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My Kind of Town

by Don Chapman

Saturday, July 21, 2001


Best of both worlds

>> International Date Line

With so many people starving in the Philippines, a part of Muhammed Resurreccion could have felt some guilt about his business-class seat, the gracious service and the gourmet food offered by Philippine Airlines. But it was also part of his cover. He was a businessman, the owner of five Internet cafes in Zamboanga, and this was a business trip, to attend an electronics conference in Honolulu. The real purpose of his trip was very different.

Muhammed lived in two worlds and was comfortable in both. One day, those two worlds could coexist peacefully, but only when they were equal and only when his people had their independence.

Muhammed Resurreccion didn't just straddle the divide between his two worlds. He was the divide. His mother was Muslim, his father Catholic. Each would take little Muhammed to their respective worship services. Both religions made perfect sense to the boy. In many ways, he saw, they were the same religion. But as his parents' marriage wore on and the passion of youthful romance wore off, they remained passionate about their religions. Their personal differences increasingly voiced themselves in the language of faith, growing into a marital religious war that eventually led his father on his own version of the Crusades, and he stabbed his infidel mother to death, a crime for which her Muslim brothers tortured and killed Muhammed's father -- after breaking him out of jail. Muhammed was 14.

His father had been an orphan, raised by nuns and priests, and so his mother's Muslim side took him in. One religion was the same as another to him, but culturally Muhammed was now raised Muslim, and he saw how unfairly the Muslim minority was treated by the Catholics in Manila.

He was an official citizen, for instance, only because his birth had been recorded by a priest. His Muslim cousins did not officially exist because their births were outside of the sanctions of the Catholic church. There is no better way to say to people "you are nothing" than that. And at that formative age, Muhammed soon became a Muslim in his heart.

But the Catholics still dominated, and his last name was Catholic, and so he lived in that world, too. In fact, after high school he served in the Philippine Army, which taught him valuable things like military tactics, electronics, how to shoot a variety of pistols and automatic rifles, and especially how to blow up almost anything.

Those skills would come in handy when he landed in Honolulu.




Don Chapman is editor of MidWeek.
His serialized novel runs daily in the Star-Bulletin
with weekly summaries on Sunday.
He can be emailed at dchapman@midweek.com



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