Education

Mindanao Studies: A Proposed Framework

(A modified transcript of fifteen-minute presentation under the panel “Peoples and Faiths: A Mindanao Overview” at the Ateneo de Manila University (ADMU)-School of Social Sciences (SOS) – Mindanao Scholars’ Consultation-cum-Conversations on Mindanao Studies” on September 12, 2018 at Ateneo de Davao University, Davao City, Philippines.)

Salamun ‘alaykum and good morning to all of you!

Thank you, Sir Joey [Sescon] for giving me carte blanche to focus on any topic; hence, I opt for “Mindanao Studies: A Proposed Framework”. In continuing this conversation started by Br. Karl [Gaspar], I shall give an introductory anecdote, then state the existing conceptual framework in the study of Mindanao. Thereafter, I shall propose an alternative framework. After laying down this proposed framework, I shall talk about the ‘target profile’ to be followed by the objectives. Then I will proceed with my recommendation and finally make my concluding remarks.

Introductory Anecdote

At the outset, let me narrate to you an anecdote about a Maguindanaon perennial student who always strives to tell the story of Mindanao to himself, his fellows and others. By the way, ‘Maguindanao’ is where we derive the name ‘Mindanao’. (According to one view, Maguindanao is derived from ‘maginged’ (community) and ‘danaw’ (flood, inundation, marsh) to mean “inundated plain”. So, Mindanao (‘mindanaw’) means ‘inundated’.)

In October 2016 at the Philippine Sociological Society (PSS) Conference here in Davao City, the said student presented a paper entitled “Bay‘ah: The Missing Link in the Military’s Denial of ISIS’ Presence in the Philippines” (see http://mlimba.com/bayah-the-missing-link-in-the-militarys-denial-of-isis). At the end of the presentation, a lady professor who claimed to be connected with the military intelligence stood up and confidently dismissed the presentation’s thesis (ISIS’ presence in the country).

A few months later, on May 12, 2017 to be exact, at the Philippine Political Science Association (PPSA) Conference in Cebu City, the same student presented a paper on “The Media Discourse on Violent Extremism in Mindanao: A Postmodernist Reading”. During the open forum, a former government negotiator in the GRP-MILF peace talk insisted that “There are only ‘ISIS-inspired’ or ‘ISIS-sympathizers’ in the country.” Exactly 11 days afterward, the Marawi Siege happened!

Existing Framework

As I see it, this anecdote is a glaring example of the existing conceptual framework in which in the field of research on Mindanao, the Mindanaon is just a field researcher, research assistant or transcriber, while the Manila-based scholar or professor is the Mindanao expert in published books and conferences. Within this framework, Mindanao is treated as an object of study, and Mindanao Studies program is seen as an attempt to provide ‘voice’ to Mindanao through an outside spokesman, who happens to be the Manila-based author or professor. This is because Mindanao is not mature yet and can’t articulate enough.

Proposed Framework

What we humbly proposed is a framework in which Mindanao is a subject. Under this framework, Mindanao Studies program is considered an attempt to provide ‘voice’ to Mindanao by letting it speak for itself. Here, Mindanao is no longer treated as mere object of study but subject as well. Having this framework, Mindanao will tell stories about the mosaic of its peoples as diverse as its water current and waves and yet as united as its rivers and the seas that surround it are.

Target Profile

As some of us know very well, the first step in the curriculum development process (CDP) is the definition of the ‘target profile’. By definition of the ‘target profile’ we mean an attempt to define what should be (‘target’) the characteristics (‘profile’) of a graduate from the program (Mindanao Studies). As such, it embodies what our expectations of the program graduates are.

Now, granting that a sound definition of ‘target profile’ provides both a comprehensive and a holistic blueprint that can be potentially implemented in the program, what then is our ‘target profile’? In other words, what is the supposed trademark of our graduate?

In broader terms and for the purpose of this conversation, we may say that our target profile is a graduate with ‘a balanced worldview’. It is a worldview that could tell both the story of laughter and tears of Mindanao. It is a worldview that listens to both the ‘gong’ of kulintang and the agony of palendag. It is a worldview that pays heed to both the splendor of okir and sarimanok, and the might of kampilan and lantaka.

Objectives

As among its objectives, the Mindanao Studies program is supposed to help in (1) the formation of a national motto or slogan (By the way, do we have already a national motto such as Pancasila of Indonesia? Our Panatang Makabayan is too long to memorize, let alone internalize; for the millennials, that which is more akin to a hashtag or tagline is more appealing). The program should also be in tune with (2) the inculcation of national core values (such as patrimony, respect for diversity, acknowledgment of national history as a product of many local histories, and others). Obviously, it should also (3) contribute to nation-building and development through the discovery, promotion and utilization of Mindanao potentials and strengths.

