The Ninth Ray of Philippine Flag and the Muslim Mindanao Issue
By: Manuel “Bong” Amora
The 9th Ray of Philippine Flag
I want to convey my heartfelt thanks to our Philippine legislators both the Senate and the Congress especially the bicameral conference committee who voted for the addition of a ninth ray to the sun in our Philippine Flag. The inclusion of the ninth ray represents Muslim Filipinos who fought for the nation’s independence.
The two houses of Philippine Congress, the Senate and the House of Representatives approved some amendments to R.A. 8491, otherwise known as An Act Prescribing the Code of the National Flag, Anthem, Motto, Coat-of-Arms, and Other Heraldic Items and Devices of the Philippines. Ironing differences of both Senate Bill (SB) 3307 and House Bill (HB) 6424 led into the inclusion of the ninth ray to the sun in our Philippine flag.
The author of Senate Bill (SB) 3307, Senator Richard Gordon, commended the approval of the measure saying that it would promote and enhance greater unity among Filipinos regardless of religion. “We are a country that has had a conflict with our Muslim brothers for the last so many decades. I think this is a big step toward reuniting our country, recognizing the contributions of our fellow countrymen, the Filipino Muslims. We should recognize their deeds in our country.” He said.
Well, “better late than never” shall I say, the addition of the ninth ray should have been done a long time ago. In my previous entry titled “Pilipino Ako Saan man sa Mundo” (A glimpse of freedom), I said that “that true character, customs and traditions we have Filipinos, were originally acquired from the genuine blood of our ancestors who were already in our motherland prior to the Spanish era”. Muslims are the original inhabitants of Philippine islands before Christianity was introduced by Spaniards who ruled our country for three centuries. Though history tells us that WE, Filipinos later on accept the Spanish rule in our land, undeniably our brother Muslims were among those proven as the earlier inhabitants of the country.
Though Filipino historians have presented different kinds of Philippine periodization wherein the Filipino is the focus, U.P. History Professor Dr. Ma. Luisa Camagay admitted that “whatever things that they did should be considered as the turning points, not what the colonial experience has been”.
Acknowledging the courage, bravery, and integrity of Muslim Filipinos who fought for the nation’s independence are the main reasons of the “ray” inclusion and history can prove that Muslim Filipinos were among the populace who bravely resist Spanish colonization even at very early time of Spanish rule.
Southeast Asia section, Metamorphosis at http://rantburg.com/ says “Philippine history also acknowledged that long before the coming of the Spaniards, Muslims in Mindanao and Sulu were already known by their ethnic names like; Magindanaw, Maranao, Tausug, and more. Originally, the Spaniards were the ones called them “Moro or Moros”. After the Spanish rule, Philippines were under America for 50 years, and a quarter of a century of the Second Philippine Republic, they were Muslim Filipinos”.
To dig more, I found out that Moro leaders at that time asserted they (Muslims) were not Filipinos, warning that the cultural, social and religious chasm between them would spell a troubled union. The Muslim Filipino leaders did not ignore history and the warnings of their elders. While they deplored in the strongest terms – the plight of the Muslim, they had to play politics with the powers in Manila to stay in power”.
And according to PBS ( http://www.pbs.org/ ) an online site that tackles worlds of science, history, nature and public affairs “The Moroland (Mindanao, Sulu, Basilan, Tawi-Tawi and Palawan), also presently known as Southern Philippines, comprises the area of about 96,438 sq. km- about 33 percent of the total land territories of the Philippines. Currently, it contains 23 of the Philippines’ 73 provinces”. The land has been picturesquely described by Herman Hagedorn as “a vast green crab, in tropic waters, stretching out an irritated claw after a school of minnows skipping off in the direction of Borneo. The crab is Mindanao. The irritated claw is the Zamboanga Peninsula. The minnows are the islands of the Sulu Archipelago”.
By way of comparison, PBS added that “Moroland is larger in territory than either Portugal or Austria. The Muslim population of the Moroland outnumbers the populations of many independent countries such as Albania, Costa Rica and Libya. The Moros are the Islamized people and the native inhabitants of the Moroland who were once the majority inhabitants of the area. However, due to the consequence of the colonization of Mindanao, the status of the Moro as majority has diminished from majority to minority. The exact figure of the Moro population is difficult to determine because of conflicting information”.
