Celso: ‘We practice more than tolerance in Zambo’ PDF Print E-mail
Wednesday, 08 August 2012 15:15

“Here in Zamboanga City, we practice more than tolerance. We not only tolerate but we understand each other’s culture and belief. That is why in Zamboanga we live in perfect peace and harmony with each other.”

This was the message of Mayor Celso Lobregat during the Iftar or sunset meal, one of the religious observances during Ramadan when Muslims break their fast, sponsored by the Filipino-Turkish Tolerance School (FTTS) last Monday at the Garden Orchid Hotel.

Noting that the FTTS started sponsoring Iftar during Ramadan in 2005, Lobregat said he has never missed any of those occasions for the last seven years, even as he added that he, too, has also been offering Iftar to fasting Muslims during Ramadan since he became mayor of Zamboanga in 2004.

“I have done so because I am the mayor of the city, not only of the Christians but also of the Muslims and people of other faiths,” Lobregat said.

Amilpasa Bandaying, the mayor’s executive assistant on Muslim Affairs, said for this Ramadan the city government thru Mayor Lobregat will offer the Iftar locally known as “Pagbukah” for the 9th year on August 14 also at Garden Orchid Hotel.

Lobregat said Iftar is one of the religious celebrations during Ramadan that brings Muslims and Christians together, promoting peace and understanding each other’s faiths and believing in One God.

According to him, Muslims and Christians have many things in common, following the five pillars of Islam—first, professing that there is only One God. “We too profess in One God. We may have different names of our God but certainly we all have only One God.”

Giving of zakat is another pillar of Islam. “For Christians, we also give alms to the needy. Every time we hear mass, alms are collected. That is zakat for Christians.”

The third pillar of Islam is praying five times. “Although Muslims pray more than Christians, but we all pray in a day,” the mayor said.

Another pillar of Islam is fasting in the month of Ramadan. “We Christians do fast but during Holy Week when we observe abstinence.”

The last pillar of Islam is pilgrimage to Mecca. “We Christians also have pilgrimage to the Holy Land,” Lobregat said in explaining the commonality among Muslims’ and Christians’ beliefs.

Lobregat further told those attending the Iftar that next year’s Ramadan he will no longer be the mayor of the city.

“But we will remain friends with FTTS. And we hope that the next mayor will have the same care and concern for all the people of this city. If you noticed, I did not come to you during elections but I was with you in all your celebrations, and I thank the FTTS for making the city government always a part of your celebrations,” Lobregat said. — Vic Larato