Author: Maleiha Shahara Alim


The Office of MP Rasol Mitmug Jr., in partnership with the Bangsamoro Commission for the Preservation of Cultural Heritage, in celebration of the National Heritage Month, presents PAMANA Photography Contest 2021: Upholding Bangsamoro Heritage and Identity. This competition provides platform to our visual storytellers in line with our objective to preserve the Bangsamoro heritage and raise awareness and appreciation among the younger generation on how enriched the culture is, and get a glimpse of what needs to be addressed in relation to our cultural heritage for potential social impact.

The Bangsamoro has a rich and fascinating history of cultural heritage with its distinctive traditions, artworks, craftmanship, entrepreneurial spirit and cultural diversity—making part of their identity and authenticity. Preserving this culture amidst modernization is, indeed, a major challenge. Preserving this culture amidst modernization is, indeed, a major challenge. So we invite you to show us places and scenes that showcases Bangsamoro heritage. These may be photos of current-day historic sites, people engaging with historic themes, or simply landscapes that are connected to local history. Your photos may also feature nature, architecture, daily life, activities, traditions, challenges, Pilgrimage, Resilience, Landscape, Food, Migration or Art & Festivals. Capture a landmark from an uncommon angle, a familiar landscape at a unique moment, or people and objects that are often out of frame. You can be creative as you like.

Please read the guidelines and mechanics below, and register to join.

Upholding Bangsamoro Heritage and Identity

Submission Period:  April 30 – May 21, 2021

The photo contest aims to raise public awareness on the Bangsamoro’s rich cultural heritage and to promote discussion on how legislators/policymakers and the community can work together for its conservation and protection. This is also to gain insight on any sites which may need further recognition from appropriate government offices or agencies, or immediate attention from its respective LGU for intervention, etc.  

Three (3) Contest Categories 

  1. Tangible Local Cultural Heritage
  2. Intangible Local Cultural Heritage
  3. Natural Heritage


The prizes for the Best Photos are as follows:

Grand Prize: P10,000

2nd Place: P8,000

3rd Place: P3,000

People’s Choice Award: P5,000



Photo Submission Period: From April 30, 2021 to May 21, 2021

Uploading of Shortlisted Photos for Public Voting (People’s Choice):  From May 25 to May 29, 2021

Notification of Winners: June 1, 2021

Awarding Ceremony/Event: June 4, 2021



Contest Rules, Terms and Conditions

Contest Period:  The contest website will be open to accept entries from Friday, 30 April, 2021.  The deadline for submissions will be Friday, 21 May 2021 at 11:59 pm.

Background:  The Bangsamoro has a rich and fascinating history of cultural heritage with its distinctive traditions, artworks, craftsmanship, entrepreneurial spirit and cultural diversity—making part of their identity and authenticity. Preserving this culture amidst modernization is, indeed, a major challenge.

Contest Categories.  The photo contest will have four thematic categories.

  1. Tangible Local Cultural Heritage—The photograph should show either movable cultural heritage (paintings, sculptures, clothing/ textiles, accessories, literature, crafts, etc.) or immovable cultural heritage (monuments, archaeological sites, architecture such as buildings, houses, and structures, underwater ruins, etc.) within the five (5) provinces of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region: Lanao del Sur, Maguindanao, Basilan, Sulu, and Tawi-Tawi, including Cotabato City and the 63 barangays in North Cotabato. It may also highlight how said heritage is being maintained or preserved through either government initiative or individual and/or community efforts.
  2. Intangible Local Cultural Heritage— The photograph should be a portrait of a Bangsamoro (a person or people) hailing from the five (5) provinces of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region: Lanao del Sur, Maguindanao, Basilan, Sulu, and Tawi-Tawi, including Cotabato City and the 63 barangays in North Cotabato who has extensive knowledge of intangible local cultural heritage (such as oral stories, , oral poetry, values, laws, norms, rituals, traditions, dances, songs, myths, beliefs, superstitions, and other various forms of traditional knowledge). 
  3. Natural Heritage—The photograph should depict natural sites with cultural aspects such as cultural landscapes, physical, biological or geological formations within the Bangsamoro region (such as private and publicly protected natural areas, zoos, aquaria and botanical gardens, natural habitat, marine ecosystems, sanctuaries, reservoirs, etc.).

