TAUSUG IN DOHA: Fearless heroes are ruled by instinct to save lives

DOHA, Qatar (MindaNews / 09 July) — Tausugs to soldiers of crashed C-130: “Kapit lang, Sir, ha, babalik kami!”

The humble act of bravery, fortitude, kindness, and generosity showed to the world by my fellow Mulsim-Tausugs who fearlessly faced a life-threatening situation during the tragic mishap that occurred in Brgy. Bangkal, Patikul, Sulu on Sunday, 04 July 2021 just to help the helpless soldiers in theie state of agony signifies who we are as a Tausug.

Consequently, Filipino netizens everywhere expressed their words of admiration and gratitude to these modern-day Muslim-Tausug heroes.

In fact, no less than the President of the Republic of the Philippines, President Rodrigo Roa Duterte himself thanked the civilians of Sulu for helping the government rescue the victims of the Philippine Air Force C-130.

On 7 July 2021, Wednesday, the PTV news posted on its official Facebook page the words of a president thanking the Tausug people: “To the civilians of Sulu, mainly the Tausugs who assisted the government in rescuing the passengers of the crash, maraming salamat.”

Amidst the tragic mishap which the Armed Forces of the Philippines considered as “one of the worst tragedies in history,” residents near the crash site instinctively and bravely rushed to the burning aircraft to help the soldiers lying prone on the ground.

In one of the videos circulated online that really touched the hearts of many netizens, I can vividly hear the voice of one of the villagers who rushed to rescue lives. He was yelling frantically to help the soldier lying prone on the ground. He was admonishing everyone to help and even pointed out the crash victim’s location. He even assuaged one of them: “Kapit lang, Sir, ha, babalik kami!” https://www.facebook.com/abscbnNEWS/posts/10159607369370168

During that time, these Tausug villagers could have endangered themselves, too, because of the possible late effect that could have happened such as another huge explosion as there were still bursting bullets that can be heard from the blazing aircraft.

Nonetheless, these Muslim Tausugs men were not daunted by the possible danger that could happen to them at that most life-threatening moment. They were unstoppable to render the most humble help that they could offer just to save lives of others, unmindful of their own.

What has triumphed in their hearts and minds during that time was to help and alleviate in one way or another the suffering of those injured soldiers during that critical time. It was utterly a noble heroic act by those Muslim Tausugs in Sulu.

Truly, you would know who your true friends are when you are in a hopelessly helpless state.

“This is why I always say that the Tausug are loyal friends: If they’re on your side, they will do everything to defend you, and protect you. In this video, the danger presented by the crashed C-130 was clear. It was still burning, but they were not fazed by that. The humanity and love of the Tausug prevails in the face of danger. This is a communal trait of the Tausug people, that if someone is in danger, you are obliged to help. This is not always the image of us that you see in the media, but this is who and what we are,” said Hon. Amilbahar S. Mawallil, a Tausug member of Bangsamoro Transition Authority in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.

Moreover, the Western Mindanao Command (AFP) described in its official Facebook account, the help of the villagers in Sulu as “an act of solidarity amid adversity.”

“The Western Mindanao Command of the Armed Forces of the Philippines is extremely grateful to the assistance extended by our brothers and sisters Tausug in Sulu who were among the first responders that rescued several survivors of the air mishap on July 4, 2021,” said Lt. Gen. Corleto Vinluan, Jr., Commander of Western Mindanao Command.”

“During this hard time, the Armed Forces received overwhelming support from the villagers who unhesitatingly responded to the crash site and rescued injured victims, and brought them to safety,” the statement added.

“To the survivors and all of us, our brothers and sisters Tausug are our heroes. They risked their own lives to save their fellow Filipinos whom they consider as their protectors from the malefactors,” Vinluan, Jr., further stated.”

“Their heroic deeds are worthy of praise and recognition. This exemplifies that at times when we, protectors of the people and the state are in trouble, we have the peace-loving people to depend on. Muslims or Christians, we are Filipinos with one flag and one country,” he continued.

In another post, Vinluan said: “Ang WESTMINCOM ay taos-pusong nagpapasalamat sa ating mga kapatid na Tausug sa walang pag-aalinlangang pagtulong at mabilis na pagresponde sa pinangyarihan ng aksidenteng pagbagsak ng C-130 sa Barangay Bangkal, Patikul, Sulu noong Hulyo 4, 2021. Dahil po sa inyong agarang pagresponde bagamat napakadelikado ay maraming sundalo ang nailigtas. Hindi matatawaran ang inyong kabayanihan. Wasallam. Magsukol!” (Westmincom sincerely thanks our brother Tausugs for not hesitating to help and for quickly responding during the crash of the C-130 aircraft in Barangay Bangkal, Patikul, Sulu on July 4, 2021. Because of your immediate response, notwithstanding the danger,  many soldiers were saved. Your heroism is priceless. Peace. Thank you!)

This only shows that not all Muslims in the Philippines, Tausug in particular, are bad people as claimed by some. Sadly, some of our “kababayan” when they learn that we are from Sulu and we are Muslim, they are wary of us.

I could not blame them because maybe this is what they learned from most biased media who are only experts in denouncing the mistakes done by certain individuals from among us but don’t know how to commend our positive side.

It is woeful to realize that when there is a certain mistake committed by a Muslim, biased media would emphasize in their news the stereotypical term “Muslim.” It seems they only use this term when there is bad news about us in order to tarnish our image. But when there are good things done by Muslims, they are hesitant to use this term.

Nevertheless, this is indeed heartwarming: “Brother Alih, please tell the people of Patikul that a lowly Christian here thanks them for the humanity they have shown. And I will forever remember these words, “Kapit lang, Sir, ha, babalik kami,” a personal message to Professor Alih Sakaluran Aiyub, Secretary General of the Ulama Council of the Philippines from a journalist based in Dapitan City, Gualberto M. Laput.

Toward this end, on behalf of the Tausugs all around the world, we express our deepest sympathy and condolences to the entire bereaved families and loved ones of the casualties from the Philippine Air Force C-130 that crashed in Brgy. Bangkal, Patikul, Sulu this morning, Sunday, 04 July 2021.

Likewise, for those survivors, we fervently beseech the Almighty Allāh to spur you with full and swift recovery and envelop you in good health and well-being during these trying times of your life.

I resonate with Warina Sushil A Jukuy, PAHRA Coordinator for ZamBaSulTa-OFWs in her exhortation not to forget both our soldiers as well as our Tausug civilian casualties as I join her in lauding the Provincial Health Office in Sulu and AFP for giving the severely injured civilians medical attention to the extent of transporting them to Ciudad Medical Center in Zamboanga City.

“Nonetheless, the  status of the  civilian victims was not given attention as if their story is not worthy of human interest news. It must not be the case because  their lives as civilians matter, too,” Ms Jukuy lamented.

(Mindanawon Abroad is MindaNews’ effort to link up with Mindanawons overseas who would like to share their experiences in their adopted countries. Gamson Jr Mawallil Quijano of Sulu is a registered Radiologic Technologist who works in Doha, Qatar. He was on his way to Sulu supposedly for vacation with his family when the  COVID-19 lockdown was imposed in mid-March 2020 in Zamboanga City. He is back in Doha)

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