By Ali G. Macabalang
Cotabato City – More than 50,000 people sent greetings and well-wishes for Maguindanao Governor Esmael “Toto” Mangudadatu on Father’s Day, thanking him for his “goodness” not only for his province but also for Muslim, Christian and Lumad individuals elsewhere in the country and abroad.
Close-in aides of the governor revealed the “phenomenal” thread in behalf of their boss, who would not comment about it to avoid sounding boastful and in view of Islamic belief that heralding worldly good deeds would draw less divine rewards if unduly heralded.
“He found difficulty replying to the heavy magnitude of greetings expressed through text messages, social media posts and calls. In fact, we assisted and are still helping him reply to the well-wishes,” her executive assistant, Nur Eman Aljani told the Manila Bulletin.
The earliest well-wishers were the governor’s siblings and seven children – Jazzer King, 26; Michellen, 24; Princess Grace, 23; Ysmael Powa, 21; Margaret,18; Noor Janna, 15; Fawzia, 13; and Datupowa, 8 – via separate text messages and calls, Aljani said.
Subsequent greetings emanated from the more than 6,000 student-scholars of the Maguindanao Program on Education and Community Empowerment (MadPEACE) and their parents as well as hundreds of alumni who completed collegiate and postgraduate studies under the scholarship program.
“They (scholars and graduates) addressed the governor as ‘Maguindanao’s father of education,’ a title floated once in a public gathering by House Deputy Speaker Bai Sandra Sema,” Aljani said.
Maranao and Waray-waray people also joined the thread, thanking Maguindanao and the governor for sending the provincial relief and medical mission that brought truckloads of fresh fish, relief goods and medicines in the early days of the current strife in Marawi City and the onslaught of typhoon “Yolanda” in Samar and Leyte in 2013.
One of the Waray-waray well-wishers was a member of the Tacloban City-based Uy family, who in his text message recalled how the Mangudadatu-led relief mission made the difference in their perception about Muslims.
On Nov. 13, 2013, four days after typhoon “Yolanda” swept large parts of Samar and Leyte, Kervin Uy, a resident professional who went home from Australia to assist his affected kin in Tacloban, told the governor: “I’m stunned. All the while, we thought only of Manila and Luzon as partners in distress. I misjudged our Muslim brethren.”
Rekindled cry for justice
Mangudadatu’s children’s well-wishes praised their father for playing mixed paternal-maternal role in caressing them since the tragic death of their mother, Ginalyn, who was killed alongside 57 people in the infamous Nov. 23, 2009 massacre in Ampatuan, Maguindanao, according to another close-in staff, Kagi Butch.
“Their (seven children’s) greetings were emotional as well, rekindling their cry for justice in the protracted trial of suspects in the carnage,” Butch said in vernacular, adding that the 49-year-old governor was weeping.
Dozens of journalists from different areas of the country and abroad privy to the massacre story also greeted the governor on Sunday’s global occasion, it was learned.
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