(Speech of author Amir Mawallil at the launching of his book, “Constant Retelling: Exploring the Bangsamoro Narratives” at the Gallery of the Peninsula and the Archipelago of the Ateneo de Zamboanga University on 01 December 2018).
Assalamualaykum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuhu
Thank you very much for coming and for being part of this event.
Thank you Ateneo de Zamboanga University for allowing me to bring this book and these narratives of the Bangsamoro to the public consciousness—especially in a city where understanding of the Moro way of life and mindset could use some help. Peace and understanding go hand in hand—we cannot have one without the other.
This, too, is part of the many histories that make up the set of narratives that imbue the history of the Philippines as a nation. I am hopeful that this book will help build the kind of peace in Mindanao that our people need, that this contribution, small as it is, will be the seed of many good things.
Narratives are the repositories of a community’s identities, histories, nations. Some say, the ‘imagined community’. Narratives speak with eloquence of our aspirations as a people. Yet a narrative is only a guide, a spark in light of the dark so we can reach our desired destination, no matter how fraught our path may be.
“A Constant Retelling: Exploring the Bangsamoro Narratives” collects the concrete narratives of the Bangsamoro. It documents our language of resistance against the hegemony of the Filipino Nationalist discourse. It does this for its own survival, the bangsa or nation, through language that binds the community together.
The Bangsamoro narratives form a language which is constantly being negotiated in the struggle—armed or otherwise—across several centuries to this very moment that we celebrate the book’s public introduction. And this time, in a Filipino university, in a Filipino space.
“A Constant Retelling: Exploring the Bangsamoro Narratives” is for Filipinos and Moros. It is another mirror through which we can examine ourselves as our nation evolves in understanding, peace and progress.
This book performs a ‘constant retelling’: It shows the resistance through and in language that is accessible to us, both as Moros and as Filipinos. It depicts the resistance, the self, and the community it serves, as well as our histories and identities. It attempts to dismantle the power structure enclosing and limiting our language.
All we need to see is the recent turn of events to know that Bangsamoro narratives are constantly challenged by some quarters. Amid all this revisionism, we must remember these retold histories passed down through families that have survived centuries of struggle and held on to the identity of the bangsa. We cannot forget where we come from. Instead, we must learn the lessons taught by experience, even if we learn them through the lens of remembrance, sometimes directly from the voices of our ancestors.
The Bangsamoro narrative is built with the blood and tears of its people. You can revise words, but you cannot revise lives, or the experiences that ran through those lives as surely as our blood flows in our veins and our tears flow as a people.
This collection taken from the Bangsamoro narratives is a testament to the victories we have won together in the struggle for self-determination. It is my way of documenting each history/ies that should never be forgotten, for they hold valuable learning–the kind only experience and remembrance can teach.
As a proud son of a Tausug, I am mindful of our history/ies and, as such, am part of the bigger picture of who and what the diverse cultures and experiences are for me—and for you—as people of the Bangsamoro and as Filipinos.
This book is not about me as the author. It is not even just about a certain ethno-linguistic group called the Tausug, Meranaw or Maguindanao. Rather it is about the blood, sweat, tears and struggle of those who came before all of us. It is about a nation coming into its own, a people coming up to the light after a very dark night, so that we may move forward and become the nation we all dream of.