- Moro (ethnic group)
Infobox Ethnic group
group = Moro
population = 5 million (2006 estimate; 5.25% of the Philippine population)
regions = flagcountry|PHI smaller|(
Bangsamoro, Manila, Cebu)
Malaysiasmaller|( Sabah, Kuala Lumpur)
languages = Maguindanao, Maranao, Tausug, other Moro languages, Chabacano, Cebuano, Filipino, English, Malay
religions = Predominantly Islam
Lumad, Visayan, other Filipino peoples, other Austronesian peoples
The Moro are a
multilingual ethnic groupand the largest mainly non-Christian [ [http://www.reliefweb.int/rw/rwb.nsf/AllDocsByUNID/8165796a8b37db4ec1256d83004cfb65 Analysis: Philippines, Philippines: Insecurity and insufficient assistance hampers return, Situation Reports: Philippines, Philippines: Insecurity and insufficient assistance hampers return ] ] ethnic group in the Philippines, comprising about 5.25% of the total Philippine population as of 2005, [ [http://countrystudies.us/philippines/38.htm Philippines - Muslim Filipinos ] ] making them the sixth largest ethnic group in the country. Their name originated from the Spanish word Moor, and they mostly live in a region dubbed as " Bangsamoro" in the southern Philippines. Due to migration, Moro communities have also begun to appear in major cities like Manila, Cebu and Baguio.
Muslims and Christians have generally remained distinct societies.
When the Spanish arrived in the 15th century, they successfully integrated the northern and middle regions of the current Philippines into their growing empire. However, the Muslim South long remained a site of resistance and violence. Consequently, it grew isolated from the Westernizing influences of Spanish rule, including education, trade, and economic development. When the Philippines were ceded to the United States by Spain following the Spanish-American War, the new American administration treated the restive South as a separate entity with a separate administration. As with the Spanish, the violence endemic to the region continued the trend of isolation, with the Moro regions receiving little benefit from the US government investment, including the Thomasite teachers, establishment of economic institutions, and infrastructure investment. Consequently, by the time of independence in 1945, the Moro regions remained vastly underdeveloped in comparison to the rest of the nation, with a population that was highly illiterate and poorly educated, with an economy dependant on subsistence farming. The cycle of violence, lack of investment, and more violence has plagued the region ever since. The migration of wealthy, educated Christian Malays, mainly Cebuanos from the Visayas, into traditionally Moro areas contributed to the endemic resentment of the Moros to the Christian Malay majority (who today make up majorities in many historically Moro regions), and acted as an impetus for calls for an independent Moro homeland known as Bangsamoro.
A significant change of government policy led to the 1990 creation of the
Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, which gave Moros in the region control over certain aspects of government, but not their security and foreign affairs.
Social factors in the early 1990s contributed against the political autonomy sought by Muslim leaders. Industrial development and increased migration outside the region brought new educational demands and new roles for women. These changes in turn led to greater assimilation and, including intermarriage.
The "homeland" of the Moro is "Bangsamoro", the word comes from the Malay word "bangsa", meaning "nation" or "people", and the word "Moro".
Bangsamoro covers the provinces of
Basilan, Cotabato, Davao del Sur, Lanao del Norte, Lanao del Sur, Maguindanao, Palawan, Sarangani, South Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat, Sulu, Tawi-Tawi, Zamboanga del Sur, Zamboanga del Norte, and Zamboanga Sibugay. It also includes the cities of Cotabato, Dapitan, Dipolog, General Santos, Iligan, Marawi, Pagadian, Puerto Princesa, and Zamboanga.
The Moros have traditionally been led by either a
sultanor by datu.
The concept of the sultan was brought to the Philippines through
Islamization. The presence of Islam, began the creation of sultanateslike that of Magindanao and othat of Sulu
Meanwhile, the datu was the traditional ruler in Filipino societies. Their function was similar to the
duke. In return for tribute and labor, the datu provides aid in emergencies and mediates disputes with other communities through the "agamat". They may also have four wives if they wish. In the past, datus have led raids on other villages in order to seek revenge ("'maratabat") for the death of a follower or the injury of his honor. Datus currently act as the community leaders in Moro societies and administer the Sharia(Muslim law) through the agama. The datu essentially heads government programs in Moro communities, which tend to be hierarchical in rural areas.
Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao(ARMM) is headed by a Regional Governor. The Regional Governor, along with the Regional-Vice Governor, act as the executive branch. The ARMM has a unicameral"Regional Assembly" headed by a Speaker. This acts as the legislative branch for the region and is responsible for regional ordinances. It is composed of three members for every congressional district. The current membership is twenty-four.
