“Not brothers but enemies in every sense”

Gen. John “Black Jack” Pershing, the last military governor of the Moro Province (1909-1913), in his book Black Jack: The Life and Times of John J. Pershing, reflected on the relations between the Filipinos and the Moros. According to Pershing:

“Although they have lived as neighbors, they have never mingled and know practically nothing of each other. It is a rare thing to meet a Filipino who speaks Moro or vice versa.

The Filipino regards the Moro as a barbarian or a savage, while the Moro thinks of the Filipino as inferior, fit only to be his slave. They are in no sense brothers but are irreconcilable strangers and enemies in every sense.

The actual relations are such that any attempt at Filipino government would only lead to rebellion and disaster.

That was in 1913, almost a hundred years ago.

Have times and circumstances changed?

Do the Filipinos now know more of the Moros and the Moros of the Filipinos?  Do the Filipinos still consider the Moros barbarians? Do the Moros still think of the Filipinos as inferior, fit to be his slave? Are they now “friends” and “neighbors”? Or do they continue to be “irreconcilable strangers and enemies in every sense”? Is peace in our future? Or, as Pershing said, rebellion and disaster will be our eternal fate?

2 thoughts on ““Not brothers but enemies in every sense”

  1. Hi Bong,

    I’ve read some of your works, and consider your ideas in my view of the peace process. Sayang, we could have been together in the panel of Peter Bartu in Honolulu this March 2011.

    I wouldn’t comment on the questions you posed, but rather focus on Pershing and his thoughts at that time.

    The author of the book, Dr. Frank Vandiver, I think sees Pershing in his time (100 yrs ago) and what he actually did in Mindanao fighting the Moros. Remember, he was behind the seige of Bud Bagsak shortly before his stint ended as Gov. of the Moro Province. I also read some of Pershing’s diaries about his engagement in the Lanao region and wrote about it.

    Reading through the text, and based on what happened, I believed Pershing may have exploited the observed “conflict” between Moros and Filipinos. He used both, those who enlisted as Moro scouts and Filipinos who served in the constabulary in some of these encounters, particularly in Bud Bagsak. Behind the scene, the fight was really between Moro and Moro and Filipino against Moro, with the American soldiers just watching from afar. This is not what readers see in the official report, but is disclosed nonetheless in the diaries and memoirs Pershing had written in his private moments.

    To Pershing, the Moros are like the Apache Indians who loved to fight, in which force is the only language they understand and respect.

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