Silence does not give us Peace

Letters To Mindanao condemn the merciless murder of Cris Bual, land acquisition superindentent of Sagittarius Mines, Inc. who was killed on Friday, 16 September 2011 in Davao City.

The senseless act of taking another person’s life is never ever acceptable- for whatever reason except by legitimate authority and based on a judicial decision of a duly constituted authority.

Violence in any form should be condemned. Barbarism has no place in a civilized society, not in Asia’s most livable city most especially. I am however appalled by the silence from almost all fronts of civil society. No one seems to care anymore. Have we been desensitized by gruesome murders that we are no longer affected when another gunman hits a helpless victim? Is it already an acceptable thing to die violently in front of your own backyard, some few meters away from your family, and in full view of your spouse? If not, then why are you not making any noise? It is one thing to mourn because someone had died. It is another thing to be indignant in mourning because someone was subjected to a violent and senseless death.

In the end, we the living are the ultimate victims. Anyone of us can be the next target. Anyone of us can be gunned down. Anyone can just take our life, and walk away like nothing has happened- without remorse, without conscience. I know because my family had been there. The gunman just walked away, just like  that, as Cris’ gunman did, when my father was shot dead, in broad daylight. In Mindanao.

Silence does not give us peace. It emboldens the evil. It creates a murderous world. It breeds impunity.

Once you’ve been struck by violence, you acquire companions that never leave you entirely: Suspicion, Fear, Anxiety, Despair, Joylessness. The natural smile is taken from you and the natural pleasures you once enjoyed lose their appeal. The citywas ruined…and he would leave it soon. Only, where would they settle now? Where would they find happiness? Where would he feel safe?

Beatrice and Virgil by Yann Martel, 2010

Condemn the killings. Make noise so that the law enforcers can hear us and will have sleepless nights solving all crimes. Make noise so loud that it can turn the wheels of Justice. Or loud  enough that the perpetrator may be bothered by his conscience. Break the silence so that the mastermind will not feel victorious.

Make noise that our leaders may finally find it in their hearts to listen and protect its people.

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Ang Mapusok at Maanghang na Cotabateno

Thanks to Hannah Corpuz for sharing this article to Letters to Mindanao.  Loosely translated as The Reckless and Fiery Cotabateno, she writes about how growing up in Cotabato City has made her typically cocky, adventurous, domineering and loud to a fault. 

True enough, we grew up in Cotabato amidst the backdrop of unrelenting kidnappings, extrajudicial killings, indiscriminate bombings, gang wars cum clan wars, and really dirty politicking.  But surprisingly, we survived all these as many others who have stayed in the city, seemingly unscathed physically but jaded and desensitized in our collective psyche.

Read through and understand how soul food like the spicy Sinina, a local Maguindanaoan favorite has made Cotabatenos cope with a life that is “nasty, brutish and short”.

Ang Lungsod ng Cotabato ay isa sa mga sinasabing high security risk na lugar sa buong Pilipinas. Normal dito ang makasalubong ng checkpoint, military base camp, o maya’t maya makakita ng high-powered fire arms na nakasugbit sa mga balikat ng mga sundalo at private army na kadalasan nama’y bitbit ng mga politiko. Madalas naisasalarawang matapang at matigas ang mga taga rito.

Madalas din napapagtawanan ang punto ng mga Cotabateno. Kasing tigas daw ng bala ang salita na kahit matagal nang babad sa tagalog Maynila ay ipinipilit pa rin ang pananalita nya. Ito kasi ang melting pot sa Kalagitnaang Mindanao kung kaya’t ang salita ay bagamat Tagalog, hinahaluan ng mga salitang Cebuano at Ilonggo sinamahan pa ng matigas na punto ng Bisayang Davao at Maguindanaoaon. Lumabas na kakaiba ang tunog ng mga salita na sadyang sa Cotabato lang naririnig — matigas at malakas.

