COTABATO CITY―Valuable research materials left by an American scholar in Dansalan College in Marawi City were saved after the Maute group of terrorists burned the school as they occupied the city, a Moro policy-based organization here said.
Dr. Abhoud Syed Lingga, director of the Institute of Bangsamoro Studies based here, said Dansalan College president Fedelina Tawagon had told him in their recent talk at the Mindanao State University that important research materials on the narratives of Mindanao history, culture and peace were saved and securely kept.
In 1974, Dr. Peter Gowing, an American missionary scholar, headed the Dansalan Research Center, which was organized for continuing research on the studies of Islam, cultures and Muslim-Christian relations in Southeast Asia.
On May 23, the Maute group forcibly occupied Dansalan College, held hostage some of its employees, and even burned one of its buildings.
In his July 17 speech in Malacañang, Hadji Ibrahim Murad, chairman of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, said the Middle East Daesh-inspired Maute group not only wanted to “hijack” the peace process, but also to change the narrative of the Bangsamoro struggle for self-determination.
Lingga said this means that if learning materials were not protected for the succeeding generations to understand the Moro struggle, a confluence of events could pose a threat of changing the cultural and historical landscape of that struggle.
Romeo Sema, spokesman for the Moro National Liberation Front Kutawato Revolutionary Committee, said the Moro people should thwart every attempt by Islamic state-inspired groups to import new foreign ideologies and change the narrative of the Moro struggle.
Dr. Gowing, a native of Massachusetts, USA, came to the Philippines in 1950 as a professor of Asian religions at the Silliman University in Dumaguete City. When he died of illness in Marawi City in 1983, Gowing left behind research materials that scholars deemed crucial historical bases of the Moro struggle for self-determination.
The Protestant-run Dansalan College was founded by Missionary Frank Laubach in 1950 in the auspices of the United Church of Christ of the Philippines (UCCP).
President Rodrigo Roa Duterte has repeatedly said in his speeches on the Moro issue that the Philippines ought to “correct the historic injustices on the Bangsamoro”― a line apparently culled from the 2003 letter of the late Chairman Salamat Hashim of the MILF to the US government under the George W. Bush presidency.
Muslim and Christian scholars expressed concern that the possible motive of the Maute group in burning the Dansalan College was to destroy written narratives on Mindanao, so it could connect the local conflict to and be considered a generational continuity of the 13th century wars of the Abbasid kilafa.
Some of the important works of Gowing were: “Christianity in the Philippines Tofay and Yesterday”; “Mandate in Moroland: The American Government of Muslim Filipinos (1899-1920)”; “Muslim Filipino Heritage and Horizon”; and “Of Different Minds: Christian and Muslim Ways of Looking at their Relations in the Philippines.”
Tawagon in a statement said school officials have informed all members of the board of trustees, concerned authorities, government officials, church leaders, friends, partners in mission and service, institutional associations and organizations in which the college is a member, alumni, and other concerned persons that the school was under attack.