Recommendation

One recommendation for this program is that it should not limit the students to the theory of Mindanao but to engage them as well in its praxis, or else, it will definitely meet the same fate of peace and development studies programs whose students are fed up with concepts and theories but no sufficient skills in the actual practice of peace and development (for example, skills about negotiation and mediation, entrepreneurship, and investment analysis, among others).

To be specific, if the student would intend to focus on Mindanao history and culture, then she should be introduced to actual ethnography, cultural mapping, and local history writing. If she would want to delve into Mindanao politics and administration, then she should be directed to immerse in Mindanao Development Authority (MinDA), Southern Philippines Development Authority (SPDA), the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), or similar agencies of the government. If she would incline to specialize in Mindanao economy and finance, then she has to be familiarized with the various plantations in Mindanao, the halal industry, Islamic banking, and shari‘ah-compliant investment products, among others.

Conclusion

In conclusion, we humbly submit that an ideal – if not the ideal – offering of Mindanao Studies program is not just to provide opportunity to tell the story of Mindanao, but rather to let Mindanao tell its own story, nay stories, to itself, its own people as well as to others. Being an interlocutor itself, Mindanao is now less in need of a spokesman, but rather of attentive listeners.

And I thank you for listening!

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Rose-garden of Knowledge and Virtues

During this spring season, I can see another set of flowers that bloomed after fiver years in the Chosen One’s Rose-garden of Knowledge and Virtues.
 
Hail to the roses and kudos to the gardeners and cultivators!
 
For your journey ahead, these three can be your alimentary provisions: (1) visionary mindset, (2) working attitude, and (3) moral aptitude. In my understanding, these provisions may also be among the needed qualifications of the distinguished builders and citizens of the ‘Compassionate Government’ (dawlatin karimah) which we refer to in a supplication (du’a).
 
May the neighborhood benefit from the garden’s greenery and the roses’ scent of knowledge and beauty of virtues!
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It Needs Much Editing!

Yesterday afternoon, out of the blue, I received a message via Telegram app:

“Salamun ‘alaykum. I’m _____ _____, one of the lecturers of _____ _____ University. I have a question for you.”

I replied, “‘Alaykumis-salam Shaykh. I’m at your service.”

“I teach using Shahid Mutahhari’s book ‘Islamic Training and Education’ which is translated into English. As I browsed online, I have learned that it’s your translation, and we’re provided a copy of it in our university.”

(Actually the book’s title is “Training and Education in Islam”.)

“Yes. it’s my translation. https://www.islamic-college.ac.uk/…/training-education-isl…/
Any problem with the translation?”

“Yes, professor. It needs much of edition!” (He then attached two photos of a text with his alleged corrections.)

      

“Is that the actual page of the book, or something retyped from the book? If it’s retyped, then typographical errors might have occurred. Kindly scan so that I can properly read it.

“Do you have your translation file? If yes, send it please to compare both.”

(As can be noticed, he refuses to answer my question, but instead asked for the softcopy of the book for FREE.)

“You can’t expect me to give you my copy because it’s violative of the contract I have signed with the publisher. I’m asking, is it the actual page of the book, or something retyped from the book?”

“I don’t have the book.”

“That’s what I was expecting: it’s something retyped from the book, not the actual book! I do suggest you to do two things: (1) to get your copy of the book, and then (2) compare the text of the actual book with the sheets in your hand. And if you discover that they are not exactly the same with the text in the book, then tell those who are responsible in typing the modules in your school to type the text
correctly!”

“What is the name and address of publisher?”

“It only shows that you have not checked the link I have given you. Please check my earlier messages.

“I checked but couldn’t download the file.”

“You are asking me about the name and address of the publisher. It’s mentioned there in the link. Or, are you really looking for the name of the publisher, or for the electronic copy of the book to download IN GRATIS?”

“This part (attaching again the photo) is the same in your link. Also there is (sic) some differences in some parts. You are somehow right, mistyped some parts, but as you saw again there is (sic) some to be edited.”

“It’s clear now that the text of the book is not exactly reflected in the sheets. We will talk about your claim that my translation requires editing once you have already a copy of the book.”

“Surely my professor. Is that publisher in London?”

“Please read again the link.”

“It was written that the publisher is in London; just to be sure my professor.”

“You are addressing me as ‘my professor’ and yet you are saying that my translation requires editing!”

“Some teachers have talented students than themselves. Humbly I am your student. Waiting [for] the right copy of your translation. I have heard of you here as a professional translator.”

