cotabato

Philippines’ LARGEST Mosque to rise in Cotabato

Construction of what has been claimed as the grandest, biggest mosque in the Philippines – with funding from Brunei Darrusalam – is almost complete.


With the Moro Gulf as background, the Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah Masjid (Muslim center of worship), which reportedly costs $48 million (P2.1 billion), dominates the landscape of Kalanganan Dos in this city, some eight kilometers from the main road.

Construction has been led by Manila-based New Kanlaon Construction, Inc., with design provided by known architectural firm Palafox Associates.

The project is expected to be completed on May 15.

“The mosque itself is 99.12% complete,” Richard Harris Jordan, project manager, said last week.

The minarets, or towers, measure 43 meters high, their top perched with pilot’s lights to avoid aerial accidents at night, he told BusinessWorld.

Mr. Jordan declined to state the project cost, but said it was “53% shouldered by the Sultanate of Brunei and the rest by the Philippine government.”
Brunei is a colleague in the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations.

The construction of the mosque started two years ago, and was announced with the coming then of Brunei Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah to Manila.

Reports then said Brunei would fund the $48-million mosque project.

Efforts to invite Mr. Bolkiah to grace the facility’s grand opening are reportedly under way.

Brunei, a tiny country made rich through oil reserves, has been helping in the Mindanao peace.

It is a member of the Malaysian-led International Monitoring Team, which is looking after the implementation of the ceasefire agreement between the government and Moro rebels.

Mr. Jordan said the mosque alone occupies at least 5,000 square meters inside a five-hectare property donated by the family of former Maguindanao Rep. Didagen P. Dilangalen.

The mosque can accommodate 800 male and 400 female worshippers, Mr. Jordan said.

A fountain will be among the main features of the courtyard. The building has been painted white and gold, although workers are still seen rushing fencing off the facility as well as doing landscaping work.

The mosque is expected to enhance the tourism potentials of this city, which is the administrative center of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao. – Romer S. Sarmiento

An aerial view of flooded areas after water hyacinths clogged the Rio Grande de Mindanao River in Cotabato City, southern Philippines June 22, 2011. (Reuters)

As backgrounder, here’s something from Interaksyon on June 17:

Flood displaces 66,000 in Cotabato City

Some 66,000 people from 14 of this city’s 26 villages have been displaced by flood caused by days of heavy rains that showed no signs of abating on Friday.

Many of the evacuees are staying with relatives, neighbors and friends but 12,000 have needed to be taken to basketball courts and other government facilities converted into evacuation centers.

Cherry Veloria, supervising administrative officer of the Office of City Social Welfare and Development Services, said they have already identified 16 evacuation centers but worried they may need more should the number of evacuees increase.

Read more…

I hope the pic and the accompanying news link will make people see why the people of Cotabato were so pissed off with President Aquino and the national government yesterday.

Sundown at The Grand Mosque

“Islam appears to me like a perfect work of architecture. All its parts are harmoniously conceived to complement and support each other; nothing is superfluous and nothing lacking; and the result is a structure of absolute balance and solid composure." -Muhammad Asad

My throat constricted when we reached the Grand Mosque–the largest one in the Philippines–during our Cotabato trip. No matter how many books I’ve come across on Islam, seeing a testament to what it stands for up close eclipses everything I’ve read about this religion in the past.

I guess when you love to read, are blessed with open minded parents, and have friends who continue to view the world with child like wonder…you are bound to learn that there is virtue in diversity. I’m a Catholic, and I have respect for Islam. I’d like to believe that if we tried fervently enough, Christians and Muslims can co-exist in diversity someday, without being divided.

Brave the waves,

Stoked to hear from you on Facebook and Twitter. See you there!

Blogged: Operation Agco

Lieutenant, this is Private Officer Maro, reporting.

0545H / Davao

The sun has just risen.

Another brand new day for my new mission, sir. I know it was a bit hard to locate this young man you were searching. I thought it was implausible to locate him, but no.

While lighting my cigarette along the junction of Ulas and Bukidnon-Davao Highway, I saw three Toyota Hi-Ace vans. They all looked brand new… and suspicious. There I saw groups of young people who were busy talking to each other. I surmised, sir, that they were all excited for their trip. And then, I saw someone that exactly matches the description of the person you were searching.

