Looking South: Are there really “outsiders” in the Mindanao issue?

Today, the Second Mindanao Bloggers Summit is taking place in General Santos City. I was supposed to attend but my illness over the past week required my staying home. I’m glad they decided to invite The Jester-in-Exile instead. You can follow the proceedings on Ria on Tumblr.Here is what I intended to say at the blogger’s gathering.

You tasked me with “Looking South: An Outsider Pundits about Mindanao Politics, History and Commentary.” Let me begin by asserting there can be no outsiders in a Mindanao overwhelmingly composed of outsiders. And that furthermore, it is in embracing being outsiders that the true potential of both Mindanao and the Philippines will be realized.


Bluntly speaking, the period from 1935 to 1960, the first twenty-five years of our modern nationhood, were supposed to be; this was the chance to integrate Moros fully into the body politic; this was the time when the policies that made today’s Mindanao possible, for better or worse, were laid in place. The infrastructure was planned and implemented then: harnessing the hydroelectric capacity of Maria Cristina falls was mapped out in 1936, requiring a junket of nearly the entire legislature to Mindanao to instill in them the desirability of development; and contemporaneous with that scheme was another, which has yet to be implemented -a railway network, again first mapped out in 1936.

The late Max Soliven used to recount the slogan of the Commonwealth years, “Go South, Young Man!” itself borrowed from Horace Greely’s exhortation, “Go West, Young Man!” as a manifestation of American Manifest Destiny. And how an entire generation of privileged young men heeded that call, to turn frontiersmen in Mindanao. It was a national summoning up of the will to undertake something totally alien to us now: nation-building.

Along with that unrecoverable urge to consciously contribute to the building of a new nation, was something else completely unrecognizable to any Filipino except those who, perhaps, arrive to see Mindanao’s vast open plains and rolling landscape for the first time- the sense of vast, empty spaces, of a wilderness that so many at the time, not only Filipinos but say, the Japanese who colonized Davao and established ramie plantations in the 1930s, saw as practically begging for settlement.It is no coincidence, I think, that the basic infrastructure of Mindanao was laid down, from bridges to roads to ports, airports and even cities like this very city, GenSan, in the period from 1935 to 1960.

It is no coincidence that at this time the integration of the Moros into our national politics was accomplished, beginning with the writers of the 1935 Constitution taking into account the views of the traditional Moro ruling families for a kind of limited democracy in their domains: the Sultan sa Ramain pleaded for their traditional notions of authority to be respected, which was bitterly opposed by Christian politicians like , who wanted a general plebiscite in the area; the irony is that this is used, today, to promote the fiction that Moros somehow were not a party to, the formation of the present-day Philippine state.They were. And they even fought for that nation as the guerrilla movement in the Moro areas during the Japanese Occupation shows.

But the sad truth was the experiment in political integration began to show its limitations early on, the chief symptom being the 1949 elections that first put forward the concept of the birds and the bees, the flowers and the trees, not to mention the dead, voting in places like Lanao: that election gave birth to the term “lutong macao.” It’s latest manifestation was the controversial results of the senatorial race in these same areas last year.

The next quarter century, 1960-1985 was supposed to be the coming of age of Mindanao and indeed, it began well with the election of Emmanuel Pelaez as Vice-President of the Philippines in 1961.But that opportunity, instead was squandered: murder and mayhem afflicted Christians and Muslims both; the late 60s, much of the 1970s, a great deal of the 80s, was spent with the shadow of military conscription hanging ominously on young Filipinos wherever they were. Instead of coming into its own, Mindanao descended into chaos: Climaco being gunned down, showing no self-respecting Christian leader could flourish on one hand, Mohammed Ali Dimaporo being the new breed of buccaneering Moro politico on the other. The AFP riding roughshod over everyone, Christian and Muslim alike, the heroism of individual soldiers tarnished by the barbarity of some our commanders.

The biggest casualty of all was the notion of a society and a country where all ethnicities could coexist in peaceful co-habitation.

My experience of Mindanao began in the late 80s and to the 1990s with close friends from Davao, who themselves had been sent to Manila by anxious parents worried over the violence in their city; and so it was as much through their eyes as through my own, that I discovered the optimism of Mindanao in the 1990s, when, finally, peace seemed to have returned, prosperity was nigh; there was something dizzyingly excioting about winding one’s way from Davao to GenSan in the early 1990s, at a time when the policy of the national government was both to maximize the benefits of the Moros splintering over ideology while maintaining the peace. Cielito Habito claims that Ramos entered office to see 6% of the national budget devoted to Mindanao and raised that percentage to 33%; but that the ratio has once more settled at 6% for Mindanao. Maybe what he told me was self-serving; I do remember the optimism of this city and it seemed, all of Mindanao at that time.But it was not to last.

