Forging a common identity PDF Print E-mail
Monday, 19 May 2014 13:03



The Philippines is a country where the 90-something million people belong to numerous groups identified by language, ethnic identities, religion, and economic status, to mention just a few of the variables into which people can be categorized. The permutations into particular specific groups can be challenging and make difficult the development of a single identity  which Filipinos can use to identify with.

I am not against people identifying themselves with a group with whom they share a common legacy, a common history, a common language, a common set of cultural values. This is how things should be. What I share in common with others in a group strengthens my sense of belonging to the group. But things should not be allowed to stop there. Beyond the small group with which I identify-  the small group  to which I feel I belong -  there is that bigger group to which the smaller groups belong and which provides us all with our wider sense of identity. And that is our identity as Filipinos.

The  “I am a Filipino” sense of self needs to be strengthened among Filipinos.

When we Filipinos are away from our national borders this sense might be somewhat enhanced but when we settle in in the new country we soon become Boholanos, Ilocanos, Warays, etc.

National elections underscore this quite well. We do not vote for a President for the Philippines - we vote for someone who represents the small group we identify with, in the hope that should the need arise this will give me greater access to the person who also belongs to my group.

This is particularly  important at this time when the Bangsamoro entity (BE) will soon be in place. The BE covers a geographical  area peopled by different ethnic groups – the Maguindanao, the Maranao, the Tausug and the smaller tribes of Badjaos, the Sam’a , the Yakans and also the non-Moros. Unless the members of each of these tribes transcend their own ethnic  identifications and identify with the bigger Bangsamoro group, it will be a while before the vision of the Bangsamoro is realized. And the Bangsamoro itself is just one  group in the much bigger group that is the Filipino nation. If identification with the nation is not fostered and pushed, then we have the case of a group that is not marching to the common beat of our national aspirations.

The Bangsamoro must feel that they are part of the whole Filipino nation and that the interest of the Bangsamoro must jive with the pursuit  of the good for the Filipino nation as this is pursued not only in Mindanao but in the whole country. To narrow down the pursuit only to the good of the Bangsamoro  is to fritter away the opportunity for growth and development, for the Bangsamoro and for the Filipino nation.

I am convinced that the majority of the Bangsamoro are people who seek for the good of the Bangsamoro and for the Filipino nation. But we must be realistic and accept that there are also people in the Bangsamoro who will use their economic, political and community status to promote only their own personal agenda. In the long haul the majority must exert all the influence they can among their own people in the Bangsamoro for the good that is meant for all.