Bridging the divide between Manila and Mindanao

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.

Subscribe to our Substack community GRP Insider to receive by email our in-depth free weekly newsletter. Opt into a paid subscription and you'll get premium insider briefs and insights from us.
Subscribe to our Substack newsletter, GRP Insider!
Learn more

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.

6 Replies to “Bridging the divide between Manila and Mindanao”

  1. Our present “sama ng loob”, was the result of the “divide and conquer” tactic of the Spanish and American colonizers. The Spaniards, were not able to conquer fully Mindanao, because Spain was under Islamic rule, for many centuries. There are still many Spanish Muslims, at present, living in Spain.

    The Americans used Mindanao as sites for Corporate Agriculture.

    We are all Filipinos. I have seen the features of the people of Mindanao, the same as my features. I am from Luzon…let us help each other on this problem.

    ISIS wants to establish an ISIS Caliphate in Mindanao; the same as they did in Iraq and Syria. The ISIS religious ideology is not compatible with the present day modern political ideologies. ISIS religious ideology came from an 11th century Islamic religious ideology. I don’t know why it came out in this 21st century time…

    You don’t talk to terrorists…you don’t bargain, with terrorists…you don’t deal with terrorists. There is no other ways, except to defeat them; and to exterminate them… I would suggest that the high command in the AFP, would put a comprehensive military plan to defeat these terrorists, once and for all…Pres. Vladimir Putin, checkmated them in Chekniya, Russia…ask help from the military strategists in Russia.

    One of my favorite General in World War II, was Russian General named : Marshall Zukov… he was a defending and attacking military strategist. He defeated the armies of Hitler, at Leningrad (St. Petersburg), Russia…

  2. should duterte government trust misuari? we must not forget he stage a siege in zamboanga to take it. it’s similar with marawi incident. the failure of the bbl will create more to take mindanao by force. there should be no armed groups except the AFP and the PNP.

    1. … we must not forget that all these terrorist are all breakaway group of the mnlf. is it really a breakaway or to expand their organizations?

      1. @salangintongbukid no, they just want to get separated entirely from the Philippines and establish an independent Muslim states due to their religious difference from the rest of our country, and we don’t want that in the end! But the question now is how we could prevent this scenario in the near future? Well the answer to this question is you could read the link below and I had a replied message there on how we could unite our country in spite of difference on race, religion, culture, language, etc. and have an everlasting peace, equality & development in the Philippines. (Clue, follow what Singapore did).

    2. Actually the Maute called themselves as an “ISIS” but it is not. They are self-proclaiming to be an ISIS affiliated organization and I think they belong to the private armies of one of the political clan of that region. That’s only my opinion so don’t mind me. 🙂

  3. The problem is politics is made a sport, almost as much a sport as basketball or football. When it comes to politics, adults and politicians do more finger-pointing and play more games than children ever do. Too often are we rooting for the pride of a team rather than the good of the nation.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.