Turning a blind eye to the MILF’s growing strength however had its limits as war re-erupted during the Estrada years, to great national acclaim. Peace was then restored and a brittle one maintained until the current president pulled the BJE-MOA seemingly out of thin air, causing national panic and possibly setting back the cause of peace by another generation.

I’d ask you to read Herbert Docena’s Towards a memorandum for self-determination which lays down the case for a divorce of Moros from the Philippine body politic. Together with the writings of a Mindanawon historian, Patricio Abinales (see his Re-constructing Colonial Philippines: 1900-1910) and Zainudin S. Malang’s Examining the Nexus Between Philippine Constitutionalism and the Mindanao Conflict, the increasing intellectual vigor -compared to the increasing cluelessness and ignorance of their Christian counterparts condemned to living in a perpetual present by our crumbling educational system- points to two problems, side-by-side and overlapping from time to time.


There is Southern, Moro Mindanao, with its twin problems of the failure of its own ethnic leadership and the cunning ability of non-Moros to make chumps of the Moros, on one hand, and the identity of Northern Mindanao, Christian, also suffering from misgovernance on both the local and national level, on the other. The former is an ethnic problem with religious characteristics; the second, the problem of old frontier towns wrestling with the problems of the frontiers finally being closed yet the institutions for stability not yet being fully in place.

The old -for the aspirations of Moros as articulated by its more radical intellectuals, leaders, and Christian sympathizers, derive their legitimacy from a particular assertion of antiquity- ever clashes with the new -the rambunctious impatience of the frontiersmen and women of Christian Mindanao.And government finds itself increasingly catering only to the professional political classes while ritually proclaiming they derive legitimacy from the consent of the governed -who are both liability and asset to these political classes, whether Moro or Christian.

Since while essentially undemocratic, our leadership has to go through the motions of deriving consent from the governed, the energies of our governors is increasingly diverted towards creating more manageable -whether by guns, gold, or goons- political real estate, regardless of where the true, rational, developmental interests of the population lies. Both Christian and Moro political leaders have increasingly carved up Mindanao into small, often bizarrely-shaped provinces, for the purpose of gerrymandering: political convenience camouflaged by shallow excuses that it’s for democracy or development.This increases the vested interests of our leaders in maintaining the status quo at all costs, regardless of the costs in opportunity to the electorate that, by increasingly being fragmented, increasingly becomes powerless. And yet that electorate comprises a culture old enough to have well- if broadly-defined, political characteristics.

Let me propose that most Filipinos are patriots but not nationalists, and that generations of intellectuals from Rizal onwards have been suspicious of patriotism and more interested in instilling nationalism – hence the obsession of the latter and the leaders they influence with both the rights and obligations of citizenship (“active citizenship”) , while most citizens themselves are interested only in rights, hardly ever on obligations, and roused only when rights are trampled (we can call it “reactive citizenship”).

So intellectual and political writers have been exploring, slicing, dicing, dissecting in every which way, the question of Mindanao, including the theoretical pros and cons of according Moro areas either Commonwealth status or outright independence; while it took one simple question -BJE-MOA, yea or nay?- to lead Filipinos in Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao to erupt in alarm and indignation: “is the President giving away our national territory?” What the pundits had analyzed to death over decades was reduced to a simple slogan -“Sellout!” pithy yet ferocious yet representing everything, in a word, the public feared and cared about. And by public I include significant portions of the Moro population, too.

I believe there is more that unites us than divides us. The slogan “sellout!” that greeted the BJE-MOA deal had at its core the belief that officialdom couldn’t be trusted to keep the interests of constituencies at heart; dig deep enough, and it is a suspicion and resentment that burns brightly in the hearts of many Moros, too. Yet theirs is a resentment different from those of their Christian fellow citizens, in that they are better able to articulate a past than their Christian peers. The provenance of that past is a separate question neither relevant nor the proper place to delve into here.

