shooting the moon

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Book Review: Children of the Ever-Changing Moon (Essays by Young Moro Writers)
edited by Gutierrez Mangansakan II, Anvil Publishing, 2007

The word “Moro” has unfortunately suffered a negative image in modern society. It has come to connote violence, rebelliousness and divisiveness to anyone who reads newspapers everyday.

With many still equating the word with “terrorism” and “jihad,” it is perhaps fair to say that the Islamic face in modern literature has been stifled.

Children of the Ever-Changing Moon, an anthology of essays by young Moro writers, is a refreshing glimpse into contemporary Muslim life. It seeks to showcase various perspectives from Filipino Muslims today, dealing with a different facet of Moro identity.

The struggle to come to grips with one’s self is natural for people of a different religion in a predominantly Catholic country. To be Muslim in a Catholic country is one thing, but to be an individual with different tribal heritages presents a unique challenge in itself.

In Ayesah Abubakar’s essay, A Malaysian Hariraya, she finds more empathy with the Philippines’s Muslim neighbors than in her own country of nationality. In Sitti Djalia Turabin-Hataman’s Compromise, we find a familiar story of a Muslim child growing up with Catholic schoolmates. Language Barriers by Sahara Alia Jauhali Silongan shows that Muslims must overcome linguistic barriers as well.

Each personal epiphany comes with its own set of personal anecdotes. Beyond religion, writers grapple with relationships (Pearlsha Abubakar’s Letter to My Father), loss (Farida D. Mending’s Daddy-Yo), tradition (Zainudin Malang’s Ramadan Musings), and change (Ayesha Merdeka Alonto-Datu Ramos’s Living Life Out of the Box).

The writers come from diverse backgrounds. Among them are established authors, musicians, journalists, researchers, development workers, teachers, filmmakers, diplomats, and lawyers. Each essay is unique. They also have a firm ownership of their personal experiences and amalgamated heritages. Each becomes a hero in his own right, for finding a semblance of unity within himself.

Perhaps among the many groundbreaking essays, Pink is the Color of the Crescent Moon by Allyson Banga-an strikes a chord in many ways. It is one of the few essays that candidly describe being gay in a conservative environment.

It ends with these thoughts: “I mold my own future. I make my own destiny.”

This is not only a Muslim idea, but also a human one. The search for one’s identity is a universal theme, not limited to one’s culture or religion.

This collection is a brave and successful attempt at presenting the complexity that is Moro identity, as Filipinos are doing with their literature. Children shoots the moon and scores a direct hit.

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