Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Some Issues Against

Points have been raised to negate the idea of the existence of a Moro nation. Some of them are as follows:
1. Lack of Common Language - There is no denying that the Moros speak thirteen languages or dialects; often, the name of the language or dialect and the ethnic group are the same. Many of these languages are mutually unintelligible, such as the case of Maranao and Tausog, Samal and Maguindanaon, Yakan and Iranun, etc. On the other hand, there are dialects that are so closely related that they are mutually intelligible. This is the case of Maguindanaon, Iranun and Maranao. Not only are they mutually intelligible, but they virtually constitute one Mindanao language. The same is true with the dialects ,of the Badjao, Samal and lama Mapun, which are intimately intertwined. And there is one language, Kalibugan or Kolibogan, which, as its name connotes in Maguindanaon, is an amalgamation of most of the major dialects of the Moros. It is said that when a Kalibugan speaks around 10-30 percent of the message can be delivered to a Tausog, Maguindanaon, Yakan, Samal, Iranun or Maranao, each picking up only the words coming from or resembling his own.
The lack of a single language mutually intelligible to the thirteen ethno-linguistic groups of Moros can be a minus factor to a group claiming to be a nation. A nation "should" speak only of one common language, which is necessary to transmit shared values and norms. But if this is lacking in the Moros, it is more lacking in the so-called Filipino nation. The Filipinos possess and speak a much greater number of languages and dialects, 184 in all. Even today the Filipinos have miserably failed to truly develop a national language that is accepted by - or at least acceptable - to all the ethnic groups in the Philippines. The so-called Pilipino, deemed as the national language is no more than an improvised Tagalog - thanks to the late President Manuel L. Quezon, the first non-American chief of the archipelago and a Tagalog by ethnic affiliation who, by fair or foul means, secured for it a national role and prominence that eventually paved the way for its declaration as a national language in 1946. This declaration had been persistently opposed even to this day, especially by the Cebuano-speaking provinces of the Visayas.
2. Diversity in Customs and Tradition - Like their counterparts in the northern islands, the Moros are racially Indo-Malayan and whatever distinction between or among the thirteen sub-groupings range from negligible to "almost as markedly as the Muslim people as a whole differs from the Christian Filipino groups. The distinction between the Iranun and Maranao and, to a certain extent, the Maguindanaon - the three groups constitute 61 percent of the entire Moro population - has not been clearly defined. In a sense, the Maranao and Iranun are "brothers" and the Maguindanaon and Maranao "cousins." The difference of Maranao or Maguindanaon from the Badjao or "sea gypsies" is sharp, because, except for a small portion of this group, they are still largely unIslamized. This difference perhaps is the reference of some writers that the Moros have widely diverse customs and traditions.
This diversity, however, when seen in the context of their racial kinsmen in the North, is comparatively quite modest in proportion. Are not the Filipinos culturally, historically more divided and heterogeneous than their counterparts in Mindanao and Sulu? Are not the Tagalogs, the Cebuanos or llocanos as different from one another as the Scots, the English, and the Irish are? One writer, commenting on this, had this to say:
It is difficult, if not impossible, to define what a Filipino is. All that can be done is to pick out some traits common to the average Filipinos and to separate those that are obviously Spanish or American."
This cultural status is the reason why Filipinos are faced with no choice but to showcase in the forefront the long-preserved Moro cultures in foreign cultural presentations, because there is no longer distinct Filipino culture to speak of, except a mixture of Spanish, American and a few native ingredients.
In 1991 the Mexican Ambassador to the Philippines Jose Ibarra, a career diplomat, speaking on the Mexican-Filipino relations, made this glaring statement:
Both our roots belong to Western civilization. In our music and dance, in our folk arts, in our language, and in our peculiarities and natural tendencies live our lives in festive air, we enjoy similarities in culture and affinities in character.
One may not believe it, but the Pilipino, the official Filipino language, has 18,000 Spanish words in it as against only 5,000 of Malay origin." This is how extensive and deep-rooted the hispanization of the Filipinos is. The American contribution is yet to be accounted for, but is patently dominant in the Philippine political and educational systems.
On the other hand and by comparison, Moro culture remains so to this day, basically Malay despite the admixture of Hindu, Chinese, and later Arabian (or rather Islamized). With these factors plus the effects of geography and other forces of history, the result was customs and a tradition peculiarly "moroized." It is not "arabized," it is not "indianized" or "chinized."
3. Other Minor Variations - There may be other variations or diversities in the socio-economic, cultural or political development of the Moros, but all these are not so emphasized so as to lose sight of their "distinctness" as a separate group. Among these are their difference in historical development, livelihood patterns, social organizations, level of Islamic acculturation, manner of dressing, and even their arts.
Even if these observations are true for the Moros, they do not make the Moro status exceptional. There are nations, even states, which are pervaded by a variety of differences in national origin, language, religion, and cultural patterns, and yet they exhibited strong sense of national unity. The heterogeneous elements in these states rather worked surprisingly to their advantage, particularly when confronted by external dangers. The United States and Switzerland are two of such states. The United States has often been called a "nation of immigrants." It has taken in more immigrants than any other nations in history; in fact, except for the pure-blooded Indians, every US citizen is either an immigrant or descended from immigrants.
