Scaling formidable walls that divide us | Inquirer Opinion
Kris-Crossing Mindanao

Scaling formidable walls that divide us

The last elections have left many people stressed out, devastated, and even wondering whether they are living in another reality, like a world of twisted facts, conjured visions where perceptions are more real than the truth. Meanwhile, expectations are already in overdrive about saving everyday expenses with the prospect of buying rice at P20 per kilo, and of receiving money directly deposited to a promised ATM account for everyone.

A cursory survey of social media posts gives us a picture of how divided we have become as a country, especially just before and after May 9. This schism is not only seen in the political field, but also, and more significantly, even in daily ways of doing things, in believing that perhaps it is time to put into everyday practice just living for the day and not expecting anything they desire. For many people, their expectations of a different type of leadership (from the outgoing one) to be victorious in the May 9 elections were high, given the huge crowds in the Leni-Kiko rallies during the campaign period.

Unlike other administrative regions in the country, the Bangsamoro is the homeland of thousands of individuals and families whose members experienced emblematic atrocities during the dark years of martial law. Everyone thought, and expected, that this shared painful experience in the hands of the brutal henchmen of the dictator during martial law would translate to an overwhelming vote to thwart the presidency of the dictator’s only son and namesake.

But the stark reality that ensued after a very historic, albeit controversial, fast processing of election returns proved everyone wrong; leaving everyone with distressed expressions on their faces. Some were depressed for days, enough for them to mull about getting out of the country. Among their questions: “What happened”? “How can our own fellow Bangsamoro allow another Marcos to lead the country in our lifetime?” “How can our compatriots betray us with only a few thousand pesos to change their minds at the last two minutes before voting?” “How can some among us agree to pre-shade huge numbers of ballots on behalf of ‘no-show’ voters for a measly amount of P5,000?” These were among the questions shared with me while visiting several communities in the Bangsamoro after May 9. Space does not allow me to list them all.


Perhaps, it is time to do a thorough, extensive, and objective reflection of our respective roles as members of one constituency as a people, as a group that has a common traumatic experience that still lives on more than four decades ago. We hold flawed assumptions about our respective realities. Many of us thought that since we have common and shared realities of having been victimized by martial law, we would, collectively, deny Marcos Jr. our votes. We were wrong. Our lived realities are quite diverse, and equally so are the responses to these distinctive realities, based on different factors that work in confluence with each other, or countervail each other. Even among families, diverse, not unified perspectives are quite common, spawning family feuds that have escalated to huge firefights wreaking havoc among many communities in the Bangsamoro. It is popularly referred to as “rido” (a Meranaw term) in Mindanao’s armed conflict literature.

We failed to recognize the formidable walls that have always been there, long before the campaign period started, abetted by sophisticated social media platforms and the engagement of information or disinformation-churning firms like Cambridge Analytica.

These are the walls of pride, of greed for both wealth and power; of the need to perpetuate one’s family name in the halls of the government bureaucracy and localities. Dynastic families in the Bangsamoro and beyond treat government positions as theirs to hold on to for as long as they can, for as long as they and their descendants are alive.

Constantly scaling and slowly breaking down these walls so that they will not further isolate us from each other is imperative for all of us, not only in the Bangsamoro but all throughout the country. Too much is at stake if we don’t.

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Pre- and post-election jitters

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TAGS: #VotePH2022, Bangsamoro, Ferdinand Marcos Jr, Kris-Crossing Mindanao, Leni Robredo, political division, Rufa Cagoco-Guiam

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