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Jacel broke wall separating PH Muslims, Christians

/ 10:42 PM March 22, 2013

I am a Filipino immigrant. I am passionate about our country even from a distance. I read the Inquirer online every day. Though I live on the other side of the world, I have not really left home.

I have been following the Sabah standoff since the sultanate “went home” to live in Sabah. I have read everything written about Sabah for the past four weeks.

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I want Princess Jacel Kiram to know that I believe in the sultanate’s claim. I believe in her father. I believe Sabah belongs to Filipinos. It never belonged to Malaysians; they are mere renters of the land.

So much has been said and written. So much has happened. I join other Christians and Muslims in condemning the brutal killing of some sultanate members.  Same sentiment goes to the Malaysians who had to die to defend their country. I do not support any violent way of resolving this issue.

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Nonetheless, I am writing to thank Princess Jacel and her family for not giving up on their claim to Sabah. Obviously, the government has forgotten the issue. Or has put it on the back burner.

Before Feb. 12, the nation didn’t know the Sabah story. The sultanate paved the way for the truth to come out. It made known to millions of Filipinos that aside from the 7,107 islands is another inheritance from our brave ancestors who offered their lives to help quell a rebellion.

Before Feb. 12, I never knew that there are lost Filipino brothers living across the ocean.

I watched Princess Jacel in a TV interview. I have nothing but high praises for her. She changed my impression of Muslims. I am a Christian, but I strongly connected to her in some strange way. She connected to everybody. She is soft-spoken, yet bold and articulate in her beliefs. There is no trace of her being a “war freak.” She spoke like a friend, I read the sincerity in her eyes. She won my heart and, I believe, also the hearts of many Filipinos.

Today, I do not see her as a Muslim, I see her as another Filipino like me. She broke the wall that separates the Christians and Muslims in the country.

We need Princess Jacel. The country needs Muslims like her.  There has been so much religion-driven misunderstanding in the country in the past few decades. It has affected lives, it has affected our economy, it has affected tourism, it has affected the growth of our nation.

We need Princess Jacel to bridge the gap. We need her to connect Mindanao to the Visayas and to Manila.

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I know she is still young. She should enjoy her youth. But I encourage her to carry on with her convictions in life. She may not enter politics, there are other venues that she can consider to continue being the ambassador of the Muslim community.

—ERLINDA DOLLY TAN,

Edmonton City, Canada

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TAGS: letters, princess jacel kiram, Sabah Claim
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