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CONFUSION OVER THE TERM “MORO”

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Until now on my Facebook account, wall, or timeline, friends still ask me about the term “Moro.” A lot of people still hold the impression or notion that the word “Moros” refers exclusively to those inhabitants of Mindanao and Sulu who practice the Islam faith religiously and interchangeably called Moslems or Muslims.

In truth and in fact, the impression or notion is only partly correct because the term “Moro” as I explained in my previous articles, was originally used by the Spaniards to refer to all the indigenous peoples or tribes of Mindanao and Sulu when they first set foot on these two Islamic kingdoms in 1598. These two Islamic kingdoms were the Sultanate of Sulu and the Sultanate of Maguindanao which were established as early as the 15th Century about 217 years ahead of the federal government of the United States and about 440 years earlier than the Republic of the Philippines reckoned from July 4, 1946 when it was granted self-government by the United States.

There were already Muslims in Mindanao and Sulu when the Spaniards arrived because the Islam faith was introduced in these areas by an Arab religious missionary, historically known as Karim-ul Makhdum as early as 1380, about 141 years ahead of Christianity if we base our reckoning on March 16 1521, the date when Ferdinand Magellan was wrongly reported to have discovered the Philippine Islands. Wrong, because the term “discovery” refers only to the finding of uninhabited territories. This explains why the two Sultanates were founded on the Islamic doctrine of Statehood patterned after the form of government of Saudi Arabia. The Sulu Sultanate was founded by Rajah Baguinda whose first Sultan was Abu Bakr, otherwise known as Sharif-ul Hashim, on November 17, 1405 while the Sultanate of Maguindanao ( Mindanao) was establish by Shariff  Mohammed Kabungsuwan in Malabang, Lanao toward the end of the 16th Century according to historians.

Since the natives inhabitants of Mindanao and Sulu including those who were already converted to the Islam faith generally resembled the “MOORS,” the medieval Muslim inhabitants of Morocco who conquered Spain in the 8th Century, it was logical for the Spaniards to lump these natives under the term “Moros,” irrespective of whether they were Moslems or pagans.

When the Spaniards succeeded in placing under their control some coastal areas in Mindanao and Sulu, the Spanish priests started converting the natives including those who were already Muslims to Christianity.  Therefore, the Muslims and the Christians originally all came from the natives who were generally called “Moros” by the Spaniards and later on also by the American who joined Mindanao and Sulu into one Military Department and several years after, organized them as the “Moro Province.” 

THIS MAKES US ALL MUSLIMS, CHRISTIANS, AND THE LUMADS IN MINDANAO AND SULU RACIAL BROTHERS AND SISTERS FOR ORIGINALLY AND HISTIORICALLY THE SPANIARDS AND AMERICANS CALLED US COLLECTIVELY “MOROS.”   

By Clem M. Bascar




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