SOMEONE ELSE’S WINDOWS: Limits of tradition

MALAYBALAY CITY (MindaNews/10 March) – On March 7 and 8, a number of Lumad and Moro leaders gathered in a Talaandig village in Lantapan town, Bukidnon for what organizers called a reaffirmation of kinship dating back to pre-colonial times. They were there to share narratives of Mindanao history most of which have presumably remained unknown.

No serious student of history would want to miss that rare chance of listening firsthand to impeccable sources.

Besides, coming together and reminiscing a shared past, a common history, is a wonderful experience. It builds a sense of rootedness in something we deem inseparable from our existence and identity. By remembering the past we seek to affirm who we really are and try to relearn some lessons that may help define our vision for the future.

However, there lurks the danger of magnifying the significance of such exercise and  oversimplifying the current situation which it seeks to influence. The passing of time, with the substantial change in power relations and other social conditions, may have made it impossible to assert some elements of the past as the yardstick of how the future should unfold.

The organizers themselves had implied it was an attempt to influence the outcome of the peace process between the Philippine government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), by highlighting in the narratives the traditional peace pacts between the island’s Moro and non-Moro tribes.

Now in what way would the traditional peace pacts (called tampuda by the Lumad) fit into the GPH-MILF peace process? Statements coming from the participants, as reflected in documents sent to the media, were not clear on this. But one phrase is particularly provoking – “help build a new Mindanao based on the ancient practices of their ancestors.”

Tampuda had served its purpose in history – bringing peace between the Moro and non-Moro tribes. In recent times, it is still being honored by Mindanao’s ethnolinguistic groups as a culture-based conflict resolution mechanism.

Still, questions linger as to its actual role in the GPH-MILF peace process. It remains vague how peace pacts of yore can be applied in a political negotiation where the primary issue at stake is the demand for Moro sovereignty or something close to it.

Moreover, nobody would argue that long ago Mindanao was mainly the domain of the Lumad and Moro tribes. But realities have changed to a degree that has made it impractical to define the island’s future based on ethnocentric standards.

Indeed, questions would remain except if at least one of the parties involved would be candid enough to admit that the Lumad and Moro groups now wish to put up a united front. (MindaViews is the opinion section of MindaNews. H. Marcos C. Mordeno can be reached at