Typhoon of bullets in Mindanao?

I was born in Manila, with a Mother who hails from Cadiz City, Negros Occidental and a Father who hails from Pagadian City, ZDS. I was raised in a city called Pagadian, in Region IX, Zamboanga Peninsula, a region that only sees the light of day in the media whenever there is a negative incident such as bombing and insurgencies, a region that has been tagged to be one of the cradles of terrorism in the country.

I may be half-ilonggo but that does not make me less of a Mindanaoan.

During a class session with my Philippine History, Government and Constitution subject last summer of 2010, it only may have been a passing remark or a light joke from my teacher that she had said that there is “Typhoon of bullets in Mindanao” but it made me uncomfortable while listening to her and see her giggling when she said it, because if we come to really think about it, it has far-reaching consequences and is insensitive.

I have lived in Mindanao for about 18 years and I am fully aware that Mindanao is in struggle as we seek liberation not from political upheavals, not from insurgencies but we seek liberation from a thing others would consider as futile- that is misconception.

I say the statement made about the typhoon of bullets is not true on the following reasons:

  1. It is not like everyday, there is a political/religious upheaval in Mindanao.
  2. Most of the time, any political/rebellious unrest in Mindanao is an isolated case and that does not necessarily include the entirety of Mindanao.
  3. Having high security measures is just a precautionary thing to do especially that we are aware that SOME places in Mindanao have situations that might affect other places.

The ideology of stereotyping Mindanao are brought by the following reasons:

  1. The Misconception from Media. Most of the time, we don’t notice how media sensationalizes the issues. Say for example, when there is a bombing incident in Isabela, Basilan, they will immediately report it as Basilan bombing or worse Mindanao bombing. They care less about being particular. This has happened many times, and because of that, we are blinded of the fact that it just happened in a particular place and not the entire Mindanao that was targeted with the bomb.
  2. Ignorance of the people about Mindanao. A lot of Filipino does not know about Mindanao. The places in Mindanao. How large Mindanao is. I wonder how they passed their Geography subject. This ignorance, sorry for the lack of better word, gives way to stereotyping and tolerating the Media to easily associate a particular place in Mindanao to Mindanao itself.
  3. Lack of interest to learn more. Because a lot of people don’t care about other places, they don’t even bother to learn more about the place, the current situations, the happenings. They just solely depend in the media, the infos that are being fed to them, infos that may not be true at all times.
  4. Lastly, the massive REGIONALISTIC PREJUDICE. The ideology is that, Mindanaoans belong to a hostile community. Given that the sensationalized issue about Mindanao is that we’re always under combat, they safely presume that people are likewise hostile. I, for one, had experienced the prejudiced treatment when I was asked one time, how did I overcome the happenings in our locality, or do I know how to fight back against insurgent people, some even asked me if I am a muslim, or if I know somebody who is a rebel.

Little did people from outside Mindanao know that this has adverse effects in Mindanao, some of it are:

  1. Continued Misconception. Because there is a continued misconception, fear is always present from the people who are not coming from Mindanao. And because of that fear, all efforts in promoting Mindanao are sometimes becoming useless. And this leads to the second effect:
  2. It stifles the growth of Mindanao. Both economically and industrially. I ask you, who would want to invest a business if some people would try to warn you that this place is hostile, that there are insurgencies everywhere? Why would you go on vacation if someone has told you that it’s not a safe place, that there’s a typhoon of bullet? We also have beautiful tourist spots. We have white beaches in Basilan as beautiful as that of Boracay. We have mountain ranges perfect for trekking and mountain climbing. We have cold springs and hot springs. We have waterfalls, majestic waterfalls.

We can also be a good place where you’ll invest your money. We have booming cities like Davao, Zamboanga, Cagayan de Oro or Pagadian. People in some of our cities have great buying capacities that would make the economy work. Mindanao, in fact, was a great contributing factor on why the Philippines was able to weather the global financial crisis, and this is proven to be true now with how the economy is being affected with the rotation brown-outs that the island has been experiencing.

Sadly, we were just never given the chance because of this misconception.

I say, as Mindanaoan, we can only take so much. If there would be no one who shall stand up for Mindanao and clarify the misguided thoughts and information, the cycle goes on. Misconception, stifled growth, misconception, stifled growth, and on and on and on.

The real question here:

We are in our full efforts to uplift the image of the Philippines, to achieve holistic development, and to become not one of the 3rd world countries in the world in the future years to come, are we not? But how can we progress as a whole nation if we’re also the ones leaving our compatriots behind, if we’re also the ones putting Mindanao behind?

Isn’t it time we start thinking of Mindanao too?