'Tri-people' bikers show unity in Maguindanao event
John Unson (Philstar.com) - November 8, 2015 - 10:36pm

MAGUINDANAO, Philippines — Six hundred Lumad, Muslim and Christian bikers pedaled through designated biking routes together during Sunday’s "tri-people mountain bike challenge" of the provincial government in Buluan town.

The term tri-people lumps all ethnic non-Moro indigenous groups, the Muslim and Christian communities in Maguindanao and surrounding southern provinces.

The event, one of the highlights of the celebration this month of Maguindanao's 42nd founding anniversary, was meant to showcase the fragile peace and improvements in the investment climate of the province in recent years. 

Even Maguindanao Gov. Esmael Mangudadatu, main organizer of the athletic event, and members of his family participated in the biking contest, the first ever in the 42-year history of Maguindanao.

Almost a hundred soldiers, policemen and bikers identified with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front and the Moro National Liberation Front also pedaled their bikes side-by-side as they forged ahead through bumpy, difficult routes in Buluan town, the new provincial capital.

Among the Army bikers who joined the activity were Colonels Ricky Bunayog and Joel Mamon, commanders of the 33rd and 40th Infantry Battalions, respectively.

The battalions led by Bunayog and Mamon are actively involved in various community projects complementing the interim ceasefire agreement between the government and the MILF.

Bunayog and Mamon are also engaged in construction of schools in far-flung areas to help sustain the education programs of Mangudadatu and the office of Gov. Mujiv Hataman of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.

Covering 36 towns, Maguindanao, a component province of ARMM, is a bastion of the MILF. The group's main headquarters, Camp Darapanan, is located in Sultan Kudarat town in the first district of the province.

"It was so nice and so touching seeing Muslim, Christian and lumad bikers come together to show agility and propensity in this kind of sport, not as competing athletes, but as one family," Mangudadatu told The STAR.

The governor has been so vocal about his support to the Mindanao Peace process.

His siblings, Mayor Freddie of Mangudadatu town, Congressman Zajid of the 2nd district of Maguindanao, and Assemblyman Khadafe of the ARMM's 24-seat Regional Assembly also participated in the biking showdown.

Mangudadatu said he is grateful to the provincial police and units of the Army's 601st Brigade for helping secure the venue of the mountain bike competition.

AMONG THE ARMY ASSEMBLYMAN KHADAFE BULUAN BUNAYOG AND MAMON CAMP DARAPANAN COLONELS RICKY BUNAYOG AND JOEL MAMON CONGRESSMAN ZAJID ESMAEL MANGUDADATU MAGUINDANAO MANGUDADATU MUSLIM AND CHRISTIAN
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