There is, though, a danger in bringing up the past, and that is: not only whose past, but how far back do you want to go? From Butuan, the riches of our ancestors have been dug up and there is a point where the Hindu golden artifacts of our ancient ruling classes gave way to golden artifacts of an Islamic nature; so why not Shrivijayan supremacists and not just Muslim supremacists, since it can be argued either by extermination, intermarriage, or conquest, the sultans and datus of old shifted from Hinduism to Islam just as one day some of them would shift from Islam to Christianity -but the essential difference between today’s Moro royalty and yesterday’s principalia, with many descendants still populating our political elite-Or do we look forward, and not back to the past; do we celebrate the supposed vulgarity and genuine frontier spirit of Mindanao -both Muslim and Christian- as more fully expressive of the wanderlust and entrepreneurial spirit of our common ancestors?

The Ilonggo, Cebuano, Capampangan, Tagalog and Ilocano migrant to Davao and General Santos City has more in common with the Moro merchants who have built flourishing ferry companies between San Carlos City in Negros and Toledo City in Cebu, and who supply the country with pearls, gemstones and dibidi, dibidi.

All -Christian and Moro- have shown disatisfaction with the latter-day sultans and datus called presidents, senators, congressmen, governors, mayors and councilors in their home towns, and have packed up and pitched camp elsewhere, bringing with them, in a sense, freedom: freedom from old loyalties, from the old obediences that made us a submissive people.

Your so-called Imperial Manila has not been, as Nick Joaquin, an authentic Manileno pointed out, a Tagalog City since after World War II; it’s no isolated bit of trivia that its first elected mayor, Arsenio Lacson, was an Ilonggo. I do not dispute, as the Chinese saying so eloquently puts it, that “The mountain is high, and the emperor so far away,” but let us get to the true meaning of this saying, which I suggest is at the heart of the issue of an Imperial Manila. As Martin Wolf wrote,

“The mountains are high and the emperor is far away.” This well-known saying captures what so often happened. When the emperor was weak, it became difficult to reach decisions. Officials looked after themselves and their families. Infirmity of purpose, corruption and an inability to protect the empire itself ensued. Sooner or later the dynasty fell, to be replaced by another, often after a period of chaos.

Christian and Muslim alike, we are living in a period of chaos. Crumbling infrastructure, a galloping population growth rate, a grasping political class increasingly alienated from the electorate whose opinions can be discounted: all are signs of a decadent not just political, but national, culture. If that culture persists, then I do agree that its inevitable consequence will be a divorce between Moros and their Christian kin, as Docena points out:

Supposing the Moros do succeed in getting greater self-rule, how the Moros will govern themselves is to be a continuing contest among Moros: it could well be that the rich and landed Moros, many of them already with the MILF, will only be replacing — or conniving with — current Filipino rulers in oppressing the Moro people. But just as Filipinos — to quote former Philippine President Manuel Quezon — should be able to choose “a government run like a hell by Filipinos than a government run like heaven by the Americans,” so should the Moros.

We will ever prefer our native corruption to foreign claims to superior government; else we would, as many Filipinos have, simply pack up and leave if what we truly prefer is to exchange native for migrant status.Yet preference for native filth is different from actually wanting to wallow in that filth.

We would, all of us, prefer cleanliness to being dirty.So how do we make our political surroundings more sanitary? Is there a solution?Perhaps, but the most difficult to accomplish, for it it is one based on attitude.

Only a combination of secularism -knowing there are Christians and Moslems both interested in the equality promised by a secular state, and who oppose the shackles of theocracy in any form- and also, embracing the opportunities brought about by the waning of what I like to call the Old Obediences enforced by church, club, and school, the old institutions that instilled the old values of a far smaller and pre-colonial Philippines- can bring us forward and end the strife of the past.If we are left with what we have now, and what we have had even before the coming of European colonizers, a society where each person was expected to know their place, and where the mores of ancient days remained a heavy weight on everyone’s shoulders, then we will only have what we have always had: internal migration, internal escape from one province to another, so that Cebu and the rest of the Visayas sends its migrant workers to Manila, and international migration.

Again what unites us, Moro and Christian alike, Mindanawon, Bisaya, and whatever ethnicity you come from in Luzon, is the desire to escape: escaping the choking and uninspiring realities of the local in pursuit of national and international self-fulfillment. Which is why the insistence on autonomy, when articulated by professional politicians, inspires misgivings in me, because it seems merely gerrymandering writ large.But the latter day sultans and datus, even as they war against each other as their ancestors warred against each other, will firmly remain in control so long as a Mindanowon can say to someone from Luzon, you are an outsider; it is the local that strangles the viability of the national, it is the local that has imprisoned the national.

