Thursday, 29 April 2010

Who are the Moro?

By zambo on Mon, 04/08/2008 - 10:48pm

Author's Note

The casual visitor, stopping in Zamboanga or Jolo between boats, sees the Moro as a slightly grimy individual with a bad reputation. Faintly disturbing stories of the prowess of this villain with the razor-edged kris, sometimes reach the tourist's ears. Most of the stories are true. The visitor may also hear something of the enmity which exists between the Filipinos and the Moros. This is also true, as the Filipinos may discover when America leaves the islands.

What the tourist does not realize is that this sinewy, brown man, gaudily dressed in brilliant silk trousers and colorful turban, has an astounding history.

There are many men better qualified to write the military history of the Moros than this author. I know one man who could have done so and it would have been a wonderful book. He knew more about the Moros than any man in the world, I believe. He is dead now. Just before he died, I said to him, "Papa, why don't you write the story of these Mohammedan wards of ours?"
He was a Colonel in the United States Army but everyone called him "Papa".

Papa said, "Someday I will, Vic. It will have to be after some of the high rankers have gone to their rewards. I'd step on too many toes now."

But Papa passed on, as all good soldiers do, and that history of the Moros remained unwritten.

Almost, once, a newspaper man did the job. He was editor of the first newspaper in Mindanao, and he was eminently qualified. But he became busy with other things and the material turned yellow in the trunks of his basement and the book remained one of those nebulous things "that ought to be done".

So I have tried to do it. And when I look back to the seven years' association I had with the Moros while collecting the material, I wish I could have done a better job.

For the Moros are a grand people. Everything written about them, almost, has been authored by their enemies. They are feared and hated by the Filipinos. They were feared and hated by the Spaniards.

They spoiled a conquest.

Every one of them is valiant. There never was a Moro who was afraid to die. Death on the field of battle is a privilege, and they guard their privileges jealously.

History can never forget the Moros, for they did something in the 1500's, and the 1600's, and the 1700's and clear down into the 1800's, that was supposed to be impossible. They proved too strong for the Spanish conquistadores!

G. V. H.
San Diego, California