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FEB 19, 2016

NR # 4115B

Muslim Trade and Cultural Center of the Philippines taking shape


The proposed Muslim Trade and Cultural Center of the Philippines in the Capital City of Manila
is nearing plenary consideration.
The House Committee on Muslim Affairs, chaired by Sulu Rep. Tupay T. Loong, is now finalizing
its Committee Report on HB 2949 authored by Buhay Party-list Rep. Jose L. Atienza, Jr.
HB 2949 is entitled An Act creating a Muslim Trade and Cultural Center of the Philippines, in
the city of Manila, as the Capital of the Philippines, appropriating funds therefor and for other purposes.
We have to foster understanding, appreciation and tolerance among the diverse cultures,
traditions and religions that comprise the Filipino identity as a nation, Rep. Atienza stressed.
He said that the continuing rift between Muslims and Christians, which has long divided the
nation, has remained unsolved through the centuries.
This has become all the more pronounced by the ongoing conflict between the central
government and Muslims, he pointed out, adding that to help address this problem, we have come up
with this bill to bridge the very obvious gap between our two cultures.
The Buhay party-list lawmaker believes that a more effective and lasting assimilation of our
Muslim brothers would be achieved by understanding and accepting each other.
Majority of Muslims in Luzon are not exposed to Christian culture, while in the same manner,
many of us in the Christian communities in Luzon are not exposed, much less appreciative of the Muslim
character as expressed in their songs and dances, history and culture and historical traits, Atienza added.
The proposed Center, he said, aims to generate a better awareness and appreciation of the Muslim
characters, including the showcasing of the Muslim songs and dances, their traditional food and
delicacies.
Why in Manila? Atienza explained that the capital city of Manila was once upon a time a
thriving Muslim community ruled by Rajah Sulayman, who is considered as the first mayor of the city
and whom the Spanish encountered when they arrived in Manila; and whose monument stands proud
fronting the historic Manila Bay.
Manila also hosts the greatest number of Muslim resident in the metropolis, the lawmakerauthor noted.
HB 2949, congressional records would show, has been given the green light by the House
Committee on Appropriations earlier last year, relative of its funding requirements.
Atienza assured that the proposed trade and cultural center will be open to all tribes and could be
a great opportunity not only for locals but also balikbayans and foreign visitors to better appreciate
Muslim culture.
This permanent Muslim Trade and Cultural Center of the Philippines will greatly help forge a
deeper and lasting relationship between Muslims and Christians and other cultures in our common quest
for peace, understanding and development in the country, Atienza concluded. (30) dpt