Graphics taken from this link: http://www.skyscrapercity.com/showthread.php?t=399351&page=8.
Before anything, let me state that for me and the people I grew up with, the word, Moro or Moros, as used in our dialect, is indeed a name loosely ascribed to the Maranaos who reside in the Lanao provinces which abut our own province of Misamis Oriental, and as previously stated, since they were the most likely Muslims we had early contacts with.
But in a strict sense, many of my generation do have a deeper connotation of the pejorative, Moros, which judgment was derived largely from its usage in our island’s history. As that of stubborn, bellicose and recalcitrant “bandits” who wrought mayhem and havoc in the southern parts of the island and also in the Lanao provinces. And from whose numbers we got rudely introduced to the dreaded “juramentado” killings. And who also entertained no peaceable desires to integrate or be part of our communities. For my generation, the name Hadji Kamblon easily comes to mind because of his well-reported misdeeds when we were growing up.
By the way, the term Islam was largely unknown or unmentioned during our milieu, and credit this to our Catholic upbringing which demanded strict exclusivity derived from its claim as the only rightful religion, which then even discouraged fraternizing with any members of the Protestant sects. But we did use the terms, Moro and Muslim (though usually spelled as Moslem) to refer to persons of that particular ethnic group. Thus, their religion was a non-issue in the many perceived differences we thought we had with them.
Thus while the experiences of other locals have partaken of a different color, in our own circle of relatives and acquaintances, we do not believe that we sheltered any anti-Moro bias toward them as an ethnic group. Though we may have nurtured very strong and unequivocal negative feelings about particular Maranao personalities.
We definitely are able to provide anecdotal evidence to buttress this.
To the present day, any resident or even non-resident of the island who can trace his/her lineage to the Neri genealogy at the drop of a hint, will proudly declare to one and all that he/she is descended from the stock of Sampurna one of the royal families of the Maranao people. Though the veracity of this claim may still be hazy or unresolved based on historical evidence, or in a worst case scenario, the basis of this claim may be woven largely with the stuff of legends, Neri descendants, even those too far removed from their Neri roots, continue to blindly adhere to this. This touted legacy is valued largely for the renowned bravery and fearlessness of the Muslim heart and soul.
It will indeed look at odds for the Neri descendants, which to this day represent a large swath of the population in the island of Mindanao, to house very negative attitudes toward this Muslim tribe while at the same time hitching their genealogy and fealty to this stock. Unless, we can admit that they do have pride for this ethnic group, however romanticized it may have become.
As a kid of the 50’s it was not unusual to get visits from our supposedly-related Muslims from the Lanao provinces, dressed in their tribal garb. My father being a lawyer, the visits were mostly for legal advice or to engage his services regarding certain cases. I distinctly recall accompanying my father on his jeep as he drove to Dansalan City to represent certain Muslims in a case. I carried and took care of his portfolio case, filed with his notes and other documents.
In the early 60’s, an elder brother, newly hired as a salesman of San Miguel Corporation, covered the Lanao areas, including Marawi City. And it was then considered nothing out of the ordinary for Christians to be in such a position.
Then as late as the early 70’s, working for a bank in Cagayan, I and our manager drove to Iligan and to Marawi to conduct an economic survey of the two places for possible branch sites. Again, we went around by ourselves, freely and unhampered by any untoward incident.
These and more clearly indicate that though during those times inter-migration was not that rampant, there was co-existence, however delicate or even uneasy it may have appeared. And now we have within our midst large numbers of Muslims from other tribes originating from as far away as Zamboanga, Cotabato, Davao, and Sulu.
So is there anti-Moro bias in the city, enough to be labeled as common and pervasive?
In my opinion, the “squeaky wheel that gets oiled” issue in our comparative relationships with these ethnic groups continues as before to be the undesirable things reported segments within these groups perpetrate, not only within our communities but including in theirs. Such disdainful acts as the at times senseless terroristic bombings, the often indiscriminate gruesome killings, widespread use and ownership of deadly weapons, corruption in government positions occupied, the widespread sale and purchase of contrabands, and yes, even undesirable behavior in social settings.
For the last item mentioned, how many of us have Muslim neighbors close enough to be considered part of our extended circle of friends or families? Or have neighbors that one can openly and unabashedly proclaim how good that has been? For me personally, I cannot point to any one family, though tried I did to be inclusive in our renting out a few residential spaces we own. And I cannot point to any of my close circle of friends or relatives who can relate incidents of this nature beyond whispers.
Maybe it is not anti-anything, but more like keeping a safe distance from possible problems. Thus our unsaid reservations may not be due to ignorance or misconception, but stemming from an innate desire to live safe and secure which ought to be most crucial to any society.
Lastly, so far it has been about observations and attitudes expressed and espoused from the eyes of the Christian population, and how the group has acted and responded when confronted with these thorny ethnic questions.
So what about our ethnic brothers, what have they done toward seamless integration with the rest of the population who clearly are the overwhelming majority? How will they answer the question whether they do or not shelter anti-Christian biases, especially as reflected and taught in their religion?