Historic ties revived

The historic ties between the Philippines particularly Mindanao and Indonesia have been revived and strengthened anew. This came about by the recent agreement between Philippine President Rodrigo Roa Duterte and Indonesian President Joko Widodo to open up a new shipping route, which links the Philippine cities of Davao and General Santos to the Indonesian province of North Sulawesi.

This new trade route will reduce both travel time and cost for nationals of both countries. It can also make both peoples closer to each other. It came also at a time countries in Southeast Asia are facing challenges brought about multiple and conflicting claims over various islands or islets in the South China Sea. China, which is no longer a sleeping giant, is lording it over all other claimants.

For centuries, relations between the peoples of the Philippines especially Moros and Indonesia have been very warmth and close. During the Moro-Spanish War, the Indonesians especially those of Ternate were helping the Moros battle the Spaniards, and much of the supplies of gunpowder, brass cannons, and some warriors emanated from Indonesia. Makassar was an ordinary marketplace for the Moros in olden times; in fact, one very popular type of rice among them was called “Makassar”, which was obviously brought from there by Moro traders or “pirates”.

In physical features, Moros are nearer to the Indonesians. This is not surprising because it is believed that most of the Moro tribes came from the Indonesia. In fact, the Sangils of Sarangani and Davao are “moroized” or “Filipinized” Indonesian. They speak an entirely different dialect from other Moros. However, in some aspects, their dialect resembles much with those of the Sama of Tawi-Tawi. 

Philippine-Indonesian relations came to sore during Martial Law during the hated Marcos dictatorial regime when hundreds of Sangils including those who were still Indonesian citizens were massacred by blood-thirsty Philippine troops accusing them of aiding the MNLF in its war of secession against the Philippine state.

We hail both heads of state for another milestone in their careers as presidents. This agreement will certainly help small to medium traders.

However, the only worry is that chances that big time businessmen will monopolize this trade opportunity. In fact, the Davao mafia, which is composed of elites of society who are mainly in energy, mining and big corporations, will control this trade route. If this happens, then the good intention of both heads of state will be in vain.

But our worry is held aback by our trust and confidence that President Duterte will not allow this monopoly to prosper under his administration. We know how he thinks and acts.

Let us hope for the best!