By Ali G. Macabalang
Against mental and physiological setbacks wrought by the infamous 2017 Marawi siege, 10-year old Al-Basher Buto of the war-torn Islamic city has been raking honor for the Bangsamoro or Muslim Filipino community in the field of chess competition.
“He (Al-Basher) is the youngest Muslim and Filipino Grand Master” so far, according to feature reports from local and international media networks, including the Aljazeera.
The Meranao lad, having won national and international chess tourneys held in China and elsewhere since 2018, is reportedly set to represent the Philippines to the 140-nation chess competition in Georgia, USA this coming Dec. 11, according to quarters backing the young Muslim wizard.
“Please help us bring this boy to the (attention of the) President to inspire (and acknowledge him in representing) the country (to) the World Chess tournament on December 11,” Salman “Ranaw” Ali asked the Philippine Muslim Today through a messenger message.
Ali, a key mover for the Bangsamoro Community Outside the BangamoroAutonomous Region (BCOBAR), furnished the PMT photos of Al-Basher and links of previous reports from media entities including the Aljazeera.
“Al-Basher Buto is a great legacy to rectify the bad stereotyping against the Muslims,” Ali quoted the BCOBAR group president Raisonel Magangcong as saying.
Supporters from BCOBAR and other quarters were hopeful that President Rodrigo Duterte could take cognizance of Al-Basher’s prowess, and possibly get refreshed about the need to expedite the rehabilitation of war-torn Marawi City and its displaced residents.
Al-Basher had dominated the Asian Schools Chess Championships in June 2017 while state forces and terror-bound extremist guerillas from the Maute and Abu Sayyaf groups were fiercely slugging it out in fierce armed clashes.
Buto has since become one of only three Filipinos to have won gold medals in the series of Asian schools chess tilt, according to the Philippine Sports Writers Association (PSWA), which had cited the Meranao boy in formal rites.
Al-Basher’s father, named only in media reports as native of Marawi and Ramain, Lanao del Sur, was reportedly all praises for the honor his son has brought for the Filipinos, in general, and the Bangsamoro, in particular. (AGM)