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Reflection on Bangsamoro

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Reflections on the Bangsamoro

Decades in the making, the conflict in the southern parts of Mindanao was born of centuries old problems inherited from our Spanish colonizers in their tactic of divide-and-conquer. They say that if the Spanish interregnum did not occur, we would have all been Muslim. That is true, for when the Spaniards arrived, most of the powerful polities in Mindanao, and the rulers in Manila were all Muslim. But unlike the Spaniards who used the power of the cross and the sword, the Islamic conversions were mainly for economic reasons, since most of the merchant partners of the datus were Muslim—and Islam then was a very missional (albeit, progressive) religion. It was here that when the Spaniards saw the strong sultanates of Mindanao and how they stubbornly refused to be subjugated, the Spaniards began calling these people collectively as “Moro,” a term (unbeknownst to most Filipinos today) that hails from the long history of Spanish ethnic cleansing in their Iberian peninsula, when in their Reconquista, they defeated all the Muslim emirates in Spain and tried to erase from their historical memory the enlightened Muslim Moorish heritage that built the beautiful palaces of the kingdoms of Toledo, Cordoba and Granada. It was just logical that the Spanish conquistadors would choose the term “Moro” to refer to all Muslims in Filipinas, who they would call negatively as juramentados.

The term Moro with its loaded meaning unfortunately caught up with our history as down through the ages, from the American imperialist experiment in the Philippines to the time of Filipino politicians, these collective peoples in Mindanao, marginalized, alienated and misunderstood, even fellow Filipinos would call them Moros. It was time then that the peoples themselves used the term in a positive light, an expression of their self-determination and sovereignty as...

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