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Homeless in our own homeland

“How many times have you heard it said that it is not time to talk about women? They heard it in Cambodia, I am sure. So have they in Timor Leste, Sri Lanka, Papua New Guinea. And surely they have too at the Moro National Liberation Front. I suspect they heard the same things we are hearing now that there are more important things to fight for or against, to discuss, to achieve and to win, and so on and so forth. First the Khmer Rouge; or the Indonesian military; or self-determination. We are told that when the struggle is won, women win or when the struggle is won, we can start tackling your issues. But we know it isn’t and hasn’t been so.”
- quoted from the speech of IRENE M. SANTIAGO, Chair and Chief Exectuive Officer of the Mindanao Commission on Women and Convenor of Mothers for Peace. (Ms. Santiago is well-known nationally and internationally as a strong advocate for the improvement of the status of women. She has also been deeply involved in the peace process in Mindanao as former member of the Philippine Government Panel Negotiating with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front.)

At the frontlines I found my fair share, and struck a deal with destiny.

In Mindanao, my beloved homeland, the endless struggle of the Islamized natives or Bangsamoros for self-determination and preservation of cultural identity, which dates back to the Philippine colonial period, has claimed so many lives and caused so much devastation and disenchantment over the years. This struggle came to a head after the Marcos administration carried out the Jabidah massacre in 1967 (approx. 28 to 64 Moro recruits trained by the military) which signaled the first Muslim secessionist movement – the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF). When the government’s peace talks with the MNLF resulted to a peace accord signed in Jakarta in September 1996, the state faced a fiercer battle as the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) took over the secessionist rebellion, and to this day the solution is yet far from sight.

My involvement in government’s peace efforts started in 2001, right after President Estrada carried out his all-out-war policy against Muslim separatist rebels, the MILF, that resulted to enormous devastation, casualties, injuries, and nondescript pain and disillusionment. Victims in the battlefield, with “collateral victims” in the neighborhood, were then struggling to pick up the shattered pieces of their lives, fending for themselves amidst the gruesome aftermath, as they explored burned shelters and devastated farmlands for whatever was worth salvaging. Internal displacement rose to two million, mostly women and children, rendered homeless in our own homeland. Widowed wives and mothers fend as solo parents while sisters and daughters were forced to hard labor for survival. Families lost their able men as brothers and fathers were killed or are engaged in combat in either side of the armed conflict.

At this juncture, Muslim, Christian and indigenous women leaders of Mindanao, including my former superiors in the government’s peace process; Irene Santiago, Sylvia Paraguya and Diosita Andot, with 1973 Miss Universe Margarita Moran-Floirendo, established the Mindanao Commission on Women (MCW). Believing that no peace agreement can be implemented or can peace be sustained without the leadership and participation of women, MCW then mobilized, educated, persuaded, and lobbied to make women’s issues central to the decisions about peace, with key pursuits on peace and multiculturalism, poverty reduction, and politics and governance.

Barely had the armed conflict victims recovered when, in 2003, government’s pursuit of criminals after sporadic bombings and terror attacks in many parts of Mindanao allegedly perpetrated by Jemaah Islamiyah-linked Abu Sayyaf bandit group again led to mass evacuations due to armed “mis-encounters” between government troops and rebels. This pursuit sparked armed confrontations, bombings, abductions and ambushes, and, automatically, my work shifted to the battlegrounds - facilitating meetings, consultations, courtesy calls and press conferences as well as rallying stakeholders, observers, partners, allies and authorities into addressing atrocities and ceasefire violations. The task was overwhelming, with combatants pointing accusing fingers as to who drew first blood, while constituents continued to suffer the consequences.

Spontaneously, MCW launched “Mothers for Peace”, a campaign demanding for ceasefire and for government and MILF to return to the negotiating table. The campaign was successful, creating a broader peace constituency all over the country. MCW then decided to transform the campaign into a movement as Mothers for Peace and Youth for Peace, with main thrust on the creation of peace circles to strengthen and expand the movement’s mass base and make peace-building part of women’s day-to-day lives.

