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MUSINGS FROM TEXAS: Tatay Bido’s interreligious dialogue with Muslims in Mindanao

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MCALLEN, Texas (MindaNews / 26 June) – One of the most visible “walking the talk” acts of the late Bienvenido Tatay Bido S. Tudtud was his apostolate of presence shortly after he was appointed as Bishop of the Prelature of Marawi in 1977. He lived among the Meranaw Muslims right in the heart of the Islamic City of Marawi in vulnerability, up until his untimely death on June 26, 1987.

Tatay Bido has been credited for the popularization of Duyog Ramadan, an interfaith advocacy of Catholic Christians sharing a meal with Muslims upon the break of their 30-day fast in the late 1970s, initially in Lanao del Norte and Lanao del Sur. Soon, other Catholic dioceses and some mainline Protestant denominations in several parts of Mindanao joined the dialogic movement as it took on a deeper socioeconomic affinity among the largely disadvantaged Muslims in Mindanao. His being a Christian presence earned him the respect of many Muslim religious leaders as well as local officials in Marawi and Lanao del Sur.

Their respect for him grew strongly through the years that the late bishop became an untouchable person among Meranaw bandits in Lanao del Sur, a province notorious for kidnap-for-ransom activities, where victims were mostly Christian business persons, students and religious leaders, both Catholics and Protestants. Among those forcibly taken from the 1970s to 1980s were an American Presbyterian missionary, a French priest, and 13 nuns of the Carmelite contemplatives.

The Ozamiz City-based diocesan radio dxDD became Tatay Bido’s main partner in popularizing Duyog Ramadan. He used to be the scriptwriter-director of the popular early 70s drama Introibo ad altare Dei (I will go up to the altar of God) aired over dyRF radio in Cebu City.

In the last quarter of 1986, i joined Tatay Bido’s small production team together with former seminarian Carl Zafra and came out with a one minuter spot on the life of a Guachinango (mischievous/simple-minded) character introduced as Bido Lala aired over dxDD.

We also produced his 15-minute devotional aired as Balyakag, a root crop providing nutrients to ordinary Cebuanos.

Carl and I were in shock when news reached us that the plane flying Tatay Bido to Baguio City on June 26, 1987 crashed, leaving no survivors. His remains were never recovered. We were attending at that time a radio production training in Davao City sponsored by the Cultural Center of the Philippines.

(Mindanawon Abroad is MindaNews’ effort to link up with Mindanawons overseas who would like to share their experiences in their adopted countries or their thoughts on what is happening in the country of their birth. Merpu Roa of Ozamiz City, one of the founding members of MindaNews, is presently based in Texas, USA and is president of the Philippine American Chamber Commerce of Texas, Rio Grande Valley)

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