Table Talk: Are indigenous peoples of Mindanao considered Bangsa Moro People? PDF Print E-mail
Saturday, 05 November 2011 15:30

Who are considered indigenous peoples of Mindanao? Indigenous peoples refer to original inhabitants of Mindanao long before foreigners invaded our shores and colonized the people they found. The original inhabitants were made subjects, forced to accept their foreign ways and in some instance taught them religion. History will bear witness that Islam religion came ahead of Christianity in Mindanao, but, honestly Islam was only dominant in the shoreline settlements of the South and some parts of the Peninsula. But in Central Mindanao, like many parts of Cotabato where the Rio Grande is found, Islam was dominant more than any other religions because written accounts of many historians dealing in religion revealed that Islam Arab missionaries first landed in Cotabato before they went to the Sulu Islands. When the Arab missionaries landed in Cotabato, there were original settlers in the banks of Rio Grande who are all pagans and clans with their own crude government with set of laws and custom and traditions different from the Arab missionaries. After many years, some of the indigenous people of Central Mindanao accepted Islam as their religion. But not all the original settlers accepted Islam, some pagan families escaped from their settlements and went deeper into the hinterlands of Central Mindanao and remained pagans. Some of them according to stories of indigenous peoples handed from  generation to generation went as far as the hinterlands of the Zamboanga Peninsula and the mountains of Malindang in Misamis Occidental.
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Spanish colonizers came after the Arab missionaries, and subjugated the rest of the original inhabitants of Mindanao with brute force, Spain being a world power at that time ruled their conquered territories with “juez de cuchillo”, unlike the Arab missionaries, the Spaniards went deeper into the hinterlands of Mindanao, made settlements and fortresses to protect their conquered territories. And declared an edict of “Juris Regallia” or  “Regallian Doctrine”, that all lands belong to the state. Aside from forced obedience to King Phillip of Spain, the “Conquistadores” made Catholic religion part of their governance, where the Spanish friars have great influence to the Spanish military governors. In the Zamboanga Peninsula, the original settlers are Subanens, mostly pagans ruled by their Timuays and council of elders or “bagelal”. The Subanens in the penninsula, have their own set of laws and have always adhered to the principle of hierarchy but those living in the shorelines, embraced Islam as their religion, and were called Subanen Kalibugans. These Subanen Kalibugans are mostly found in Labuan, Limpapa of Zamboanga City and Siocon, Sirawai and Sibuco, Labason of Zamboanga Del Norte and Tungawan, RT Lim, Ipil, Kabasalan and Tampilisan, Gutalac of Zamboanga Sibugay.
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Most of the original settlers in Mindanao became Catholics and other Christian religion brought about by the Americans who came after the Spaniards. Even if they are Blaans, Tirurays, Mandayas, Hagaonons, to name some in Central Mindanao who are Catholics, Protestants,  Iglesia ni Kristo, Sabadistas, but the Americans ignored these data during their colonization of the Philippines and to identify Mindanao as different from the rest of the Philippines and because of the many tribes found in Mindanao, the Americans called the entire Mindanao as the Moro Province” making all the inhabitants of Mindanao as “Moros”. So many lapses have been done by the Americans to us and can be termed as “historical error”. And we are feeling the error right now. Although we are thankful that Americans gave us education but there are so many things they taught us unacceptable at these times when many Filipinos are literate. For example, Americans knew that rice is a staple food of Filipinos, why did they teach us a song during our elementary days that “planting rice is never fun”, they want Filipinos to remain lazy. Then in science they taught us that “water seeks its own level”, why did they teach us that “Jack and Jill went up the hill to fetch a pail of water?” instead of downhill? and “I was poorly born on top of the mountain” (poorly na on top of the mountain pa). Why did they do these? Is it because their President Truman once referred o the Philippines as “ Those darn Pacific islands”.
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Indigenous People of Mindanao are considered Bangsa Moro people because the Americans wanted it that way. They started it after all. And it was no surprise that during the scuttled MOA-AD signing last August 5, 2008 in Malaysia, the first important person to witness the signing was US Ambassador Kenney.  But one thing good, we will hope that they will not change the phrase in all agreements between the Government and MILF — “The freedom of choice of the Indigenous Peoples shall be respected.”
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Scoop: Are the Americans planning to make the Philippines another Middle East? Read newspapers for development and listen to all sides  of political, social and government and military issues.