One hundred and sixty-five (165) all-Bangsamoro MNLF women sector undertook an intensive dialogue-workshop last March 25, 2019 in Kidapawan City. Comprising mostly of the “old guards” of the Moro National Liberation Front (Misuari main stream group), the participants sat down for a whole day of dialogue on issues pertaining to Federalism and the new set-up of the Bangsamoro Government. The said dialogue of the MNLF women was undertaken immediately after the ratification of the Bangsamoro Organic Law and the subsequent establishment of the new Bangsamoro Government.
The activity was organized by the EnPolD Bangsamoro project of the Institute for Autonomy and Governance (IAG) in partnership with the Bangsamoro Women Services Center (BWSC). Ms. Tarhata Maglangit, the head of BWSC, explained that the activity was organized to: (1) deepen the understanding about the Federal Political System, (2) increase the knowledge about the new Autonomous government relative to democratic and Islamic leadership practices, concepts, and governance, and (3) to gather women stakeholders for dialogue and conversation on current political issues that would certainly affect their way of life after the ratification of the Bangsamoro Organic Law.
Some women participants came from distant cities, as far away as General Santos City, and Koronadal City in South Cotabato province, and including guests from Davao City. Majority came from the nearby municipalities of Pagalungan, Montawal, Pikit, Kabacan, Carmen, Matalam, Kidapawan City, and Cotabato City.
During the dialogue proper, everyone was emotional in reminiscing the struggle, hardships, and invaluable efforts of the MNLF leaders and their first followers from the day it was formed. Ms. Alambai Buday, the Chairwoman of the Maguindanao and SOCSARGEN Substate, MNLF, recalled the sacrifices of the MNLF group including her late father, and how pleased they were of Nur Misuari’s altruistic leadership. Her father was the late Datu Sansalona Mantawil of the Upper Sebangan State Revolutionary Committee, who passed away just three months ago.
Madam Eleonora Tan-Misuari, the Founding Chair of the Bangsamoro National Women’s Committee of the MNLF, and wife of the Chairman Nur Misuari, was present during the activity. She was cited for being one of the strongest foundations of the MNLF group of Women, and who would always be part of the MNLF’s history - continuously inspiring women through her leadership and audacity even up to this very day.
Ustadza Nur Ainee Tan-Lim, a Qur’an teacher and lecturer at New Muslim Academy, Philippines, discussed about “Leadership in Islam – Muslim Woman’s Perspective”. On several moments, she recalled her late mother’s memories, Desdemona Tan Misuari, known also as the Sarangbangon for her intelligence and dedication especially to the Bangsamoro people. Ms Tan-Lim emphasized the importance of complementation between men’s and women’s roles and functions especially in working for the common good. She went on to digest the following issues: (1) Roles of Women in Islam, (2) Leadership in Islam, (3) meaning of a balanced Muslimah, and (4) the current Bangsamoro Women’s Challenges and Opportunities. Ustadza Ainee interspersed her lectures with emphasis on patience and compassion. She closed her inputs with this advice: “If an individual have Sab’r (patience) then everything will come at ease.”
The participants also listened to inputs on Federalism 101 by Ms. Jorhaysa S. Macagba-Mangansakan, DILG-ARMM Advocacy Officer on Federalism. She emphasized that through open discussion and proper inputs, the Bangsamoro people, as with the rest of the Filipino people, would be better equipped in judging whether a federal government in the Philippines is good for them or not.
In her closing remarks, Hadja Norma D. Pasandalan, President of the Alliance of Concerned Bangsamoro Women for Development endorsed the pursuit of more dialogues and discussions to deepen their understanding and appreciation of socio-political and religious issues, resulting to the fostering of peaceful and livable societies, be it under an autonomous or a federated governmental set-up.