Widow of fallen MILF fighter expresses mixed feelings about peace pact

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CAMP DARAPANAN, Maguindanao, Philippines — The tents, the decorated stage and the colorful “padara (flags)” lining up the dirt road can only mean one thing – celebration.

“We are holding a party to show our support to the peace deal,” said Kongan Asim, a Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) fighter since 1982.

Camp commander Mohammad Nasif said they were expecting around 2,500 MILF fighters to come, some of them have started to arrive Sunday. In Maguindanao alone, there are about 150 ground commanders.

“We have prepared a program where commanders will speak,” Nasif said.

Asim, a father to 23 children by two wives and a member of the Moro National Liberation Front, who joined the MILF in 1982, said they wanted “to show to the world that we are happy.”

Wilma Madato, 46, a training officer of the Bangsamoro Islamic Women’s Auxiliary Brigade, said she wanted to cry because of happiness.

“This is the first time I have felt this kind of inexplicable joy. No words can describe it,” she said.

Madato joined the MILF when she was still 10 years old. She is married to another MILF fighter. They have waged the revolution while raising four children.

Madato said they have proven that “being revolutionaries should not be a stumbling block in sending our children to school.”

“We have waited for so long. Now peace looms ahead. I hope it will succeed,” she said.

Sam Ibrahim, 20, a graduating high school student and son of an MILF fighter, has nothing but hopes. “I’m always worried about the safety of my father and my family. But once peace is achieved, we can start living a normal life,” he said.

“Being the only child, I want to see my parents grow old with me. I’m so glad the peace deal was made,” he added.

But Sumlay Mangindra, a 49-year-old mother of two and widow of an MILF fighter, would just “wait and see” for the next developments

Mangindra, a resident of Sultan Kudarat, Maguindanao, refused to be photographed for security reasons, saying while everybody has appeared to be celebrating the framework agreement, she has been less optimistic, recalling the dream of her fallen husband for actual peace in Mindanao.

“I will only be convinced by it if peace is at hand,” Mangindra, who brought up her two children by selling vegetables in a crowded Cotabato City market, told the Inquirer.

Her sons were 12 and 10 years old when her husband died along with many other “mujahiddens” (freedom fighters) in the war against the government soldiers in 2000.

Now 24 and 22 years old, her sons are married and have families of their own. She lives with them.

It was in 2000 when her husband, Kagi Adullah, a regular member of the MILF, who had been working as pedicab driver to bring in food to his family, was called to duty by the Bangsamoro Islamic Armed Forces (BIAF), the MILF’s military arm, to help defend Camp Abubakre Assidique in Northern Maguindanao from attacks by Philippine Army.

“He told me to be ready to lose a husband for he was leaving to fight and defend the Bangsamoro. He may not come home alive,” Mangindra recalled Abullah’s final words during an interview with the Inquirer Sunday in an impoverished community a few kilometers from MILF’s Camp Darapanan.

Mangindra recalled not stopping her two children from joining the MILF armed struggle six years after their father died.

Her sons served in the BIAF four times a week and the rest days of the week were spent with their families and as rice farmers in Sultan Kudarat, Maguindanao.

“They go to Camp Darapanan to serve in the BIAF for four consecutive days as our family’s contribution to the struggle for self determination,” she said reluctantly, asking that the names of her children be withheld.

Learning about the framework agreement on radio and from Islamic preachers during Friday religious services, Mangindra maintained she felt some hope but has been less optimistic.

She said many government efforts to recognize Muslim rights failed, including the current Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.

“Independence would have been the best solution to our problem, to our poverty, to our being less developed, and I am convinced it is,” she said in broken Tagalog, taking a deep breath as she prepared “kangkong” leaves to be sold at the Cotabato City market Monday, the day when the government and the MILF sign a historic framework agreement in Malacañang.

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  • JK1000

    These people are traitors, you can’t trust them. History tells us how they deal with each others, they killed their own people just for fun. How about those brave soldiers who died fighting for our country?

  • Lhoylhoy

    And what about those widows of our brave soldiers!? It’s always about the muslims!? These people are the problem of the world along with communists!?

    • http://profile.yahoo.com/F7U5GJ7LTBKEIF2YVXIDSXCIIM ROSARIO

      You Christians came to Mindanao and took their lands. it was my grandfather from Laoag, Ilocos Norte who surveyed the lands of the Moros and titled to the Christians..The Moros were 99% illiterate and and Christians were given preferential treatments for titling lands. Your gov’t in Manila took advantage of the situation and sent your settlers to grab their lands. Now, many of you are complaining that Muslims are all over the Phil. now. Oh well, at least they are not grabbing the Christian lands. You need to read REAL history books to learn about facts..Mindanao was never a part of the Philippines. When Aguinaldo proclaimed the Republic of the PHIL. he included all the Islands all the way to Mindanao. He did not even have a single gov’t entity or soldier in any of those areas. Then, Americans came and massacred more than 1,000 moro men, women and children. After 2nd WW, independence..The Moros of the south beg to be excluded from the union with the Northerners and the Visayas, because they were different…As you can see , the Moros were betrayed many times. But you Filipinos ignore or pretend that it did not happen. Or you are plain IGNORANT! They need a land of their own, or continue with the next generation of crazy muslim militant. Give peace a chance… Or, the next round of fighting will be worst. You will experience suicide bombings all over your cities.. They are very much capable of this!!

      • Lhoylhoy

        Say hi to your grandfather for me, i don’t know if he would appreciate you mentioning him here. anyways, although there were earlier muslim insurgency, it wasn’t until the late 60s the 4 decades of conflict began when the jabidah massacre was exposed. and who planned it? your grandfather’s hero ferdinand marcos who by the way was hated by majority filipino.

        stop lawyering for these muslim people as if you were justifying their lawlessness. our brave soldiers suffered as much as they did.

        it’s funny how it made people think its about religion when actually it’s not! let me tell you a secret… it’s all about the money, the wealth, resources and all material things. and don’t be naive if you seriously thought these people really agreed for a peace deal for the sake of peace! now that’s ignorance!

      • rinom

         correct,,, because these people who want peace do not know the way of peace. they promise freedom but they themselves are slaves, slaves of their own sin, slave is a slave. look at misware, he promise peace and freedom look what happen? his advocacy end to his own personal desire.

      • rinom

         the rider of the green has the power to kill the fourth part of the population of the earth by means of sword, famine or hunger. this is probably the third world war. but the rider of the green horse will not win.

      • puza65

        rosario is right ..I have a lot of friends they are ilocano’s…What the president said to the christian kung ano ang mahahawan nyo,inyo na un…mostly my friends said that to me…it’s come from their mouth…

  • rinom

    the rider of the green horse or pale horse in revelation 6:7-8 is no doubt those who carry the green flag, and death or the grave or the hell followed them, according to the bible. look at color of their flags starting from the kingdom of saudi arabia

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