BANGSAMORO SPEAKS: Historical distortion must be confronted with historical truth

(Speech delivered by Datu Masiding Alonto, Jr. at the Bantayog ng mga Bayani where the name of his father, Datu Masiding Alangadi Alonto, Sr., of Ditsaan Ramain in Lanao del Sur, was engraved on the Wall of Remembrance as a hero on November 30, 2021 during the Annual Honoring of Martyrs and Heroes in the People’s Resistance to Dictatorship)  

In the name of Allah, the Most Beneficent, the Most Merciful.

As Salaam Alaikum, mainit na pagbati sa inyong lahat!

No words can sufficiently describe the emotions of joy, sense of fulfillment, of closure and honor, that the Bantayog ng mga Bayani Foundation has bestowed upon our late father, Masiding Alangadi Alonto, Sr. – 

In behalf of the Alonto family, we are profoundly grateful.

My father would have mixed feelings as well if he were around today because he was a self-effacing man. He preferred anonymity in contrast to his political family with a father and several  siblings who were in fact, public figures.

In this context, he would have uttered the very words of Nelson Mandela who once said and I quote, “I have never cared much for personal prizes. A person does not become a freedom fighter in the hope of winning awards.”

However, my father would not mind being in the company of martyrs and patriots whose names are chiseled in the memorial wall of these hallowed grounds. A few may have been personal acquaintances. One name already in the wall – Haroun Al Rashid Lucman, was not only a brother-in-arms but a brother-in-law, being husband to his sister, Princess Tarhata Alonto-Lucman, one of the first lady governors of this country.

My father was apolitical yet he was deeply concerned with the affairs of the state most notably the terrible conditions that the Bangsamoro people were in.

My father loved his family. He loved our mother, his children and  grandchildren. But when the time came for him to choose between the tranquility of normal life and facing the dangers of despotism, he chose the latter. For him to stand up against tyranny and oppose the dictatorship was not a matter of choice. As a Muslim, it was an obligation and a duty.

Datu Masiding Alonto Jr. delivers speech at the Bantayog ng mga Bayani in Quezon City on 30 November 2021. His father was among those honored as heroes and his name engraved on the Wall of Remembrance. Screengrab from Bantayog ng mga Bayani video

In retrospect, my father already saw in Ferdinand E. Marcos, a despotic, violent streak, as early as the 1960s. He and his siblings shared this premonition that the Marcos regime would plunge Moro land into conflict and place the whole country under authoritarian rule moored on wholesale repression of human and civil rights and an insatiable greed for power and wealth. 

My father was right. 

In March 1968, more than 100 Muslim Moro youths undergoing clandestine military training on Corregidor Island were mercilessly massacred by their military trainers. This was the infamous Jabidah massacre that ensued out of “Operation Merdeka”, a Marcos covert project to invade Sabah, Malaysia and seize this piece of real estate in North Borneo. The Moro trainees who were mostly from Sulu and Tawi-Tawi refused to continue their military training after they found out that their mission was to invade a neighboring state.

This massacre ushered in the Bangsamoro struggle against the Marcos regime and resulted in the birth of the Moro Liberation Movement that my father helped create especially in the recruitment and preparation of the Moro youths for the armed resistance ahead.

In 1970, many parts of the Bangsamoro homeland were laid to waste by the ethnic cleansing depredations of the Ilaga paramilitary gangs unleashed by the Marcos regime. The horrendous atrocities and ritual mutilation of innocent and defenseless Moro men, women and children were too much to bear for my father. He had to risk life and limb in his efforts to seek help from any source willing to capacitate the Moro communities into defending themselves from the attack dogs of the Marcos regime.

In addition, more than 300 Mosques were destroyed and desecrated while farm and farm lots by the thousands of hectares were forcibly abandoned by their Moro owners and seized by politicians, military men, and entities fronting for Marcos Crony corporations.

Martial law turned the Bangsamoro into one huge military garrison long before Gaza in occupied Palestine came into existence.

We need not narrate here in great detail the horrific accounts of atrocities committed by the Marcos regime against the Bangsamoro. These are all documented in local and international reports. Suffice it to say that thousands were either killed, injured, displaced, dispersed, and forced to flee as refugees. 

As far as my father and like-minded Moros were concerned, this is the Marcos Legacy: a regime of tyranny, untold suffering, and horrific crimes against the Bangsamoro nation and the Filipino people. 

Not long after Marcos was overthrown in 1986, my father became bedridden until his death in June 1997. To him, the overthrow of the Marcos dictatorship was “mission accomplished.” He went to his death bringing with him this great satisfaction. 

Little did he know that we have come full circle and now see a rebirth of despotism repackaged to be more palatable to the new generation. The ugly head of tyranny, lies and deceit has reared itself in the most difficult of times as we find ourselves in a pandemic of massive disinformation and historical distortion never seen before in Philippine political history. 

The clan of Datu Masiding Alangadi Alonto, Sr. is voting Leni Robredo for President, says this tarpaulin at the LENIwanag Marawi rally on April 1, 2022 in Barangay Sagonsongan, Marawi City. Photo by RUH ALONTO

Historical distortion must be confronted with historical truth. Historical wrongs should be rectified by justice in the Bangsamoro as well as in the rest of the country. We cannot be oblivious to the reality that we are once again facing a malevolent threat from those who are obsessed in restoring what has already been rejected by the people. 

We, the descendants of those who fought for freedom, justice, and peace have to stand together to prevent such a catastrophe from happening again. Indeed, let us not build more walls of remembrance! We want this fight to end now and end well for the Filipino people!

Bilang pang wakas, kami po na naiwang pamilya ni Al Hadj Masiding Alonto, Sr., ay taos pusong nagpapasalamat sa Bantayog ng mga Bayani Foundation lalong lalo na sa taga pangulo nitong si dating Senador Wigberto Tanada at ang mga miyembro ng Board of Trustees at fieldworkers nito, hinggil sa pagbibigay pugay at parangal sa aming yumaong amo na nakibaka laban sa dictatura ni Marcos. 

And to our father, may you find comfort and satisfaction in this worldly recognition given on your 96thyear, today, having been born on November 30, 1926.

Happy Birthday Dad..

Mabuhay po kayo! Mabuhay po tayong lahat!

At Salaam Alaikum.