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Art Studies 1

Reaction Paper: “The Islamized Groups in the Philippines: Underscoring System Problems And
Mitigating Their Predicaments As Citizens”

For many years, Muslims, the holders of the Islamic faith, have been continuing their
longing for their own freedom against the cultural empiricism made by the Western countries.
Their struggle, although have sometimes bared the fruit they have always wanted, is still not
enough. Why? It is because their suffering seems to be periodic and up until the present, still not
all the Muslims are free of majority of society’s (most of the Christian) discrimination. Formerly,
even I myself was a part of that majority.

One dreadful effect of this problem is the association of the word “Islamized” to the word
“Marginalized”. And as the author of this article being reviewed recommends, one way to finally
end this fight is through the promotion of greater awareness on Islamic culture. This can be done
through the showing of good things about the Muslims by the media, and the more important
one, through the integration of the true and well-deserved Muslim representation in academics.
In the case of the later one, I have proven this to be true for I was already able to change my
perceptions of the Muslims groups from my wrong impressions at the start.

The very first step is the defining of the word “culture”—its meaning and context. As
Schein says, this abstract culture is mainly manifested in the arts of a particular group of people.
These material arts which belong to the visible organizational structures are easy to see but hard
to decipher. As he further defines it, to get the meaning of these material manifestations, one
must get to the people’s shared basic assumptions. By “shared basic assumptions,” he means this
as the taken-for-granted and hard-to-decipher belief systems which are operational at the
unconscious level that serves to be the most meaningful. And relating this to the understanding of
the Muslims or by other people in general, this is a reminder that before we judge them, we
should ask ourselves first if we really know them in the first place. Our knowledge of them will
be the one that validates our assumptions. In effect, if we are able to understand their way living,
then we know how to live in peace with them, or how to act or deal with them in case a problem
will occur. This will also eliminate our offending questions to them regarding their practices and
beliefs because we already know that it is just the way of their life. And we don’t have the right
to dictate their lives. In short, everybody will be happy and will live in harmony.

And to define the culture or how the Muslims live in their everyday lives, we can bring
up the factors that condition their modes of living, the way they implement their practices, and
what do they value. The goal of knowing all of these is to clarify, to enhance, and maybe even to
eliminate some misconceptions we, Christians, generally know about them.

Muslims mostly are found in the southern part of the Philippines. There are 13 groups
that comprise the holders of the Islamic faith. 6 of these 13 groups constitute 96% (near 4

who married the daughter of the chieftain that time. The influence of the sea has touched different aspects of the Muslims in the southern Philippines. Raja Lakandula and Raja Sulayman became the rulers. There other things in which they differ like for example. Another factor would be that of the benefits Muslims get from this religion. Muslims in Mindanao is greatly influenced by the sea. culture. according to a Maguindanao tarsila. Yakan of Basilan. their ukkil designs are the most individualistic of the three. Samas and the Badjaos. For three centuries. who made the “house of worship” when he had introduced the study of Quran. This difference suggests that Tausugs are more into Islam. He later on became the political leader of Bwansa. as well as their harvesting success . Since Sulu is an archipelago. their lives have been enhanced rather shifted by the religion Islam. Muslims struggled against the Spaniards’ Christianity. Maranao of Lanao. Maranaos are farmers while the Maguindanaos are fishermen and traders of brasswares. As for the Badjaos. Aside from Sulu. But how were these groups became Muslims anyway? Earliest appearance of a Muslim in Mindanao was dated back in 1310 A. More so. Islam has even reached Manila where Raja Matanda. Islam continued to spread in the Cotabato by Sharief Awliya and Sharief Maraja. They are the Tausug of Sulu.D. Samas’ ukkil compositions are the most detailed and where intricate designs could be found. On the contrary. while the Samas are somewhat in the middle of the two. Although the smallest in terms of number among the groups.million) of the Muslim population in the Philippines. Islam became a famous religion then. Then the arrival of a certain Karimul Makhdum in Bwansa was mentioned in a Sulu tarsila (a genealogical account). Iranun of Malabang (Southwestern Mindanao). Then it was followed by the arrival of Raja Baguinda. and Badjaos are not yet that Islamized. Jolo for this is where his grave was found. By sixteen hundred onwards. art. the degree of their being Islamized. tonong. Islam somewhat differs from place to place. as evidenced by a grave of someone named Tuan Mashaika who probably lived in Maimbung. Samas are strand dwellers or residing near land and sea. which includes their occupation. One factor that has contributed to Islam’s success is its flexibility. the Muslims have successfully defended their territory. This has resulted to a cultural synthesis between the religion Islam and addat (indigenous culture) among the different groups Islam has reached. it is good to note that the Badjaos of Tawi-tawi contribute a significant part to the art works associated with the religion Islam. Next was arrival of Sayyid Abubakar. they make offering to these spirits to which they attribute their physical and mental well-being. An example of this varying degree of being Islamized among the different Muslim groups is what is reflected on the ukkil compositions of the Tausugs. while the Badjaos are boat dwellers. And everytime Spaniards attempted to change Muslims’ faith in Mindanao. values and modes of living of course. In effect. etc. Sama of Tawi-tawi. Maguindanao of Cotabato. They are also associated with the idea that their ukkil are sort of the more traditional ones. This cultural mix has resulted to what is called “Folk Islam”. Tausug ukkil designs are the simplest of the three. So we can say that in a way. An example of this blending is the beliefs of some people to the world of the spirits like the diwata.

