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The big news bechance that the Bureau on Cultural Heritage are blessed to be invited and participated in the UNESCO-Memory of the World (MOW) Documentary Heritage Awareness and Nomination Seminar which was organized by the Philippine National Commission for United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), in cooperation and partnership with the University of the Philippines Mindanao and the Center for New Cinema (CNC) last September 3, 2016 at the Lorenzo Hall, University of the Philippines Mindanao. The Bureau sends five delagtes headed by the gifted Executive Director Engr, Marites K. Maguindra with staffs Bai Marieta Mindalano – Adam, Nor-ain Lambitan, Esnaira Salem and Yusoph Maguindra.

Jawi Documents is the focus of the seminar in addition to study of Philippine documents that include ancient syllabary, motion pictures, recorded sound and chants, government records, religious chronicles and other documentary artifacts. If not preserved, they will disappear in time and with their disappearance, our memory of the past may also vanish.

            A “JAWI” an Arabic alphabet adapted for writing the Malay language used as an alternative script in Malaysia and Malay dominated areas in Indonesia. At the early stage of Islamization, the Arabic script was taught to the people who had newly embraced Islam in the form of religious practices, such as the recitation of Quran as well as Sallah. It is not too far-fetched to say that the Arabic script was accepted by the Malay community together with their acceptance of Islam and they only took a short time to modify the script and adapt it to suit the spoken Classical Malay – it is written from right to left and has 6 sounds not found in Arabic: ca pa ga nga va and nya. Many Arabic characters are never used as they are not pronounced in Malay language, and some letters are never joined and some joined obligatorily. This was the same for the acceptance of Arabic writing in Turkey, Persia and India which had taken place earlier and thus, the Jawi script was then deemed as the writing of the Muslims, including the Muslims in the Philippines.

            Looking back in history, it can be easily argued that records and documents helps preserve memories of our culture and society, “The documentary heritage,” as Prof. Nick De Ocampo explained to us. The preservation of documents has its own significance, specifically those coming from Mindanao, Dr. Bernardita Churchill, President of the Philippine National Historical Society, lead the roster of the distinguished speakers who talked on the significance of Mindanao documents that gave special focus on “Jawi Documents” in a call to comprehend their historical and cultural heritage and essence of the learned academe and scholars.

            There's no doubt that the conservation, revival, promotion and preservation of Jawi script and documents can contribute to shape, trace and forge national Moro narrative in essential ways related to: (1) learning more information of the original history of the people in Mindanao (2) facilitating in rectifying the historical injustices of the Moro (3) understanding of Islamic principles, (4) forbearance on various Moro customs and practices, and (5) mimicry of complaisance in handling with those betrayer.

            In the seminar, participants had an opportunity to nominate new documents to be added to the UNESCO-MOW registries in the world. Present registries include the Philippine Paleographs, Radio Broadcast of the Philippine People Power Revolution, Jose Maceda Collection, Presidential Papers of Manuel L. Quezon, and the film Ganito Kami Noon, Paano Kayo Ngayon?

            The Bureau representatives nominated a document, an original century old Jawi documents contains the history of the native people in the Philippines and it traces lineage of HM Rajah Tabunaway and his descendants. The document supported by the book, publication, and ethnological survey of Najeeb M. Saleeby, a Lebanese Syrian Protestant physician in 1902 consisting of original studies and translation from Moro texts; a series of papers on Moro History, Law and Religion; also with the book entitled ‘’The Tariqul Islam Fil Philippines” in 1950’s. The book authored by Shiekh Alim Basheir, a Maranao Religious Historian, published in 1960’s at Ashgar University Cairo Egypt, Indonesia, Malaysia, Makkatul Mukarrama and Philippines in very limited copies only. This document was accepted right away and the Bureau is working on its technical details for it to be approved by the UNESCO National Board.

            To maximize the event, the representatives proceed in visiting cultural institutions for benchmarking purposes.  They first went to Museo Dabawenyo, one of the Divisions under the City Mayor’s Office of the City Government of Davao established through City Ordinance No. 0266-06 Series of 2006.  It is being run in collaboration with the private sector.  It is a "people's museum" and its programs are geared towards better historical and cultural awareness, understanding and integration.

            They group progressed to Davao Museum. A project by the Filipinas Foundation (now the Ayala Foundation) and the Zonta Club back in the 70s, the Davao Museum of History and Ethnography has now grown to be one of the best places to learn about Southern Mindanao’s rich history, culture, and ethnography. The Davao Museum holds hundreds of artifacts and artwork created by ethnic groups in this region. Through this museum, Davaoenos and all Filipinos are able to preserve and protect remnants of their important historical heritage.

            And the last place they visited is the Living Heritage of Philippine Indigenous Peoples Ethnological Museum. This center is no ordinary museum. It depicts the living culture that IPs continues to retain despite the strong influence of modernization. It also serves as IPs voice to the world because it presents the unheard sentiments of the IPs due to the destruction of their lives and culture. Thus, this would help mainstream society understand and respect the long-time struggle of the IPs.

            The overall visit aims to incite concepts to the group for the proposed program of putting up a Bangsamoro museum. This will be the Regional Center for cultural and archaeological collections throughout history of the Moro people around ARMM region. It will serve as permanent exhibits that represent historical and contemporary peoples from ARMM. It will also feature special exhibits, based on the Moro History, law and religion. Further, it will serve as a springboard for unique programs, tours, and special events. Through the collections and educational programs, it can help interpret the diversity of cultures.

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