I'm A Suluk. And Proud Of It!





"Misan hisiyu atu, tindugan da ha pantay
Bang kadal ku mabut na, ha pasal mu tagama
Misan ha lupa’ punud, di’ matay in paglasa" 


Note: At the height of the Lahad Datu invasion last year, a writer friend of mine, who works at Astro Awani, asked me to pen an article about the Suluks in Sabah and how the invasion was affecting our already much-maligned people. 

This is what I wrote.


First of all, let me declare that I’m a Suluk.

And I’m proud to be one.

The recent incursion/invasion - or whatever one might want to call it - placed my people, yet again, in the limelight for the wrong reasons. Before this, the Suluks were already - unfairly at times - considered a menace in Sabah society. Now, people are even questioning are loyalties to this great nation of ours!

Who are the Suluks?

The biggest misconception about my people is that we are all Filipinos. Granted that perhaps most of the Suluks in Sabah right now are descendants of the Tausugs from the Philippines, not all of us are.

Placing things in proper perspective, there are two types of Suluks in Sabah – the ones who descended from the times when the Sulu Sultanate were still ruling and have long domiciled in North Borneo, and the ones who arrived at the height of the Filipino-Moro conflicts in the 1970’s. Nevertheless, both these people come from the same ancestral tribe, albeit domiciled in different places.

Jolo, Sulu; The ancestral home of all Tausugs/Suluks

Ever since the influx of Suluk refugees in the 1970’s, the perception towards our people had gone from bad to worst. Sadly, and cowardly if I may so, some of our own people couldn't hack the continued malignancy that they decided to disassociate themselves from their own tribe, and instead preferred to be known as Bajaus, Orang Sungeis, Iranuns and what not.

It is also disheartening to note that while most Malaysians do not actually know the origins and history of my people in this country, they are quick to judge and label everyone as Filipinos.

How many Malaysians know that years before the formation of Malaysia, my people have already been, for hundreds of years, domiciled in what is now known as Sabah? I can guarantee that not many Malaysians know that.

It isn't a coincidence that the man known and acknowledged by Sabahans as ‘Bapah Sabah’ is a Suluk; the same man the British colonizers trusted with the welfare of all Sabah natives when they appointed him as the State’s first local Governor when granting independence.

Through the years, the Malaysian media haven’t always been fair in portraying the Sabahan Suluks. How many Malaysians know that, besides the State’s first governor, the current Governor is a Suluk? How many of you know that prominent Suluks have been part and parcel of the State’s political power?

And contrary to popular belief, not all Suluks in Sabah are living in squalors and/or are petty criminals. There are many of us who are educated and professionals; some are serving in the military and police force, others are very much entrenched in the country’s political and governmental systems. But besides being proud Suluks, one thing in common between all the aforementioned is that we are all loyal Malaysians.

And if there’s one thing you need to know about our people, besides the fact that our bravery is legendary and duly recorded in the annals of history, Suluks are known for - and are very proud of - our sense of loyalty.

End

Jolo, Sulu; The bravery of the Tausugs are legendary

It's now coming into the 1st anniversary of the Lahad Datu invasion, and while the case against those who perpetuated the attack are on-going, the continued negative portrayal of my people by the media have turned for the worst.

Whenever there is a crime committed by the Suluks in Sabah, the media - especially The Star - goes out of their way to make sure that their audience knows that the perpetrator is a Suluk.

Generally, I wouldn't really give two hoots about it but when you see a pattern - the specific mentioning of the perpetrator's tribe if they are Suluks but not when other tribes commit the same crimes - you then start asking yourself why.

And it doesn't take a genius to conclude that there is a subtle yet consistent propagation of the notion that the Suluks are truly a menace to Sabah society.

Well, should this biased portrayal continues, all I can say is that, without a doubt, the people responsible will finally understand what 'marwah' means to my people, and experience first hand how we deal with those who trample on our 'marwah.'

Don't say I didn't warn y'all.


7 comments:

Anonymous said...