A national orientation built on the fundamental premise that it was a search for individual prosperity that brought people to this part of the planet in the first place, is itself the only escape from the feudal ties that bind.

Everything new has its limits, of course, as does everything national: the Senate, on the whole, has produced more statesmen than the purely local House of Representative with its scions of bandit chiefs- but it, too, is degenerating into a not-too-bright collection of celebrities; yet it is better than the House, up to now; and all that the bandit chiefs can propose is the Senate’s abolition, which is literally cutting off the pointed nose to spite the sour face. Which survey was it, that had Mindanawons preferring the abolition of the House to the abolition of the Senate? There lies true wisdom and an appreciation of what truly ails this country.


You see, something has happened over the past 25 years that the policy-makers and the politicians and even media,I think, haven’t quite grasped. Just as the “Sold North,” the solid Ilocano ethnic voting bloc long an influential part of our politics withered away and vanished, so, too, has the ethnic isolation of provinces and regions begun to disappear.

I am sure many of you know many examples: Aurora Province is increasingly Ilocano and not Tagalog, Quezon Province is increasingly Bicolano and Batangueno, to give two examples closer to home, for me; Manila is Bisaya, and everywhere, from Cebu to Manila to Dagupan City in Pangasinan to Baguio, there are Moro enclaves where generations of locals only heard of Moros in fables.

Purity is the last refuge of bigots, chauvinists, and supremacists of every kind; the hybrid on the other hand is the survivor, the true champion in the game of life. The increasing reality of our nationhood is seen in GenSan and throughout Mindanao: the products of mixed marriages, multilingual, multiethnic, who are creating new cultures based on commingling of their parents’ cultures.

These are the people whose enterprise endures and transcends the best and worst that the inbred and degenerate dregs of our ancient cultures can dish out: the gerrymandering, warlordism, feudalism, transactional politicking and freebooting that unites the Moro and Christian political professionals -including the professional rebels who look to Allah, or Marx for guidance, who are in cahoots with those classes.

Mindanao taught me two basic things. First, a positive attitude is much more attractive, because creative and not destructive, than a negative one. Second, that the new is to be embraced, though a reverence for the best aspects of the old never discarded.

Set aside the idealogues, and in truth, the solutions have been mapped out and put in place here, in Mindanao, just as they have been in many parts of the Visayas, in Bicol, in Ilocandia and other places in Luzon. If only our leaders both in and out of power would listen -and perhaps, leave well enough alone.

Well, they won’t, not unless you tell them to; and as it was for Rizal, so it is for you: divide-and-conquer will triumph over you, unless and until you come to the conclusion as his generation did, that there is more than unites us, than can possibly divide us; and that in finding common cause lies the path to a simple but wonderful reality to which we should all aspire.

You and I should be free, to look for prosperity, and find self-fulfillment, wherever and whenever we can, unbound and unlimited by notions of religion, ethnicity, and why not, even citizenship. You should be able to find true love, as many, including surely many of your parents did, never mind if one is Tagalog and the other Tausug, or one is Cebuano and the other Ilonggo, one is Christian, the other Moslem, whether once born in Pampanga and now living in Cagayan de Oro.

If the Filipino family is both the bulwark of our civilization and in many ways, circumscribes that civilization, why can’t we see what is all around us? A truly Filipino family, one that incorporates the best of our various ethnicities, yet not bound by the limits of dogma, one that finds comfort, success, and contentment, irrespective of where one’s ancestors first saw the light of day.

Manuel L. Quezon III.

28 thoughts on “Looking South: Are there really “outsiders” in the Mindanao issue?

  1. Bravo! Yours is a compelling message rooted in our history and changing demography. It’s a pity you could not deliver the above to the blogger’s summit.

  2. you are calling the overwhelming majority in mindanao ‘outsiders’, only because you, a real outsider, want to have a say on the issue. mindanaoans in conflict areas are directly affected by the events that happen. christians and muslims alike, see death and destruction with their own eyes, felt the loss of loved ones, feel prejudice and alienation. can you say that, like them, you are an insider?

    even if you are correct in your observations of demography in other parts of the country, you didn’t mention that armm is 90 percent muslim, the area where demography really matters. i’m sure you wouldn’t have trouble living in tagum, davao del norte. but can you say the same thing about marawi? you don’t think twice about passing by pampanga, but can you pass by lanao del sur without trepidation? no, moroland is not like the other parts of the country.

    we all want peace, but it shouldn’t be a goal. and it’s not peace you will get if it’s dictated by outsiders.