How to Join:

  1. Visit:
  2. Read the Mechanics
  3. Agree to the Terms and Conditions
  4. Fill-up Submission Form
  5. Like and follow our FB page to get updates:


Your Photograph.  The photos should have been taken personally by the contestant in the Bangsamoro.   Each contestant can submit as many entries as they like, but each entry must be in a separate submission.  Below are other specifications for the photograph:

  • All digital files submitted must be no larger than 10MB.
  • All photos must be in JPEG or PNG format.
  • The photograph should not have been previously published electronically (online) or in print.
  • Photographs that have been digitally altered beyond standard optimization will not be accepted. Only minimal adjustments are allowed (contrast, sharpness, burning/dodging, cropping and color correction).
  • No watermarks, copyright units or logos are allowed.
  • If the photograph focuses on an individual, a family or an organization, the contestant should obtain the consent in writing to the public release of the photograph from the individual, family or organization.
  • No entries using advertising or offensive images, or those that violate laws will be allowed.
  •   The judges or contest administrators will disqualify or exclude any photos that they deem inappropriate.
  • Images not complying with these parameters will be disqualified. The judges reserve the right to ask for unedited/raw images.
  • The judges may choose not to award a prize in a category if the entries do not meet the standards of the competition.

Copyright.  By submitting a photograph to the competition, the contestant (a) grants the organizers of the competition rights to edit, use and publish the photograph, and (b) certifies that using the photograph will not infringe on any privacy, copyright or other intellectual property rights of third parties.

Submission of Entries:  Each submission must comply with the following requirements.

  1. Photograph should include:
    1. your personal details:
      1. name, 
      2. email address, and/or
      3. mobile number; 
    2. the Contest Category the photograph is being entered in; 
    3. the location where the photo was taken (barangay; city or municipality) and month and year when the photograph was taken
    4. a caption/short description that conveys a compelling message (maximum of 100 words) of the photograph in English or the local dialect, including details of when, where, what; and
  2. Entry is free and open to photographers, both amateur and professional, who are residents of the Philippines.  No group entries are permitted.  Non-Filipinos are welcome to join the contest, but they must be legal residents of the Philippines and captured photos in the Philippines.  The photographer should have a valid national ID or international passport for verification purposes during claiming of prizes.
  3. By submitting an entry, the contestant agrees to all of the competition rules and conditions (See Terms and Conditions)
  4. Any officer, executive, or employee of the above-listed partner organizations, and their immediate family members, as well as any person involved in the selection process for this photo competition, are not eligible to join the contest 

Selection Process: 

In selecting the winners of the photo contest, there will be several stages:

Stage Process 
1st PRELIMINARY SCREENING In each of the three contest categories, the 20 best entries will be identified by a Screening Committee constituted by the Contest Organizing Staff. Screening will be based on the compliance of the author and the photo in the Terms and Conditions.   The top 20 entries in each category will go on to the next stage of the competition.
2nd SELECTION OF CATEGORY WINNERS A Category Judging Panel (3 members) will be convened for each contest category from among the partner organizations; each Category Judging Panel will decide on the top three entries in the category and their respective ranking, from among the 20 entries submitted for review.  The first-ranked entry in each category will be considered as the category winner and will proceed to the final round of selection.  


  • Adherence to the category theme (20%);
  • The ability of the photograph to convey a compelling message to stakeholders and/or policy makers (45%); and
  • The composition, clarity and quality of the photograph (35%). 
3rd SELECTION OF OVERALL WINNERS The three category winners will then be evaluated and rated by the Overall Judging Panel (3 members) based on a new set of criteria (see below). The scores given by the 3 judges will determine the final ranking of the photos and the winners of the three cash prizes.