Im glad to hear about your pride of being suluk,the difference between suluk in your country of malaysia and my country of philippines should be no different,as well as other ethnic groups in philippines compared to you guys either muslim or christian..we are the same PEOPLES whether they came during the 70s or were already living there hundreds of years ago.This is where ethnic,social,political,and identity issues come into place.The problem also becomes NATURALIZATION as your bloodline came from sulu,PHILIPPINES and now you've adopted a new country.Perhaps alot of you suluks in sabah naturalize and learn to speak bahasa malaysia,being born and from sabah dismissing any identity of being "Filipino.Never forget that the sulu sultanate is from Philippines and still lays claim to eastern sabah as it was theirs before and still receives rent money.NEVER FORGET THAT SULUKS ARE FROM THE COUNTRY WHICH IS THE PHILIPPINES MAKING YOU FILIPINO WHETHER YOU LIKE IT OR NOT.Suluks are INDIGENOUS to Philippines and not to malaysia even though people consider suluk as native to sabah because they were already there for hundreds of years.Even myself adopting a new country living in America I will never forget that my people are from PHILIPPINES neither should you.

Ivan Omar said...

Thanks for your comments.

Unfortunately, I have to disagree with your contention that the Sultanate of Sulu is exclusively to the Philippines.

How could it be when way before the Philippines came into being, the Sultanate was already an official Sultanate recognized by many nations.

I think you should read more about history because from what you wrote, it is obvious that you don' know much.

Anonymous said...

Lmao..its in Philippines..havent u seen a map..and yes the sultanate came before the country was known as Philippines AND malaysia..youre just a tausug in denial.

Anonymous said...

Let me ask you does your country recognize the sultan of sulu.if so, what is their relation lol.just another mans greed and tausug people without I.d being deported back to the HOMELAND.For many years to come there will always be identity issues.While peninsular malaysia takes most of the oil revenues in sabah while its people are being cheated from it.What relations do you have with peninsular malaysia your not even bumi.Sabah should seek sovereignty so you wont be part of either the 2 countries my tausug brother..maybe you forget what bangsamoro really is.

Ivan Omar said...

"Lmao..its in Philippines..havent u seen a map..and yes the sultanate came before the country was known as Philippines AND malaysia..youre just a tausug in denial."

Your ignorance of history is amusing.

You are mistaking Sulu with the Sultanate of Sulu. The latter includes North Borneo.

So for you to say it's in the Philippines is not only incorrect but also very naive and ignorant.

Again, whoever you are - I usually don't entertain people who hide behind anonymity - I strongly implore you to read more before you blab. Your ignorance is embarassing.

Ivan Omar said...

"Let me ask you does your country recognize the sultan of sulu.if so, what is their relation lol."

Yes and no.

Officially, they don't but unofficially, yes. The fact that the government still pay the 'rent' is indicative of that.

"just another mans greed and tausug people without I.d being deported back to the HOMELAND."

It'd really help if you put a thought before writing; your English is atrocious!

What the hell are you trying to state here? Who's greed?

"For many years to come there will always be identity issues."

Identity issues? A Suluk/Tausug is Suluk/Tausug; what identity issue are you talking about?

Perhaps you mean citizenship issue? Again, please get someone to help you communicate your thoughts.

"While peninsular malaysia takes most of the oil revenues in sabah while its people are being cheated from it."

I agree with you on this. 100%!

"What relations do you have with peninsular malaysia your not even bumi."

Sigh. Education is important, y'know?

Who says we're not considered Bumis? Check your facts, dude. Suluks have the same standing as the Malays and natives of Sabah and Sarawak. Did you even know that? Step up your reading and then come back and talk.

"Sabah should seek sovereignty so you wont be part of either the 2 countries my tausug brother..maybe you forget what bangsamoro really is."

We should have done that back in 1963. Unfortunately for us, unless there is a massive paradigm shift, it's almost impossible to achieve that.

Sabah is a cash cow as far as Malaysia is concerned. And who would want to let their cash cow go?

Bangsamoro is another topic altogether. Let's not dilute conversation.

Anonymous said...

Im a Malaysian/Sabahan and not suluk.. Suluk is a beautiful people.. the problem is, the one who don't have proper education don't have work to feed the family and that's why, in order to survive, they just do anything.. But educated suluk will impressed you.. I met some, in fact i meet one and totally in love with them and their culture.. the food also was marvelous..

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