  3. There is a tinge of elitism in these words from mlq3 — it is the local that strangles the viability of the national, it is the local that has imprisoned the national.

    The imagery is that the locals are probinsiyanos who do not have what the outsiders have —- a knowledge-base and a more nuanced understanding of how to move a country (or a region) forward. Except it is also true, and the locals have a responsibility to protect their region against this — some bagong-salta outsiders are just plain-vanilla carpetbaggers (Canadian mining companies, anyone????) and do not care that much about moving a community forward. And what is more likely is that while they are opinionated, some of outsiders are actually uninformed (e.g. about important local issues like the environment).

    Dialogue, anyone ???

    The action-item is that the locals and the outsiders have to vet each other. There has to be dialogue, rational co-existence all under the purview of the rights and obligations that they share in common ( e.g. the freedom of association and the obligation to respect the other person’s religious beliefs ).

  4. There is a tinge of elitism in these words from mlq3 — it is the local that strangles the viability of the national, it is the local that has imprisoned the national.

    The imagery is that the locals are probinsiyanos who do not have what the outsiders have —- a knowledge-base and a more nuanced understanding of how to move a country (or a region) forward. Except it is also true, and the locals have a responsibility to protect their region against this — some bagong-salta outsiders are just plain-vanilla carpetbaggers (Canadian mining companies, anyone????) and do not care that much about moving a community forward. And what is more likely is that while they are opinionated, some of outsiders are actually uninformed (e.g. about important local issues like the environment).

    Dialogue, anyone ??? [And how can I have dialogue with you when you are burning my village???]

    The action-item is that the locals and the outsiders have to vet each other. There has to be dialogue, rational co-existence all under the purview of the rights and obligations that they share in common ( e.g. the freedom of association and the obligation to respect the other person’s religious beliefs ).

  5. UpN, I’m referring to a precise kind of local: you will notice my focus on localities increasingly *artificially* shrinking because of gerrymandering. that is a manufactured locality because created for the political benefit of the ruling families of the area.

    mindanawon, again, if the insistence is on the primacy of the local experience -and no one contests that those who experience the brunt of the fighting have the greatest right to insist on outsiders not screwing up their lives- then it will be a dog eat dog every person for herself world. it’s like solving crime by raising higher and higher fences when a community effort is required and sooner or later a community will have to work with its neighboring community and so on until you end up with the largest unit, the national community.

    i don’t understand your assertion that peace cannot be a goal. should it be approached as a dividend of something else, say development?

  6. mlq3, but why would an insistence of the primacy of the “national” perspective of bureaucrats in manila, be better than local experience? wasn’t it cory aquino from tarlac, who plucked misuari from obscurity to annoy us once again with his shenanigans, when he was all but forgotten by mindanaoans? wasn’t it marcos from ilocos, who allowed western mindanao to be part of a muslim autonomous region? who can forget the time when you have to be muslim to head a muslim-staffed government office, in a region that is predominantly christian?

    and how many times did ‘ceasefire’ orders from manila saved the rebels from near annihilation?

    our local leaders would not have allowed that.

  7. mindanaoan, i am pointing to the limits of local experience in solving what is a national problem: the failure of national leaders to resolve things affects the locality in question primarily but elsewhere, too, making it everyone’s problem, e.g. rizal day bombing. i am pointing out the concerns that various localities can have in common and if they work together they will create a constituency to resolve problems instead of one step forward two steps back which is what is happening with the tug of war on the government from various atomized constituencies.

    if misuari hadn’t been brought back, someone else would have taken his place: his squandering the opportunities given the moros under the massive shift in orientation that happened since 1986 -the abandonment of unitary government at all costs, the recognition of autonomy for the cordilleras and the moros- and which cannot be reversed. as you pointed out the problem is presidents cant make up their mind -because they cant summon the political will- to resolve things one way or another, hostaged as they are by various local groups whether it be radical moros or the only good moro is a dead moro christian types. there is no great middle to help lay out the path for a lasting peace. meanwhile, the localities’ leaders simpyl carve things up regardless of what their constituents really want, which is more progress and less old style warlordism.

    brian, in theory, yes, increasingly in principle, as the leaders have defined it, no. there are various models but the worst possible kinds of models are being proposed by the leaders. in which case, the general public indifference if not hostility to what might otherwise be an interesting reform shows that the time isn’t ripe, because things are too confused. so there are other reforms that can be tried that are less potentially messy.

