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Mindanáo: When Will The War Ever End?

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Certainly not in my lifetime. But neither am I happy about it.

Mindanáo, particularly the terrorist-infested regions, will continue to be drenched in blood and fear as long as we have complacent government leaders who wine and dine like monarchs while their tired and hungry and lonely soldiers fight a never-ending war against godless psycopathic criminals who pretend to be Muslims.

Very recently, more than 20 Filipino soldiers were brutally murdered by these motherless cowards who brazenly call themselves the Abu Sayyaf. The war against these scumbags has been ongoing for many years with almost no end in sight. They were almost wiped out from the face of the earth during President Joseph Estrada’s term. But –and strangely– when Gloria Arroyo usurped power, their number ballooned once more. And their killing and kidnapping spree has soared to new heights, enough to grab the attention of Washington, D.C. and the European Union. But even with the presence of the US military in Mindanáo, these self-proclaimed Muslim extremists still seem like roaches; you keep hitting ’em with your sandals, but they keep on coming back to crawl toward a safe, dark corner.

Perhaps if we still have a leader like Sebastián Hurtado de Corcuera, the tide would’ve turned much differently. Fortunately for these terrorists from hell, Hurtado de Corcuera’s already resting up there in the firmament.

Sebastián Hurtado de Corcuera (Gobernador General, 1635-1644). Without him, there would have been no Mindanáo in the Philippine map.

Sebastián Hurtado de Corcuera (Gobernador General, 1635-1644). Without him, there would have been no Mindanáo in the Philippine map.

Sebastián Hurtado de Corcuera was the 22nd Gobernador General during Spanish-era Philippines. He presided over archipelagic matters from 25 June 1635 to 11 August 1644. During his reign, the then Philippine military had one of its most glorious days as it has defeated its Muslim enemies from the south.

And yes, without Hurtado de Corcuera’s amazing military efforts, the late nationalist musical performer FrancisM would’ve been rapping Two Stars & A Sun instead of three. In one way or another, Hurtado de Corcuera was able to keep Mindanáo as part of Philippine territory. He even participated in the battlefield. Thus, in the words of National Artist for Literature Nick Joaquín, the “once separate and warring kingdoms of Manila, Cebú, and, yes, Joló were steadily projected as a single entity: Las Filipinas. Divide and conquer? The Spanish policy seems rather to have been: ‘Keep ’em one! Keep ’em together!’ There were any number of times when the Spanish could have dropped Mindanáo –or, at least, Sulú– from their empire; but (at the cost of much headache) they opted to keep Mindanáo and Sulú Philippine”.

If we were only able to make our present leader stay where the action/problem is, bloodshed would’ve been mitigated, if not totally avoided. To say that Arroyo should also take up arms and go straight to the battlefield like what Hurtado de Corcuera did is indeed ludicrous. But the point is that precious time should’ve been allocated more into this centuries-old “Mindanáo crisis” as compared to her recently concluded and almost nonproductive thirty-minute meeting with US President Barack Obama which focused mainly on US interests and not our own.

In contrast, Hurtado de Corcuera had a goal, a vision, a mission: to unite the archipelago against all odds. And he even earned the respect of his Muslim foes. Such passion should be inherent among our present-day national leaders in order to make sure that Mindanáo remains on our map. But the contrary is true. Alas, what Hurtado de Corcuera almost died fighting for was almost lost when the Arroyo government unconstitutionally gave way to the Moro Islamic Liberation Front’s lack of historical and ancestral logic last year. Thank goodness Lady Justice never slept on it.

For having added and kept Mindanáo as part of our patrimony, it is correct to say that Sebastián Hurtado de Corcuera was the last of the conquistadores to have ever set foot on our shores. He physically toiled –sweat, blood, and all– to make sure that Luzón and Visayas will remain a threesome together with Mindanáo. May the present-day Filipinos respect Hurtado de Corcuera’s efforts to keep the Philippines complete.

But that’s another problem — almost everything from our Spanish past is considered as worse as the present administration.

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