Finally, the long wait has come to an end.

Male. 5’6” to 5’7” in height. Slim. Semi-faux hawk hairdo. Loves to wear aviator shades. Certified lefty as he wore his wristwatch on his right hand.

Positive identity of the subject.

So I followed their van. They were driving south of the city. Little did I know was, they were embarking on a trip near our camp at Kidapawan, North Cotabato.

Read more »

Who is Jay Jaboneta?

Jay Jaboneta is a Co-Founder of the Philippine Funds for Little Kids movement.

Jay was recently named by Yahoo Southeast Asia as one of the 7 Modern-Day Filipino Heroes for his involvement in the project Zamboanga Funds for Little Kids which is now renamed as the Philippine Funds for Little Kids. His work with the fund has been featured by the Associated Press, CNN, BusinessWeek, Forbes, The Huffington Post, ABS-CBN’s Bandila, ANC’s Headstart with Karen Davila, GMA-7, GMA News TV’s News To Go, and other international and local news organizations.

He was the first and former Head for New Media under the Presidential Communications Operations Office and started the team that manages the President’s official website and social networking presence.

He is now a Consultant on Social Media Strategy & Marketing for some companies and nonprofits in the country.

Jay loves to help people, companies, non-profits and brands breathe life into their brand story.

Jay is a hungry man. He eats at least a hundred books a year, loves chocolate and sometimes can’t live without coffee. He has worked for organizations as diverse as the Philippine Government, Procter & Gamble Philippines, and Australia and New Zealand Banking Group Ltd. (including Metrobank Card Corporation).

Jay believes remarkable people and organizations deserve the attention of the world. 

You can reach him at http://twitter.com/jayjaboneta or http://www.jayjaboneta.com.

mindanews.com
Groups say anti-mining stance “possible, if not probable cause” of priest’s slay

MALAYBALAY CITY (MindaNews/19 October) – His anti-mining advocacy and  active defense of indigenous peoples’ rights could be the “possible, if not probable, cause” for the murder of Italian missionary, Fr. Fausto Tentorio, two groups today said.

Tentorio, parish priest of Our Mother of Perpetual Help Parish in Arakan, North Cotabato and a member of the Pontifical Institute for Foreign Missions (PIME), was gunned down early Monday morning by motorcycle-riding men, in the garage of  his convent, as he was preparing to drive to a monthly clergy meeting in Kidapawan City, 52 kilometers away.

“Fr. Tentorio understood the disastrous effects mining activities would have on his people – despite the consent some were giving these under the influence of the mines.  As a man of God, therefore, giving voice to the voiceless, he opposed these – taking no heed of the danger this brought him.  Perhaps he should have taken heed.  Now he is dead,” the Catholic Educational Association of the Philippines (CEAP) said in a statement.

The CEAP stressed that the murder “at this point cannot incontrovertibly be laid at the feet of large-scale mining activities in Mindanao” but that Tentorio’s anti-mining advocacy is “a possible, if not probable, cause for his murder.”

The group noted that since 2003, the priest’s life had been under threats for his defense of the rights of the Lumads of the province and his advocacy for  a safe environment.

Tentorio was never unfazed by these threats, the Philippine Misereor Partnership Inc. Anti–Mining Campaign secretariat said in a separate statement.

The PMPI-AMC said that a fellow missionary had posted in his blog anti-mining sentiments by the Tribal Filipino Program of the Diocese of Kidapawan, of which Tentorio was coordinator. The same blog alleged that the public hearings on the Environmental Impact Assessment of SMI did not give a fair chance to the opposition to present their side.

Lawyer Mario E. Maderazo, PMPI-AMC project officer said: “This senseless killing should be a wake-up call for the Aquino Administration to reconsider its recent decision of backing the formation and deployment of militias to beef up security for mining corporations.”

He said the move “will only perpetuate the condition which made the killing of Fr. Fausto  possible. The rule of law will not spring from use of arms and armed militias. Only an empowered citizenry capable of combating poverty, inequality and injustice in their communities will bring genuine peace to our land and people”

Read more…

To read the full story from MindaNews, please click the link above.

