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643rd Sheikh Makhdum Day and the Unveiling of the Historical Marker of the Sheikh Makhdum Mosque
Simunul, Tawi-Tawi
Muslim Mindanao


To Tawi-Tawi Governor Ysmael Ismail Sali, Vice Governor Al-Syed Sali, Simunul Mayor Wasilah Abdurahman, Vice-Mayor Ershad Abdurahman; National Historical Commission of the Philippines (NHCP) Chair Dr. Emmanuel Calairo; National Museum Director General Jeremy Barns; Captain Christopher Auro and the Philippine Coast Guard; our fellow public servants and colleagues from the National and the Bangsamoro Governments; and to everyone gathered here today to witness this historical occasion, magandang tanghali po sa inyong lahat!

Assalamu alaikum wa Raḥmatullahi wa Barakatuh.

Isang mapagpalang Sheikh Makhdum Day sa inyong lahat!

First, I would like to thank the NHCP, BARMM, the Province of Tawi-Tawi, and the Local Government Unit of Simunul for this invitation. As a proud daughter of Mindanao and the only Muslim woman in the cabinet of President Ferdinand Romualdez Marcos Jr., I am honored to deliver this keynote address for the Unveiling of the Historical Marker of the Sheikh Makhdum Mosque. Together with the Unveiling of the Historical Marker in the burial site of Sheikh Karim ul Makhdum yesterday in Sibutu, these officially begin our countdown to the 650th Anniversary of the Philippine Muslim History and Heritage that will be celebrated in 2030.

While this is seven years away, we are very blessed to have a President who is one with us not only in advocating for the development and prosperity of Mindanao but also in recognizing the importance of Islam in our history and culture. So let me take this opportunity to thank—bagong-bago pa ito, fresh na fresh from Malacañang—President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. for signing the Administrative Order No. 10, constituting the Situmiayat Wakhamsun Aldhikraa National Committee which shall take charge of the preparations for this celebration even as early as now. Rest assured that the Committee, chaired by the NHCP, with the NCMF and BCPCH as vice-chairs and with DBM as one of its members, will undertake the overall study, conceptualization, and implementation of programs and projects relevant to the commemoration with the end goal of reinvigorating the spirit of national unity. Sa Bagong Pilipinas, makakaasa po kayong lahat na hindi lamang kasali kundi prayoridad ang Mindanao.

Kanina po ikinuwento sa atin ni Doctor Manny—tawag ko po sa kanya ay professor, kasi kapag may ibibigay po siya sa akin, laging libro; gusto po niya nagbabasa ako palagi ng libro—kaya si professor nung naikuwento niya kanina, he was only just three days in his position as chairman (of NHCP). Tapos, naimbitahan po tayo para sa 100-day countdown ng 125th Philippine Independence Anniversary. Habang nag-uusap po kami—siguro wala siyang maisip at nalaman po niya na ako po ay taga-Mindanao at ako po ay isang Muslim—sabi niya, parang kulang sa history ‘yung presence ng Islam. Pero mayroon na akong naisulat or mga anecdotes or historical background information and reference na ito ay magkakaroon ng celebration sa 2030. So with that small conversation, doon po lumabas yung usapan namin para sa commemoration. That was just only March 3 of this year at wala pa pong isang taon.

Tulad po ng sinabi ko kanina, napirmahan na po ng ating mahal na Presidente ang Administrative Order No. 10 na nagpapakita ng kaniyang pagpapahalaga sa Mindanao. I believe this is because the Marcoses have in fact been staunch supporters of the preservation and promotion of cultural heritage from the beginning. In fact, it must be noted that President Ferdinand E. Marcos Sr. himself visited this very mosque in 1980 for the 600th Anniversary of the establishment of Islam in the Philippines. Not only that, he also declared it a national cultural treasure. We are blessed that his son, PBBM, is now continuing this legacy for Muslim Filipinos.

Para sa akin naman po, it is especially meaningful for me to be present here today as a Muslim Filipina to personally honor Sheikh Makhdum, whom we remember and thank for being the missionary who brought Islam to the Philippines, which led to the building of this first-ever mosque in the country here in Tubig Indangan, Simunul, Tawi-Tawi. This Mosque symbolizes the introduction of Islam to the country and its pillars—which have remained intact for centuries—are a testament to our people's rich history.