In parallel effort, government sought assistance from World Bank to address humanitarian, rehabilitation and development issues, which took me to war-torn communities on joint needs assessment as World Bank and United Nations representatives looked into causes of the problem. We faced petrifying ordeals in communities wary of promises and disillusioned by too much abandonment and neglect.

In July 2007, a gory incident shocked us. The Philippine Marines who were engaged in rescue operation of abducted Italian priest Giancarlo Bossi in Basilan were ambushed, with 14 troopers brutally murdered, 10 of whom tortured, mutilated and beheaded. The MILF rebels owned up to the ambuscade but denied the beheading. Angered, the military hierarchy issued a 48-hour ultimatum for the surrender of the perpetrators. My college classmate in the Commission on Human Rights pleaded that I inform authorities on the panic and tension building up in Basilan owing to the ultimatum. As urgent as it was imperative, I called up superiors and authorities in government, NGOs, civil society groups, embassies and international organizations - rallying support to lift the ultimatum, as unspeakable fear mounted among innocent civilians. Our unified efforts paid off, as a joint fact-finding team was formed to investigate the incident.

Yet, despite sincere, grueling and consciously exhaustive efforts of both government and MILF leadership to solve the conflict, spoilers found their way to ruin and derail the peace process. In August 2008, in what could have been the biggest breakthrough in the peace talks with the Muslim rebels, we rammed into a dead end when Supreme Court issued a temporary restraining order preventing the signing of the Memorandum of Agreement on Ancestral Domain (MOA-AD). It was shockingly painful because we worked it out hard and long, and extremely embarrassing since it was hosted by Malaysian government, witnessed by foreign dignitaries and covered by international media. The verdict of the petition of local government leaders to stop MOA-AD signing came a day before the actual event, when all those involved, including observers, witnesses and reporters, had already spent time, money and effort to be present.

Inevitably peace talks collapsed and the problem blew out uncontrollably. On the ground “renegade” rebel commanders went rampaging, burning houses and wreaking havoc in local communities. These escalated into armed encounters with government troops resulting in massive evacuations, with internally displaced persons (IDPs) pegged at 400,000. A taller order and fiercer battle ensued in the Supreme Court as we fought oral arguments to defend the MOA-AD.

When, finally, Supreme Court declared the MOA-AD signing unconstitutional, peace negotiations receded to square one. President Arroyo dissolved the government peace panel and issued a new mandate which sent me facilitating consultations, meetings and workshops with stakeholders and all protagonists in the peace process in a whirl of inputs gathering, information campaign and peace advocacy.

Surprisingly, through pain, humiliation, frustration, apprehension and disillusionment of a noble pursuit wronged and a journey derailed, an unexpected blessing arose from the fiasco. It sparked a national controversy that sent even cab drivers and sidewalk vendors talking about ancestral domain. What had once been confined to stakeholders exploded into national debate and international concern. Suddenly, we found the platform we worked in vain to achieve, as plural interest ushered into meaningful understanding and clearer vision of the peace process. Social preparation, once dismally lacking, became the guiding light, catapulting ancestral domain issue from negotiating table into public landscape.

At the peak of the crisis global concern heightened. Ambassadors and foreign dignitaries from the USA, Organization of Islamic Conference, Non-Aligned Movement and European Commission, as well as representatives of international organizations like World Vision, Oxfam and United Nations System did the groundwork, visiting conflict-affected areas and evacuation centers to assess conditions, explore options, and effect solutions. However, as foreign assistance poured in, negative issues relating to aids and donations complicated matters. Some refugees relied on dole-outs and rations and refused to leave evacuation centers. It was all the more difficult to deal with repatriation, relief and recovery.