  • Content and relevance to the theme (35%);
  • Artistic value and communication potential, social impact of the image (35%);
  • Technical excellence and quality (30%).
4 SELECTION OF PEOPLE’S CHOICE WINNER Shortlisted photos will also have a chance to win the “People’s Choice Award” based on the most number of public votes (‘likes’). Photographs competing for this award will be posted on the official page, tagging the user who submitted. 

The winners of the competition will be notified by email no later than 1 June 2021.  An event will be scheduled shortly thereafter to announce the winner of the competition.

Refer to the Terms and Conditions, Privacy Policy and FAQs:

Submission Form:



Video series on “The Ramadhan Takeaways”

Screenshot from the original video uploaded on facebook.

The month of Ramadhan is not only a time for fasting, repentance and spiritual renewal. It is also an opportunity to seek further knowledge about the Holy Month, Islam and its teachings. The Office of MP Mitmug Jr will feature short stories through video messages about different people and their experiences and reflection during Ramadhan including interesting topics that Muslims or non-Muslims could add to their understanding of the Ramadhan or Islam.

For our first video, we featured Datu Farouk Camino Ampatuan, a student of Cotabato City National High School – Main Campus who shared his reflection on Ramadhan and how he manages his time as a student while fasting.

Read the full transcript of his message:

Assalamu Alaikom Warrahmatullahi watallah Wabarakatuho

Bismillahir Rahmanir Raheem.

In the name of Allah, The Most Gracious, The Most Merciful.

Ramadhan is a month in Islamic Calendar when Muslim observes fasting from sunrise to sunset. And it can be a difficult month for many to get thru this, especially us students who have to go through online learning without eating and drinking.

Ramadhan is considered to be one of the holy months in Islamic Calendar. Kindness, forgiveness and charity are often pursued as a good practice of our faith. And it also time to show compassionate and empathy to those in need. For me, many Muslims uses [sic] Ramadhan as a time to reset and start anew. Creating new goals and improving old ones and improve one-self, and rejuvenate their spirit. Fasting provides us spiritual perspective that allow us to understand the less fortunate in poverty and those in need. Let also remind us to not be wasteful of Allah (s.w.t) blessings.

As a student during this holy month, we had a lot of problem to take with. One of the hardest scene that we go through is a lack of concentration and a lack of space. Due to the online learning we have a lot of video conferences and screen type. With this, we feel exhaustion and headaches. But one thing that I can advise to my fellow learners here is to start and plan your time table. Schedule organizing your school works, your revisions, meals, prayers, because this would help your mental health and your well-being.

May Allah bless us, our family courage and strength. Shukran jazilan. Ramadhan Mubarak.

Wa Assalamu Alaikom Warramatullahi Watallah Wabarakatuho.

Watch the full video here:

*Datu Farouk Camino Ampatuan is a grade 10 student from Science Technology and Engineering Program of Cotabato City National High School Main Campus Organizations. He is currently the P.I.O of the Supreme Student Government of CCNHS MAIN CAMPUS, President of Youth for Environment of School Organization of CCNHS MAIN CAMPUS and President of Science Technology and Engineering Program.


Ramadhaan: The beneficial scorcher

Once more, the honorable guest, Holy Ramadhān is here.

The word “Ramadhān” comes from the Arabic root word denoting “scorching heat”, “parched thirst”, “intense dryness”, “sun-baked ground”, etc. Thus, Ramahān is so called to indicate the burning sensation in the stomach as a result of hunger and the dryness of the throat due to thirst. Ramadhān also “scorches out” the sins of the Muslim as if burning it to the ground.

In another sense, the hearts and souls soak up the spiritual warmth of Ramadhān, just as the sand and stones are receptive to the sun’s heat.