Islamhas been the most dominant influence on the Moro culture. Islamic polygamous marriages are approved by public authorities while polygamy is considered illegal for non-Muslim citizens. Pork is not eaten since it considered taboo under the Qu'ran. Another practice is Islamic circumcision ("tuli"). However, circumcision is also very common practice among non-Muslim Filipino males.
The culture of the Moro revolves around the music of the
kulintang, a specific type of gong instrument, found in the Southern Philippines. This music includes original styles called the Tagonggoand the Kapanirong.
There are at least ten ethnic subgroups within the Moro ethnic group, all descended from the same prehistoric
Austronesianmigrations from Taiwan that populated the rest of the Philippinesand Maritime Southeast Asia. These could be identified on the basis of language. Three of these groups make up the majority of the Moro. They are the Maguindanaons of North Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat, and Maguindanao provinces; the Maranaoof the two Lanaoprovinces; and the Tausugof the Sulu Archipelago. Smaller groups include the Banguingui, Samaland the Bajauof the Sulu Archipelago; the Yakanof Basilanand Zamboanga del Sur; the Illanunand Sangirof Davao; the Melabugnansof southern Palawan; and the Jama Mapunsof Cagayan de Tawi-Tawi Island.
Moros are not closely knit and they lack solidarity. [Nick Joaquin, Culture and History: Occasional Notes on the Process of Philippine Becoming (Pasig: Anvil Publishing, 2004), 226.] Each group is proud of their culture, identity and language, including their variation of Islam. Endemic conflict has persisted for centuries. Internal differences among the Moros existed in the 1980s, however, these were outweighed by cultural, social, and traditional aspects as well as shared historical experiences vis-à-vis non-Muslims.
1380, the arrival of Arabmissionaries, including Makhdum Karim, in Tawi-Tawiinitiated the conversion of the native population into Islam. Subsequent trade between Malays also helped establish the Islamic faith.
Starting in 1457, the introduction of Islam led to the creation of many
sultanates. This included the sultanates of Buayan, Maguindanao and Sulu, which is considered the largest and longest-lasting Muslim state in the country until its annexation into the Philippines in 1898.
Many of the inhabitants of the pre-Hispanic Philippines are said to be Muslims.
Rajah Sulayman, a chieftain of Manila at the time of the Spanish conquest, is one example.
The Spanish arrived in 1565. This caused most of the
Philippinesto end up under the Spanish rule. The sultanates, however, maintained their independence, which enabled them to develop their own culture and identity.
With the colonial intentions, the Spanish held incursions within Moro territory. They also began erecting military stations and garrisons with pockets of civilian settlements. The most notable of these are Zamboanga and Cotabato.
Feeling threathened by these actions, Moros decided to challenge Spanish authority. They began conducting raids on
Bankruptcy due to the ongoing raids caused the Spanish crown to recognize Moro sovereignty. However, only the
Sultanate of Sulubenefited since it was the only sultanate left standing. [ Mindanao Peace Process by Fr. Eliseo R. Mercado, Jr., OMI. [http://www.philippineupdate.com/frjun.htm] ]
After independence, the Moros were marginalized in the Philippine nation-state. This coupled with Christian settlement in traditionally Muslim regions, gave rise to armed secession movements. [Nelly van Doorn-Harder. "Southeast Asia, Islam in." "Encyclopedia of Islam and the Muslim World". Edited by Martin, Richard C. Macmillan Reference, 2004. vol. 1 p. 647.]
Controversial government policies
The government policies instituted immediately after independence threatened the Moro society.
The creation of the now abolished the Bureau for Non-Christian Tribes and the encouragement of migration by non-Muslim Filipinos, led to the settlement of hundreds of thousands of Visayan, Tagalog, Ilocano, and others inside the "
Bangsamoro" provinces in the 1950s. Their influx inflamed Moro hostility.
The problem began when Christian migrants complained that the ownership of the land which they bought was not recognized by the Moros. Moros claimed that Christians only entitle land through government agencies, which were unknown and therefore unrecognized by the Moros. Another contributing factor was the public school system, which was regarded by most Moros as an agency for the propagation of Christian teachings.
Divisions along clans are existent among Moros since the 1960s.
Many young Moros, dissatisfied with the old system, have asserted that datu and sultans were unnecessary in the modern Moro society. Among themselves, these young reformers are divided between the moderates, those who work within the system, and the militants, those who engage in guerrilla-style warfare.