God is the center of all their concerns. This suggests that they worship these spirits. Starting from the house decorations. and figurative forms such as the Naga and sarimanok. 4). This is the closest thing that resembles Islam’s the Divine or God. Six Articles. and 5). coming form the Arabic word “to submit” or “to surrender” to the will of God. That is why the religion was named Islam. Islam really had a good effect on the newly converted Muslims by that time.belief in Heaven . gravemarkers with intricate curvilinear deigns called sunduk. Five Pillars include: 1). Islamic art work however refers to any work of art that expresses the Islamic concept of space--tawhid. although there are only limited aspects to which Islam tolerates. and the batin or the spiritual world. Further success of the religion Islam in Mindanao was also manifested in the art works found in Mindanao. For the Muslims. to which every Muslim is treated as brothers and sisters. To answer this means to just know what are the prerequisites for an art to be called a Muslim art or rather Islamic art. There is a confusion of how will we recognize or differentiate Muslim art from Islamic art. and holy books like the Hadith (Sayings) and Sunnah (Mohammad’s practice). the use of the curvilinear designs called the ukkil. There is a common part in almost all of the art works of the Muslims. they treated the introduction of Islam to them as a God’s blessing. Muslims believe in the concept of Tawhid which encompasses both the zahir or the material world. a figure believed to have come from the stylized Naga. boats like the Badjao’s jengngeng and lepa.praying five times a day. This resulted to a greater area of land controlled by the Sultans in both the Malay and Philippine Muslims. and brasswares as well as musical instrument like the kulintangan and gongs.the utterance of the Shahada (Profession of Faith). the concept of ummah or the wider Islamic community.fasting during the time of Ramadan. there are diverse works that has resulted with the influence of Islam. In politics. on the other hand include: 1). As the basis of their beliefs. Some examples are the weapons they use like the kalis and barung. 5).belief in Angels of God of which Angel Gabriel is the intermediary between God and Prophets. As a matter of fact. Ideologically. Having said that. they consult holy books in which Q’uran is the most prominent. 4). malongs used by the Muslim women. In Arts.belief in holy scriptures of God of which Q’uran was regarded as the last of them. 2). which is clearly in opposition to Islam’s belief in monotheism. they also taught to have an integrated bangsa or nationality. each Muslim believes the Five Pillars and the Six Articles as a guide and mode of their practice. For their beliefs. ukkil is found. boats and boat flags.beliefs in prophets of whom Mohammad was the last. 3). 2). mats of different materials like the rattan Boras siyabit. 3). was inculcated with them.the once in a lifetime Pilgrimage to Mecca if physically and financially capable.belief in one God.farming and fishing. sunduk. This is where Islam’s flexibility comes.Zakat or the giving of alms to those who are in need. which made them easy to have alliance with the neighbouring Malay borders. Any art work that is done by a Muslim artist is considered a Muslim Art.

