Wednesday, August 20, 2008


"It's not enough to survive. One has to be worthy of survival."
--Adama, Battlestar Galactica

There is an old parable that goes like this: One day, the Sun and the Wind had an argument as to who was the stronger. They espied a man with a cloak walking down below. The Wind proposed: "Whosoever can take the cloak off the man will be judged the stronger." And the Sun agreed.

The Wind gathered up his strength and blew as hard as he could. But instead of ripping the cloak off the man's shoulders, the man wrapped them around himself tighter. At last the Wind gave up.

Now it was the Sun's turn. The Sun shone hot and bright on the man. It became so warm that the man took off his cloak on his own account. That was how the Sun won the contest with the Wind.

The lesson is worth noting now for Mindanao. In North Cotabato, Lanao del Norte, and Sarangani Province, terrorists of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front have occupied villages, burned homes, looted stores, and killed over forty civilians, including a two-year old girl. This show of force is perhaps meant to intimidate those who object to the controversial Memorandum of Agreement on Ancestral Domain. But rather than forcing capitulation, it may only have the opposite effect as the outrage spreads.

If nothing else, the attacks confirm the fears of what will happen if those territories are ceded to the so-called Bangsamoro Juridical Entity. Either the MILF is in control of its subcommanders or it is not. If it is, then all this is a preview of what is to come; and if it is not, then what is the point of talking to its negotiators? Either way, it only promises a reign of terror.

Which brings us back to where we started. The real reason behind the opposition to the MOA-AD was fear: a fear of the unknown, because the course it charted was so radical; a fear of motives, because the government that negotiated it is thus far the most mistrusted.

At the very least, the government negotiators and the well-meaning academics behind the MOA-AD should have taken these fears into account. But instead of warming up the general public like the Sun, they blew strong like the Wind; and so we clung to our cloaks all the more. How so very naive!

For all we know, a Moro-led Mindanao could actually be a more just, more equitable, more peaceful, and more prosperous Mindanao than what it is today. But now, looking down the barrel of a Moro's gun, it's hard -- very, very hard -- to be convinced of that.

It's no longer enough to point to skewed interpretations of history. It is not only the Moros now who have a stake in Mindanao. There are all the rest of us who have made Mindanao what it is today. Some of us may not have historical claims dating back to the sultanates, but make no mistake, we have a history here, too.

Mindanao is also our home. And that's why we cling to it with the desperation of life.