“Wow! Then you have the audacity to say that you are ‘humble’ and at the same time saying that you are more talented than your teacher.”

“So finding that copy in your name shocked me. So I decided to make you aware of this. Thanks for beautiful chat.”

“Wow, you are saying that you are shocked [due to my poor translation], and yet you haven’t read my translation as a whole.”

“Bravery is our heritage… at same time being humble to the teachers. That was what I had in my hand and find it for your name. Anyway it was a good start for our relationship if you want.”

“Three things you can do: (1) Get your copy of the book, (2) and then enumerate the errors to the publisher and (3) to Dr. Muhammad Mutahhari, the author’s son who manages the Mutahhari Foundation (the repository of the author’s extensive works).

“How can I get the proper copy? Please give me a number or address to contact directly to (sic) the publisher. Thanks a million.”

“How to get a copy? Very simple, borrow from a library, or buy your own copy.”

“U mentioned that the same in the link has mistyped. So which library has the authentic copy?”

“The issue here is not which copy is authentic. The fact is that you have not yet read the whole book and yet you claim that it needs ‘much editing’.”

“Ok.”

—– 

I just hope my fellow interlocutor above would soon meet Dr. Muhammad Mutahhari, who himself had personally given his feedback to me some years ago on my translation of his late father’s two books, namely, “Training and Education in Islam” and “The Theory of Knowledge: An Islamic Perspective”.

Now, let me ask those who have read the whole book: Does it really need ‘much editing’?

This translator and the book’s editor, Dr. Amina Inloes, will surely be very grateful if you can let us know of the errors in the translation. As the Indonesian proverb goes, “Dimana gading yang tida retak,” which means “There’s no ivory without a crack.”

=====

Even after this post of mine, he did not stop notifying me of the alleged errors in my translation: “Here are some I noticed in your given link…” (Actually, I didn’t give any link to him.)

            

Thereafter, I replied to him: “After bringing your list of the alleged errors in my translation to the attention of (1) the publisher and (2) Dr. Muhammad Mutahhari, the Director of Mutahhari Foundation, please let me know their reaction. Thanks 

Then he responded thus, “Don’t you feel that this is your own business and responsibility? A book is distributing worldwide via your given link in your name full of errors! You yourself referred me to that university site for your translated book, And in a little glance l encountered this mistakes again there! Just in some available parts there. I saw and feel some non religious and non Muslim scholars worldwide are more receptive to my comments and critics even for misprintings. While YOU evaluate that as ALLEGED! While they are of your link!! Instead of begin thankful. Again maybe I will hear it’s for mistyped copy:blush: No time for looking publisher or the man without address or phone.Or writing down the list which will be named ALLEGED! Nice chat Bye my professor:pray:”

(He’s lying in saying that I referred him a certain university site.)

Naturally, I was smiling while reading his message, and then I replied. “Salam. ” I hope that will be our parting message – salam. 

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Community-based Religious Education and Preventing Violent Extremism

Parallel 1.B COMMUNITY-BASED RELIGIOUS EDUCATION ROLES AND PREVENTING VIOLENT EXTREMISM: EXPERIENCE FROM VARIOUS COUNTRIES

1. How is community playing role in religious education across various context?
2. How can community play bigger role in shaping religious education to prevent [and counter] violent extremism?

Parallel 2.B PROMOTING RELIGIOUS LITERACY EDUCATION

1. How important is religious literacy in our current context?
2. How can religious education increase religious literacy?

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Two Questions

During the second plenary session on “Religious Education and Violent Extremism: The Southeast Asian Context” on the second day, the four speakers from Myanmar, Indonesia, and the Philippines endeavored to address these two guide questions: (1) What are the roles of state and community on religious education and PVE in Southeast Asia? (2) What are the differences and similarities, for example, in terms of
pedagogy and curriculum?

During the open session, somebody from the participants ventured to pose these two questions:

Question to the 3rd Speaker: Considering your proximity to Marawi City in more accurately analyzing the conditions on the ground as well as the ‘recapture’ of the city by the government troops and the deaths of Isnilon [Hapilon] and Omarkhayam [Maute], the top two leaders of the group/s that occupied Marawi on May 23, do you think we cannot expect another Marawi in the near and medium-term future? Why?

Question to the 4th Speaker: You have made mention of the ARMM Darul Ifta’s religious edict (fatwa) against terrorism – a courageous move which is really worthy of appreciation. But I’m just curious: Since the ‘fatwa’ was originally written and issued in Arabic language, which the overwhelming majority of the youth in the ARMM cannot understand, is it already translated into languages and vernaculars of the common people – Filipino (Tagalog), Visaya (Cebuano), M’ranao, Tausug, Maguindanaon and others?