That is why rebel groups starting from the New People’s Army (NPA) down to today’s Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) keep on fighting for their lands that were stolen from them. the efforts they give in their fight against internal colonialism present in the Philippines are looking bad in the eyes of the many Christians. This is where the negative Moro image in the minds of the Christians comes. these lands are still in danger of being taken away from them. That is why the persistence of the negative Moro image still continues upto the present. . It is very evident as we can see in the diminishing heritage lands of the Muslims that first included almost all of Mindanao. and also what their religion had taught--to them whenever there is a need to defend their territory. these efforts they give in their fight were just of a defensive warfare form. An example is the exteriorization of the sovereignty and power of the Muslims in history text books. down to just today’s 4 provinces where the Muslims reside.” Again. Historical-wise the fight of the Muslims and non-Muslims here in the Philippines differ in terms of their purpose. the recorded population of both the Muslims and Christians in Mindanao starting from the 1850’s until the 1970’s clearly states it all. Christians had already overtaken Muslims’ population by having an annual increase of 29. by the year 1939. and 6). The concept of misrepresentation of the Muslims is also a great factor that conditions the poor relationship between the Christians and Muslims. while the Muslims only increases annually by 5. Since they are the marginalized group unlike the Christians. That is why it is wrong to say that Muslims are just war-freaks because they have a reason for doing that. In particular. they had it through the Resettlement Programs they implemented after the First World War. Unfortunately. the purpose was to regain.3%. Sulu’s people and courage was given credit by American military historian Vic Hurley as “fighting men who take the first rank in martial history. Muslims have really a separate struggle against the Spaniards which was proven to be true by the many treaties Spain has made with them. Another suspected agenda of those resettlement programs was the obliteration of the distinct character of the Lumad (Mindanao indigenous groups) and the Muslims. This is the greatest fear of the Muslims— assimilation of their culture to somewhat like to that of the Christians. They were forced to fight because of the unreasonable conditions Spain had imposed on them. although only 4 provinces are left to them. But in reality. How did the government do that (the throwing away of the Muslims in their own homelands)? Well.9%. and claiming that the independence we gained was solely due to the efforts done by the Christians here in the Philippines. and not to maintain just like the Muslims did. For the Christians. Their goals are clear: to still be isolated from the Christians and for their culture to be preserved and not be assimilated. The misrepresentation of the Muslims by the scholars to only as “problems” has a reason: the government-sponsored unitary system wants all the land in the Philippines to belong to themselves.and Hell.belief in Qadar or the “Predestination” of a Muslim that is associated with his own words and actions. just to clarify it. Based on statistics.

the President of the country. This is because there are two groups of people that are historically and culturally different. Another kind of misrepresentation is the unlevelled number of Muslims and Christians in the Philippine government in the playing field. at the bottom of which is the fact that Muslims are culturally distinct and historically older than that of the Filipino Nationality. then maybe they are just in the Congress and not in the higher Senate. The former one could be done through the revision of the textbooks that should now include the separate story of the fight of the Muslims! . If there are Muslims officials in the government. And according to Samuel Huntington. This reflects their being powerless in terms of laws that would supposedly protect their rights and secure equal opportunity for them as to that of the Christians. and more so. That is why it is not new to know why the poorest of the poor provinces mostly include that of the Muslims’. I have never known a Muslim that had made it to the Senate. the prevalent government-sponsored unitary system here in the country is just not fit for the Philippines. possible solutions are the federalism of the government (because Autonomy seems nonsense in a Unitary system type of government) and the propagation of more consciousness about the Islamic culture done in the academe. the Moro Problem is a multi- dimensional system problem. To sum it up. As the author of the article being reviewed recommends.