Government and donors confront myriads of increasing challenges in effecting solutions, with displacements aggravated by untoward incidents and natural calamities, like clan wars and flooding. Although the Paris Declaration encourages government and donors to take broader perspectives in looking at unique issues in such conditions, to maximize benefits of relief, recovery and stabilization efforts by conducting joint assessments, promoting flexible funding modalities, working in harmonization with local communities, and looking at the wider agendas of conflict prevention, state-building and peace-building, it became obvious that any strategy in dealing with displacement due to armed conflicts necessitates adaptation, particularly where local ownership and capacity are weak. Ms. Mary Judd of World Bank Philippines noted that the prevailing context poses unique challenges to effecting solutions, with prevailing and continued insecurity, limited capacity, competing agendas, corruption, lack of coordination, and lack of clarity among military, humanitarian and development interventions, whether perceived or factual. She further observed that dealing with the problem of IDPs cannot be achieved without considering political dimensions, social dynamics and contextual challenges. Despite government’s technical orientation and donors’ apolitical stand, addressing the issue involves political engagements. Alignment and coordination of interventions from the national to local level must be clearly defined by mutual accountability. Unfortunately, focus on process rather than impact tempts government and donors and their recipients/beneficiaries to concentrate on how to deliver rather than on what to achieve.

To re-open the aborted peace talks and address armed confrontations and internal displacement, President Arroyo issued Administrative Order 267 creating Task Force HELP-CM (Health, Education, Livelihood and Progress) for Central Mindanao, intended to alleviate the plight of the evacuees and reduce impact of conflict on communities, as well as pursue “humanitarian offensives” to address the root causes of conflict. Once again I was whisked into the frontlines. Among victims and combatants, my pain was doubly excruciating because they are my own. Surprisingly though, amidst strife, devastation and disillusionment, I marveled at the goodness, resiliency and spontaneity of my people and the beauty and splendor of my homeland.

While interviewing refugees and sometimes facilitating delivery of relief goods and services, I see myself during the dark days of Martial Law I grew up with. The disillusionment, pain and fear I see I know so well – of widowed wives and mothers, orphaned children, helpless and toil-worn sisters and daughters; women and children whose husbands, fathers and brothers were debilitated, killed or are in combat.

The resumption of peace talks in 2009 highlighted the Civilian Protection Component of the International Monitoring Team (IMT) under guidance of international humanitarian laws. Further, recognizing the crucial role of interested countries and international non-government organizations, an International Contact Group (ICG) was formed in order to exert necessary leverage towards sustaining trust and confidence of all parties.

Remarkably, deep involvement in the pursuit of peace in Mindanao is spreading and rising. Surely, if the protagonists recognize and respect the rights of all stakeholders; if relief, rehabilitation and recovery are effected alongside efforts for sustainable development; if technical cooperation is pursued as to empower local communities through capability-building, skills training, livelihood assistance and education; if peace talks, consultations and dialogues are conducted not within the confines of security mechanisms but alongside confidence-building measures; and most important, if government commits to deliver basic services to its people with the political will to uphold the primacy of the peace process, peace in Mindanao will be attained.

More relevant to the quest for peace is that women involvement is increasingly visible. Women organizations are on the rise, working for peace, social justice, gender equality and human rights. The Kamindanawan position paper for peace negotiations in Mindanao declared that “If women negotiated the peace agreement, it would be more than just a settlement. It would be fair and enduring.” This is reinforced by the National Survey on the Participation of Women which reported that “Most Filipinos view female public officials as superior to male public officials with respect to efficiency, honesty, selflessness, sensitivity to the environment, and, of course, concern for women’s welfare.”

We resonate with Chanthou Boua of Kampuchea in her book “Children of the Killing Fields”, declaring that “Post-conflict societies inherently mean that people, especially women, are exhausted, particularly after a long protracted conflict. They have overwhelming tasks to fulfill in response to the situations mentioned above, usually with limited resources. Women have the added responsibility of nurturing the family livelihood. In post-conflict situations, with so many pressing issues to contend with, the social issues facing women are often low on the agenda.” Significantly, women voices are growing clearer and louder globally.

