Hula Bangsa Ayaran : Rebel Songs as Signifier of Tausug’s Identity and Collective Memories

Authors: ELGIN GLENN R SALOMON (University of the Philippines Visayas)
DARWIN J. ABSARI (University of the Philippines Diliman)
Topic: Islamic Studies and discourses
The (SCOPUS / ISI) SOAS GLOCAL CALA 2021 General Session


Literary works including rebel songs served as important windows in understanding the identity, culture, history, and collective memories of a particular ethnolinguistic group or a society at large. For instance, in the height of the Bangsamoro rebellion during Ferdinand Marcos’ Martial Law (1972-1986) in Muslim-dominated Southern Philippines, some rebels of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) wrote songs in Bahasa Sug that articulated their fight and struggle for independence from the Philippine nation-state. Surprisingly, these songs were still popular among the Tausug of Sulu in the present as these songs were passed on from one generation to another.  In line with these contexts, this paper argues that the war songs during the repressive years of Martial Law act as depositories of Tausug’s strong ethnic identity and collective memories against the oppressive system of the Marcos dictatorship. This paper will answer the following questions. 1.) What are the historical and cultural contexts that shaped the subjects of these rebel songs? 2). How does the discourse of the rebel songs’ message signify the Muslim, Tausug and Bangsamoro identities as well as their collective memory against the Marcos dictatorship and the Philippine State? And 3) How did the rebel songs sustain the collective memory of the Bangsamoro rebellion in the present? Using semantic and discourse analyses on the three selected songs such as 1) Minsupala, 2) Sumping Moro and 3) Dayang Mamaid Ako, this paper would examine the words/phrases that are used to signify their condition and attitude about the war as well as words/phrases that symbolically portray the emotions of the songs. Meanwhile, musical elicitation via online groups on Facebook would be utilized in understanding the continuing relevance of the songs among the Tausug. By using sociolinguistics, the messages of these songs can give us an idea on how these rebels construct their images of war and how they deal with its complexity through their creativity or/and self-expression, Most importantly, this paper would recognize the deeply rooted problems in Sulu and Mindanao even in the present that are entangled in the message of the songs.

Keywords: Martial Law, Sociolinguistics, Rebel Songs, Bahasa Sug, Tausug