Ngunit, kahit anong tapang ng dating ng mga tao rito ay sya rin namang hilig nya sa pagkain. Dito makikita ang pinagmamalaking sugpong malalaki at matatamis, bagong huling mga isda at alimangong mas marami ang taba kaysa sa laman. Nilalagyan ng gata at sili ang mga ito para labis ang gana ng lahat kumain. Dahil sa kakulangan ng mga mapasyalan lugar, sa mga hapag kainan dinadala ng bawat isa ang pagkahilig nya sa good food at the good life.

Malimit na nauugnay ang anghang at gata sa pagkaing ng Bicolandia. Lingid sa kaalaman ng nga taga-Luzon na sa kanayunan ng Gitnaang Mindanao at sa Lungsod ng Cotabato ay sagana sa punong niyog.  Ang mga taga Cotabato ay may angking hilig din sa sili. Marahil dahil na rin sa matinding pagkagusto ng Cotabateno sa anghang kaya’t nilalarawang mapusok ang damdamin ng mga taga rito.

Nananatiling negatibo ang imahe ng aking mahal na lupang sinilangan kahit sa mga kapwa nyang Pilipino. Nung isang araw lang, tinanong ako ng taxi driver kung anong probinsya ko. Cotabato po, sagot ko.  Magulo sa inyo, deklara nya.  Tinanong ako kung Muslim ako at kung ilang beses binobomba ang lungsod. Gusto ko mang sabihin na hindi nagtitinikling sa bala ang mga tao roon, ako’y ngumiti na lang.

Negatibo man ang tingin nila, hinding hindi ko kinakahiyang maanghang ang kinakain ko at mapusok ang damdamin ko dahil ako’y isang Cotabateno.

Sininang Kambing
Lutong Cotabateno

Mga Sangkap:

Kalahating Kilong Kambing
Nahalong palapa (pinatuyong niyog na
may halong pinatuyong sili. Ito’y nabibili
sa mga palengke ng Cotabato at karatig
na bayan)
Kalawag o Luyang Dilaw
Gata
Tanglad
Siling Haba
Asin (naayon sa panlasa)

Sa isang lalagyan, haluin ang kalahating palapa sa kambing.
Gisahin ang kalawag, tanglad at natitirang kalahating palapa sa kawali upang palabasin ang lasa at aroma nito.
Ilagay ang hinalong kambing at palapa.
Sa malakas na apoy, haluin sa kawali ng isang minuto.
Ilagay ang gata at pakuluin.
Hinaan ang apoy kapag kumulo.
Lagyan ng asin at siling haba naayon sa panlasa.
Malakalipas ang 15-20 minuto, lalabas
ang langis ng katas ng gata. Luto na ito.

Tandaan: Mas masarap ang pagkaing hinaluan ng pagmamahal.

Follow Hannah in Twitter @AkoToSiPhoebeC

Ramadan Reflections

It is with great interest that I’ve observed how Filipinos have come to accept that this country is multi-ethnic and multi-cultural and that the name Filipino does not anymore mean Tagalog or Manilenyo or Kristyano.  

ramadan reflection 2

Thanks to the long and hard efforts of those people who have struggled to increase our level of cultural sensitivity that we now learn to accept each of our culture’s peculiarities.  It won’t be long before we can live peacefully and without malice or prejudice with our neigbor’s differences.

Sadly, there are still few unenlightened souls who have been left out to continue living their lives in the Medieval period, and they are the real barbarians in today’s postmodern society.  They are not aware that the cultural divide between Christians and non-Christians, the Manilenyo and probinsyano, the Tagalog and the Bisaya have been torn open.  Whether the tear is narrow or wide, it does not matter, as long as we consciously make it our own individual responsibility to keep it open for the rest of our lives.  As long as we respect ourselves and other people, we can all live in peace and harmony. 

Ramadan Manila

This is my reflection on the ocassion of the celebration of the holy month of Ramadan by our Islamic brethrens.  On my way to work last week, I noticed streamers along Sucat Road in Parañaque and Roxas Boulevard in Manila that thoughtfully convey messages of solidarity in the celebration of the Ramadan.  Only in 2001 and for the first time in our nation’s history, the government has included Eid-Al Fitr (or day commemorating the end of Ramadan) as a national public holiday although PGMA did not send any official message in this year’s Ramadan, in stark contrast to US President’s Barack Obama’s powerful unity message to all Islamic nations.        

