Wednesday, 1 August 2012

EDITORIAL: Mambulao should welcome Muslim migrants

RECENTLY, MWBuzz carried a report on the coming of about 10 Muslim trader-families to Mambulao to settle here for good.

It should not surprise.

This is just one proof that something positive is going on in our community and that it is attracting people to partake of that positive thing, which, to most of us is nothing but economic progress among many Mambulaoans.

It is like comparing our community to a spoonful of honey – sweet and delicious – drawing ants, which are the proverbial workers preparing for the rainy days.

From the post-war years until the 1970s, many people from the different parts of Bicol Peninsula as well as those in Luzon itself had migrated to Mambulao to cash in on the gold and iron mining boom during those periods.

And in so doing, those who came as single persons never returned to their hometown later still single but with families of their own with a kid or two -- by their Mambulaoan wives.

According to recorded accounts – and those attested to by the people themselves who came from far-flung parts of the Philippines – many came from the Bicol region, Visayas, Mindanao and Northern Luzon -- to do the most obvious thing: to work in the gold and iron mines.

But others came too, as prospective businesspersons who immediately saw the potential of Mambulao as another hub for doing commercial activities such as trading, service providing and simply prospecting for potential business.

The rest came as professionals – engineers, bankers, doctors, nurses, managers and even teachers.

And so Mambulao has become as what it is now – a bustling community propped by money generated from trading, fishing, mining, farming and other businesses.

And the biggest deal right now is the one flowing in daily from overseas through the counters of the Western Union – remittances from Mambulaoan overseas workers and relatives who have rooted their families across the seas.

So it is in this light that our Muslim brothers and sisters – traders and businesspersons as they are – came to our community.

It doesn’t require acute intelligence for them to know that doing business in Mambulao – that is buying-and-selling their arrays of goodies – makes sense.

They may not have acquired high education but they possess business acumen that would keep them from being a liability to the community, but instead, contribute to the growth of the local economy.

They know too well that Mambulao is home to hundreds of OFWs who send their hard-earned dollar, pound, ringgit, rupee, riyal, yen and euro to their loved ones and that once converted into pesos, the currency would soon be flowing out onto the shops, stores, market stalls, restaurants, snack bars, dentists and doctors clinics, dress shops, beauty parlors, internet cafes, and so on and so forth.

And this is where our Muslim trader-families come in.

With much extra money from their “barya-barya” jars, Mambulaoans will spend.

And this is a big market for the Muslim traders’ wares and the income they make from their trade would more than enough for them to stay put here, make Mambulao their new home, build their own homes later, raise kids and spend what they would earn -- right here.

In short, the money they make could flow back into the local economy, giving it an extra boost. At the start of the New Year, they would troop to the municipal treasurer’s office to renew their business permits and pay whatever taxes they owe the local government.

They can’t afford not to do so, because amid a multitude of Mambulaoans – who are neither Bicolanos nor Tagalogs but assert themselves to be a part of both – our Muslim brothers and sisters who at present number 50 would stand out in the way they dressed and carried themselves.

This would be one check for them to toe the line and make themselves good citizens of the community.

Of course, there would always be that perception among many Christians in our community, whether they are Catholics, Protestants, Iglecia ni Kristo (INK), Jehova’s Witnesses, Mormons, to name a few – that Muslims are violent individuals per se.

This is untrue.

And this is sad because violence is something that is not exclusive to one particular group of individuals or sects. On the other hand, it permeates all types of ethnic or cultural groupings in a particular community such as ours.

Violence is something that waits to happen, especially when the wrong button is pressed with intent. Violence resides in person who can’t see beyond the logic of good reasons and the logic of peaceful co-existence.

So, considering all things equal, there’s no reason for us old-timer Mambulaoans as well as the new generations not to be able to welcome the presence of our Muslim neighbors and live with them harmoniously like we do with our next-door neighbors.

We should not forget the fact that long time ago, when our early families were that poor and did not know what the future held for them, our elders also came from far places in search of the proverbial greener pasture that was Mambulao.

And these days, it looks like our community has become even greener, with opportunities for progress knocking in the back and front doors.

And our Muslim brothers are right now listening and welcoming the sound as if it’s coming from a song, and would be dancing when the windfall sets in.

History is just repeating itself.

To our Muslim brothers and sisters: Welcome home!

- Alfredo P Hernandez

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