Parallel to its goal of educating Carolinians on social justice particularly that for our Muslim brethren, the movement #PeaceNata conducted a Bangsamoro forum at USC-DC’s American Corner last March 18, 2016.

Jamil Faisal Sari Adiong, a Muslim student in the university, opened the event with a talk about #PeaceNata, an initiative that he along with other student volunteers pioneered. The movement, he said, was  a campaign to reconcile the historical gap between the Moros and the Non-Moros with social justice at its core.

Following him were the two resource speakers of the event; Datu Abubacar Gunang and Norhainah Abdul-Azis. Gunang, the incumbent president of ACMEP or the Association of Cebu Muslim Entrepreneurs and Professionals, tackled the history of the Bangsamaro struggle for socio-cultural identification while Abdul-Azis took up the current standing of its people in society through Stories of Bangsamoro, a non-profit story-sharing program based on the lives of Filipino Muslims.

To start with his speech, Gunang commemorated the Jabidah massacre of 1968 which happened on the same day, March 18, where Bangsamoro soldiers were murdered by the Armed Forces of the Philippines. He then denoted the history of the Bangsamoro struggle, sparked on the 16th century when the Spaniards came to colonize the Philippines, and stated that this endeavor was the longest of its kind in Asia and perhaps in the world. He also mentioned the failed attempts of several administrations in  reaching an agreement with the Moros, including the recent Bangsamoro Basic Law.

Proceeding with her “Stories of Bangsamoro”, Abdul-Azis shared her own and other Muslims’ experiences with life in this dominantly Catholic country. She spoke of the apathy and hostility that most Filipinos harbor against our Muslim countrymen, stating the negative portrait that we often paint them and their religion in. She also shared the stories of common Moro people that she met and talked to during her travels. This she said, enables Filipino Non-Moros to relate and empathize with them, to see them not as terrorists or murderers but as cultured, educated individuals.

The forum closed shortly after with Jamil inviting the participants to give the support and acceptance that our Muslim countrymen deserve.

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