August 30 is a day to be excited about. There are various reasons why, and probably for some, it is a holiday— a day to rest. As a Filipino nation, it is a day of remembrance for the heroes who fought for freedom. But for a young Moro like me, it is a quest to ponder.

This quest started to hit me hard when the controversy of Lapu-Lapu being claimed as a Moro warrior, a Tausug in origin as claimed, was gaining traction in social media. I have observed that there were young Tausug who fell into believing such claim hence I saw them sharing a facebook post claiming that Lapu-Lapu was a Tausug warrior. I must admit that I too did the same mistake years ago. I felt elated to read that he might be a Moro warrior and a Tausug one. It was a validation I was looking for as a young Moro as if I was able to find a common ground with other young people who also have their hero icons. But as heartbreaking it was for me, I found that this claim was not true, for Lapu-Lapu was of Visayan heritage according to Cebuano historians. 

Yet, it made me wonder why I (and my fellow young Moros) would easily fall for claims like such? We have a lot more unsung Moro heroes but popular knowledge was limited to making known only the likes of Sultan Kudarat and Hadji Butu Abdul Baqui. There was not much of a discussion about Sultan Jamalul Alam for example, who defended Jolo against the Spanish invasion of 1876; or Datu Ache who helped unite the leaders of Sulu who then successfully led the Muslim attacks to Spanish shipyards in Camarines and Bagubao; or Datu Alamada who resisted the American rule in Cotabato in 1905.

This lack of awareness feeds into the feeling of validation which presents itself a bias for a false information presented. And when critical thinking means access to information, that also seems to be a privilege. This disinformation may also be reinforced when the one professing this false narrative is someone who holds power or authorirty, people fall short to a quest of our heroes, and in this case-leading for people to easily believe that Lapu-lapu is a Moro Hero giving us an untruthful sense of pride and pseudo-heroism.  And pride without truth is only a one-sided claim.

With this also comes the quest of how Moro communities understand the concept of heroism. I know that these faceless unsung Moro heroes did not go after the worldly reward or recognition, but it is also important to note their struggles by honoring the legacy and values they left. It is essential especially to the young Moro in fulfilling our right to self-determination—to know our values, our identity, and these are all quests of who we are.

In the words of Prof. Munib Kahal, Regional Chairperson of BAWGBUG for Peace and Development, ” The context of Moro Heroism is not to portray a savior among our own, but more of an Amanah—a responsibility—to the Ummah—our community.  It is more of the fulfilment of the mandatory obligation as servant, protector of the weak and community, as a form of submission to the Lord. The context of giving up everything just to preserve the kind of community to be deserved by the next generation.”

This August 30 we ponder about this but also beyond today: A false claim whether a Filipino Hero is a Moro or not, let be an opening for a discussion to look back and understand the context of our quest for heroes. The quest for heroism is a quest of our values as a community—what we share, what we defend–and with the elections fast approaching, may we include the context of this quest (of Moro Heroism) on our decisions as we choose our next leaders.