By FILEMON G. ROMERO, PhD.
BONGAO, Tawi-Tawi: One of the last remaining historical edifices in the Bangsamoro Nation particularly in Tawi-Tawi which has stood for the longest time as a symbol that the Bangsamoro has never been subjugated by the Spaniards is now proposed for restoration.
This proposal is consistent with the provision of the Constitution of the Republic of the Philippines, which provides that “The State shall promote and popularize the nation’s historical and cultural heritage and resources.
This also supports provision of RA11054 otherwise known as the Bangsamoro Organic Law on the Preservation of the Cultural Heritage of the Bangsamoro People which states that the Bangsamoro Government shall preserve the history, culture, arts, traditions, and the rich cultural heritage of the Bangsamoro people and their Sultanates.
Historical accounts show that it was only in 1882, the Spaniards made their first attempt to control the Tawi-Tawi island group “by establishing a garrison on the island but they withdrew from the islands at the close of the century as a result of the Philippine Revolution”.
According to Vic Hurley (1938) “Swish of the Kris”, “these old Spanish stations were occupied with a force composed of one infantry company. The Spaniards had maintained two posts, one at Tataan and the other at Bongao”.
Furthermore, he said “The Spaniards were just confined to the walls of the fort”. These accounts prove that the Bangsamoro has never been subjugated by the Spaniards. Proof is that they only were able to set foot and establish a barracks (garrison) in the promontory near the Bongao Pier and were never able to govern.
This is the cultural and historical significance of this fort which serves as a pride of the Bangsamoro People. For the longest time, it has served as a symbol of the fight of the Bangsamoro for self-determination.
In order for the Bangsamoro especially the BANGSAMORO YOUTH to build in them the sense of pride of being BANGSAMORO, the local government of Bongao is proposing to the declare this area where the Spanish Fort stands as a Historical, Cultural and Tourism Site for the Municipality of Bongao, Tawi-Tawi and for the Province of Tawi-Tawi.
Now, that fort has been burned down it is high time that restoration effort should be started on this site for it to be transformed into a Sama Museum of Culture and Arts.
According to Dr. Filemon G. Romero, he is working with the Sangguniang Bayan of Bongao for the passage of a Resolution to this effect.
At the provincial level, he is seeking the assistance of the members of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan and the support of Provincial Governor Hadji Yshmael “Mang” Sali.
At the national level and regional level, he is also seeking support from Congressman Rashidin H. Matba of the lone District of Tawi-Tawi as well as the members of the Bangsamoro Transition Authority (BTA) BARMM Bureau of Cultural Heritage and BARMM Tourism.
He is also coordinating with Ligaya Fernando Amilbangsa, the Ramon Magsaysay Awardee for Dance; Nanette Matillac, the National Historical Commission of the Philippines; National Museum and the National Committee of Culture and Arts and other agencies.
PHILIPPINE MUSLIM TODAY