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The Rulers of Magindanao: A Legacy Book for Our Age

(Dr. Jose Jowel Canuday’s opening remarks at the launch of Datu Michael Ong Mastura’s book, “The Rulers of Magindanao in Modern History, 1515-1903” at the Ateneo de Manila University in Quezon City on 04 May 2023. Canuday, who hails from Davao City and is one of the founders of MindaNews, is chair of the ADMU’s Department of Sociology and Anthropology, which co-sponsored the launch where Mastural also delivered a lecture). 

On behalf of the Sociology and Anthropology Department and the History Department of the Ateneo de Manila, I stand before you with privilege and honor to host the public lecture of Datu Michael Mastura and the launching of his most recent book, The Rulers of Magindanao in Modern History 1515-1903.

I have been trained as an anthropologist, primarily working on, and drawing insights and materials from Mindanao and the broader Bangsamoro experience. To thrive as a scholar of the region, going through the expansive written works of a Michael Ong Mastura is a key requisite and simply inescapable.  

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Dr. Jose Jowel Canuday (L), chair of the Department of Sociology and Anthropology at the Ateneo de Manila University and Datu Michael On Mastura (R), author of “The Rulers of Magindanao in Modern History, 1515-1903” outside Faber Hall after the book launch and lecture on 04 May 2023. MIndaNews photo by CAROLYN O. ARGUILLAS

Engaging his works, however, is not always straightforward because of the many layers and the expanse of insights leaping from their pages. The depth of his points and mastery of the region as a scholarly subject are more compelling in ways that dispel assumptions and presumptions about the region and the Muslim experience. Once a reader gets access to the complex documentations, thoughts, and proposition woven and interlaced in his works, what can be gained are more than understanding but, rather, a persuasive force of provocation that impels scholars and fellow readers to further engage. 

I have been an avid reader of his Muslim Filipino Experience: A Collection of Essay published by the Ministry of Muslim Affairs in 1984. This canonical book had been my proverbial bible in carrying out work on Islamic cosmopolitanism and dialogue studies. 

Often, when I write my own papers, I would find myself asking, “What would Datu Mike say?”,especially when I would have to deal with questions surrounding Islamic traditions and the Muslim experience not only in the Philippine context but also about its place in Southeast Asia.

The current book, The Rulers of Magindanao that we will be raising our glasses to, and the lecture that we will be hearing from him this afternoon, promise to deliver learning not only about the succession of rulers of Magindanao but of the greater human condition of that part in the world, in Mindanao. 

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Datu Michael Ong Mastura delivers a lecture on his book, “The Rulers of Magindanao in Modern History, 1515-1903” during its launch at the Ateneo de Manila University in Quezon City on 04 May 2023. The book is published by the Ateneo de Manila University Press and had its first launch in Cotabato City on April 13. MindaNews photo by CAROLYN O. ARGUILLAS

I am not giving a review of the book, which is a job we left for another distinguished scholar, analysts, and development practitioner of Mindanao and other complex regions of the world. That is a task for Dr Steven Rood, whom I am giving my shoutout as a way of thanking him. 

Nonetheless, reading through The Rulers of Magindanao, I marvel at the attention to details and its expansive coverage drawing from the knowledge tools of historiography, anthropology, politics, and sociology. 

Mastura’s Rulers of Magindanao is an invaluable legacy, one for the Magindanao society, but more broadly to the Bangsamoro and the Philippine national community.  It is also a scholarly legacy that many of us scholars will pour over – probably disagree with – as I do in some parts when I reviewed the book. 

In any other works of substance and importance worth of agreeing and disagreeing, we will cite, quote, and build on towards the expansion of our collective understanding of the region and the layering of our knowledge of our shared condition. 

This is a book for our time and the ages that will come. This afternoon, is an exemplary occasion wherein we sit to hear from Datu Michael Ong Mastura himself his insights on the book, Rulers of Magindanao, and the implications of his thoughts on knowledge production. 

I once again thank Datu Mike for the privilege of hosting the public lecture and the book launch as I welcome everyone to the Ateneo de Manila for this event. 

Thank you. 

(Jose Jowel Canuday is an associate professor and current chair of the Department of Sociology and Anthropology at the Ateneo de Manila University. He is co-editor of Transfiguring Mindanao: A Book Reader, an 800-page anthology that covers the history, faith relations, economy, development, political relations, history, and education, published by the Ateneo de Manila University Press in 2022. He holds a doctorate in Social and Cultural Anthropology from the University of Oxford. Dr Canuday serves as Chief Executive officer of the Mindanao Institute of Journalism, an independent media outfit that publishes MindaNews) 

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