  8. But Manolo, when you say in theory do you include the Philippine situation in that theory? I’m gonna answer my own question and say No, it totally ignores the Philippine situation now and in the forseeable future.

  9. mlq3, islamic radicalism is a global problam, not just a national problem. didn’t you remember who the perpetrators of the rizal day bombings were? please don’t mix up moro autonomy and radical islam. on the other hand, that argument will make us all insiders, rather than your assertions that most in mindanao are outsiders.

    yes, indeed, there are limits to local experience. but why does it seem to be not a factor at all when the national leadership deal with this moro problem? why don’t local experience make us insiders?

    about peace. only the muslims, who stand to gain on any peace deal, and peace advocates who want to feel important are interested on peace deals. what can it do to ordinary christians except make them second class citizens on moro territory?

  10. the history of United Kingdom is not far from of today the mindanao situation; the UK is composed of 3 kingdoms: great britain for british, scothland for scotish and nothern ireland for the irish. This 3 kingdoms before unification also waging war specially the british monarch in order to control the whole island/archipelago and be superior race against scotish & irish. The war last for hundreds of years and kills millions of people spent millions/billions of royal wealth. But british royalty wont control/ cede those tribes/kingdoms because those people believed that they are not british but scotish/irish they have diffrent political system, culture, tradition, faith, language, identity and custom. Great britain become powerfull & one of the richiest country of the world today, one of the peacefull and safest to live on. I believed that will happen to mindanao one day, the visayas and the luzon as well. y not luzon & visayas people free lumad & moros and lumad & moros will set free the visayas & luzon too and after all for political social & economic advantage to south east asia or in the world unite as union not federation. federalism is not a soulution it will devide lumad, moro, visayans and luzon people. Freedom & Prosperity to All of Us. Mabuhay!

  11. This is not true — only the muslims, who stand to gain on any peace deal, and peace advocates who want to feel important are interested on peace deals.

    There are travelling salesmen who want to go into and sell in the various communities, except for the law-and-order situation. There are proselytizers / soul-savers and they’d go into these communities, except for the law-and-order situation. There are NGO’s for children inoculation or anti-malaria campaigns… except for the bullets likely to fly.

  12. brian, in theory, yes, because i do believe the historical window of opportunity for building a strong unitary state has passed. that window existed from the 30s to the 60s. since the 70s we’ve had to adapt to the idea of autonomy and multiculturalism, and you cannot bring back the rigid confines of the past: that rigidity, had it been properly accomplished, would have established the stability for a gradual freeing up of things. but it never was and the over-rigidity of the martial law years has put any sort of unitary strong state almost irredeemably in disrepute, whether fairly or not.

    so in local administration, language, culture, religion, sex, etc. multiculturalism, unity in diversity however untidy it seems to some, is the only way to go. problem is the work of the past remains unfinished and in many ways without it, the rational relaxation of the old unitary state’s limitations on everyone and everything actually can’t take place.

  13. UP n, like i said, we all want peace. you are confusing peace and peace deal. where were your travelling salesmen after the government signed a peace deal with misuari?

  14. mindanaoan: I am left with the impression that you are against the current BJE-Ad peace deal and all the forms of Mindanao-peace-deals that you have seen to date, but you will be in favor of a version of a peace deal that brings you wealth. And for a brief while as you defended the insiders, I thought you were saying “listen to the thoughts of Mindanao residents” like you (versus Luzon residents like mlq3).

    My mistake to have missed for a brief while that the “insiders” are splintered. There are Mindanao residents who favor Bangsamoro autonomy, Mindanao residents who favor all-out-war against the MILF, and Mindanao residents of the “… why can’t we just get along and in particular allow Mormons to proselytize the Filipinos”, etcetera.

    Which brings me to the thought I alluded to earlier —- dialogue. And I still say the current version of Philippine Constitution is a force for peaceful co-existence.

    By the way (… to mlq3) is ‘unitary” a code-word for some things?

