Batanes to Tawi-Tawi
Julmunir I. Jannaral
Assalamu Alaykum. Here we are again tackling the topic about Tawi-Tawi where many have the feeling that they constitute the majority of the populace who are left behind.
One such particular Sama or the native of Tawi-Tawi is my former MSU-TCTO Instructor, Prof. Hamid Ladjakahal who expressed his honest to goodness opinion that the Sama of Tawi-Tawi are left behind in all aspects. I am not a Sama but a Tausug but I have stayed for more than two decades in the Capital town of Bongao and I consider Tawi-Tawi as my Second Home Province. It is in this province where I earned my Baccalaureate degree in Academic Year: 1976-77. His other intriguing question: “WHY TAWI-TAWI AS A WHOLE IS LESS IMPORTANT TO THE BARMM AND NATIONAL GOVERNMENT? Answer: Many people especially the gentle and peaceful Sama of Tawi-Tawi have the belief that the BARMM and national governments treat them with less importance.
Take for example in BARMM as of the moment there is no single member of the Cabinet or a Minister who is a Sama or one who comes from Tawi-Tawi.
Unlike in the ARMM before many professionals from Tawi-Tawi were appointed as Members of the Cabinet or to other responsible posts like Abubakar J. Mohammad who was appointed as Secretary of the Department of Trades and Industry (DTI); Dr. Jainal Hamad as Secretary of the Department of Health (DOH); Annel Masahud, as Secretary of the Department of Tourism (DoT); and Dayang Carlsum Sangkula-Jumaide as Secretary of the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR). And we have another Sama appointed as Sports Official. He was Al-Trekee P. Dayan who was appointed as Executive Director of the Regional Sports Coordinating Office (RSCO) of ARMM.
Then at the National level of course we have Assistant Secretary Hamid Ladjakahal of the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG).
Back in Bongao I have so many friends and fraternal brothers in the Alpha Sigma Phi-1845, that’s why since 1986, I have placed the name of the Province of Tawi-Tawi in the national Map everyday for so many years.
When I joined the Philippine Daily Inquirer in 1986 as a News Correspondent, my Regional Editor changed the name of the Regional Page from “Aparri to Jolo” to “Batanes To Tawi-Tawi.” This can be read everyday noting that Inquirer is a daily national broadsheet.
Prof. Ladjakahal, who in his Facebook Account (Hams Ladjakahal Tanjong Awal) lamented, “if you are in Cotabato or Manila, Tawi-Tawi which is dominantly populated by Sama tribe is not well-known to high officials of both governments,” he said.
He also emphasized “we are lucky if Sama Tribe is mentioned by leaders and officials in government during conferences, dialogues, meetings and other big gatherings. What is known to them are the Tausugs, Maranaos, Iranuns, Maguindanaos and Yakans and other tribes in BARMM.”
Geographically, “we are the farthest from Cotabato and Manila and accesibility is a big problem. Contacts and rubbing elbows with many people of influence who can help reach other offices for presentation of problems and issues affecting the Sama tribe are seldom attended to.”
In terms of population and voting status during elections, Tawi-Tawi is the last province attended to. The only places they can visit to are Bongao and Simunul municipalities. Other municiplities are very difficult to reach especially Mapun (Cagayan de Tawi-Tawi) and Turtle Islands.
In term of the number of the availability of professionals, Prof. Ladjakahal said the Sama tribe has the least number except the sons and daughters of affluent families and politicians who have access to Cotabato and Manila because of their status in life.
These are some of the primary reasons why the Sama tribe is being less attended to especially for positions in Tawi-Tawi and outside Tawi-Tawi.
Take note also of reality, there are no Sama who are multi-millionaires in Tawi-Tawi that can match the wealth of other tribes, according to Asec Ladjakahal. Note: However, I would like to point out that there is a friend from Tubig Indangan, Simunul the former Tawi- Tawi Vice Governor Abubakar “Baks” Mohammad, Al Haj
who owned a mansion in the plush Ayala Alabang Village in Muntinlupa City. To my assessment he is a millionaire though not that multimillionaire. But as far as I know he is the only
Muslim Filipino whose house was in the exclusive subdivision for the rich and the famous. In fact the former President of the Republic of the Philippines, PFVR is one of his neighbors.
In politics. Money is more favored than relatives even among brothers and sisters are separated from each other during elections because of money politics. As a matter of fact, there are Sama leaders who have hundreds of relatives but except for a few who remain loyal to support their relatives, most of them have the tendency to abandon their relatives. In politics, money is more influential than any other factors even if you have only a handful of relatives. In fact, this is true to all other provinces especially in BARMM, according to my former College Professor.
Undeniably, he said “the leaders and officials in then ARMM and now BARMM including the national government are paying less attention to the Sama tribe because we are not of the violent type of people. “In fact, we are the most peaceful tribe in the Philippens in which even the military especially the Philippne Marines consider Tawi-Tawi as their place of R & R (REST AND RECREATION),” Prof. Ladjakahal proudly attested to.
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