June 26, 2023
Represented by the BCPCH Chairperson Salem Y. Lingasa, Ph.D. and Community Affairs Officer V Aaron-Jeff D. Usman, the Commission attended the Senate hearing on the proposed bill seeking the declaration of Sheikh Karim’ul Makhdum Day at the Senate of the Philippines on June 22, 2023.
Chairperson of the Senate Committee on Cultural Communities and Muslim Affairs Senator Robin Padilla facilitated the hearing on Senate Bill No. 1616 entitled “An Act Declaring the 7th Day of November of every year a Special National Working Holiday in Commemoration of the Establishment of the 1st Philippine Mosque and the Introduction of Islam in the Philippines” as proposed by Senator Sonny Angara.
Along with Tawi-Tawi Gov. Yshmael I. Sali, the Commission fully support the proposition with the urge to elevate the subject legislation to a Special National Non-Working Holiday to intensify Republic Act 10573 declaring the Sheikh Karimul Makhdum Mosque located in Simunul as a national historical landmark.
The BCPCH-BARMM, being the lead cultural and historical agency of the Bangsamoro government fully supports the commemoration of the introduction of Islam and establishment of the first mosque in the entire country cognizant with the proposed legislative measure.
Indispensable to the proposed legislation, chronicling the advent of Islam in the country would provide substantial understanding on the significance of pushing for the recognition and declaration of every 7th of November as part of national consciousness. An Arab missionary named Sheikh Karim-ul Makhdum arrived on the coastlines of Bohe Indangan, Simunul of Tawi-Tawi around 1380 to spread Islam throughout the region that eventually flourished as far as Luzon.
For more than six centuries, the mosque built under Makhdum’s guidance serve as a beacon of continuing legacy and pride of all Muslim Filipinos; notwithstanding its prominence as the oldest built mosque and along with its pillars serves as the oldest known artifacts of Islamic heritage in the Philippines. As such, the Republic Act No. 10573 otherwise known as “An Act Declaring the Sheikh Karim’ul Makhdum Mosque as a National Historical Landmark” puts premium on the notion that the declaration of the Mosque as a National Historical Landmark underscores the immense contribution of the Islamic faith to the enrichment, vibrance and diversity of our culture and civilization.
At the regional level, the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao holds annual commemoration of the Sheikh Karim-ul Makdhum Day thru the Muslim Mindanao Autonomy Act No. 17 and proposed Bangsamoro Parliament Bill No. 192, “An Act governing the observance of Regular and Special Holidays in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao. However, the declaration of holiday in commemoration of this significant event has only been exclusive in the Bangsamoro region.
Based on the recommendation submitted by the Commission through Position Paper, the Commission fully supports the proposed Senate Bill No. 1616. However, the Commission would also like to recommend mechanisms in aid of improving the proposed legislation, to wit:
1. The Commission wishes to take this opportunity to recommend that instead of declaring “Sheikh Karim’ul Makhdum Day” as a special national working holiday, the Commission humbly appeal to declare it as a special national non-working holiday to acknowledge all Muslims not only in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) Region, but all over the Philippines.
2. As part of transitional justice and to foster solidarity and understanding, the Commission implores that the commemoration shall not only be exclusive towards the declaration as national holiday. Much so, it shall provide avenue for mainstreaming and fostering understanding among Filipinos especially the youth of the Muslim Filipino identity and history thereby promoting sustaining peace and harmony.
BCPCH is the primary institution in preserving the history, culture, arts, tradition, and rich cultural heritage of the Bangsamoro people across the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.