Philippine Muslims Feel Recognized at Last
Tillah, Almarim C., Manila Bulletin
SUDDENLY out of the blue, after what seemed like centuries, the Muslims in the Philippines felt ''visible.'' For a long, long time the Muslims had felt treated as if they were invisible to the rest of the Philippine population.
Then suddenly, one morning recently, they woke up and read in the newspapers that Philippine President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo had proclaimed the Eid-ul-Fitre or the day Muslims all over the world end their month-long fasting of Ramadan, as an official holiday in the Philippine calendar.
President Arroyo issued Proclamation No. 120 decreeing the Islamic festival of fast breaking as a holiday nationwide for the first time in the country's history. She said having the holiday would further promote cultural understanding and integration.
"Our fellow Muslims should have the full opportunity to properly observe and celebrate this important day," she said.
Suddenly the Filipino Muslims felt they had been accepted as legitimate citizens of the Philippines, with their own holiday listed alongside those of the Philippine Catholics like All Saints' Day and All Souls' Day and Christmas and Independence Day.
And it took this long, after being under two colonialists, and after so many Philippine Republic Presidents, mostly males, for a woman president, Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, to make the Filipino Muslims felt like true Filipinos.
She is now being looked upon by Philippine Muslims in a new light. …