This letter is intended to the thirteen brave tribes who defended our homeland under the banner of Islam, and also, to those who sympathize and believe in our cause and to our brethren who now refer to themselves as “Balik-Islam.”
Ramadhan – the most blessed month of the Hijrah Calendar. A season where forgiveness and prayers are being embodied by more than a billion Muslims around the world, including us, in Mindanao, us, in the Philippines.
This is also the perfect time to reunite with friends and family; to aid those who need help and an opportunity to come home and re-establish the connection with the Almighty Allah (SWT) and embrace the teachings and traditions of the Prophet Muhammad (SAW).
Thus, this wonderful month brings to us an important issue as a people – unity in the Bangsamoro Homeland. Yes, it sounds cliché and yes, it may sound weird because unity may be the cause of our stronghold in this region for more than four hundred years. But, the truth is, we really need to check the stability of our unity.
The recent political developments in the Philippines, reignited the hopes in the Bangsamoro Homeland that peace may still be possible despite the failure of the Bangsamoro Basic Law because of incoming President Rodrigo Duterte’s win; that his victory is also the victory of the Bangsamoro people. But, this is where we should redirect our attention. Yes, President Digong might be the missing puzzle to the Mindanao question but do we really have to entrust everything to him? Do we really have to entrust the Government of the Philippines everything? Do we really have to let papers, agreements and legal documents define our future and quest for self-determination?
I am one of those people who believe that the government owes the Moro people a lot but as years passed by, it has become apparent to me that maybe we should limit the blaming to the strangers who decided to live beside us but check on those who live in our homes, ourselves. It is possible that it took us centuries blaming the government for the historical injustices that we forgot to grow as a people, that we stopped reaching for our greatest potentials, that we have forgotten the majestic origins of our lineage.
I understand the grievances and hatred towards the Philippine Government and quite frankly, we have all the rights to do so. I understand why we kept on wondering why the Bangsamoro Homeland lacks major skyscrapers or competitive highways or high literacy rates because, the truth is, we should have all these major developments. The Bangsamoro Homeland should, in fact, be the model for governance because we were already were already exposed to a political system eras before the coming of conquerors. What happened? Why?
The answer to these questions lies inside all of us. We are the most powerful solution to these endless issues. As a people of different ethnic backgrounds, traditions and tribes; it is high time to unite on the common banner of faith and goal for self-determination. It is high time to remove the concept of tribalism and identify ourselves as Bangsamoro, as Muslims. It is high time that all professionals unite and dedicate their expertise to the greater good of our homeland. It is high time that those who live in mansions visit those who live in the most isolated areas of the region. It is high time that we empower education and elevate those who are in need. It is high time to remove biases towards one another and live up to the promise of Mindanao, to the promise of the Bangsamoro.
May this Ramadhan be the beginning of the end of identifying ourselves in different fronts or groups but as one strong unit. Let us stop fighting against one another and start fighting with each other. This is a call for a stronger Bangsamoro. This is a call for peace. This is a call to the next generation, that we can create a better home.
Let us work hand in hand with the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao Government and create an image of progress in this region. And yes, other countries and even the Government of the Philippines, are willing to help, all we need to do is prove to them that we can get things done.
And perhaps, our key to victory is not the collapse of our enemy but the establishment of our unity.
I leave this verse in the Qur’an as a reminder: “Verily, ALLAH does not change the condition of people until they change what is within themselves.” Sura ar-Ra`d 13:11
Bangsamoro brethren, the future is bright and we have to make use of what we have now in order to achieve what we want. The revolution to achieve self-determination will not stop until we are ready for it.