September 17, 2008 · Posted in: Image Galleries

Forced isolation

EXPECT the Muslim population in Metro Manila to swell every time the Bangsamoro conflict escalates down south. To escape the brutalities of war in Mindanao, many Muslims particularly flock to Quiapo, the heart of downtown Manila, where a sizable Muslim community has taken root since the 1970s in the vicinity of the Golden Mosque on Globo de Oro Street.

As it is not easy to find a place to stay in Manila, Quiapo provides them a home away from home. Quiapo’s Muslim settlement, after all, is what sociologist Mokhammad Yahya calls a self-contained ethnic community with deep communal and emotional ties, allowing them to “maintain their ethno-cultural identity from the onslaught of the Christian majority ideology and the modernizing/secularizing tendencies of urban life.”

But while in the city, Muslims cannot completely escape certain situations in their search for a better life, like having to adopt Christian names just to land a job as they end up working in Manila’s underground economy to support their forced isolation from their homeland.

U.S.-based Filipino social documentary photographer Rick Rocamora again contributes this series of photographs he took of Muslims in Quiapo while the all-out war declared by the Estrada government against the Moro Islamic Liberation Front raged in Mindanao in 2000.

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