  15. to mindanaoan: what are your metrics for a good peace deal? Does it include the number of missionaries allowed to roam freely in Muslim territory? Do you use miles of paved roads built after the deal is signed?

    As for Misuari, one metric that says that the deal with him has been good (for Luzon, at least) —- to repeat, one metric (out of six or ten other metrics) —- is that MNLF soldiers (in platoon-size or larger units) have not marched against GRP outposts. It can even be argued (because a few Moros do feel that Misuari has failed them) that the peace-deal with Misuari was “equal-opportunity” and was not a sellout by Christians to Moros.

    Going to “metrics” allows the outsiders (with their metrics) to talk to insider-group-A (with their metrics) and insider-group-B (with their metrics) to identify points of commonality. MLQ3 expresses the sentiment about …there is more that unites us than divides us. If the sub-groups express with measurable items —- infrastructure, live-births-per-thousand, percent-students-in-school, percent-innoculation, which group or groups has first-line police powers and what the oversights are— then the sentiment (pro- or con) about community and overlapping interests may prove true.

  16. Colonial centralism to an ersatz semi-nation that is now breaking apart because of the failure of the ersatz semi-nation to nationalize the tribes.

    Under a disguised feudal monarchy we have economic models based on the prevailing royal family in charge of the country.

    The present Big Mike and GMA economic model of raping the country will give way eventually to another family group to do the same.

    Reverting to the reality is when the different clans or family groups realize that they can establish their own powerful independent fiefdoms.

    We are a more evolved Afghanistan.

    Using religious fundamentalism or Marxism is a dangerous road. But it serves a useful tool for some to organize the ignorant.

    Using Smith or Marx as a prism is useful in trying to determine the economic base of societal development.

    That is where one can see the utter incompetency of almost all governments with this present one trying to compete with the disaster that was Marcos. Big Mike and GMA are finishing off what Marcos started, the almost total dismemberment of the ersatz semi-state.

  17. UP n grad, there should be no peace deal with the rebels. they are no match against our military, so why do we need a peace deal? on the other hand, given the strong religious and cultural identity of the moros, they should be allowed their wish for autonomy, and given their economic underdevelopment, they should be given the best economic help the national government can give. but everything should be fair and acceptable to the christian majority who have to live with the natural friction between cultural groups.

  18. Mindanao native people fighting for the land, freedom and justice. The war in mindanao is not about religion / islam against christian or vise versa. The war in mindanao is like filipino people fighting for independence & freedom against spain and american because filipinos before like jose rizal and andres bonifacio believed that they are not spanish nor american and believed that filipinas sland belong to filipino people. It is the same to native mindanao people mindanao belong to them not for filipinos.

  19. Are there really “outsiders” in the Mindanao conflict?

    Depends. If “outsider” means an insider refusing to be intimidated by the real insider then whoever is thrown out is the real outsider.

  20. A Muslim state? Why not make the rest Christian? Or at least one or two? Any theocratic state is a rotten tomato! Or any other state under the proposed federalism for that matter.

    An unwieldy bureaucracy called states hovering over the shoulders of LGU’s is worse than Imperial Manila. As if the mere process of setting up the structure alone is not messy enough!

    Of course the present set-up is a mess. But Congress could clear it up if it chooses to. Or if forced or pressured. Fiscal federalism, not necessarily the 20-80 formula dangled by Senator Nene Pimentel, is allowable under the present charter.

    Anyway, devolution of wealth and power is an issue larger than Gloria and all her scams put together. The least we can do is subject it to a debate, As we do in fedecentralize.

  21. Don’t forget that there are outsider-outsiders who are interested in what happens in Mindanao AND also wield extra-ordinary influence. These outsiders are foreigners, the list will include:
    1. JI and bin Laden caliphate movement;
    2. Malaysia — monitoring team; “others teams”
    3. Saudi Arabia — Wahhabism
    4. Syria – Sunni
    5. Utah — Mormons
    6. USA-wide evangelicals
    7. Vatican
    8. USA — special forces
    9. USA — diplomatic initiatives
    10. Mainland China — businesses interested in farms
    11. Canadian interests — mining
    12. United Nations

    A couple of the outsiders have big wallets AND are very much pro-theocracy.


  23. No people, or nation, is perfect, the flaws are scattered around, everywhere.

    Bashing oneself on the head is a pervert act, a masochistic and sadistic behaviour.

    The Philippines has its murks and its gems, it’s for us whether we want to look at the gems, or the murks.

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