Despite the odds, I am confident we will conquer the crisis because I see people I know so well, friends and relatives - amidst strife and among victims. More so, involvement of women is a major factor in this gargantuan pursuit for peace. While I stand by my state, they suffer with my people. Right where risks are real and battles are fought, they live the toll and embrace consequences, working hands-on in unflinching commitment to save our homeland. They pursue solutions through local governments, non-government organizations and civil society groups, lending hands to donors and volunteering services to heal the wounds and stand on guard. It reinforces my faith and conviction that we will conquer this misfortune and finally find redemption. With hope and courage I envision genuine, equitable and durable peace for my people.

There’s no telling when the strife in my homeland ends, or when the suffering of my people abates, but we know the solution is in our hands as we journey with commitment and steadfast solidarity. We will move forward with unrelenting faith and courage, and seal our destiny for a peaceful and progressive Philippines!

This article is part of a writing assignment for Voices of Our Future, which is providing rigorous web 2.0 and new media training for 31 emerging women leaders. We are speaking out for social change from some of the most unheard from corners of the world.

Comments

Sarvina's picture

well-done!

Hi sister Emie,

Congratulations! Finally you have done your final one. It's so wonderful.

Love,
Sarvina

Regards,

Sarvina from Cambodia
VOF 2011 Correspondent

Emie Zozobrado's picture

At last!

Yes, and thanks a lot! It helped so much when I read your pieces, too! I got some ideas to work on with my draft, and here it is! Hope to see your final entry here, too. All the best, Sarvina!

Always,
Emie Zozobrado

Oh, Emie!

I am so proud of you and your excellent skill and your persistence and your courage, vision, clarity, and commitment to your PEOPLE!

I am blessed to be in your group.

This piece pulls me on, enlivens me, enrages me and inspires me.

Thank you, dear one!

Anna

Speaking my Peace

Emie Zozobrado's picture

Oh Anna!

Anna, I really cannot thank you and Ruth enough! You're always there and it means a lot to me knowing you have my back, two special and very powerful women standing by me at all times. Your faith leads me on! Thanks a lot for sharing my amazing journey! All the best...

Always,
Emie Zozobrado

usha kc's picture

Emie Sister, it's so

Emie Sister, it's so imformative and ofcourse the great piece! I loved i very much.
Really you are so great writer. keep it up.

Emie Zozobrado's picture

Thanks, Sister!

Usha, writing is our voice! It's a great privilege to be able to speak out and share your life with this amazing global community at World Pulse. What you see on my piece is not a great writer but the truth in my life. It's the truth in us that we share with each other that make us "great writers". Each of us here is speaking our own truths as we write ... and it's the faith in each other that gives power to you and me and the rest, and all the rest. Thanks a lot, sister! All the best...

Ruun Abdi's picture

Dear Emie, Congratulations

Dear Emie,

Congratulations for a well done work. This piece is magnificent and beautifully writen.

Cheers,
RA

Emie Zozobrado's picture

Hi Ruun!

Thanks a lot, sister! Truth and passion are magnificent combined together. And, of course, I have all of you around me. I got ideas and realizations as I read your pieces (drafts) to improve on mine, you know? All the best...

Always,
Emie Zozobrado

martha llano's picture

Very interesting Emie

I did not anything about this.....so nice to learn!!!! thanks for writing it down.

Con afecto

Martha

Con afecto

Martha Llano
selva@sentir.org
marthallano.wix.com/serna

HAGA ALGO........ lo que lo haga feliz!
Y tan sólo recuerde que las soluciones a problemas globales dependen de cada individuo.

Emie Zozobrado's picture

Hi Martha!

