When the Spanish landed in Manila, they already witnessed that though majority of the residents of Maynila at that time is pagan, the royal court is dominantly Islamic. The leaders then was Rajah Matanda and Rajah Soliman. The Spanish advance have halted the spread of Islam in Luzon.
The later independence and the Mindanao Migrations to the North will cause Islamic Comeback in Metro Manila. This will start in the signing of the Tripoli Agreement by the MNLF and the Marcos Government in 1976. In a sign of goodwill to the Philippine Government, Libyan Leader Muammar Ghadaffi planned a state visit in the Philippines. This is the thing that made Imelda Marcos build a mosque almost a stone throw away from the Nazareno. The state visit did not materialize and Mosques cannot be demolished once built, the Quiapo Golden Mosque is here to stay and it created a permanent Muslim presence in Manila especially in the vicinity near the mosque.
After this, a lot of Muslim enclaves in the Metro Manila have mushroomed all over. Aside from Quiapo, there is Maharlika in Taguig and in the Reclamation Area in Paranaque.
Muslims are good merchants, their usual type of work there reflects that: Stall Owners and Vendors. If you see Quiapo now, aside from Chinese Stalls, there are now stalls owned by the Muslims themselves, selling from Islamic Clothes (I don’t know their names), Jewels and even some foods. This Islamic presence also transformed Manila’s food repertoire, Halal foods being already a big part of our cuisine and some few but noticable Halal restaurants are mushrooming throughout.
Slowly, the Metro is now slowly learning to provide some room for Muslims for their daily prayers, a mall near my place has allotted an enclosed space in their mall where Muslim tenants could have their prayers.
Giving them a space on the land, gives them a feeling that they are part of the society and ultimately absorbing them. Since we gave them a space in Quiapo years ago, we gave them the understanding they they are Filipinos, too. Of course, assimilation doesn’t come too easy. I do really hope, overcoming the “terrorist” and “mamumugot” stigma from Christian Filipinos, will open some more to them. It’s not always that a Peace Agreement that ends conflicts, it is the open-mindedness of everyone, whether Muslims or Christians. We don’t need a Peace Agreement to end the Moro Conflict, all we need is love.
Photo: Quiapo Golden Mosque