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Why Religious Education Matters?

The first plenary session of the Regional Workshop on Violent Extremism and Religious Education in Southeast Asia which kicked off yesterday dealt with the question “Why does religious education matter for preventing violent extremism?” The speakers who dealt with the subject were a Buddhist monk directing a monastic high school in Myanmar and a member of the advisory board of an Islamic university in Indonesia.

My personal take on the issue is as follows:

Before directly answering the question of ‘why’, stating two hypotheses here is in order. First, religion can either be a bridge or a wall. Like a kitchen knife, it can be used to prepare a very delicious food and it can also be a tool to commit a heinous crime. Second, in the context of violent extremism, religion can either be a driver or a diverter.

Given these two hypotheses, it can then be stated that religious education really matter for preventing [and countering] violent extremism due to the following reasons:

1. Some violent extremist groups use religious narratives and symbols.

2. Religion can be powerful enough to stimulate people to action, for good or bad.

3. Religious education provides political authority and moral ascendancy to any ‘messenger’ of any ‘message’.

4. A ‘messenger’ of violent extremism, as in many instances, may capitalize on this religious education-rooted political authority and moral ascendancy he/she acquires in addressing his/her audience.

5. Such a ‘messenger’ who capitalizes on religious education-rooted political authority and moral ascendancy can only be competently combated by an alternative and superior ‘messenger’ whose political authority or moral ascendancy also emanates from the same religious education.

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To Kindle Fire

“Today, it is also considered a defect for a teacher to think his or her goal is only to supply the mind of the student with pieces of information, facts, and formulas, and to make it like a pool which is filled with a certain amount of water. The goal of teaching must be higher and that is to train and grant independence to the mental faculty of the learner and revitalize his power of innovation. That is, the teacher’s job is actually to kindle fire.” ~ Murtada Mutahhari (1920-79)

Murtada Mutahhari, “Training and Education in Islam,” trans. Mansoor Limba (IHCS, 2011), http://mlimba.com/portfolio

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Interfaith and Intercommunal Practices: The Case of Ateneo de Davao’s Al Qalam Institute

MasterPeace Leadership Summit:
Theme: “Filipino Youth at the Forefront of a Peaceful Future”
Organized by the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP), Sept 29-Oct 1, 2017, Crown Regency Hotel, Davao City, Philippines

Presentation Outline:
Interfaith Dialogue
University Vision-Mission
Al Qalam Institute
University’s 4 Main Thrusts
Formation
Instruction
Research
Engagement
Future Trajectories
Concluding Remarks

   
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Peace Journalism in Mindanao

MasterPeace Leadership Summit:
Theme: “Filipino Youth at the Forefront of a Peaceful Future”
Organized by the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP), Sept 29-Oct 1, 2017, Crown Regency Hotel, Davao City, Philippines

Presentation Outline:
Introductory Questions
The Media Today
War Journalism
Peace Journalism
War Journalism vs. Peace Journalism
Sample Cases of Reporting in Mindanao
Editorial Policies Relevant to Covering Mindanao Events
Conclusion

      
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Tougher to Negotiate With

The second module we had studied during the Asia-China Peace and Leadership Training-Workshop (Jinan University, Guangzhou, China, July 14-23, 2017) was about International Negotiation and Conflict Resolution, and for this two-day module, we were lucky enough to have PROF. GUY OLIVIER FAURE as our facilitator or resource person.

Dr. Faure is currently a Visiting Professor at CEIBS, Shanghai, China; Professor of Sociology Emeritus, Sorbonne University, Paris; and Director of International Conflict Resolution Center, The Hague, Netherlands.

Having done extensive works in international negotiations and conflict resolution, particularly in the domains of Long-term Strategic Forecast, Terrorism, and Business Security, Prof. Faure has lectured in a number of renowned universities and institutions including the Harvard Law School and the New York University.

He has authored, co-authored and edited 19 books and over a hundred articles, and one of those books is entitled “Negotiating with Terrorists: Strategy, Tactics and Politics” (Routledge, 2008).

During the second and last day of the module, as the time for lunch was approaching and everybody seemed to be already imagining to hold a spoon, instead of ballpen, I posed a question:

“Sir Olivier, taking into consideration your wide array of experiences in negotiation, both as a theoretician and a practitioner, which do you think is tougher to negotiate with: the ISIS, or MISIS (“wife” or “madame” in Filipino)?

After an unprecedented laughter, Sir Olivier retorted, “Of course, it’s the MISIS because they personally know our soft spot!”

How I wish, Sir Olivier’s next book project will be entitled, “Negotiating with MISIS: Strategy, Tactics and Politics.”

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