I was in Manila the last 3 days, my first ever. My first impression was the swaying coconut palms and the strong winds. It was so perplexing to me, that on arrival at ninoAquino, at the next carousel were a plane load of Muslims returning from the Hajj. This is the eastern edge of the Malay Archipelago, the blue ocean frontiers. At the eastern shore is The Pacific. Further to the East is the land of the Incas, the Americas.
In between my business meetings, I hired a guide to take me around the Spanish walled city Intramurros. No Makati no go go bars for me.
The settlement was built on the ruin of the seat of power of the defeated Raja Sulaiman’s Kingdom. It overlooks and control the Pasig River and the Manila Bay, a strategic location indeed.
The ruin and the city taught me the history of the other Malays which I have not been privy to; about those subjected to the Conquestedors, the discrimination, the inquisition.
At one entrance was the mural of St Augustine slaying Muslims, thus the name St Augustine the MataMoros, the killer of Muslims. Had it happened in the current century he would have been put on trial for crime against humanity.
Not many realised that the Moors or Moros of the east, never gave up the fight. The war between the present government and the Moros have lasted more than 500 years and counting.
I also learned about Jose Rizal who tried to bring back some dignity to his people. It was the courage to challenge the Church that cost him his life.
It is significant that till now in the Philiphines the walled city still exists, the wall that separates the elites from the masses, being symbolised by the Intramurros.
On reflection, I felt some deep gratitude to Raffles for demolishing The walled city of Malacca. With the demolition of Kota Melaka, it demolished the wall of the Malay world I have been part of, the wall between the elites and the masses, the wall between the conqueror and the conquered. It set the Malays free, to be the true way farers and seafarers that they were. With the wall gone, gone I hope is the burden of segregation, subjugation and discrimination.
I noticed how americanised the Filipinos are, yet so conservative and Deeprooted the many practices they inherit from the Spanish.
I could sense the resentment in my guide’s sense of history. Proudly she was showing her Malay tattoo, her claim to her Malay roots. Nadzru Azhari
Back in my hotel room, I watched the popular President Duerte cajoling his fellow citizens (120 million) to break free from drug lords , from the elites, from the Americans… in half American English and in Tagalog.