“Whatever their shortcomings, if any, to their constituents, are offset by their show of grit, moxie, and fidelity to their faith that will be long remembered.
Paninindeg is a Maranaw term whose root word is “tindeg,” meaning “stand.” Some translate it also as “defense” or “sympathy.” In a larger sense, it means the principle upon which one stands for. It could be a derivative of the Tagalog word “paninindigan” translated as conviction or principle. But whether it is “paninindeg” or “paninindigan” it describes a strong principle or commitment to certain values.
These peculiar cultural values which most Maranaws adhere to are perhaps what makes them stand out vis-a-vis other tribes. They have solid-rock adherence to it. Whatever the risk or cost, they will stand for what they believe in. A classic illustration is when a Maranaw sees somebody being subjected to injustice, he will stand, protect or fight for the person, be he a relative or not.
We saw this cultural trait played out recently in the hallowed hall of the House of Representatives.
The Palestinian issue is very close to the heart of the Muslims. They see vividly and in graphic images on television and other electronics devise or digital platforms the bare injustice and one-sided battle between the more superior power Israel and Palestinians. This evokes their tie with “ummah Islamiya” or brotherhood of world Muslims which is likened to a human body where the pain of the pinky is felt by the entire body. Of course, Israel is using all kinds of media propaganda strategies to debunk the claim of injustice, but the tri-media and television footage and images which are independent sources of information cannot all be wrong about the injustice and oppression being inflicted against the Palestinians. And world viewers unless suffering from myopia see clearly the desolate situation of the Palestinian Muslims.
Having said that, the issue resurfaced in the national consciousness recently. House of Representative Bill 7763 was approved on final reading seeking to designate August 9 as a special occasion to mark “the establishment of diplomatic relations between the Philippines and Israel, birthed from the signing of Proclamation 173 by President Manuel L. Quezon which called on all Filipinos to welcome and help Jewish refugees who were escaping the horrors of the Holocaust.” It was passed overwhelmingly but with the negative vote of Muslim solons.
While most of the Representatives treated it as one of the run-of-the-mill’s measures, the draft bill did not escape the scrutiny of two Muslim Maranaw congressmen.
House Representatives Zia Alonto Adiong and Yasser Alonto Balindong voted “no”. They represent the 1st and 2nd Congressional Districts of Lanao del Sur, respectively. Those who know the pedigree of these two solons were not surprised by their principled opposition. They are after all the fruit of the seeds that run in the blood of their parents, former Congressmen Mamintal Adiong Sr., now deceased, and Pangalian Balindong, now Speaker of BARMM Parliament, respectively, and their great grandfather, the legendary Maranaw leader and stateman former Senator Domocao Alonto whose legislative feats in sponsoring landmark laws are safely ensconced in legislative history tomes. They are chips off the old block. Their “paninindeg” is well ingrained in their DNA like chromosomes.
The words of Cong. Balindong rang and reverberated in the halls of Congress, thus: “By declaring our friendship to Israel, we approved of the atrocities against humanity it has committed and will continue to commit in the future.” Those profound and poignant messages should be immortalized as they summed up the collective sentiment of the Muslim World.
In an undisguised mockery and contempt after condemning Israel’s occupation of Muslim lands, Cong. Adiong suggested that “we should also explore the establishment of a similar celebration with Palestine.”
These two gentlemen stood 10 feet tall over their peers for their principled stand. That was classic “paninindeg” as described earlier. Whatever their shortcomings, if any, to their constituents, are offset by their show of grit, moxie, and fidelity to their faith that will be long remembered like the greatness of their great ancestor, Senator Domocao Alonto.
Kudos to you two. You made Filipino Muslims proud.
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