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Is the term 'Moro' wrongly used again?

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Historians tell us that the Spaniards were the first people on earth who used the term “Moro” or “Moros” to refer generally to the native inhabitants of Mindanao and Sulu. So, there is nothing horrifying or scary about this term from the standpoint of sociology and anthropology. It is just a generic term that the Spaniards used to collectively identify all the natives of Mindanao and Sulu. Historically and under the anthropological classification by the Spaniards and later on also by the Americans, all the native inhabitants of Mindanao and Sulu are Moros without any distinction as to ethnicity or creed. This is a well-established, unimpeachable, and irrefutable historical fact.

The term “Moro” as I have consistently opined and emphasized, does not have endemic linguistic or dialectal roots in Mindanao and Sulu. It is entirely a foreign word which could be traced to the Muslim inhabitants of North West Africa of mixed Berber and Arab descent, called the Moors. ( Ref: Reader’s Digest of the Great Dictionary of the English Language).

According to SirGanz from MSU, Marawi City, and author of the article which can be accessed on-line, entitled, “The Origin of the Term Moro,” the first mention of this word is attributed to the interpreter of Ferdinand Magellan to Rajah Humabon of Cebu.

“ Moro” obviously comes from the first four letters of the country, Morocco, the inhabitants of which had been responsible for the conquest of Spain and held it under their firm control for nearly eight hundred years. (Ref: “The Age of the Moors in Spain”, pp. 289-295 of the book, entitled, “ Amazing Tales  From Times Gone By” published by the Reader’s Digest Association Limited).

The Spaniards during their determined attempts at conquest of Mindanao and Sulu, referred to the natives practicing Islam as Moros because of their striking racial resemblance to the Moors of Morocco, their former Muslim conquerors. Later when the Americans came as the victors of the Spanish-American War, the same word was used to refer to all the native inhabitants of Mindanao and Sulu without distinction as to ethnicity or religion. One historical fact supporting the assertion that the Americans classified all the native inhabitants as Moros, was the creation of the Moro Province which comprised all the territories belonging to Mindanao and Sulu. So anybody residing as a native of Mindanao and Sulu irrespective of religion and ethnicity was classified as Moro by the Americans.

Summing up our discussion, it was the Spaniards who first used the term “Moro” according to SirGanz. On the other hand, it was the Americans who used the word “Moros” to refer to all the native inhabitants of Mindanao and Sulu without distinction as to religion or ethnicity by organizing the Moro Province. Based on this historical fact, it is logical to conclude that it was the Americans who territorially acknowledged and recognized that Mindanao and Sulu comprise the ancestral homeland of the Moro people-meaning all their native inhabitants.

Before I forget, let me remind you again that the term “Moro” is not endemic to the linguistic or dialectal heritage of Mindanao and Sulu. It is by first usage and derivation, a foreign word traceable to MOROCCO. By the way, is it being used wrongly again? From the viewpoints of the Spaniards and the Americans, who do you think are not Moros in Mindanao and Sulu since they were the first users of the word “Moro?” Why don’t we ask them to dispel all the confusion surrounding this foreign term?

By Clem M. Bascar




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