Wednesday, July 17, 2013

MILF: Halul Akkal Group clarified misconceptions on Tawi-Tawi and Sama people

From the MILF Website (Jul 18): Halul Akkal Group clarified misconceptions on Tawi-Tawi and Sama people

The Halul Akkal Group (HAG) clarified misconceptions concerning Tawi-Tawi and Sama for clearer understanding. In a book written by late Professor Muhammad Quraiz III entitled ‘Tawi-Tawi History and People’, revealed that Tawi-Tawi derived its name from a Malay Language (Bahasa Malayo) as Jau-Jau, meaning Far Far Away. Tawi-tawi is widely known as the site of the first-ever built Masjid (Mosque) by Makdumins (Arab Missionaries) in Tubig Indangan, Simunul in 1380.
Tubig Indangan, Simunul is also recorded as the Birth Place of Islam in the country long before the coming of Ferdinand Magellan to the Philippine Islands in March 1521.

Tawi-Tawi was once an integral part of Sulu Province. It only became a separate province as an off-shoot of the Moro struggle waged by the natives in 1973. Then President Ferdinand Marcos created Tawi-Tawi as the homeland for the Sama for them to live a peaceful life.

In the past, the people of Sulu called the Tawi-Tawi people as Ta-u Sadlupan, meaning, ‘People of the South’ in high regards. In like manner, the Tawi-Tawi People called their brothers in Sulu as A A Shuq, meaning, ‘People of the Market’ in high esteem. The Ta-u Sadlupan and A A Shuq speak different dialects, both cannot understand each other. The dialect spoken by the Tau Sadlupan or Sama is Bahasa Sinama, the AA Shuq spoke Bahasa Sinuq. The People of Sulu is referred as Orang Shuluq by the Malaysians. The Sama called the Badjao as Pala-u, identified with their Je-Ngeng or Lepa or people living at sea.

In a United Nations (UN) report, it revealed that there are 3 classifications of ethnic tribes constituting the inhabitants of Tawi-Tawi.: the Sama, Jama Mapun and the Badjao. Sama constitutes the majority, Jama Mapun are confined in Mapun Municipality, while the Badjao are scattered in the Sitangkay, Sibuto, Tong Bangkaw and in Bongao. There is no Samal tribe in Tawi-Tawi. Samal Island is situated in Davao, not as a tribe living in Tawi-Tawi.

Citing specific situations will help clear confusing issues with regards to the Sama identity and the Badjao, on the other. The Sama people are the Islamized inhabitants, the Badjao preferred to maintain professing paganism. The Sama maintain high level social status, the Badjao are non-Islamized and destitute. The Sama being Muslims observe cleanliness in body and purification of the soul, the Badjao do not observe the proper health and hygiene practices. One may observe that the Badjao smells bad and are nomadic people.

It saddens the Sama people when some individuals or groups of people in our midst named-drop Sama as Samal. It   distorts the facts and is character assassination. You know what Samal they are referring to? They are second class or dirty people! Samal comes from a word ‘Sammal’, means dirty. Oh, the Sama people are Muslims, professionals and peace-loving people. We are clean because we are Muslims; we are not criminals and kidnappers. The Sama is a Moro. Tawi-Tawi was separated from Sulu Province because of the Sama participation in the Moro Struggle in the 70’s.

To repeat, Sama is not Samal or Sammal or dirty. Sama is fearful of Allah. We are Muslims. Islam was first planted in our soil, in Tubig Indangan, Simunul. The Sama inherited the legacy left by the Makdumins, hence, the Sama are peace loving people and not troublesome.

From this time on, the people of Tawi-Tawi hope that the misconception about Sama be corrected and categorize them separately from the Jama Mapun and the Badjaos.

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