It's an honor, Martha! The Philippines is named after King Philip of Spain, by the Spaniards who colonized my country for almost 4 centuries! And you're a Latina, right? You must know much on how Spanish influence grips on a people's way of life! Of course, we are learning from each other and it feels great! All the best...

Always,
Emie Zozobrado

Amei's picture

Emie ...

I am so pleased to be able to read your post. Your positive stance of writing is infectious.

" There’s no telling when the strife in my homeland ends,..... and seal our destiny for a peaceful and progressive Philippines!" I love your last para.

You are a blessing for your nation. All the best :-)

Cheers
Amei

Emie Zozobrado's picture

Thanks Amei!

Wow, sister! What a compliment! I know you do love your country very much, too! By the way, thanks a lot, Amei! I have overlooked the optional assignment until I read your beautiful piece about your relationship with your very own Maldives! All the best...

Always,
Emie Zozobrado

warona's picture

Emie

My dearest Emie!

You ve done it once more my love,congradulations!

this gargantuan pursuit for peace, mmmm! big words Emie.Am so graeteful to your piece Emie.It tells all.Your speech is more like a president's. I believe some of us here, they are just helpless like me.The words are just too strong, more appealing.It needs more attention.Anyway we are still together.

To add on that there is nothing like strife in my country.The only words i know is stability,peace and harmony.
Thank you for taking us into the deepest of the whole matter.

All the best

Warona

"success will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time " And when confronted conquer with love

Emie Zozobrado's picture

Hi Warona!

Thanks so much for the compliments and the unceasing support, sister. You're so lucky in Botswania you don't have to go through so much suffering and disillusionment. While in my homeland, the strife was there long before I was born! Until now we are still struggling through and peace has been very elusive. But, of course, we will never stop hoping and doing our best, we just know one day we will be there! All the best...

Always,
Emie Zozobrado

warona's picture

KEEP IT UP!

Emie,

Keep it up my dear sister ,the whole world is listening to you.You are a hero among all the ladies. One day shall be one day. God will come and deliver his people.Some of these things are God's matters, no man can defend anything unless he be led by God.Of course your pain is my pain.Yes Emie continue to be unstoppable there.The South Africans struggled with the Boers - the apertheid, which took them years to be freed,until the release of Nelson Mandela.

I believe there is hope and as much as you work on it things will get better slowly but surely.

All the Best to you and your country men Emie,love youand cheers!

Warona

"success will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time " And when confronted conquer with love

William's picture

women's role in the Philipines

Dear Emie, I want to congratulate you on the fine article you wrote about the peace process in the Philipines.
In looking at the violence being done by Islamic extremeists in the whole world, including the US, I question the ability of your Government to come up with any peace agreement, due to the fact that the Islamic extremists haven't shown any interest in peace, but only in dominance and control. The usual tool used to frighten people into submissiveness has been bombings and killings.
It is my understanding that you cannot teach love and wanting to live with your neighbors peacefully by violence and suffering, but only through living with love and teaching others the same thing.
I urge you to look at the world picture, available to you on the Internet. Look at the flood of immigrants running to Europe, the US, to South Africa, people fleeing the violence in their own countries. Your task and mine, I believe is to offer an alternative way of looking at our cultures, one based on love. May your efforts be blessed, Emie. I greatly admire you and your efforts.
love,
William

Emie Zozobrado's picture

Thanks, brother!

Thanks for the compliments and the support, brother!
Oh William! Extremism and climate change are global challenges. They hit everywhere in the planet! Just the other day a bomb exploded inside a passenger bus right in Metro Manila's busiest highway - EDSA, killing 5 commuters and wounding a score. In December 2001, following the 9/11 terror attack in New York, a bomb exploded inside the longest light rail transit in Metro Manila, killing and wounding innocent commuters. While it's true that many people migrate to other places to flee from tragedies, violence and calamities, but where on earth is it safe to be? Metro Manila was devastated by super typhoon Ondoy in September 2009, which left many parts of the whole National Capital Region and its neighboring areas underwater not only for days but months! The whole world is now facing the same challenges - that humanity should unite and face these challenges as one family .... all the best...