For us, Muslim Filipinos, this is an integral part of our narrative and our identity. And weaving this into our nation’s history bridges religious and cultural gaps, and ultimately, promotes national unity.

I believe this is the message that the President and the NHCP are trying to impart—that Philippine Muslim history is and always will be an essential part of Philippine history. This is in line with the resounding call of the PBBM Administration to foster unity in the country amid our diversity.

Napakahalaga po ng ganitong mga selebrasyon upang mas mapalawak ang kamalayan ng ating mga kababayan lalong lalo na ng ating mga kabataan, sa iba pa pong panig ng bansa tungkol sa kasaysayan nating mga Muslim Filipino. Hangad ko po na ito ay magbigay-daan upang yakapin ng mas maraming Pilipino ang ating kultura sa kabila ng ating mga pagkakaiba at magkaroon ng mas malawak na pag-unawa sa isa't isa tungo sa ating kapayapaan at pagkakaisa.

We believe that it is through unity that we will successfully achieve our Agenda for Prosperity. At bilang Budget Secretary na tubong Mindanao, makakaasa po kayo na sisiguraduhin kong palaging kasama ang Mindanao sa pagkamit ng adyendang ito.

I, together with the whole Department of Budget and Management, remain committed to the realization of a Muslim Mindanao that is thriving, and economic growth that is truly inclusive—one that reaches even the farthest ends of the country, including Tawi-Tawi.

Attesting to this commitment, we have fully released the Fiscal Year 2023 Annual Block Grant to assist BARMM in achieving meaningful autonomy and lasting peace in the region. On top of this, we have also released Php 5.0 billion to fund the rehabilitation of conflict-ridden communities.

Our continuing capacity-building training and assistance to BARMM Public Financial Management (PFM) practitioners complement this. Just last month, we successfully conducted the PFM Competency Program, covering eight ministries of different BARMM provincial offices such as Basilan, Tawi-Tawi, Lanao del Sur, Sulu, and Maguindanao.

I am also proud to share that the House of Representatives approved the FY 2024 General Appropriations Bill on third and final reading, wherein some Php 80.6 billion is allocated for financial assistance to BARMM. And this includes the Annual Block Grant with Php 70.5 billion, reflecting an increase of 9.0 percent from 2023.

Meanwhile, Php 5.3 billion has been allotted to the PAMANA or the PAyapa at MAsaganang PamayaNAn Program for infrastructure development in BARMM. This will be implemented by the Office of the Presidential Adviser on Peace, Reconciliation and Unity.

I am also happy to share that under the 2024 proposed national budget, the NHCP will receive not just Php 1 million, not just Php 100 million, but Php 250.78 million, of which Php 57.01 million will be used to support its Historical Commemoration and Promotion Program, and some Php 5.5 million for its Philippine Muslim History Project.

Hangad po namin na ang budget na ito ay makatulong sa mga inisyatibo ng Komisyon upang patuloy po nating mabigyang-halaga at mapagyaman pa ang ating kasaysayan.

As we look back at the beginnings of Islam in our country, let us find inspiration in our rich heritage, that Mindanao may finally transform from a land of promises to a land of promises fulfilled. May peace and prosperity in the dawn of the new Philippines—ang Bagong Pilipinas—be with us all. Inshallah.

Once again, congratulations on the unveiling of the Historical Marker of the Sheikh Makhdum Mosque.

Bilang anak ng Mindanao, mga kapatid ko po kayo, at napakasaya ko po na makapiling kayo dito sa Simunul ngayong 643rd Sheik Makhdum Day at mabigyan ng karangalan ang ating mga ninuno. Maraming, maraming salamat po.

Mabuhay ang Tawi-Tawi! Mabuhay ang BARMM at ang mga Pilipinong Muslim! Mabuhay ang Pilipinas!

Wabillahi Tawfiq Wal Hidaya, Wasalamu alaikum wa rahmatullahi wa Barakatuhu.