Ramadan Paranaque

These are small gestures that hopefully, and in the long run will build lasting cultural understanding among all Filipinos (and all citizens of the world), embracing and celebrating our diversity as peoples of Christian, Lumad and Muslim orientations.

To all our Muslim brothers and sisters, a joyous and meaningful celebration!

National Book Store Turns Local (Updated with Photos)

Here is an updated post on NBS.  This time with pictures unofficially taken inside the store. 

The newly-renovated National Book Store outlet in Robinson’s Mall Ermita is sporting a different look, and I must say that it is both politically correct and aethetically sound, never mind that the floor layout is still crampy and confusing like a maze.

What made the NBS interior design great is the motif they chose for their store:  the Islamic arts of our brothers in Maguindanao, Tawi Tawi and Lanao in Mindanao.

National Book Store Mindanao

In our multi-ethnic society, we only find great pieces of indigenous artistry inside museums and during trade fairs or cultural activities in school .  But a deliberate attempt to infuse these designs and artistic genius to our everyday modern living is not a matter of course. 

NBS 1

NBS’s public display of this great design allows the mainstreaming of the real Filipino art, more specifically, the art forms from Muslim Mindanao.  Hopefully, such act would lead to greater understanding, acceptance and celebration of our diverse cultural traditions.  In this way, our culture becomes alive and relevant, and ends to be just another artifact from ages ago.  Understanding leads to tolerance, tolerance to peace.

National Book Store Mindanao 2

Kudos to the National Book Store!  Give us more of the same.

National Book Store Turns Local

The newly-renovated National Book Store outlet in Robinson’s Mall Ermita is sporting a different look, and I must say that it is both politically correct and aethetically sound, never mind that the floor layout is still crampy and confusing like a maze.

What made the NBS interior design great is the motif they chose for their store:  the Islamic arts of our brothers in Maguindanao, Tawi Tawi and Lanao in Mindanao.

In our multi-ethnic society, we only find great pieces of indigenous artistry inside museums and during trade fairs or cultural activities in school .  But a deliberate attempt to infuse these designs and artistic genius to our everyday modern living is not a matter of course. 

NBS’s public display of this great design allows the mainstreaming of the real Filipino art, more specifically, the art forms from Muslim Mindanao.  Hopefully, such act would lead to greater understanding, acceptance and celebration of our diverse cultural traditions.  In this way, our culture becomes alive and relevant, and ends to be just another artifact from ages ago.  Understanding leads to tolerance, tolerance to peace.

Kudos to the National Bookstore!  Give us more of the same.

Note:  pictures to follow (NBS might not allow me to take photos)

The Blair-Witch Project

Mr Tony Blair of Great Britain was in the news last week, not much for his eloquent speeches on principled negotiation but singly for the annointment made by Malacañang, calling him the prince charming that could put to deep sleep the age-old conflict in Muslim Mindanao.

It seems like Mr Blair was showered with magical dust by the tooth fairy before his private jet landed in Manila. With his charm and perhaps, a magic wand or a powerful spell , he can just command members of the peace negotiating panels to be ultra-friendly with each other, group hug and sign whatever document is there.

Ah, no need for secret documents such as the ill-fated Memorandum of Agreement on Ancestral Domain (MOA-AD). The resident of the palace by the river looks at the Mindanao conflict as a scene from the 8th installment of the London-based Harry Potter series. And this time, Voldemort would reveal himself as the evil stepmother with a big mole on her face.

What I cannot fathom until now is why-oh-why was Mr Blair chosen by our so-called prestigious or progressive (but not both) universities to talk on, of all topics, principled leadership! Who’s next on their invitation list, Mr George W. Bush?

Thankfully, the witching hour ended the very next day, as Mr Blair said his joyful goodbye to his Filipino fans who have turned poorer by some $500 just by listening to his enchanting but recycled jokes.