Always,
Emie Zozobrado

William's picture

building peaceful communities

Sister Emi,
Thank you for your thoughtful message. I hope my reply wasn't too negative, especially for a person working hard to change things.
When I look at what extremists are doing in Africa and the world, I am left with the definite opinion that they don't want peace, but control. Hitler felt this, Mao the same, so does Magabe in Zimbabwe. How do you see humanity uniting when these extremists have taught us to live in fear?
I can teach love, but isn't fear as strong an emotion? Are the citizens of the world capable of teaching the extremists to love and enjoy peace, instead of finding their power with guns and bombs?
What are your thoughts Emi?
love,
William

Emie Zozobrado's picture

William!

That's why we're here, brother! We all believe humanity can and must do something! The extremists are just a very small fraction of the world's populace and we know we can stop them. Remember this: "For evil to succeed, it takes only for good men to do nothing." I believe in the goodness of every human heart, William. We found each other in one global community - World Pulse, with one and only one dream - peace on earth, goodwill to men! We are unstoppable! Forward, march!

Always,
Emie Zozobrado

William's picture

win peace

Amen Emie. I am in the movement for the salvation of all peoples. I am now working within a community partnership to feed the hungry, house the homeless and help our children. You are the unstoppable one, sister.
love, William

Emie Zozobrado's picture

We are unstoppable!

William, the old saying goes... "If you think you are poor, find someone poorer than you." The ancient generations had summarized so well what living is all about. So sad that we conveniently forget it! That's very noble of you, brother! My salute!

Always,
Emie Zozobrado

Emie Zozobrado's picture

We are unstoppable!

William, the old saying goes... "If you think you are poor, find someone poorer than you." The ancient generations had summarized so well what living is all about. So sad that we conveniently forget it! That's very noble of you, brother! My salute!

Always,
Emie Zozobrado

Ruth Beedle's picture

!!!!

Emie;

I love your final transcript and the hope it inspires. The story is well told and resonates and the hopefulness you describe at the end is compelling. Thank you for all your work throughout the years that you are now getting to tell the world about. Thank you for using your beautiful voice to talk about your future and that of your people.

I love the way you started with women and end with women and all that we have to give...... Oh, I wish we could be involved in all the talks of peace that need to happen around the planet.

Thank you, Emie.

Emie Zozobrado's picture

Oh Ruth!

Thank you so much, Ruth! I owe this to you, Anna, and the whole WP community! Again, it's the masterpiece of a powerful and amazing bond of beautiful sisters worldwide! Listening to all your voices in poignant messages sent through your comments and reflections, I found my ease and confidence in re-crafting my piece the way my voice merges with those of the rest. And yes, we are involved, Ruth! One word, one thought, one heartbeat - if it merges into humanity, will make a very big difference in our one life! We are here for each other - and that's what it's all about. I really cannot thank World Pulse enough! All the best...

Always,
Emie Zozobrado

Insha Allah's picture

Inspiring Writing Piece

Dear sister Emie,

Since the time I had read your draft, I was inspired by the way you write with powerful words. I learned about the Philippines and the crisis which, honestly, I have never know, to some extent. My favorite component in your writing is that women's participation in peace building as well rehabilitation works.And I am very proud of you for being a such great woman who is actively working for her people and country.

I attracted this final assignment as it is organizing and presenting more beautifully and powerfully. Congratulations, sister. Please also note that I am learning from you.

With Love,
Insha Allah

Shwe Wutt Hmon

Emie Zozobrado's picture

Cheers Sister!

Insha, we're learning from each other! You're right ... there's quite a considerable difference between my draft and the final piece. It's simply because I learn a lot from your drafts, too. Much more than the comments you write, I take time to read your posts ... and in so doing, I get realizations and reflections which are vital to my own piece ... and so, again, my entry is not my own. It is the masterpiece of an amazing community of loving sisters ... and I cannot thank you enough! All the best...