If there have been points raised to cast doubt on the existence of a Moro nation, there are points as well in support of it. The following are some of these points:
1. Common Racial Origin - As has been discussed earlier, except for the very minority Negritos, all the inhabitants of the archipelago including the Moros belonged to one racial stock, the Indo-Malayan. And all the indigenous dialects of the Moros, together with all those in Luzon and the Visayas, are related in varying degrees to one another and with a common root from one parent-stock. the Austronesian or Malayo-Polynesian language. Even up to the present, the lexicon of the various Moro dialects contain derivatives or roots that are, beyond doubt, of Malayan origin.
2. Common Religion - Invariably the ethnic tribes of the Moros accepted Islam without reservation, an acceptance that came sometimes more from fanaticism rather than from conviction. If there is one factor that gave them direction, spirit and cohesiveness, hence securing for them their homeland, it was Islam. It was Islam which taught them that war with Spain was a sacred obligation, with In assured place in heaven as a reward.
Despite the differences in the degree of their Islamic acculturation, all the thirteen ethno-linguistic groups chose Islam as their religion. They tenaciously clung to it, for better or for worse, and they survived.
However, one crucial fact in the larger picture that should be considered is that the Moros and Filipinos tend to live in two different worlds, the former having maintained their roots more firmly in the Islamized Malay world and inherited much from the Islamic civilization of Arabia and the Middle East, while the latter looked to the West - to Spain, for their Catholic religion and much of their customs and traditions, and to America for their second language, English, and their political institutions."
3. Shared History - All the best Spanish generals had been pitted against the Moros and all but none had to admit that these "obscure Malays" were far from---easypickings." And the fight did not happen for a day or months but for 320 years, or to be exact, from 1578 to 1898 when America came in to impose a self-given "mandate in Moroland."
The history of the Moros neither began at the coming of Spain nor stopped at her exit. Her coming was merely an "accident in history" and an interlude in the long and colorful annals of this group of Malays. Before the Spaniards, they were already on their own and were already on the verge of claiming more territories and peoples, not through the! force of arms and trickery but through the charms of the faith and the magic of love for brethren of a common race. After 1898, starting with America, the saga continues to this day.
In all these long years, all the thirteen Moro groups have had a share, though in varying roles, in the defense of the faith, people and homeland. The Badjaos, though sometimes pejoratively tagged even by their Muslim neighbors as "Samal Palau" (House-boat Samal) or "Samal Luwan" (Outcast Samal), may not have actually participated in the wars, but the fact that they served the sultan of Sulu as subjects is nevertheless also a role in history.
4. Organized Government - Unlike the barangays of the North, fragmented as they had always been, the Moros had their centralized government patterned after the Arabian model and, later, on the Turkish fashion. The realm was headed by the sultan (hence the political institution called sultanate), who inherited his position by direct descent in a royal bloodline of Hashimite root. Below the sultanwas the heir-apparent or rajahmuda or crown prince, and in the lower tier of the hierarchy were the administrative officers or ministers, the judge or qadi as head of the judiciary or agama court, the naval commander or rajah laut or kapitan laut, and not the least, the council of elders or Ruma Bichara in Sulu or Bichara Atas in Maguindanao.
In describing the court of the sultan, one writer had these words:
The sultan's court was convoked with ostentation and ceremony. He himself sat enthroned on a raised dais with his full entourage seated on the floor; foreign emissaries remained on their fee t to present official communications in lacquered boxes. Small brass swivel guns (lantakas) were conspicuously displayed, not so
An example of a tiny state is Monaco, in Europe, with a population of about 30,000 and total land area of 1.95 square kilometers. Its principal source of income is gambling and tourism. Second is Luxembourg, also in Europe, with a population of a little over 30,000 and area of 2.586 square kilometers.
On the contrary, Mindanao alone is bigger than Monaco and Luxembourg. It has a total land area of 117,000 square kilometers. It is very rich in natural resources, outside the typhoon belt, and the weather is excellent. Even the Moros number no fewer than five million.
5. Independence Intact - To cap it all, and without being redundant, there is nothing more convincing about the fact that there is indeed a Moro nation than to restate again and again that throughout the 377 years of Spanish presence in the Philippines the Moros remained unconquered. And whatever Spain might have said of her sovereignty over the Moro dominion was nothing but mere proclamation for, in truth and in fact, this sovereignty was only felt and enforced inside her fortifications and garrisons. One may argue, however, that in the closing years of the Spanish regime on the eve of the entry of the United States the various sultanates especially Sulu and Maguindanao had greatly weakened. This is as if to say that it was a matter of time before they could all have been subdued by force of arms. But this supposition did not take place in fact and cannot be argued to have actually taken place, in roughly the same way that it is pure historical speculation to say that had not Spain arrived at the time it did, all the people of the entire archipelago could have become Muslims.

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