A GIRL FROM MARAWI by Samira Gutoc

A GIRL FROM MARAWI by Samira Gutoc

Let’s End the Hate

Because it is an Islamic holiday, Eid’ul Adha (Feast of Sacrifice in remembrance of Prophet Abraham’s sacrifice) tomorrow and on Monday, I wanted to tackle the value of understanding cultures and religions in the workplace.

Tackling this is timely, too, that we are being alerted on possible terror attacks in Luzon. Such alarming news points to ISIS anew and causes tension and misunderstanding to the detriment of the large Muslim community.

One kookoo out there does not certainly represent the many hard-working Muslims who are attempting to survive the urban jungle.

Towards this, it has been a long battle for activists like us to introduce interfaith and Muslim understanding to as many people as we can.

We have urged human resource departments (HRDs) in the past to introduce multi-cultural environments through the hiring of ethnic and Muslim personnel and having a forum on Understanding Halal and Muslim culture, among other steps.

When one is exposed to somebody other than his culture, he is educated on sensitivities.   I remember attending various fora in Makati hotels, we were informed that food was non-pork and other organizers even catered HALAL especially for us Muslim participants.

An employee who is globally aware (because Islam is the largest growing religion in the world aside from Christianity) usually carries inclusive approaches to the workplace.

Right now there is no policy on cultural and religious diversity despite the rich heritage of our indigenous peoples and Islam in the country prior to Spanish colonization and later the migration of Muslim Filipinos to Manila and across the country. Islam came here through Tawi-Tawi islands as early as the 13th century. A living testament to this is the Sheikh Makhdum mosque. And yet this part of the country is unvisited and many of its residents untapped to work for our companies. 

Walk through Ayala and you would not see any veiled executive. With the current BARMM still unable to absorb many of the unemployed, expect more Bangsamoro to be outside the BARMM and finding jobs in the NCR.

Former Negros Occidental Governor Lito Coscolluela asks me if I was involved in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region (BARMM). As a freelance person, I have offered myself to be available to help out in my private capacity. In the past, we have been an ARMM Reform Government transition member, then a sectoral representative  for women off to being a Commissioner of the Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC) .

As a former regent too of the Mindanao State University (MSU), I have been passionately urging Bangsamoro young people to get jobs and work alongside other Filipinos. This exposure fosters understanding and possibly acceptance.

Thus in 2013, I helped Tawi-Tawi organize its first ever Job Fair. We brought Luzon based institutions, i.e. PMA, Navy, ABS-CBN, several banks, etcetera, to this farthest Southern part of the country.  As a result of this, ABS CBN-Zamboanga finally got its first veiled reporter.

We dream that diversity of workplace leads to more interaction and harmony among Muslims and Christians who have been divided by mistrust for too long. And that Philippines finally sees peace.

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