1st Moro Artists and Cultural Leaders Summit begins Monday in Zambo

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/06 March) — Movers and leaders in the Moro art and culture sector will gather in Zamboanga City this week for the two-day 1st Moro Artists and Cultural Leaders’ Summit.

Organized by the Bidadali House and the National Commission on the Culture and the Arts (NCCA), the Summit will bring together participants ”to discuss urgent issues and challenges confronting the Moro arts and culture sector, encouraging collaboration and information exchange of good practices and of innovative activities.”
Award-winning filmmaker and writer Gutierrez Mangansakan II, the forum director, said the summit was proposed “as early as 2006 to different funding programs.” The NCCA assistance made possible the holding of the summit this year.

The Summit has a four-point objective: discuss urgent issues and challenges confronting the Moro arts and culture sector; develop collaboration between media and the arts and culture sector in promoting relevant cultural issues, and combat existing culture of discrimination against the Moro people;  encourage information exchange of good practices and of innovative activities in the Moro arts and culture sector; and create a network of Moro artists and cultural leaders for future cooperation with each other and the NCCA.

On Monday night, Abdulmari Imao, a national artist from Sulu, will deliver the keynote address at the summit venue in Astoria Regency Hotel.
On Tuesday and Wednesday, the Summit will tackle four topics: identity politics and defining Bangsamoro culture; the dynamics of religion and culture in contemporary Moro society; cultural initiatives in Peace Building; and Media and Culture.

Atty. Ishak Mastura, chair of the regional Board of Investments of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) will discuss the first topic. The session will “broadly discuss Bangsa Moro identity, which aims to address among other things issues concerning a singular Bangsa Moro identity vis-a-vis the tribal cultures of its origin.” It will also seek answers to the following questions: “Considering present socio-cultural dynamics, can an emerging Bangsa Moro culture integrate lumad and settler cultures into its own? What is the state of Bangsa Moro culture in the light of a growing Islamic movement, rapid globalizing forces, armed conflict resulting to massive poverty, displacement and diaspora?”

Prof. Moner Bajunaid, commissioner at the National Commission on Muslim Filipinos, will discuss the second topic, particularly on how cultural and development programs have benefited in incorporating Islamic beliefs (i.e. halal, madaris, khutba on social development) and, conversely, how religion has been misinterpreted to sow the seeds of terror. It will also tackle the pluralism of religious practices in the light of growing tendencies a Muslim religious right in Mindanao to attack other religious traditions and will seek to find answers to the questions:  Can diverse Muslim traditions co-exist in Mindanao? How can the arts and culture sector thrive under a perceived antagonistic religious institution?”

Fr. Eliseo Mercado, OMI, Executive Director of the Cotabato City-based Institute for Autonomy and Governance and Mangnsakan will tackle peacebuilding as defined in a 1992 report entitled “An Agenda for Peace written by UN Secretary General Boutros Boutros-Ghali, particularly on “cultural support structures which will tend to strengthen and solidify peace in order to avoid a relapse into conflict.”

They will also discuss the need for “more active participation by the arts and culture sector to support the peace process between the Philippine government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front. “

MindaNews’ Carolyn O. Arguillas will tackle Media and Culture. The session will present an “overview of media in Mindanao, and how it can help the arts and culture sector propagate relevant cultural programs that empower the Moro people” and will “examine the media as a transformative tool to bridge the gap between Bangsa Moro and the general population, thus, bringing an end to a culture of discrimination.”

NCCA Executive Director Malou Jacob will discuss how the NCCA and the Moro Arts and Culture sector can forge stronger ties. (MindaNews)