Always,
Emie Zozobrado

Debra L's picture

Building hope for peace!

I feel newly aware of the conflicts and its effects in your country. I pray that women like you, Emie, will continue to work toward Peace - and I believe that you understand just what it will take to achieve that peace. Thank you for this in depth discussion.

Debra

Emie Zozobrado's picture

It's my pleasure to share,

It's my pleasure to share, Debra! I realize it is very important that the world knows we are not alright - not just because we need help, but also because by sharing we can bring awareness to those who may not know what it means to be on the lower tilt of the balance. There is an enormous imbalance and we need to correct it. While super-powers enjoy so much of what the world has to offer - the "third world" is groping about in a labyrinth of helplessness and despair. One humanity - one big family. It would be a great injustice to ourselves if we choose to be silent. We need to speak - so our sisters and brothers may know ... And yes, we will pursue peace - for all it is worth, for whatever it takes! Thanks for taking time to reflect on my piece, Debra... and all the best...

Always,
Emie Zozobrado

Farona's picture

Waw ! sis you're indeed at

Waw ! sis you're indeed at the front-line !

Your work and passion to solve the issue is commendable. Yes, there will always be some who wants to derail the peace process.

There are extreme opinions everywhere, and the way the world is dealing with them is not working - it's time for more women to get involved.

By holding extreme views, the extremists only hurt themselves. It's time to talk! understand, show them the alternative side.

We are with YOU !!!!!

Cheers ;- )

Emie Zozobrado's picture

Thanks a lot, Farona!

Oh yes, sister! I draw my courage from the faith that you are with me! This is my first time to open my heart and bare my soul to the world - through Pulsewire, because I know you're there. We know we can make it, of course! We just have to keep holding each other as we get going ... and we will be there! All the best...

Always,
Emie Zozobrado

Angela U's picture

Well done!

Emie,

Thanks for doing such a good job of introducing PulseWire readers to a situation that is often overlooked by the mainstream media. Appreciate your hard work and dedication!

All the best,
Angela

Emie Zozobrado's picture

Thanks so much, Angelu!

Sister, thank you for taking the time to read my piece. It's really my pleasure to share. World Pulse is such an amazing community of loving sisters that it becomes so easy and confident to wear my heart on my sleeve... All the bst...

Always,
Emie Zozobrado

mrbeckbeck's picture

Wow Emie...

Emie,

Thank you for such a thorough background on your frontline experience. It is so informative to see the peace-building and recovery process through your eyes, and through your research. This is an excellently crafted piece that tells a complex story quite clearly. I love that women are becoming more and more involved as champions for peace and justice in your country (and the world!).

I do have one question that I hope you can clarify for me. How does (or would) the Ancestral Domain agreement help to usher in peace after such a long and complex fight? Would people be granted rights to live and stay in a particular space without fear? That point just wasn't clear to me, and I don't know enough about the situation...

Again, thank you for your excellent work on this piece and for all your work to bring a brighter future to your country.

Best,
Scott

Scott Beck
World Pulse Online Community Manager

Emie Zozobrado's picture

Hi Scott!

Thanks for the interest and the appreciation, Scott. Ancestral domain is where self-determination is anchored. The struggle for self-determination and preservation of cultural identity of the Bangsamoros or the Islamized natives is laid on the context that ancestral domain has always been there since time immemorial, that they have a civilization, and, in fact, they were actually self-sufficient and self-governing as a people long before the colonization period. They want a "Bangsamoro Homeland" as their legitimate claim as "Bangsamoro nation". An American historian by the name of Peter Gowing made a comprehensive account on this in his book "Mandate in Moroland." Ancestral domain encompasses 1) territory, 2) resources, and governance. The Bangsamoros are Muslims, and thus, they have never been comfortable with this series of governance systems based on Christian and non-Muslim doctrines, that is, 370 years of colonization under the Spaniards, 44 years under the USA, and 4 years through the Japanese occupation ... the combination/product of which has been passed through to the present system.