Just a few days ago, I wrote a post about the possibility of civilian armed auxiliaries employing violence against anti-mining advocates. And here it is.

Considering that the armed forces plan to create more “militia” units for mining firms in the wake of the New People’s Army attack in Claver, Surigao del Norte, it would not be difficult to imagine seeing more cases like this of Fr. Tentorio’s. 

Our next missions

We’ve been to Pampanga, Cebu, Davao, Makati, Cavite, Iloilo and Pangasinan. But there’s no stopping Operation Smile Philippines from giving more smiles and changing lives, just yet. This month, we will be reaching out to cleft children in PASAY and to our Muslim brothers and sisters in COTABATO.

The more broken smiles we mend, the more lives we touch. 

… Riddles allow a certain degree of flexibility in their solutions. The audience is expected to think of all possible solutions. Thus aside from providing entertainment while a group goes about their world together, riddles are also perceived as vehicles for basic pedagogy. This teaching is fundamental: riddles employ expressions which allude to one thing but may also call to mind an entirely different thing. To be able to guess a riddle, one must widen his mental capacities for association and comparison, and the perception of basic likenesses and differences of things around him.
—  Rufa T. Cagoco, An Anthropological Analysis of Riddles and their Place in the Culture of Maguindanaons of Cotabato

Cotabato mosque touted as Philippines’ ‘grandest’

As the Ramadan season begins all over the world, a mosque being built through a joint effort between the Philippines and Brunei in Cotabato City has been claimed as the Philippines’ grandest.

In a report by Web site Bruvoice.com, President Benigno Aquino inspected the mosque after “taking a personal interest.”

Named by the report as the Philippines’ “most beautiful and biggest,” the mosque sits on a five-hectare land near the sea in Inawan, Kalanganan Dos, Cotabato City. In a news of Mindanews.com, it will be named Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah Masjid.

Its minarets towers to a 15-storey building. Around 800 male and 400 female worshippers can reportedly be accommodated.

http://www.mindanews.com/top-stories/2011/04/03/brunei-funded-grand-mosque-in-mindanao-to-open-soon/

http://www.bruvoice.com/2011/07/aquino-hovers-over-grand-mosque/

A Backpacker's Photo Diary: Cotabato

In Cotabato, you’ll be hard pressed to meet somebody who hasn’t lost a loved one–a victim of gunfire, kidnapping, or both. My mother spent the earlier years of her childhood there. One day, she was at the family’s sari-sari store, and witnessed her uncle get shot. She told me that her eyes were never the same after that incident. It just couldn’t be unseen.

“Here, the two main reasons for killing someone are based on political motive, or love,” a new friend explained when I visited Cotabato a few days ago. “Whether you’re a muslim, or a Christian, you’re still caught in the same web of violence.  We’ve learned to make a conscious effort to see the good in others in spite of that.”

Bakit parang ang init ng mga ulo ng mga tao dito? (Why does everybody seem hot headed here?)” I jokingly asked. I’ve been in this town a couple of times, and saw how people would flare up easily, including my own family, and even myself.

“When you’re in a place where you have to constantly defend yourself, you’ll understandably be on edge always. You can die any second. When it’s your time to go, it’s your time to go,” he responded. “Being aware of this, what you can do today, you do it. It makes no sense to take time for granted.”

Even though I didn’t grow up in Cotabato, it had a part of my heart. 

“There’s nothing much to see here. We’re the stopover city for powerful groups that surround us; we’re not the destination. So we make up for everything by giving out delicious food to our guests,” he added with a smile. But oh, for their brightly colored culture, custom of prayerfulness, and community ties, they offered so much more than they thought.

Hospitality and kindness are admirable traits. But when people are hospitable and kind to you despite exigent conditions, you bow down your head to them. 

Cotabato doesn’t represent Mindanao as a whole, but it wouldn’t be fair–even human–to sterilize yourself from what they’re going through just because you’re in a more fortunate area. For their courage, they deserve to at least be listened to, and recognized. If we can’t pitch in together to carry a region forward, what more a country?

Brave the waves,

Stoked to hear from you on Facebook and Twitter. See you there!