Xenophobia Begins At Home 4: Muslims

Not Your Average Muslim.

Not Your Average Muslim.

Background:

Some guy told me once that we’re lucky the Spanish came along otherwise we’d all be Muslims. While that is indeed some pretty narrow-minded thinking, it’s true that our islands were well on their way to being Islamic in the 1500s. Sultans ruled Mindanao and it is safe to say that “what would Jesus do?” was not the philosophical question that the kingdoms of Manila and Tondo pondered either. Given that the Muslim Filipinos have been around since pretty much forever, it’s sad that we fear them and treat them as a totally alien people.  A totally alien people who can be counted on to provide us with pirated DVDs.

What We Call Them:

Muslim – To be fair, that’s really what they are. To be an asshole, it’s usually preceded by “Ayan na ang mga…,” and followed by a discreet search for escape routes. Badjao– Or any of the 12 other muslim ethnic groups in Mindanao and parts of Palawan. Again, pretty polite, if you actually know which people they belong to. It’s pretty hard to tell, though, because unlike what years of Linggo ng Wika taught you, they look and dress pretty much the same way we do.

What We Say About Them:

Muslims predate bumbays as the boogiemen of naughty kids. Our grandparents were probably forced to take their afternoon naps with the threat of Muslims coming to get them. True, there was also the threat, and actual administering, of corporal punishment too, but the muslims were the first line of defense against uppity children. To be fair to Spain and Mother Church, this was not all black propaganda. Raiding parties from Mindanao would often pillage towns in the Visayas and bring home slaves. And by often, I mean often enough to give birth to an institutional fear of them. Often enough that the language of the Visayas became their language as well. This bias was not helped by the fact that our Catholic overlords portrayed them as devilspawn. The legend of the jurumentados and amoks did not do them well in the PR department either, with rage-filled moro warriors impervious to bullets, knives and pleas to behave terrorizing the Americans who were still coming to terms with the lack of tails exhibited by monkeys in Zamboanga. This supposedly led to the invention of the Colt M1911, known to laymen as the kuwarenta y singko. The US Army had to design a new gun because their old guns couldn’t do the job. That is how bad ass they are. In high school, a friend and I did a musical skit for class that had the basic premise of “we are muslims, and we are angry all the time.” Nobody tried to correct us. Well, except on the singing, because we were really bad at that.

Why We’re Douchbags For Saying It:

Everything the average Filipino knows about Muslims is based on what the average Filipino doesn’t know about muslims. Aside from their not eating pork, few of us have ever really bothered to learn much about their culture. We forcibly drew them into our political maps, pumped the area with settlers from Luzon, and marginalized the hell out of them. Even if we didn’t say anything, we’d still be douchebags. –OneTamad

6 Comments

  1. agree agree agree

    I’m being Captain Obvious, but yes, I agree. I remember once when the Greenhills people tried to stop the building of a tiny tiny mosque in the area because they claimed it would eventually lead to pollution and garbage and violence and crime. The mosque was for the tinderos and tinderas in the Greenhills tiangge, who were forced to pray in any empty place they could find, usually abandoned store spaces.

  2. Nothing new here. Edward Said called it “Orientalism”. For a people and a country that prides itself in being the “Only Christian Nation” in Asia, ethnic stereotypes against Indians were designed to degrade their Asian Civilization based on Hinduism, from whence came Buddhism. The problem really is the Filipino sense of themselves as “white” and their definition of their National Identity as anti-Asian.

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