CAIRO - A relief mission championed by Muslim doctors for victims of a deadly typhoon in southern Philippines is winning plaudits from Christian residents, helping portray a better image of a minority tarnished by the media.
It's nice to see our Muslim brothers and sisters serve us, Christians, fish vender Merta Ignacio told The Philippine Star on Wednesday, December 26.
We have realized that Moro people are not war mongers, the way they are projected in news reports.
They are humane people who have big hearts for their Christian compatriots, he said.
More than 1,000 people have been killed when Typhoon Bopha/Pablo hit southern Philippines earlier this month.
It was the strongest tropical cyclone to ever hit Mindanao, making landfall as a Category 5 super typhoon with winds of 160 mph (260 km/h).
Seeking to help victims of the deadly storm, Muslim doctors from the Integrated Provincial Health Office of Maguindanao launched a relief mission for people affected by the typhoon.
Muslim relief teams have treated hundreds of villagers from various ailments, including diarrhea.
Perla Manriquez, an evacuee, said she is grateful to the Maguindanaon-speaking nurses and relief workers who provided them with medical and dental services.
For Ramon Reyes, 45, a tricycle driver, the mission has helped him change the wrong perceptions about Muslims, encouraged by reports about the Mindanao conflict.
Muslims are often portrayed by the Philippine media as war-mongers over the four-decade conflict in the mineral-rich southern region of Mindanao.
More than 120,000 people have been killed since the conflict erupted in the late 1960s.
In October, the Philippine government and MILF, the country's biggest Muslim group, signed a peace deal that serves as a roadmap to establish a Muslim homeland in the south as a way to solve the conflict.
The relief mission also won praise for helping promote a better image of Muslims and their faith.
It was through the permissiveness of Allah that our friends in the IPHO-Maguindanao were given a chance to show goodwill to non-Muslims, Esmael Ebrahim, a commissioner of the National Commission on Muslim Filipinos, said.
It's heart-warming to know that the people they serve have good impressions now of us, Muslims.
He said Islam exhorts followers to promote community service, particularly in times of distress.
He said the Islamic concept of humanitarian mission transcends boundaries and tribal or racial identities.
Mindanao, the birthplace of Islam in the Philippines, is home to more than 5 million Muslims.
Muslims make up nearly 8 percent of the total populace in the Philippines, which Islam reached in the 13th century about 200 years before Christianity.