Posted by: luvin | September 1, 2008

Some bits about the Muslims and Mindanao

The Fallacy of Distrust

We used to have a sugarcane farms in muslim villages, not just in one barangay but in several barangays. The land was leased from muslim friends and associates. Our farm laborers were a mixture of muslims, christians and lumads.

People not used to this kind of cross cultures may wonder how we manage to coexist. Often, people in Manila would ask if muslims can be trusted. It is very apparent, for how could we hire these people if we don’t trust them. Or if they don’t trust us, they will not leased us their lands. Already there is very solid foundation to  work on that policy makers fail to exploit.

Ironically, our trusted muslim friends would always remind us never to fully trust the other muslims. They would often say; “never turn your back on them.” So the distrust is always there. For those who have lived with them will agree that they really have different ways to convey a message. The spoken words should never be taken at face value. Action does not necessarily follow from the pronouncements.

So faced with seeming contradiction, the thumbs rule of survival is; “In times of conflict between muslim and non muslim, the bisaya may not always side with their fellow bisaya, but the muslim will always support their fellow muslim.”


Fear Factor

Why is their a deep animosity between the ilongos, antiquenios and the muslims, but not much between the ilocanos and the muslim; or the cebuanos, intsek, the tagalogs and the muslims? Is the enmity of  malay origin? The antiquenios and the ilongos as we all know are of malay race, so are the maguindanaons. (I am just wondering because Manny Pinol looks similar to Mr Iqbal). Or it is because of the legacy of the Felicino Losis atrocities in the 70’s. Lilo, the village nickname of Feliciano, was of Panay race. He is antiquenio, and like most antiquenios, he is fearless. The respect he got is not due to his physical presence, in fact he was small and so thin, the very reason why he was  later called kumander toothpick. He sowed terror among the muslim villages that thought of his presence sends shivers to local muslim communities.

Moros for the uninitiated may sound ferocious. And maybe they are. My reading of their attitude is that they are brave when they have the numbers. They will not hesitate to maim or kill anybody when they sense that the object is afraid of them. Guns for them is a way of life because even their fellow muslim will simply bully them if they don’t own a gun. The survival rule of thumb in muslim areas is; “never show your fear when among them.”

And the ilongos and antiquenios have that innate attitude of fearlessness, they would often say; “ano gid nang gina kaon nila haw, bato? (why be afraid of them, are they eating rocks?)

I remember this story about the grandson of Datu Ugtug Matalam who were studying at the University of Southern Mindanao. Students and faculties of the institution are warry of them because they roam around with body guards. People of course understand that they are grandsons of muslim royalties that even security guards, who are mostly muslims, of the university would not dare touch them. One time, during their class, one of the Matalam boys as they are being called, was agitating his ilongo classmate. When their professor went out, there was a sudden commotion. The ilongo boy fought back, he boxed the Matalam boy unmindful of the danger, his only comment is that; “naanad lang na sila, ano gid nang gina kaon nila haw?”  (they are used to bullying, why what are they eating?) The ilongo, antiquenio survival motto; “when provoked, fight back.”


Peaceful Na Sa Marawi

This is a conflict resolution uephemism that is common among people of Mindanao. It literally mean, problem is solved, with reference to familial conflict, or petty problems. Or it could also mean, there is no more war in specific area.

How to know when Peaceful na sa Marawi? When you see the father in evacuation center, it means the armed group have disbanded. Normally during conflict between the military and the government armforces, only women and children could be seen in evacuation centers. This is the irony of war. The military fights the male side, the dswd feeds the female side of the family. For bakwits; the safest time to returm home is when the muslim evacues becomes a complete family.

For teachers in the farflung barangays, the rule of thumb is; “when the mothers suddenly gets her sons and daughters without explanation, that is the time to dismiss the class.”

For the non MILF farmers. “When their male counterpart fails to visit their farms, that is the time to prepare for an attack.”

For Highschool, and college teachers; “When the male muslim students are absent, the nest day, expect sporadic gunfight somewhere.”



  1. Hi Luvin,

    Here I am again. I appreciated much your writings on the Muslims and Mindanao. However, I just wanted to clarify the distinction between a Moro and a Muslim Moro. It is unfair to true Muslim Moros if we will generalize them as Muslims. This has been the thing that we Muslim Moros want the media to get rid of, i.e. when the criminal is a Maguindanaon or any Moro tribe, the media would say MUSLIM CRIMINAL; when he is a Christian, he is merely a CRIMINAL, without attaching the word CHRISTIAN. This is obviously unfair. Right?

    I agree that the Matalams are generally haud-haud. Some of the Montawals are rapists. Other Paglases are landgrabbers. But their acts are not that of a Muslim. Hence, they are by practice not Muslim Moros but mere MOROS. I hope, we as peace advocates will also be careful of using descriminatory words. True Muslims my friend don’t attache Christianity to criminal Ilocanos or ilonggos, or whatever tribes because we feel IT unfair to the true Christians.

    If we can advocate on this (anti-prototyping), I think we can advance our closer understanding as bothers and sisters, as I already mentioned in some of my e-mails, Christians and Muslims are rooted from the Abrahamic religion.

    Thank you,


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