Friday, September 10, 2010


Today marks the end of Ramadan. Eid'l Fitr as the sacred tradition is known, is a joyous celebration of grace and purification that is important to Muslims as the celebration of Christmas to Christians. Families get up as early as 4 in the morning to walk to the mosque and pray. They gather for a feast after the morning prayers to break the month of fasting. Children receive gifts and candies from adults and acts of charity are performed to ease the suffering of the less fortunate.

While many Filipinos may not be aware of the significance of this day, (save for a long weekend that was declared early last week) our lack of understanding of the Eid reflects the need to cross the divide and rediscover our forgotten heritage.

It was a non-working holiday. I went to the barber shop to have my haircut done. Workout was postponed for tomorrow after I left the bed late in the afternoon. The Eid celebration has not escaped my thoughts and to take advantage of this once-in-a-year event, I went to Quiapo to observe how the Muslims celebrate their tradition.

The streets around "Muslim Town" were empty. For the uninstructed, the growing community is the block next to where the pirated dibidis are sold. I saw several young women wearing hijab around their head walking towards a nearby mosque. Their fine dresses oppose the rows of shanties along a creek where most of them live. Old men wearing Thawb white gown and Taqiyah cap gather inside a restaurant below a transient house. A visitor will immediately notice that the dish displayed behind the glass counter make up of fish and chicken cuisine. I sat in one of the tables and listened as several distinguished men conversed in their Moro dialect.

And while my goal was to get inside the Golden Mosque for the evening prayers, the exposure trip had to be cut short out of lack of preparation for the things I would face ahead. Years of prejudice between two people has whiffed an air of distrust that is not hard for an outsider to feel inside the community. Twice I was asked if I would sign up for the "Balik Islam" program, which I denied. Suddenly, the people I spoke to lost their interest as if I was there to mock their religion.

The display of ambivalence was totally understandable. As far as everyone knows, no pilgrim from another religion would dare drop by a mosque unannounced and claim to observe their customs on a special holiday. It would be difficult to explain as to why I went there alone to partake in their Eid'l Fitr even when I am not of the same faith. If only I had made some preparations for this expedition, such as reaching out to a devout Muslim to accompany me on this trip, perhaps I would appreciate the sights and sounds better.

But this is just the beginning. Returning next year with the purpose of dipping my finger deeper into Islam's pool of wisdom will be my aspiration. I may not embrace the faith altogether - like some of those I spoke with had assumed - a truth is always revealed by paying close attention to the little things I find along the way.

Before leaving the Muslim Town to return home, a rugged young boy much like those who raise their hand asking for spare change in Plaza Miranda blocked my path. It was quite unordinary knowing the people around the Golden Mosque know one another. I would have ignored the kid fearing others would follow, but it was the festival of purification and part of the essence of understanding a tradition is to live how the faithful does.

"E-i-di Mu-barak!" I said before the kid walked away with some coins in his hand.

Indeed, wherever you find yourself in,

religion or no religion,

some tenets of humanity remain.


Mr. Hush Hush said...

insightful blog, Mu[g]en. I too am curious of their practices, but admittedly am hesitant to observe, given the 'infamous' notion their religion have.. and Quiapo, is not really my cup of tea.. hayz.. I am even thinking wildly if the Sex n the City (part 2 movie) portrayal of women with designer cloths inside them might actually exist here also.. hehehehe

nice nice =)

Mac Callister said...

you are so interested ha...baka mag convert ka na niyan eventually...actually, islam is a great religion...

maganda daw talaga teachings,kung isasapuso lang ng mga muslim talaga wala ng gagawa ng masama ever...

Anonymous said...

good post papa joms, mabrouk sadiq.

Eid Mubarak!

- Rain Darwin

datu/the wilted prune said...

You should have asked me. ;)

Mu[g]en said...


Your thoughts came too late. I was too thrilled to go there. Next year papasama ako sayo mistress.


Rain Darwin:

Nag enjoy kameeeeeeee!!!

Mu[g]en said...


I'm not really a religious person so converting is not really my plan.

If ever, I want to become a Buddhist. Hehehe.

Mr Hush Hush:

Thanks! Part of the journey is seeing the difference between what we hear and what our eyes reveal. Quiapo is my home.

Real Men said...