Physically, what separates Luzon and Mindanao, are the Philippine Sea, and the Visayas island group. Modern transportation has enabled this physical distance to be bridged: what was once a several-day sea journey, can also be traversed by a 1-2 hour airplane flight (if you have the money for it, of course).
In terms of sentiment, however, it is not just a gulf that separates the two islands. It is a deep chasm which, at least in this lifetime, will never be fully crossed, much less bridged.
Mindanawons (and Visayans as well) have always harbored some ill feelings – the more precise term sama ng loob loses a lot of nuance in translation – towards Manileños and Imperial Manila. They perceive them as arrogant and high-browed. A word that keeps coming up a lot is condescension.
The recent situation in Marawi has inadvertently revealed, that Imperial Manila has NO INTENTION of bridging the gap, amicably, between Luzon and Mindanao.
As one netizen has pointed out on social media, Mindanawons and Visayans were generally angry at the terrorists, but a lot of the voices from Luzon focused their anger instead on the declaration of Martial Law by president Rodrigo Duterte.
Unfortunately, Manileños’ acting the way they did only served to solidify Imperial Manila’s reputation for giving a damn about Mindanao only when it affects them one way or another. At other times, it is generally walang pakialaman, bahala kayo sa buhay niyo.
It should not really come as much of a surprise, then, that Mindanawons tell Manileños to stay out of their affairs. Imperial Manila, after all, has sort of carved out a reputation for itself for leeching off Mindanao, and giving a damn about them only when Manila needs something from them.
Certain parts of Mindanao have always been unstable/volatile. The proximity of the island to Malaysia and Indonesia, in particular, has made it a choice spot for insurgent groups to hide in, and use as a base of operations and a transit point. Mindanawons know very well instability both from external and internal sources. While peaceful co-existence is indeed possible, as pointed out by locals, the presence of conflict among local ethnic groups, and local rebel units will never truly go away, either.
The sentiment of Mindanawons regarding the instability of their environment is rather simple:
“We want it to stop.”
Common sense: if Mindanawons could have done it by themselves, they would have done so already. They are an independent, hardy group of people. But they have their limits as well; it has become necessary, for quite some time, that the national government step in to help end instability in the region.
Therefore, the question that confronts Manileños and Imperial Manila is also rather simple:
Will Manileños and Imperial Manila ever truly understand what Mindanao needs?
The starting point – very critical – of such understanding rests on one thing: whether Manileños will finally start talking to Mindanawons, instead of talking down to them.
- Things of the past - November 30, 2018
- The difference between Duterte’s words and the Opposition’s - October 31, 2018
- Why are Filipinos reluctant to call wrongdoing out? - September 30, 2018
- Going around in circles - August 31, 2018
- Resurgence, relevance, and regard for the future, all in the SONA - July 31, 2018