Golf as social catalyzer

The goodwill, understanding, and unity generated from and nurtured by the event will have hopefully a rippling effect that will reverberate throughout the land wracked by disunity and ideological differences.

Today is a red-letter day for Muslim golfers. Parbusters from the different tribes of Morolandia will converge at the lush fairways of the picturesque Pueblo de Oro golf course in Cagayan de Oro for a two-day golf festivity, the 1st Kampilan President’s (Mayor Jimmy Pansar) Invitational Golf Tournament dubbed as “Golf for Peace and Unity”.

About 150 have registered already and still counting with participants coming from the various parts of the Muslim Autonomous Region like Lanao del Sur and Norte, Maguindanao del Sur and Norte, Basilan, and even outside the region.

What is special about this event? Once again, the Kampilan golf club has invited non-Muslim golf enthusiasts to participate, brandish and swing their kampilans (golf clubs) with their Muslim brothers.

This is not the first event such camaraderie was promoted by the club between golfers of a variant religious sect. There were past tourneys that saw them competing against each other, jovially bantering, forgetful of any difference, and united by the common passion to play the game. It is a continuing project of the leadership of the club jointly helmed by Mayor Pansar (President), Congressman Jun Papandayan, Minister Paisalin Tago, Director Malik Umpar, lawyer Mino Macalandap, al Uztads Liclic Mala, and others.

They are motivated by a higher and noble purpose of propagating cultural, social, and religious understanding and unity among and between golfers of different social and religious persuasion. It has attracted and was participated in by non-Muslim golfers from the cities of Iligan, Cagayan de Oro, Metro Manila, and elsewhere. It is their modest contribution to the sustained global campaign to break the barriers of bigotry, bias, and discrimination to achieve peace. When they teed off, they think only of themselves as Filipinos, not as Moros, Bisayan, or Tagalog.

Weeks before the event all hands were on deck and preparations were in full swing. The Club promises attractive trophies (beautifully carved out with a kampilan logo prominently embossed), with an SUV car and Motor Bike for hole-in-one and a variety of expensive giveaways with every participant assured of going home with a prize. They planned also to hold a kulintang ensemble presentation during the festivities with al-uztads Mala being a former member of the world-renowned Darangen dance troupe arranging it. It will be a good show for the Kagayanons and foreign members, mostly Koreans of the Pueblo de Oro club.

The tournament is a sort of coming out event after people including golfers, were restricted from their movement and forced to limit their outdoor activities by the menace of the pandemic, the effect of which is still felt to this day. It serves likewise as a year-end get-together of members to mark the modest success of the club. There will be an election although members are unanimous in giving a fresh mandate to the present officers. They will map out projects for the year 2023 like participation in the prestigious PAL Interclub Golf Tournament which they have been joining for decades, and other tourneys and improving their home course, the MSU golf course, and other programs on the drawing board. There is optimism that the third-rate MSU golf course, which is nestled in the perimeter of the academe can finally upgrade its fairways and greens with the ascension to the University Presidency of an avid golfer, Sultan Basari Mapupuno.

The goodwill, understanding, and unity generated from and nurtured by the event will have hopefully a rippling effect that will reverberate throughout the land wracked by disunity and ideological differences. It might be a small gesture but great achievements spring from small ones.

The pioneers who organized the club like Congressman Simeon Datumanong now deceased, former Agrarian Reform Secretary Nasser Pangandaman, Sultan Bebot Mindalano, this writer, and many others never dreamt that their group of not more than three flights (12 players normally) could balloon to almost 200 members. In fact, it has branched out in Metro Manila with Col. Monib Mamao organizing the Ranao Golf Club which arranges games for Muslim golfers visiting the metro and has united Muslim golfers in the area, including diplomats from Muslim countries.

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