Heat is also used as a medical treatment to remove and drive out toxins, cold and other harmful substances from the body.

In a similar manner, the heat of Ramadhān will expunge and “dry out” greed, arrogance, indifference and other spiritual maladies from the soul of man.

Again, intense heat is vital to all manufacturing processes as metals, plastic, glass, wood, etc. are all moulded into various products under scorching temperatures.

Similarly, the heart of man is cast into a beautiful spiritual mould in the heat of the crucible of Ramadhān, thereby becoming a wonderful receptacle of piety and righteousness!

Tremendous benefits of fasting

Fasting is not a mindless exercise of torturing the body by remaining hungry and thirsty, but is extremely meaningful and produces tremendous benefits for the fasting person, some of which are summarized as follows:

• Increased devotions in Ramadhān make a Muslim feel closer to the Creator, and generate appreciation for all His provisions; food, water, etc. as a boon and blessing from the month. Feelings of generosity, soft heartedness and good-will towards others are developed. Rasūlullāh (ﷺ) was more generous than the fast blowing wind in this month.

• Through the self-control and discipline of fasting, a Muslim develops tolerance, patience, contentment, good manners, good speech and good habits.

• Ramadhān causes a change in life’s routine, which results in healthy lifestyle habits – particularly with regard to diet, eating habits and less smoking.

• Because fasting is a collective activity, it creates a sense of belonging to a huge global family of believers and strengthens the bonds of family ties and Islamic brotherhood on a local level as well.

First hand sympathy with the poor and hungry

One of the outstanding benefits of fasting is that a Muslim experiences hunger and thirst, and thus personally identifies with the plight of the hungry and poor, thereby generating a real and intense degree of sympathy and concern for the underprivileged who have so little to eat every day. This in turn makes Muslims reach out to the poor and render them all forms of assistance. One who does not, from time to time experience this hunger first hand, cannot truly empathize with the poor and hungry and this has a bearing on the effectiveness of any relief programs operated by such people. Ramadhān is a very special month, but it is important for the benefits of this month to remain throughout the year.

The spirit of piety and spiritual elevation experienced in Ramadhān should stay on during our “normal” lives in the eleven months -and when the spiritual batteries begin to weaken, again comes the next Ramadan to give a full charge!

BTA publishes code on civil service

Photo courtesy by: BTA Parliament

The Bangsamoro Transition Authority published the Bangsamoro Civil Service Code on March 30, 2021 following its approval earlier on February 24, 2021.

The code, published in Mindanao Expose’ (pp. 5-29), a local newspaper, seeks to “provide an effective instrument for good governance and responsive policies on human resource administration of BARMM while addressing the legitimate needs and peculiarities of our people.”

It is among the priority legislation the parliament needs to pass within the transition period mandated under the Bangsamoro Organic Law.

You may download the e-copy here:

Keeping our humanity intact: A message to the graduates of MSU Maguindanao

Full speech of MP Rasol Mitmug, Jr. as Guest of Honor during the 47th Commencement Exercises of Mindanao State Univeristy – Maguindanao on March 26, 2021

“Assalamu Alaikum Warahmatullahi Wabarakatuhu…A good and prosperous day to everyone!

I am honored and elated to be invited to deliver, what I hope to be a motivating and engaging message, to the promising young men and women in front of me.

Last year, we had an unexpected turn of events due to the pandemic, and graduation rites were postponed. The myriad cancellation of ceremonial events for the students has been a source of distress, adding to an already depressing situation. In the midst of everything, there was one little post in our page that garnered a lot of engagement. Since we could not deliver graduation messages last year in person we decided to post something for our students in our facebook page. It was a simple message of “Kamusta po kayo? How are you holding up?” to our students and empathizing and understanding their confusion and disappointment of having a rushed goodbye with their institutions and schoolmates. Surprisingly, the post blew up with thousands of likes and shares. We felt that students in the Bangsamoro, even outside BARMM, have been comforted by the message that in the midst of pandemic their worries are validated, and that it is important to acknowledge their anxieties and fears, and reach a level of optimism as we all face a new reality. From this, we could learn how important compassion and mindfulness in those trying times. Now we have come to this. We are slowly getting back some semblance of normalcy, although in a form of new normal, and only hoping that we can adapt accordingly to our situation.

