dismaying discourse on mindanao

nakakadismaya ang pinoy blogosphere discourse on mindanao and the muslim struggle for self-determination. no sympathy for the muslims at all. mostly the attitude is, who are they to dictate on the government, they are only a minority, and mostly bloody insurgents and brutal bandits at that.

it’s a triumph of mainstream media, of course, which has succeeded, wittingly or un-, in painting muslim filipinos as “enemies of the state.”

check out cris m. gaerlan jr.’s paper on the role of media in the mindanao war and turning the moro peoples into internal refugees, read in a bangkok conference at the height of the estrada administration’s all-out-war in mindanao:

Reporters and cameramen are now always at the front lines of almost every military offensive in Mindanao. Even a news blackout that had been arbitrarily declared during the height of the hostage crisis in Jolo did not deter the them from bringing the news out to the rest of the country and the world. But what news does the media bring?

Unwittingly or otherwise, the media has contributed to the creation of a myth – the myth that presents Muslims as enemies of the state. Media is now playing a great role in widening the divide between Muslims and their own country, projecting the conflict as a religious war, good versus evil, Christian against Muslim, the government versus forces wanted to establish an Independent Mndanao Islamic state. AS MASS MEDIA REPORTS ON THE PRESENT SITUATION, IT IGNORES THE HISTORICAL CONTEXT OF THE MINDANAO CONFLICT, TO THE POINT OF INFLUENCING PUBLIC OPINION AND CONDONING, IF NOT ACTUALLY ENCOURAGING, ACTS OF CULTURAL VIOLENCE AGAINST THE MUSLIM PEOPLE. [caps mine]

The extensive media coverage of the “victory” of the Philippine Armed Forces in Camp Abubakhar further instills in people’s minds that “war is the only solution” to the problem in Mindanao. And hunting down suspected terrorist and not surprisingly only Muslims are arrested with out warrants. And should the people wonder?

…mass mediahas caused the public to equate the word “Muslim” with “bandit”, “kidnapper” “terrorist”, and “murderer,” portraying Muslims as a barbaric people. Mass media has reduced the followers of Islam to a people bent on overthrowing the government, and that these enemies of the state deserve this mutated form of ethnic cleansing.”

it’s all terribly unfair to the muslims. had i been born muslim, given the history and the grinding poverty, i would surely be part of a nonviolent struggle for bangsamoro self-determination and a better life. and i might also hate manila, and america, with a vengeance.


  1. I think you need to study the history of Mindanao more. Because the ironic thing is, the Bangsamoro are better of with “us” than with “them”. How many plebiscites do you need to see that even the Bangsamoro don’t want to return to the “sacred inequality” of the old dispensation, a “golden age” actually based on a political economy of human trafficking and slavery. Hate for America was something Constantino and Joma and Nur Misuari convinced our generation about. Know why ALL Visayans are Catholics. It’s because that was preferable to their ancestors than to be carried off in one of the annual slave raids and be sold into slavery in Borneo or the Moluccas, or to become a part of some rajah’s harem. I used to think like you, Angela. But please, really, study the real history of Mindanao. I know you’ll see it with fresh eyes, and not blindly accept the received wisdom of political correctness.

  2. the bangsamoro may be better off with “us” than with “them” but only under a truly autonomous arrangement, given the great social-cultural-religious divide between islam and christianity.

    and no, djb, what convinced me about america was not constantino joma nur but reading any version of the filipino-american war and philippine post-wwII politics, along with my lola’s memoirs.

  3. hahaha! yeah, o hinde! . . . but i wouldn’t be surprised if nemenzo is right, given that muslims have been leaving mindanao in droves looking for a better life somewhere at kung saansaan napapadpad.