Barry Imam: Unity for Peace

 I met Barry in a meeting with LGU officials and ATI Northern Mindanao representatives yesterday in Balo-i, Lanao del Norte. He is good-looking, chinky eyed, fair-skinned and had a goatee. He is silent and shy at first, just listening to the proceedings of the meeting. But when he opens his mouth, he is so charismatic that you will get hooked and try not to blink your eye, wanting more of his sharings. Even Doc Lito. My Boss was unable to contain his excitement that he claps his hands more that once, and said, “kini..! naa na tay resource person for Values (This is it. We now have a Resource Person for Values)”…

He said, people of Mindanao shouldn’t be called Filipinos. Inhabitants of this country were called Filipinos in honor of the conqueror, King Philip II. The conquerors succeeded in Luzon and Visayas, but failed in Mindanao because people in Mindanao resisted it.” We attacked them in the dead of night, while the enemies are sleeping, that’s why they called us traitors.” He added, “how can we defeat the Spaniards when we were armed only with bolos, bows and arrows? So we used our coconut”, (pointing to his head). They even sold the whole Philippines to the Americans even if they don’t own Mindanao. Moro or Moros derived it’s name from the Moroccans, inspired by their constant resistance against foreign rule.
Muslims are believers in Islam. Maranao is a tribe. You can’t be called a true Muslim if your actions are against the will of Allah. Cleanliness, Peace, Harmony are just some teachings of Islam. Like you can only be called Christian if you follow the teachings of Christ. Cebuano, Ilocano, Tagalog or Ilonggo is more apt to describe people’s tribe.
Maratabat is a Maranao term for Pride. He cautioned us on his fellow Maranaos- that they are oozing with pride. When someone works hard in the farm, they will call him “mora man kag bisaya nga motrabaho”. You can never find a Maranao beggar. Tell me a market in the Philippines where there are no Maranaos displaying their wares. They are almost everywhere.  But seldom you can find Maranao businessman doing business in his own place.
He is also against RIDO. He said, this is against Allah’s. He said, “ If somebody committed a sin, punish the sinner, not his entire family.”
Pride should be a source of strength. He ended,” Pride can make and unmake a person.”
Such wisdom we gained for just a few hours. Makes our work in the "From Arms to Farm" program of ATI and the risks involved so worthwhile.