Thank you for helping us to digitally move on!

Batanes to Tawi Tawi

Julmunir I. Jannaral

For the 3rd Issue of this column allow me to extend in behalf of the Management and Staff of Philippine Muslim Today to all people who were kind enough to share their nice words, efforts, and prayers for us to move on and come out this e-newspaper in a Digital Format.

First and foremost, I would like to salute and say “Thank you Sir”  to Gov. Jim S. Hataman Salliman of the Province of Basilan for he is the only governor among the chief executives of the Five Provinces of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) who sent us his message on the operation of the Philippine Muslim Today as the only national Muslim newspaper that is published weekly in a Digital Format.

For our readers especially in Luzon and Visayas who are not aware of these five BARMM Provinces, these are of course Basilan, Sulu, Tawi-Tawi, Maguindanao, and Lanao del Sur.

In the Message of Basilan Governor Salliman, and I quote, “I take pride in knowing that beginning its maiden issue, Muslims all over the country will now gain access to the mainstream media and actively participate in the promotion of peace, unity and justice especially in this day and age when racism and discrimination are once again gaining momentum. To this I am thankful to the people behind this media outfit.”

Then for the Members of Parliament in the Bangsamoro Transition Authority (BTA) of BARMM, of the several MPs that we wrote asking for their messages only MP Eddie Mapag Alih, Al Haj of Tawi-Tawi who did not hesitate to give his message.

I know MP Ed Alih when I sent him the request for message for  Philippine Muslim Today, and I was very optimistic that he won’t fail me. Our acquaintance is time tested way back in our student days in the 70s at the Mindanao State University- Tawi-Tawi College of Technology and Oceanography (MSU-TCTO) in Bongao, Tawi-Tawi. We were both Student Leaders in MSU-TCTO and since it was still Martial Law during the administration of the late President Ferdinand E. Marcos we were not allowed to organize the Student Government but what we have then was the Student Council of Leaders. MP Alih was our Chair in the Council of Leaders that actively ventilate the grievances of the student body against the college administration of MSU-TCTO.

In 1977 I became one of the staff members of the rank and file of MSU-TCTO and MP Ed became one of the members of the faculty. Finally he became the head of the college as the Chancellor of MSU-TCTO and I left the college when I pursued my media career in the national mainstream when I joined the Philippine Daily Inquirer in 1986 writing for the “Batanes To Tawi-Tawi” page.

In the message of MP Alih to this digital newspaper he said and I quote also, “The establishment of Philippine Muslim Today as a strong media outfit of Muslims in the Philippines is indeed a welcome development in our lives as a minority.

It is like finding a missing piece that completes the puzzle in our quest for the furtherance of our collective right to self-determination. This affords our people not only access to reliable news and information through the lens of Muslims in the Philippines, but is also a platform to articulate our views on the pressing issues affecting the Bangsamoro and the country at large.”

However my attachment to Tawi-Tawi as my second home province did not end even though physically I am not there anymore. The fact that I titled my column “Batanes To Tawi” goes to show that I could not forget this southernmost province since it was there where I acquired my baccalaureate degree that had helped me a lot in my pursuit of my career development.

Then so much with this the Management and Staff are also very grateful to the kind accommodations of the two BARMM Ministers whom I know both of them several years back.

I am referring to Education Minister Mohagher Iqbal of the Ministry of Basic, Higher, and Technical Education (MBHTE) who also greeted this digital newspaper wherein he said,

“For the MBHTE, we hope that you will become our partners in proper communication engagement with the people in the Bangsamoro, wherein we will share important updates on the Ministry’s programs, projects, and activities.”

He added and said, “we also hope you will help us highlight milestones in the BARMM to inspire the Bangsamoro people. Similarly, we will welcome news or articles from the Philippine Muslim Today that we can use as reference in our decision-making process.

Again, congratulations to the Philippine Muslim Today for the initiation of your publication. May you productively engage with the Education Ministry as we work to ensure that “no child will be left behind.”

Then the other BARMM Minister where our acquaintance is quite for a long time already is Minister Dickson P. Hermoso, of the Ministry of Transportation and Communications (MOTC).

I knew Sir Dick when he was in the active service in the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP). He used to be the Colonel Dickson P. Hermoso and the spokesman of the 6th Infantry (Kampilan) Division of Camp Siongco, Datu Odin Sinsuat, Maguindanao. I was then the Vice President for Television of the Kampilan Defense Press Corps during my tour of duty as the Station Manager of PTV-4 in Cotabato City.

In his straightforward message, Minister Hermoso said, “Philippine Muslim Today

can serve as a vehicle of transporting better information to our people and be updated on events affecting their lives. It can also serve as an effective medium of their voices, sentiments and grievances seldom carried by national mainstream media outlet.”

Of course we are thankful also to BTA Speaker Atty. Ali Pangalian M. Balindong who somehow greeted us also in the launching of Philippine Muslim Today.

The Speaker said, “The Philippine Muslim Today as the first-ever Muslim national newspaper to be published in the country in this digital age, this is indeed a great milestone not only to the Bangsamoro homeland but also to the rest of the Filipino Muslims worldwide.”

Finally, in ending my message of thanks to all great personalities whom we will never forget and they became parts of the history in the making of the Philippine Muslim Today as the first Muslim national newspaper in Digital Platform, my sincere gratitude and heartfelt thanks in behalf of our management and staff to one of our benefactors the Masirikampo sa Marawi or “Traditional Royal Ruler of Marawi.”

He is no other than Datu Yusoph “Boyog” Mama, a philanthropist and sportsman. He was also the past President, National Council of Career Executive Service Organizations (NCCESO); and former Philippine Commercial Attaché and Economic Adviser to the IAEA-United Nations.

Due to the ongoing pandemic my communications to DYBM was temporarily cut off but it was reconnected thru his son and namesake Yusoph “Champ” Mama II, that I was able to touch base with him again.

In his message, DYBM said, “reportage today that address the most pressing issues for Filipino Muslims, truthfully and objectively, such as public concerns on social welfare, equal opportunities, and even “racial or ethnic justice” need to be brought to the fore of national consciousness in order to elicit effective public engagement and help the leaders and decision-makers weigh in more judiciously and responsibly as they dispense their roles.

I am confident that “Philippine Muslim Today” is up to the task of professional journalism and more, and that it can meet head on with these challenges with utmost competence. Best wishes!”

To all these gentlemen who greeted the Philippine Muslim Today, the Management and Staff would like to say to you thank you very much from the bottom of our hearts.

Trivia: Batanes To Tawi-Tawi would like to greet sincerely the former Provincial Governor of Tawi-Tawi, GOV. NUR GASPAR JAAFAR. Happy Birthday Governor and may you have long life. Keep safe too!


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