HomeWMSU Research Journalvol. 27 no. 2 (2008)

A Parallel Reality Construction of War among Joloanos of Sulu

Leah U. Laput




In search for some answers to the Mindanao conflict in the Philippines, the researcher conducteda study on the construction of war realities among the Joloanos to examine the 1974 war in Sulu from two divergent cultural lenses.

Conflicting notions of “the war” as experienced (subjective realities) surfaced in the study but generated “convergence” as these were correlated with the institutionalized beliefs of war (objective realities). Subjective realities included the victims’ psycho-social trauma and portrayal of “the other” culture as co-survivors of war. Transitions in the subjective realities were apparent across culture and age. The older Christian Joloanos for instance believed that the war was “unnecessary” while the older Muslims were convinced it was “inevitable”. Their fears strongly echoed “old prejudices” especially among the elderly. Divergent perceptions were anchored on the war victims’ age, religion, inter-marriage; the area’s political set-up, and economic climate among others.

The victims’ reactions towards the prevailing issues of war (objective realities) were parallel despite distinct experiences. Many showed disagreement towards the concept that the mass media help crystallize relevant issues, like the war in Mindanao. Majority also negated the belief that “Christians and Muslims can never co-exist peacefully, and that the 1974 war was a form of “jihad” or a religious war among Muslims.

In the study communication clarified vital issues of the Mindanao conflict. It performed an emancipatory role that provided rhetorical and psychological relief to war survivors as they deconstructedtheir realities in a war-torn community like Sulu.