The Moros’ are divided into thirteen ethnic linguistic groups such as Maranao, Maguindanao, Tausug, Samal, Yakan, Sangil, Badjao, Kalibogan, Jama Mapun, Iranun, Palawanon, Kalagan, and Molbog. They are mainly found in Western and southern Mindanao Island, the Sulu Archipelago, and coastal areas of southern Palawan. But only five (Sulu, Tawi-Tawi, Lanao del Sur, Maguindanao, and Basilan) of the twenty-two (now twenty- three) Mindanao provinces have a Muslim majority.
Imam Reza (A.S.) Network, a non-profit Internet-based group who present the ideals and sublime teachings of Islam (http://www.imamreza.net/eng/) believes that the “Moros were once considered to be the most developed communities in the entire Philippines Archipelago. They reached the level of a centrally organized life. They had their own form of government antedating several hundreds of years the creation of the Philippine Republic. These governments were the Sultanate of Sulu, which was founded approximately in 1450, and the Sultanate of Maguindanao and Buayan which were united by Sultan Kudarat into one Sultanate, Sultanate of Maguindanao in 1619”.
Muslim Mindanao Issues
Today, there are no Spaniards, no more Americans but the fight goes on, not from foreign aggressors but to the same blood that runs through our veins! Filipino versus Filipino (Filipino Muslims versus Filipino Christians). Click here>>>> to read “The Price of Peace” by: Ryan Rosauro).
At present Muslims are made up between 5 and 9 percent of the Filipino population, they are fighting for more expansive rights and autonomy in the Mindanao.
Fr. Roberto C. Layson, a Parish Priest of Pikit, North Cotabato during the Interreligious Dialogue Conference in Bali, Indonesia said “in Mindanao, when you ask a Muslim boy what he wants to become when he grows up, he tells you that he wants to become a rebel to fight the military. When you ask a Christian boy what he wants to become when he grows up, he tells you that he wants to become a soldier to fight the rebels”.
2010 Philippine election is fast approaching; Presidentiable aspirants should lay down their government platform for Mindanao. The lucky one (the winner) should prioritize Mindanao peace process and development programs; strengthen Mindanao policies and implement genuine reforms.
DFA Undersecretary for Special Concerns Rafael Seguis who is the head of the Government in Mindanao Peace Panel expect that the two sides should agree on two frameworks; one is on the general principles of the Mindanao Peace Agreement; and second, on the civilian protection agreement (in time of hostilities).
The talk was supported by other countries supporting peace process to achieve long term peace stability for the region in Mindanao more particularly the Muslim community. The Organization of Islamic Conference (OIC), a pan-Islamic bloc of more than 50 Muslim states, including wealthy oil-exporting countries in the Middle East and Africa, has relayed to its central committee its willingness to join the international contact group (ICG) that will be composed of foreign organizations and international donors helping the Mindanao peace process.
The OIC was founded in 1969 and based in Saudi Arabia’s port-city of Jeddah, represents fifty-seven predominantly Muslim countries and is the largest intergovernmental organization outside the United Nations system. The Philippine, Moro Islamic Liberation Front is an OIC Member under Observer status since 1977.
The setting up of the ICG was stipulated in a joint statement signed in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia by government chief negotiator Usec Rafael Seguis and MILF counterpart, Muhaquer Iqbal, putting the peace talks back on track.
Fr. Roberto Layson said “I believe that we can only have peace in the world when there is peace among religions. But we can only have peace among religions where there is authentic dialogue among peoples. And there can only be authentic dialogue among peoples when there is respect for one another”. – END
sources: Global Nation Inquirer : Congress panel OKs 9th ray in RP flag ; Christian-Muslim Dialogue in Mindanao Amidst Uncertainties, by Fr. Roberto C. Layson, OMI ; International Contact Group (ICG) ; Taped Interview of U.P. Prof. Maria Luisa T. Camagay