforts and resources of our ARMM officials who would like to show the best of what their ethnolinguistic groups have to offer.

In a time when our people are subject to unfair judgment and in a country where it is a challenge to assert our identity, the Cultural Village offers refuge. It is a reminder of who we are, how there is so much for us to be proud of, and what we need to continue fighting for.

The Cultural Village is not just for display. It is a call for everyone to remember how diverse we are and how important it is for us to take strength from our diversity, as we unite to protect what our people have collectively fought for. Building the Cultural Village is possible because our people have fought to build the Bangsamoro. It is a tribute to our forefathers, and a tribute to our people.

(Amir Mawallil is chief of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao’s Bureau of Public Information).