Just after I boarded the cab at the airport in Kuala Lumpur last wednesday, the taxi driver told me that some Malaysians are concerned about the situation in Thailand.
"What situation?" I asked him. I swear I didn't know about it. I wasn't watching some news channel before I left Manila. There wasn't even news of it at the Clark International Airport... sadly there were no newspapers available at the airport also. I wonder why such an international hub doesn't have a newstand?
"Bombing in Southern Thailand and a coup in the Thai capital. About two (2) Malaysian nationals died in the southern thailand bombing..." The driver, in his mid-40s, was telling me like he was a thai. He told me that the bombimng in southern Thailand was close to the malaysian boarder and they are concerned that some terrorists have free access in Malaysia. "Malaysia is typically a free and peaceful country..." he said. "People of mixed cultures live here in peace and harmony..."
I can see that in Malaysia. I can't see that in the Philippines... I thought to myself. I was thinking about the fragile peace in Mindanao. I was wondering why such a christian country is having difficulties dealing with our muslim brothers in the south and why such a muslim country like Malaysia live peacefully with christians, hindus and buddhists? I just can't understand why muslims in the Philippines, especially in Mindanao, were so misunderstood, and why christians in Malaysia are respected. Who started all this?
I remember a muslim friend back in Mindanao that he had to declare in his resume that he is a catholic just have a decent job. "It's the reality that we have to live with, even if it takes giving up may faith just to survive.." he would complain.
I also remember when I first reported for work in Laguna when some tagalogs reacted of my being a mindanaoan... "Mindanao? Muslim ka? 'Di ba ang gulo dun?..." "Mga taga Maynila ang nanggugulo dun.." I would answer them back.
I don't have a ready answer for this. Though I see some changes now than 15 years ago, I can still see an endless war in Mindanao. It would be tough to say this but we practice discrimination in our country. Ironically, we complain of us being discriminated in other countries... we complain about the meaning of the word "filipina" in the greek dictionary and all that...
Errrr... I hope it's just a cultural flaw.
Just a thought...