Terrorism or discrimination?
Mindanao is the second largest of the 7107 islands which together form the Philippines. Five percent of the population here is Muslim, a small minority in the Catholic Philippines.
Islamic resistance movements oppose harsh discrimination with armed conflict, murder, kidnapping, bombs, and claim independence for Mindanao. Since the terrorist attacks of 9/11 the Philippine President receives additional military aid from the U.S. to tackle those Muslim terrorists in his country.
This makes Mindanao not exactly what you call a tourist destination. I visited the island when I joined a group of master students Conflict and Development during their research, and found out that also here nothing is what it seems. Majority of the ordinary people, like the women on the picture, live in poverty and have nothing to do with the violent resistance. They just try to survive day by day.
Actually the Philippine government uses Islamic terrorism as an excuse not to invest in education, health and jobs for its Muslim minority. The result is that people are hungry and sick, that they do not care for themselves, that there are no hospitals or schools (apart from the fundamentalist Quran madrassa payed by the Saoudi’s). And of course the USA support to fight the terrorists is not coincidentally since there’s oil in the Muslim area, and the Philippines are at a crossroads of important trade routes.
In 2015, two thirds of the world’s poor live in informal settlements: cracked ground, pile dwellings, slums, illegal structures that grow into a city or neighborhood, with houses built of material found and salvaged materials. The people of Mindanao are no exception on that.
(text and pictures by Veerle Devos)