While in Manila for a conference two years ago, my writer friends and I talked about sundry things when the Mindanao issue cropped up. At that time, the terms Bangsamoro Juridical Entity (BJE) and Memorandum of Agreement on Ancestral Domain (MOA-AD) were just being floated around. But my Ilocano writer friend already had a definite position on it.
Said he: “For the first time in my life, I’m going to volunteer to serve our country. I’ve never done this before. Not even during the Second World War. But now, I’m going to do it.”
“Volunteer to do what?” I asked.
He said he was going to volunteer to become a soldier and defend the Republic of the Philippines. The Moros, he said, want to dismember the country, and he will never allow it.
I asked: “Why, what’s your interest in Mindanao? Do you have relatives there? Are you doing any business there?”
He said: “What do you mean do I have interests in Mindanao? I’m a Filipino. I’m protecting my country.”
“Protect it from whom?” I asked. “Who’s invading us?”
My Zamboangueño writer friend chimed in. He said: “We Zamboangueños have always considered the Moros our enemy. For centuries they’ve been trying to get Zamboanga and for centuries we’ve been fighting them off. Zamboanga is ours. We will never give it to them.”