MSU Pioneer Fred Magdalena delivers lecture on the Kanaka Maoli’s Sovereignty Movement:From Hawaii with Love

MSU Pioneer Fred Magdalena delivers lecture on the Kanaka Maoli’s Sovereignty Movement:From Hawaii with Love

by Dr. Rebekah M. Alawi

In a program hosted by the Office of the President and the Office of the Vice Chancellor for Research and Extension, Dr. Federico V. Magdalena delivered a lecture on “Indigenous Sovereignty Movements: A Brief on the Kanaka Maoli and Moro People.” The lecture, held at the MSRC on October 2, 2018, gathered MSU pioneers or oldtimers, mostly retirees, from the same era as Magdalena’s, the early 1960’s, and former students of the homecoming guest from Hawaii. Seen in the crowd were contemporaries Dr. Datumanong A. Sarangani, Prof. Henrietta H. Ele, Dr. Ben Kadil, Punduma Sani, VP Alma Berowa, and former students Dr. Zainal Kulidtod, Dr. Rebekah M. Alawi, and Dr. Safia Abdulrachman, and more.

Dr. Magdalena (Batch 1965-1969), former Chair of the Department of Sociology and Director of the Mamitua Saber Research Center (formerly, University Research Center), following his retirement, has been serving as faculty, Associate Specialist and Deputy Director of the Center for Philippine Studies (CPS) at the University of Hawaii at Manoa. He never forgets to acknowledge his indebtedness to his Alma Mater and to his mentor, the late Dr. Mamitua Saber, who laid the foundation for scholarly research on Muslims, and whose path he attempts to faithfully follow.

In the Opening Remarks of VCRE dela Seña, who described the homecoming visit of an MSU son as a joyous one and Dr. Magdalena as totally the opposite of the Prodigal Son who led a wasted life, and the Introduction of Asst. VPAA Samuel Anonas, they played up the sterling qualities that make a committed scholar, peace advocate and guru, and prolific writer as epitomized by Dr. Magdalena who has led a rich and productive life. Some faculty members of MSU-Main have worked with him in the synchronous online course on sovereignty movements in Hawaii and Mindanao, with ADZU and MSU as collaborating institutions. In 2013-2015, he obtained a federal grant from the US Institute of Peace Studies to implement a curricular project on conflict mitigation with MSU (involving three campuses) as counterpart. The project, focused on peace education, reached out to over 8,000 students taking up History 3.

Pres. Macaayong waxed nostalgic in his Message: “The problem with a homecoming is, it evokes images of the campus in its fledgling years, in your time, when it was all space with only a few wooden buildings and cottages dotting the landscape: the old Administration Bldg., the Cafeteria and the adjoining TEA HOUSE, and an annex that served as the Library; the Social Hall, and the two residence halls. Beyond the 4th St., there were no cottages, only Kabingan which was all uninhabited field. We associate with MSUans like our esteemed guest powdered milk, powdered egg, the Cafeteria bustling with the talk of scholars who would gather there for their meals because there were no other diners, restaurants, or carenderia in the campus, evenings when the fog was very thick resulting in Visibility Zero, the haranas or serenades at early dawn, they heydays of the Goodshines and the Griffins, DXSO with the late Engr. Grengia’s “mentholated” voice dedicating the season’s chartbusters to friends: PPM’s Puff the Magic Dragon, the Cascades’ The Last Leaf, Cliff Richards’ Constantly, Jose Marie Chan’s Afterglow, Try to Remember, and Smoke Gets in Your Eyes.

I am sure there are many in this audience who remember those times and feel nostalgic and sentimental about the “days that are no more”. I am sure, too, that many speak with sadness of those days because they remember beloved people who have already gone: Bapa Pito Saber, Prof. Lito Flores, Dr. Emily Marohombsar, Dr. Portagaleza, Dr. Ladonga, Dr. Madale, Dr. Macawaris, Dr. Rabor, Dr. Jimmy Balacuit, Dr. Rolly Gripaldo, Dr. Rebeng Morales, Dr. Beng Bartolome, Dr. Valdez, Dr. Ipad Tamano, Prof. Herrera, Dr. de los Santos, the Madrids, Engr. Mejor Mamoko, Prof. Castrodes, Prof. Tabada. Too many to remember, but we never forget them because of the footprints they left on the sands of time. Each had contributed to making this University what it is today.”

He warmly welcomed home the guest lecturer and paid tribute to the latter’s contribution to the strengthening and upholding of the highest standards of the tradition of scholarly research in the University, a torch passed on to him by Dr. Mamitua Saber. After the demise of Dr. Saber, Dr. Magdalena took the reins and continued to provide direction to the University Research Center. “He returns at a time when we are raising anew the walls of a Culture of Research, which in the past few years, drifted to the doldrums and suffered a setback.” There is good augury in the homecoming-visit of one of the distinguished alumni of the University.

Many in the exclusive audience were intrigued by Dr. Magdalena’s opening salvo that served as aperitif to his lecture: how the Philippines nearly became a state of the United States of America. He gave an account of that period in Philippine history, the Commonwealth, when a group of leaders, some of them representing Muslim groups in the country, exerted efforts to separate Mindanao from the Philippines which was ceded by Spain to the U.S. in the Treaty of Paris. Mindanao, as their mantra went, had never been conquered and a part of the territory ruled by the conquistadors. Thus this part of the treaty must be treated as null and void ab initio. As intriguing is the fact that Misamis Occidental was counted out of the Mindanao map as conceived by the pro-Mindanao separation/ independence stalwarts.

Dr. Magdalena’s lecture focused on the sovereignty movement of the native Hawaiians or Kanaka Maoli since the annexation to the U.S. of in 1898 of Hawaii and later declaration of the strategically located island paradise as the 50th state of the U.S. In terms of context, he drew parallelisms between the case of Hawaii and that of Mindanao, comparing the indigenous Kanaka Maoli sovereignty movement and the MNLF-MILF secessionist attempt to establish an Islamic State in the Philippines. Differences in the ways the two waged their struggle, specifically the mechanics of the peace process and the desired form of government, were also highlighted in the lecture. A brief but very lively and engaging Open Forum, with IPDM Exec. Dir. Acram Latiph as moderator, followed. Dr. Manong Sarangani gave the Closing Remarks.

“He returns at a time when we
are raising anew the walls of
a Culture of Research, which
in the past few years, drifted
to the doldrums and suffered
a setback.”

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