The Integrated Performing Arts Guild (IPAG) presents three pre-festival performances of the musicale on Moro history "Datu Matu," a 1992 playwriting awardee of the Cultural Center of the Philippines by Bebot Rodil, in January 19 (4:30/7:30 p.m.) and 20 (7:30 p.m.) at the MSU-IIT in Iligan City.
"Datu Matu" is one of the featured plays in the 2nd National Theater Festival of the CCP when the country's outstanding repertory companies perform. IPAG's CCP performance is set February 14 (2:30/7:30 p.m.) at the Tanghalang Aurelio Tolentino (Little Theater). It is the IPAG's contribution to the Centennial of the Revolution and the only play that narrates the Moro contribution in this time in history.
Writes the playwright: "It is said that American colonialism came like a thief in the night frustrating the aspirations and goals of the Katipuneros and the Filipino people for national freedom and cutting short the struggle of the Moro and Igorot people to remain free.... The (Filipino-American War) which the Americans insisted in calling an insurrection and the Filipino fighters as tulisanes and brigands saw the American government sending 126,468 American soldiers to the Philippines and spending $300 million from 1899 to 1907. It led to the killing of approximately 16,000 Filipino combatants and causing the death of more than 200,000 Filipinos. The significance of the figures takes another level given the fact that there were no more than eight million Filipinos at the close of the 19th century. Excluded in the count were thousands more from Mindanao particularly the fifteen to twenty thousand Moros killed in decisive encounters with the Americans.
Lt. Col. Harold Elearth, an officer of the Philippine Constabulary and veteran of the Mindanao campaign spoke of hundreds of cotta (fort) fights and twenty six uprisings of sufficient seriousness to be listed as campaigns in his books.
Heavy fighting occurred in Sulu, Lanao, and Cotabato from 1903 to 1914, and Lanao del Sur in 1918. Pockets of Moro uprisings lasted until 1934. The Taft Commission inaugurated the civil government in July 4, 1901 and it operated in what was called pacified areas while the military government continued to exist in unpacified Christian regions until 1902 and in Moroland until 1913.
"Datu Matu" is historical fiction. The events and characters in the play are pooled from a composite of all the events and datus who made their stand against American colonialism. The play contains vignettes of the Battle of Dajo (Sulu, 1906) and Bud Bagsak (Sulu, 1913), and the Batle of Bayang (Lanao, 1902 and 1917). It is telling of the other batles that Lt. Col. Elearth spoke of as those that occurred with monotonous regularity in Mindanao.
The point of the play is not to reckon with the enemies of the past but with ourselves and what we have become today. In reckoning, we have to be reminded of what happened because there have been misrepresentations and distortions in our history which have prevented us from seeing each other in the proper light. If we are to be a nation we must remember together abd discover the common thread that binds us."