Among the very glaring differences is that while in our Constitution separation of church and state is very clear, in the Islamic civilization the Qur'an is the law. Understandably, the Holy Book is where their brand of governance is derived from - rooted into an Islamic system. And while our weekends are set on Saturday and Sunday, obviously since our rest days ("Sabbath"), their day of worship is a Friday. Also, while we are bound by the law to be monogamous, the Muslims here allow for four wives. That's only a few of the major differences, that's why there is unquestionable logic, meaning and value in the Bangsamoro's struggle for self-determination and preservation of cultural identity.

I do wish I had the privilege to explain the whole thing in more words ... and I do thank you so much for the chance to explain a bit .... All the best ...

Always,
Emie Zozobrado

Emie Zozobrado's picture

Hi Scott!

Thanks for the interest and the appreciation, Scott. Ancestral domain is where self-determination is anchored. The struggle for self-determination and preservation of cultural identity of the Bangsamoros or the Islamized natives is laid on the context that ancestral domain has always been there since time immemorial, that they have a civilization, and, in fact, they were actually self-sufficient and self-governing as a people long before the colonization period. They want a "Bangsamoro Homeland" as their legitimate claim as "Bangsamoro nation". An American historian by the name of Peter Gowing made a comprehensive account on this in his book "Mandate in Moroland." Ancestral domain encompasses 1) territory, 2) resources, and governance. The Bangsamoros are Muslims, and thus, they have never been comfortable with this series of governance systems based on Christian and non-Muslim doctrines, that is, 370 years of colonization under the Spaniards, 44 years under the USA, and 4 years through the Japanese occupation ... the combination/product of which has been passed through to the present system.

Among the very glaring differences is that while in our Constitution separation of church and state is very clear, in the Islamic civilization the Qur'an is the law. Understandably, the Holy Book is where their brand of governance is derived from - rooted into an Islamic system. And while our weekends are set on Saturday and Sunday, obviously since our rest days ("Sabbath"), their day of worship is a Friday. Also, while we are bound by the law to be monogamous, the Muslims here allow for four wives. That's only a few of the major differences, that's why there is unquestionable logic, meaning and value in the Bangsamoro's struggle for self-determination and preservation of cultural identity.

I do wish I had the privilege to explain the whole thing in more words ... and I do thank you so much for the chance to explain a bit .... All the best ...

Always,
Emie Zozobrado

Adelma A.Linatoc's picture

What i can say . . .

Dear Emie,

So sad to say that my opinion regarding the peace process doing in Mindanao will not prosper because what i know is there's a key player manipulating what had happening there.Our co-Filipinos are fighting with each other,our generals,military,etc.need that area,they can't be promoted.All the explosions that happened in Glorietta,LRT and recently in EDSA are all issues and scripted that there's somebody behind who try to "condition" the minds of the people,even to the point that a lot of peoples lives have been sacrificed.May we question our former security adviser for this?
I'm also wondering why those who colonized our country like(Spain-am not thankful for making our country Christian kono?that bringing the CROSS(Spade,Sword) and worship it,and Lapu-lapu opposed and fought with Magellan, USA,Japan)too many stories that space here can,t be enough,went here and control us,it's because our country is so rich,seas,mountains,rivers,etc.Why don't they leave us alone?
I,ve known a lot of our Muslim brothers who are so kind and good.What's happening here is,when you are fighting for peoples and humans rights,you are branded as communist or NPA,it's we are only doing in our little way following Christs' teachings.
Here also in Urban,a lot of families don't have presentable place to live and if a wealthy and powerful person happened to own the place/area the FIRE is the answer to clear and vacate it.It's a reality here that's why women and children suffer.Hay,where to start?

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