The Mindanao State University – Maguindanao is an institution for academic development and excellence. But it is more than that. From what I’ve seen and witnessed, it is committed in providing cross-cultural and inter-religious understanding across the campus colleges and communities, academic and social programs, all in achieving its goal for producing highly competent leaders and workers in various fields for the development of the Bangsamoro. It is an educational institution aiming and hoping to generate value-laden professionals who take their roles responsibly with integrity and honesty. In Shaa Allah.

One of the most powerful instruments in attaining transformational change is EDUCATION. It is a game-changer for the future, an arbiter for decision-making, and a tool for empowerment. Empowering the people is empowering the community where they belong. In the same vein, sustainable reform requires active regional citizenry.

When teachers or professors encourage the students to be more responsible in a general context of handling consequences of their actions, they are actually preparing you, their students, for the greater arena, outside of your training ground—which is ADULTHOOD. Keep in mind that there are certain things that are not explained by some proximate events. Along with the guidance and instructions of your professors, as well as the realization of your subject realities, you will be able to pursue and achieve their essence and value. Your potentials will be discovered and in turn, be your guide on what path to choose in your respective careers and direction in lives.

The challenge now lies within us, within the new graduates.

This graduation is not an ending but rather a beginning. That is why we call it “commencement.” Thus, education does not stop here. Life is a learning curve. Expect anything to be thrown at you. Learn to overcome them but while doing so, acknowledge your weaknesses. Fess up to your mistakes. We don’t have answers to everything but, believe, that as you journey on, you will get to your answers. And when you found your passion or calling, devote fully to it. You are now part of something special, cherish it, and defend it. Bear in mind that when priorities clash and greater opportunities come along, always remember your values and be guided by those, not your perceived necessities. As

Adam Braun said, “Necessities exist in a state of mind that will not last, whereas values are transcendent and enduring.”

As you traverse the professional arena, you will encounter adversities, as well as diversities. We learn that diversity is not only by religion, race or culture. Sometimes, diversity in perspectives is what troubles our society the most, but whatever side you belong to, there is always a room for a dialogue, a conversation, a way to manage disparities so that it would not define our relationships in the long-run.

Just a little glimpse of what we do in the BARMM — As someone who worked in the education sector, and now part of the committee on education in the Bangsamoro Transition Authority, we are exerting efforts to establish a quality and accessible Bangsamoro educational system that is complete, relevant and responsive to the “educational” needs of the Bangsamoro people. The Bangsamoro government is mandated, like any other form of government, to put emphasis and prioritize the development and growth of educational institutions. The thirst of students for education should be satiated through efforts to improve the standard of education, and to enable students ample opportunities to pursue their education knowing that there are institutions accredited to provide quality education.

To this year’s graduating class, as you go through an important transition in your life, and I just want to reiterate this since this is where I’m coming from, I want to encourage you to place more importance to what our community needs. Because the quality of service we impart to the people is in itself an immeasurable achievement. It is through giving back to the community where we belong where we experience true satisfaction.

And with that, whatever you do in life, after this graduation, after achieving everything that you’ve envisioned, remember to blanket your journey with respect, integrity and humility. The world, with all of its complexities, will challenge your humanity. But the choice and responsibility is yours to make, whether you would compromise your values over circumstances beyond your control. At this moment, the most important thing is to keep your humanity intact.

Mabrouk to all the graduates. Assalamu Alaikum Warahmatullahi Wabarakatuhu.”