Cotabato City—Maguindanao “del Norte” and “Sur”—instead of “North” and “South”—as an amendment into proposed bills dividing the province is drawing flak among professional residents.
Odin Abdula, a former Consul at the Philippine Overseas Labor Office (POLO) in Riyadh, said all was well with Senate Bill (SB) 1714 and SB 1824 authored by Senators Cynthia Villar and Francis Tolentino, respectively, dividing the province into North and South Maguindanao.
Maguindanao Rep. Esmael Mangudadatu, author of the House counterpart measure, HB 6413, earlier said he was thankful to senators supporting the measure in the upper chamber — among them Villar and Tolentino, and Senators Maria Josefa Imelda Marcos, Ronald dela Rosa, Sherwin Gatchalian, and Christopher Lawrence Go.
Abdula said an amendment was introduced by two other senators to change the north and south into the Spanish “norte” and “sur,” adding that with an obtaining cordial dialogue, Maguindanao Governor Bai Mariam Sangki-Mangudadatu opted not to object to the proposed amendment.
He did not name the senators concerned.
Still, others said senators should be “sensitive of historical facts” that the Sultanate of Maguindanao had successfully defended its realm from centuries of colonial subjugation by Spain in what was then Las Islas Filipinas (Philippine Islands).
According to the Filipino writer-historian Ambeth Ocampo, Maguindanao’s Sultan Muhammad Dipatuan Kudarat successfully repelled Spain’s Mindanao expeditions under 11 governors-general.
Ocampo said Kudarat’s life-size statue should have been mounted “face-to-face,” with that of National Hero Dr. Jose Rizal from opposite sections of the Cotabato City Plaza — “and not just in one narrow corner here,” he said.
The Filipino scholar said he lamented this when he attended the unveiling years ago of the Muslim hero’s image carved by the late national artist Abdulmari Imao.
Engineer Ali Satol, a member of the Maguindanao Professionals and Employees Association (Mapea), said a trending discussion on social media may call for consideration by authorities of the arguments raised against hispanizing the province’s new geographical labelling, instead of plain North and South Maguindanao.
Dui Ampilan, an international humanitarian worker from Maguindanao, said “north” and “south” for the province’s new geographical tagging would just be fine, as “the English language now is an international medium of instruction.”
Al Madal, a retired government executive and a local historian, said the leaders of Maguindanao and of the upstream Buayan region (the present-day Second District of the province) had their share in history of fiercely resisting colonialism.
Indeed, Rizal called the old kingdom of Buayan (which is now the proposed Maguindanao del Sur) the “Patria del Buhayen” (Nation of Buayan) in his annotation in 1892 of the Spanish history book ‘Sucesos de las Islas Filipinas (Events in the Philippine Islands), written by the Spanish chronicler Antonio de Morga in 1602.
The annotated copy of the book became a documentary evidence of the conspiracy charges against Rizal in his trial at the Spanish military court in 1896.