Muslim Terrorist! Abu Sayaff! Killers! Murderers! Bandits! and other derogatory names called on me during my highschool years at a christian dominated area. This labeling really hurts badly as to some points it makes me cry and feel pity of myself why I was born a Muslim. Discriminated and the feeling of being shame because of my identity. As I want to escape the reality, I try using non-muslim sounding nicknames like McSlim and Jun or John. But to no avail I was still ask for my real fullname – Moslemen M. Macarambon Jr. After knowing my fullname, the question “Are you a Muslim?” will surely ask next.
Frustrated on my situation, sometimes the tendency to fight back is always there to get my dignity and respect back. Maybe I was just coward or I just don’t want to be in trouble and get into useless fights. I believe in the use of reason and not the use of power as the reason to resolve conflicts and misunderstanding. So I eat my pride to give way to peace. I tolerated their misdeeds to prove them wrong that we (Muslims) are not that war freak or war monger. Yes it takes a great leap to actually realize this and left a macho pride of a man plus we (Bangsamoro) are known to be fearsome and gallant warriors in this southern part of the Philippines. Sometimes I was also called “Gay” because I turn down to fight back. I keep my patience and try my best not to be affected by such. I believe tolerance and forgiveness is the key.
My discrimination as being a Muslim and a Moro force me struggle hard to be identified and be accepted for what I am. I really give a hard fight just to get acknowledge and affirm my offered friendship to my Christian classmates. At first, the pain of isolation was there to shake off the foundation of my belief of co-existence between Muslims and Christians. My unconditional love and friendship transcends beyond my Cultures, Traditions and Religion. That through planting seed of unconditional affirmation of the others as a human person, the elusive peace might grow big and will bear fruit the co-existence of multi-cultural, diverse tradition and religion in the society. Every affirmation is man potentials and possibilities to work for culture of peace and continue to realize and actualize to live together, promote tolerance and diversity in globalized societies.
I want to share the Parable of the Good Samaritan from Bible where two kinds of people – a Priest and a Levite just passed by a Man which is a victim of thieves who needs help and care. We can categorize the two of different race and diverse culture that because of this they limit themselves to be part of an important and vital role in promoting to sustain a just and meaningful co-existence. Unlike the Good Samaritan involves himself in helping the Man. We can also categorize the Good Samaritan as man who works for culture of peace and combat discrimination. He helps the man despite being different from him he still offers a helping hand and lend assistance. If the people now are just like the Good Samaritan the elusive peace is at hands reach.
The elusive peace is impossible if the discrimination continues to oppress and exploits the weak, the possibility of war is inevitable. The oppressed quest for freedom and respect will soon take up arms as possible retaliation and last resort to get acknowledge and respected. Taking arm struggles is very popular among revolutionaries fighting for equal rights, human rights and freedom. But I don’t believe on arm struggle as the ultimate solution for a problem. I still believe the diplomatic means to address the issues – Peace Talk.
Currently I enjoy respect and acceptance from my fellow Christian friends. My perseverance to win their friendship is working. I always try to be diplomatic at all times when there are issues between me and them. I don’t resort to violence to resolve our differences. One of the initiative I did to make our co-existence as possible is I build a website with forum for us. Our communication is open, thus exchanging ideas and thoughts are flowing and in return our bonding is getting stronger. Also in this way we can know each other better and also a way to totally understand our differences. There are some conflicts in our website forum but still we can manage to resolve.
I use the internet technology as my tool to bridge the gap of communication between us. Website really helps a lot despites our distances we can still have a good discussion at our forum. I’m now also on developing stage to create another community website for the purpose of documentation of our (Moro) history in mind to erase the ignorance and bias against us – Moro. I believe this is a worthwhile project to understand us better and to understand them also. Correct the malign and misinformation about us.
I’m confident that because of this website I developed, the derogatory names like Muslim Terrorist! Abu Sayaff! Killers! Murderers! Bandits! will be just a thing of the pasts. Thru this websites we can work together and co-exist in our community and also virtually. I’m proud to say I am a catalyst agent for culture of peace.