One ray is not enough

Senator Richard Gordon should be highly commended especially by Moros for filing Senate Bill 3307, better known as the Ninth Ray Bill, which will add one more ray to the sun of the Philippine flag to represent their struggle.

To the MILF, this is not an ordinary gesture of fairness; it is more than that. It is greatness in the making. Many a man, even the most rational, has great difficulty in admitting a guilt. Add that he is not a full-blooded Filipino, because of his American-Jewish roots, makes it more astonishing why he has the gut to sponsor this kind of bill, which will have far-reaching implications on the very foundation of Philippine history.

In doing so, he used strong or passionate words or statements in his sponsorship: “When you really come down to history, a Muslim called Lapu-Lapu, a Tausug, fought back right away when the Spaniards came. Inherent sa atin (It is inherent in us)…although we just mangled his memory – made him a fish, made him a murderer. He has been demonized throughout history.”

He continued: “To make a long story short, the Spaniards were never able to command Mindanao …. As early as the 1500s, Sultan Kudarat told the Maranaos – hindi n’yo ba nakikita ang nagyayari sa Tagalog, sa Bisaya (don’t you see what is happening with the Tagalogs and Visayans)? They fought for several years. He united their minds, and he led Mindanao for 50 years – from 1634 to 1668.”

“The Muslims were not passive like the Tagalogs and Visayans. There were many of them: Amai Pakpak of Kota Marahui (now known as Camp Amai Pakpak), who led in 1891 and 1895 assaults. They fought against 5,000-strong Spanish forces…Our history is woefully lacking.”

He also bluntly said: “It’s an aberration that only eight rays are in the flag. My point is, they were not passive. They fought back, and the Moro call was heard (sic) in many other parts of the country.”

The eight rays represented Batangas, Bulacan, Cavite, Laguna, Manila, Nueva Ecija, Pampanga and Tarlac.

While the idea is not new, but it is only now that there is real seriousness in the effort. The idea of Ninth Ray was first raised by the late Ambassador Alunan Glang of Cotabato. In his book, “Muslim secession or integration?” published in 1969, he proposed for an additional one more ray in the Philippine flag to play justice to centuries of struggle waged by the Moros against Spain and other colonizers.

Glang was the president of the Muslim Progress Movement. Also a prominent proponent of this move at the time was Emmanuel L. Osorio, a noted scholar.

One ray will not fully play justice to the struggle of the Moros. It should at least be three to make it eleven. The Philippine Revolution lasted for barely three years from 1896 to 1898. The Moro struggle lasted for 320 years, to be precise. After the defeat of Rajah Sulayman Mahmud in Manila in 1570, the Spanish adventurer-mercenary Captain Esteban Rodriguez de Figueroa, commissioned by the Spanish Crown, attacked Sulu in 1578. This was the start of the Moro-Spanish War. In 1596, the same Figueroa attacked Cotabato where he finally died in the hands of a Moro warrior named Mangubal (destroyer) or simply Datu Ubal, in Spanish records, in a place along Rio Grande de Mindanao called Tampakan, now Taviran in Datu Odin Sinsuat in Maguindanao province. Datu Mangubal is always pictured as a villain. He had never had a good or proper place in history.

Moreover, the Moros fought not as provinces but through the institution of the sultanates and later by second tier leaders. The war theatre was not only confined to Mindanao and Sulu, but some of the worst battles were fought in Luzon and Visayas. This was what Spanish chroniclers called piracy.

Be this as it may, we are fully conscious of what is ideal from what is practical, or what the national psyche’ is prepared to concede. It is good to have one ray which is virtually in the basket rather than three rays that are still in the wilderness.

But if we have to have real justice, it should not be half justice. There is no such thing as half justice and half injustice. Healing the past through transitional justice and reconciliation should be in full measure.