WAYWARD AND FANCIFUL: Writing from Mindanao. By Gail Ilagan

For this edition, the editorial board chose articles that brought out aspects of Muslim Mindanao rarely explored before. For example, we took pains to bring to light the issues that the MILF brings to the negotiation table. In years past, a comprehensive view of the MILF issues was vague to most of us. Not anymore, I think. I read Prof. Michael Mastura's piece again and again, and it does make sense. Read it for yourself.

Then too, there is Hags International's Sheilfa Alojamiento, a Palanca awardee, essaying the Jolo war from the perspective of the local residents.

Mucha-Shim Quiling Arquiza tells us about the driving force to a Muslim non-government organization, as well as the socio-cultural conditions in Muslim communities that make NGO work of this kind a necessity.

Jesuit priest Renato Oliveros puts his notes together to comment on the historical accident of Islam meeting Malay culture in the emergence of the Sulu sultanate.

MSU's Rufa Cagoco-Guiam teases out the lessons from the application of people-centered peace and development paradigms in conflict-affected areas of Maguindanao.

Two articles heavily influenced by anthropological fieldwork are included in this volume. There is Verna Luga's reflective piece on going after the Manobo sigkil in the mountains of Sultan Kudarat.

Robert V. Panaguiton, research director at Ateneo de Zamboanga, attempts to explain the spirituality of Fort Pilar pilgrims. I like this one. It's very rare to meet a genuine equal-opportunity patroness saint. Good to know Mama Mary does not discriminate among devotees across religious affiliations.

I kid you not. This article came across my desk around 12 October when Fiesta Pilar turned out on the Zamboanga streets one long parade of devotees. Someone forwarded to me a text message from a Tausug lass that said she was going to Fort Pilar to pray for something closest to her heart's desire. She obviously did not find it incongruous for a Muslim girl to be lighting candles and offering prayers and promises to Virgin Mary. While I personally think of the act as one of plea bargain, that text message gave me a new appreciation for the paper I was then editing.

It's not true that we in the academe do not have a sense of humor. We do. It's just that people don't appreciate it sometimes. It's not exactly a joke – oh, okay, we don't joke about this– but we hope people will find it not too much of a discordant surprise that we juxtaposed the views from the Right and the Left. There's Magdalo's Milo Maestrecampo's inside look on the Oakwood mutiny and Don Pagusara's protest poems that sustained the call from the street and the podium for Gloria Arroyo's ouster in the wake of the controversy that was Hello, Garci.

As added flavor, we featured a nostalgic piece on the long gone espiritistas of Upi in Cotabato. Veteran anthropologist Stuart Schlegel of University of California in Santa Cruz honored us with his memories of serving as parish priest to his unconventional flock.

And book reviews? Oh, we read a lot of books. Find out for yourself.

We came out a month earlier this year. This is the 24th volume of the journal and this is the maiden issue under the editorship of Fr. Albert E. Alejo, SJ. Mac Tiu, who mentored us and guided Tambara for six editions, left the journal this year to concentrate on transferring the stories in his head to words on paper. I think he's succeeding. He asked me last week details about printing costs, etc. Maybe he's ready to go to print before the year is out.

I am. Fly on the Wall vol. 2 is set for launch come 8 December. Knock on wood. Half of the number to this limited edition has someone's name written on it already. Let me know if you want it for someone's Christmas stocking. It – ehem – comes highly recommended.

I think it's great that we're putting it down on paper. Mindanao has so many stories that are truly remarkable and ought to be documented for posterity.

Yesterday, I got an invite from Sara Matalam re the 29 November launch for Anvil and National Book Store's Children of the Ever-changing Moon which promises to be essays by young Moro writers.

I hope more books from Mindanao are coming out before the year is over. From where I am I can see the thirst of young people to at least be told of what had been written. And if the preview would get them to pick up the book and read, well, that would please many of us no end. (Wayward and Fanciful is Gail Ilagan's column for MindaViews, the opinion section of MindaNews. Ilagan teaches Social Justice, Family Sociology, Theories of Socialization and Psychology at the Ateneo de Davao University where she is also the associate editor of Tambara. You may send comments to gail.ilagan@gmail.com. "Send at the risk of a reply," she says.)