Beyond Colonization: The Impact of History in Philippine Interreligious Dialogue, by Pablito A. Baybado, Jr.

The perception of history plays a key role in interreligious dialogue. The aim of this paper is to demonstrate historical narratives as the context of, and a fundamental challenge to, interreligious dialogue in the Philippines. Different historical narratives have enduring impact on Muslim-Christian relations. Islam and Christianity arrived in the Philippines at different times and in different contexts. It has led to the formation of two distinct nationalities, namely, the Christian Filipinos and the Muslims, living in the Philippines. The concept of colonization dominates their historical relations. Colonization is Christianization for the Christians and de-Islamization for the Muslims. As a result, there exists an “invisible wall” that divides the Muslims and the Christians. This division, under the discourse of colonization, permeates every stratum of relations from socio-cultural and economic to the political and others. Colonization, as the historical context of ethno-religious identities, creates difficulties, challenges, and opportunities in interreligious dialogue. The basic argument of this paper is that history remains an enduring discourse in interreligious dialogue. History cannot be changed. Historical understanding and acceptance are the ways forward; re-reading and forgetting as ways out to improve Muslim and Christian relations is no longer historical. Interreligious dialogue addresses this issue by creating a new landscape of relations based on harmony and diversity, which aims at gradually removing historical biases and division.

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