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Lumads-Moros, Muslims, and Christians

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(BY: CLEM M. BASCAR) Glossary of Terms for this Article

1. Bangsa- An old Malay word meaning “nation” or “state”.
2. Christian- Lumad (Moro to the Spaniards) converted to Christianity in Mindanao and Sulu or any person in the world practicing the Christian faith.
3.  Filipino- Indio, Lumad, and Moro converted to Christianity who became subjects of Spain and now citizens of the Republic of the Philippines. Origin of its usage is attributed to the Spaniards.
4. Indios- the monicker given by the Spaniards to the natives of Luzon and Visayas, the same name given to the indigenous or native inhabitants of the Americas.
5. Lumad- a Bisayan term meaning “native” or “indigenous”.
6. Moros- the monicker given by the Spaniards to refer generally to the native inhabitants of Mindanao and Sulu including the Muslims.
 7. Muslim or Moslem- Lumad converted to Islam in Mindanao and Sulu or any person in the world practicing the Islam faith.

Perhaps many again would raise their eyebrows and accuse me of creating chaos in the minds of our multi-cultural population after reading this surprisingly unusual article. Although, I feel no offense from this negative impression as collateral consequence of my evidently excessive literary treatment with respect to the colonial history of Mindanao and Sulu, may I just request those who commonly carry this intellectual baggage, to read this particular piece of literature completely and diligently as a gracious act of indulgence and fairness.   

As our common frame of historical and ancestral reference, let me begin by stressing the fact that before the arrival of the Spaniards in Mindanao and Sulu, there were no “Moros” living anywhere in these areas. Confirming this historical fact, may I quote what a reputable author of the book, Bangsamoro:  A Nation Under Endless Tyranny, SALAH JUBAIR, on page 14 as follows:

“By a confluence of circumstances, the Spaniards were correct as far as the issue of religious identification is concerned. But on the aspect of nationality, they probably erred, for there was no Moro to speak of at that time—there were only people of the same racial group, the Indo-Malayan race, who happened to inhabit certain parts claimed for the King of Spain. The only distinction was that one group was Islamized and the other was still pagan.”

 According to historians, anthropologists, and sociologists, there were 13 ethno-linguistic or indigenous tribes they orignally discovered and identified. At present they are collectively called “Lumads,” a Bisayan term meaning “native” or indigenous. It was adopted by a group of 15 out of the more  than 18 Mindanao ethnic groups who were represented in the Lumad Mindanao Peoples Federation (LMPF) Congress held at the Guadalupe Formation Center, Balindog, Kidapawan, Cotabato on June 26, 1986 to distinguish them from other Mindanaos, Moros and Christians.

The use of the term “Lumads” to refer generally to all the native inhabitants of Mindanao and Sulu was officially and legally recognized in Article XIII Section 8 of Republic Act 6734 to distinguish these ethnic communities from the Bangsamoro which is a relatively new national identity organizationally adopted by the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) in their vigorous and earnest pursuit of the expeditious enactment of the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) for the abolition of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) and the establishment of a new sub-political entity pursuant to the Framework  Agreement on the Basngsamoro (FAB) and the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro CAB) approved by both the GPH and MILF Peace Panels. The 15 Lumads present in that Congress were:  Subanen, B’Laan, Mandaya, Banwaon, Talaandig, Ubo, Manobo, T’boli, Tiruray, Bagobo , Agakaolo, Higaonon, Dibabawon, Manguangan, and Mansaka. Please give special attention and notice to the fact that “Moro” is not included as a native or indigenous tribe in Mindanao and Sulu. (Reference: FAINA ULINDANG, author of “Lumads In Mindanao.”)

Therefore, if “Moro”  as an ethnic identity is not native or indigenous in Mindanao and Sulu, where did this word come from, and who first used it?Quoting again the author, SALAH JUBAIR, on page 13 of his book I cited above, the following is his explicit and straightforward answer:

“All the monickers assigned to the natives, Indio, Moro, and Filipino were given by the Spaniards. History should credit them for giving us all these names, either out of hatred or by reasons of similarities, or by force of circumstances, or by all of the above.”

This  historical claim that it was the Spaniards who first used the term “Moros” referring to all the indigenous inhabitants of Mindanao and Sulu is confirmed by the New Encyclopedia Britannica and FLorence Horn, author of the book entitled, “Orphans of the Pacific,”  simply because they resembled the Moors, the ancient inhabitants of Mauritania, North Africa who conquered Spain in the 8th Century. On the basis of the cited authoritative references, it is logical to conclude that there are three  kinds of “Moros” who commonly came from the 13 (now more than 18) ethno-linguistic or indigenous groups. These are; (1) Muslims, (2) Christians and (3) The remaining Lumads who are not Muslims or Christians.

 From the standpoint of the Spaniards, it is not anthropologically correct to assume that the word “Moros” only refers to the Muslim inhabitants of Mindanao and Sulu, although factually, there were many who were already practicing the Islam faith when the Spaniards came because the introduction of this faith in Mindanao and Sulu according to historians, was as early as 1380, about 141 years ahead of Christianity if we base our reckoning from the date  Ferdinand Magellan arrived on March 16, 1521 recorded as the discovery of the Philippine Islands. Most likely, the Spaniards thought that the natives of Mindanao and Sulu were already completely Islamized which was only partially true.

Over time, as the Spaniards succeeded in conquering and occupying some coastal areas in Mindanao and Sulu, many Lumads and some who were already  Muslims including a Sultan of Sulu, were converted to Christianity. Deductively, all the Muslims and Christians in Mindanao and Sulu  came from the Lumads who were generally called “Moros” by the Spaniards. Therefore, from the genealogical standpoint, the Lumads are the common ancestors of the Muslims and Christians. And on account of the fact that the Spaniards according to highly credible, widely- respected, and accredited authors and historians, failed to conquer, colonize, and Christianize in totality Mindanao and Sulu, a large number up to the present remain  Muslims and the more than 18 ethno-linguistic groups still retain their native or indigenous identities who are now collectively called Lumads.

Therefore, from the perspective of the Spaniards, who are the only ones not “Moros” in Mindanao and Sulu? Inferentially, only those migrant  natives (Indios) from Luzon and Visayas  and the foreigners coming from the differents countries of the world who are now permanent residents of these two territories.

Again from the point of view of the Spaniards who first used the monicker “Moros” to refer to the native inhabitants  of Mindanao and Sulu, the three kinds of “Moros” living in these two territories at present,  are: (1.) the more than 18 remaining Lumads,(natives); (2)  the Lumads who were converted to Muslims, and (3.) the Lumads who were converted to Christians. This is the obvious reason why this article is entitled: = LUMADS= MOROS, MUSLIMS, AND CHRISTIANS

Now, if  you accuse me of giving literary importance to the “Moros,” that should not in anyway alarm anyone for I am just giving fair treatment to all the native inhabitants of Mindanao and Sulu who are actually the  Lumads  from where the Muslims and Christian originally and  commonly came.
 Irreversibly, this leads us to the logical conclusion that by common racial root or ancestry, we are all brothers and sisters and therefore, must live together in peace, unity, and harmony despite the differences in our religious beliefs and other distinctions as unintended or accidental consequences of our long history of heroic struggle for independence, self-determination, and preservation of our sacred and inalienable human rights and liberties against foreign conquerors and invaders.

 After all if we really make a scientific, comprehensive, and impartial historical research, the prejudices, biases, misconceptions, stereotypes, divisions, and differences existing between and among us (Lumads, Moros, Muslims, Christians, et al), it is almost a certainty that these were, to a large measure, maliciously injected into our collective consciousness by our former colonial masters.




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