Our national hero, Dr. Jose P. Rizal once wrote, “Those who do not know where they came from would not know where they are going.” The original in Tagalog is, “Ang hindi marunong lumingon sa pinanggalingan ay hindi makakarating sa paroroonan.”
Clearly, the social, economic, political, cultural and religious direction, priorities, growth, progress and development we take as a people largely depend on our authentic knowledge and understanding of our origins, traditions, values and aspirations. Who are we as a people in this archipelago? Our identity as a believing people has something to do with eternal within us.
This is why we in the Bishops-Ulama Conference believe in the necessity of peace building through authentic human and respectful dialogue by which we try to understand others as they understand themselves so that they can understand us as we understand ourselves. This self-understanding as individuals and as community regarding our ethnic origins, traditions, values and aspirations as Filipinos in Mindanao has sadly been lacking. Why?
We hardly know our real and authentic history. This lack is one of the causes of mistrust, conflict, wars, and violent terrorism. All of us, Indigenous Peoples, Muslims and Christian settlers and foreigners are engaging in endless arguments only on the much misunderstood words, historical injustice. There are other important historical issues.
This is why in deciding the theme for this year celebration of the Mindanao Week of Peace we opted on “Owning Mindanao History for Peace and Development”.