September 5, 2008 · Posted in: Image Galleries

Muslim Filipinos amid war

U.S.-based Filipino social documentary photographer Rick Rocamora contributes this series of photographs from his Balikbayan Visual Diary, a collection of photo essays and picture stories that he made while in the Philippines on assignment for U.S. publications or working on personal documentary projects.

This particular collection is titled “Unbroken Spirit — Muslim Filipinos in Time of War” taken during Rocamora’s several trips to Maguindanao and Cotobato before September 2001. Depicted here are scenes from the battlefields of then Moro Islamic Liberation Front-controlled territories in Maguindanao, including rebel strongholds Camps Abubakar and Raja Muda, and the altered lives of ordinary Muslim Filipinos forced to stay at refugee camps in North Cotabato.

These scenes, Rocamora says, are “repeated again and again every time conflict ensues between the MILF and the government.”

Indeed, then, as now, the decades-old war has seen no just end. Then, as now, peace has remained elusive for our Muslim brothers and sisters in Mindanao.

As a Filipino who faces racial discrimination in America, Rocamora says he can easily understand why Muslim Filipinos continue to struggle for justice and equality in their own land. “They deserve better and they need a lasting peace,” he says.

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