Mindanao is where my Mother Luzminda is from.  Her father founded a small town called Kapatagan in the province of Lanao del Norte, just west of Malawi City.  His name was Ernesto Dequina.  I really don't know much about him except he was a farmer and he adored his wife, Rosa, my grandmother or Lola.  He raised corn, coconut trees, and rice.  He was a strong man who tilled the land morning to night.  I spent every summer of my life here until the violence got too much and it was no longer safe for us to visit.  At least this is what my parents decided.

One summer, my Uncle Dodong built me a swing under a tree in front of the house.

The next summer, he built me a gazebo made of bamboo so I can play outside all day with my cousins.

The next summer I was entranced by long parades of red fire ants marching all over the ground in single file.  They were plump and aggressive and have an awful sting.

Another summer, I watched Lola kill a chicken, slit its throat, boil the water, remove its feathers, gut it, cut it and fry it.  It was the best fried chicken I had ever tasted.

There were long summer nights of dancing and celebrating every evening.  We had a record player and a set of vinyl records my grandfather loved to listen to.  Each summer I brought a record of the latest hit from Manila.  One summer it was listening to Edwin Starr's War.  Another summer it was The Temptations or Commodores.  That was how long ago it was been since I or anyone in my family had been back to Kapatagan.

The reason we hadn't been home was the constant threat of and acts of violence between government troops and whatever group is backing the rebels.  NPA, MILF, Abu Sayyaf, ISIS, the initials are many.  There have been many efforts to bring peace to this region.  I wrote about some of this in a previous blog entry.

When Lolo founded the town, he knew peace was necessary to bring growth to the town.  He had a personal vested interest in protecting his farm and his family.  According to our family story, Lolo's best friend was Ali Dimaporro, a Sultan (King) of his tribal family who was also Muslim.  Sometime after the war (i am not sure when exactly) they decided to establish their brotherhood to signify to other tribes and warring groups that they were one family.  Christian and Muslim together.

One day, as the story goes, they poked their fingers, let the blood drip into a glass of tuba (coconut wine) and drank.  This blood compact established some sort of protection from warring groups.  They weren't neutral in this time and place.  They were united and indeed - long before hashtags and social media, they were the original #ONEMINDANAO

So in my Christianized colonized blood, there is, symbolically if nothing else, a tiny miniscule drop of Ali Dimaporro's blood, a Muslim tribal leader.  We are family, and I continue to stand united with my brothers and sisters in Mindanao.

This is a google maps link to Kapatagan including a Wikipedia link in case you are interested in learning more.

I appreciate my brother's perspective below.  I understand the short term response of Marital Law and I hope it IS short term.  As I said before, we have tried this before.  I hope something else is in place once Martial Law is lifted because it should never be used as a permanent solution.