Moro reformers, on the other hand, have achieved to establish unity within the community through religious adherence. This bond is strengthened by the continued expansion of Christians and by the prolonged presence of army troops within "
truggle for independence
The struggle has been in existence for centuries, starting from the struggle against the Spanish up to the
Moro rebellionin the American period until the current Islamic Insurgency in the Philippines.
The history of the
Islamic Insurgency in the Philippinesbegan shortly after independence. The Philippine government envisioned a united country in which Christians and Muslims would be assimilated into the dominant culture. This vision, however, was generally rejected by Muslims, who feared that it was just a euphemistic equivalent of assimilation. Because of this, the government realised that there was a need for a specialized agency to deal with the Muslim community so they set up the Commission for National Integration in 1957, which was later replaced by the Office of Muslim Affairs and Cultural Communities.
Concessions were made to Moros after the creation of these agencies, with Moros receiving exemptions from national laws prohibiting polygamy and divorce. In 1977, the government attempted move a step further by harmonizing Muslim customary law with the national law.
Unfortunately, most of these achievements were superficial. The Moros, dissatisfied with the government, established the
Moro National Liberation Frontled by Nur Misuariwith the intention of creating their own homeland. This initiated the Islamic Insurgency in the Philippinesin the late 1960s, which is still ongoing up to the present and has since created a fracture between Muslims and Christians.
By the 1970s, a Christian terrorist organization called the "
Ilagas" began operating in Cotabato. In retaliation, Muslim armed bands, like the "Blackshirts" of Cotabatoand the "Barracudas" of Lanaobegan to appear and fight the "Ilagas". The Armed Forces of the Philippineswere deployed to install peace, however their presence only created more violence.
In 1981, internal divisions within the MNLF caused the establishment of a conservative organization called the MILF. The group proved to be more effective than the MNLF in continuing the insurgency.
1986 EDSA Revolution, President Corazon Aquinodecided to reach out to the Moro community.
In the year
1987, peace talks with the MNLF began with the intention of establishing an auotonomous region for Moros. On August 1, 1989, through Republic Act No. 6734, otherwise known as the Organic Act, a plebiscite was held in the provinces within the " Bangsamoro". This was to determine if the residents would want to be part of an Autonomous Moro Region. This led to the creation of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.
Currently, the Philippines is under threat due to the presence of the
Moro Islamic Liberation Front(the breakaway faction of the MNLF), the Abu Sayyaf(an offshoot of the terror groups), and by Jemaah Islamiyah. While the government is currently under peace talks with both the MILF and the MNLF, the violence is still far from over.
MILF boycotted the original referendum spawned by the Organic Act referendum process, and continued the armed struggle through the 90s and into the 21st century. However, it remains a partner to the stumbling peace process in the south, with the Philippines unwilling to brand MILF a "terrorist" group lest the separatists be driven away from the negotiating table [http://www.opendemocracy.net/madrid11/philippines_130707] .
* [http://morolaw.blogspot.com http://morolaw.blogspot.com] MoroLaw: Moro Views on Bangsamoro Affairs
* [http://www.bangsamoro.com http://www.bangsamoro.com] ::a new medium for the modern moro::
* [http://www.bangsamoro.info http://www.bangsamoro.info] The Bangsamoro Online - The History and Struggle of the Bangsamoro People!
* [http://www.luwaran.com http://www.luwaran.com] The Moro Islamic Liberation Front Website
*http://www.morofocus.com The Bangsamoro Documentation Project
*http://www.amirbutler.com/archives/2002/11/11/22 Amir Butler: The Moro Struggle for Independence
* [http://www.bakbakan.com/swishkb.html Swish of the Kris: The Story of the Moros, by Vic Hurdley]
* [http://www.bulatlat.com/archive2/045photoessay.html At The Da’Wah Center: A Call for Help]
* [http://rspas.anu.edu.au/papers/conflict/may_moro.pdf The Moro Conflict and the Philippine Experience with Autonomy]
* [http://www.philippinenews.com/news/view_article.html?article_id=bab5e4e86440485cf73ebcfadaadea73 The Bud Dajo Centennial]
* [http://home.earthlink.net/~federicomalibago/intro.html Moro Swords]
* [http://www.bangsamoro.com/mvoice/mv_021905.php The Saga of Moro People during Martial Law]
Moro Organization links
* [http://bsgn.bitscenter.com Bangsamoro Successors Generation Network (BSGN)]
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