PERSONAL HISTORY OF DATU IBRAHIM "TOTO" PENDATUN PAGLAS IIIPRINT THIS ARTICLE
I was born to a traditional ruling family in the former Empire Province of Cotabato, carrying in my blood a "convergence" of basically all the major clans in the Maguindanao tribe, with ancestral kinship extending to Lanao provinces, Sulu and Tawi-Tawi. I am a grandson of the late Senator Genral Salipada K. Pendatun, and I am a nephew of the former MILF Chairman Hashim Salamat. The Paglas and Pendatun clans of my parents used to be fierce rivals, eliminating any member at first chance, this feud dating back to pre-WW2. During the war, the Pendatuns sided with the Americans and the Paglases with the Japanese, even heightening some more the mortal animosity between the two families. This was only patched up after my father and mother eloped, managed to avoid the wrath of my grandparents (could have been fatal to either or both my parents), they were only forgiven and the two clans forced to reconcile with each other when I was born (in 1962). Before I could graduate, I got married to the woman who had my first, unintended, son. I was 17, she was 16, a Christian American-Spanish mestiza in my school in Davao. My father stripped all of my "royalty privileges" and drove me away from home because of this, I was adopted by and lived with, the tenants of my father wherein I had to farm for a living, in a most humbling environment. Looking back, I am grateful to that experience of having lived with the common people. My town was the site of one of the fiercest fights between the military and the MNLF during the 1970's, two of our ancestral homes were leveled to the ground by AFP bombings, and my father was put to prison by President Marcos on suspicion that he was supporting the MNLF. When he was released, Marcos created the town of Datu Paglas, named after my grandfather, made my father the first mayor, reportedly to make amends. (I remember now the former President Ramos, still an Army Major at the time, who, whenever he would visit my father, would play my hair and put me on his lap, he was like a father to me, he as President made gave special approval to allow banana plantation in my town). As early as my childhood days, I was already a witness to the violence and lawlessness that characterized my town. So much has been written about it, one that was not, was how my father, immediately after Edsa in 1986, was to be appointed OIC governor of Maguindanao province. On the night before his oath taking, grenade was thrown into our house, instantly killing my 2-year old brother and severely maiming my father who died shortly after. My mother succeeded him as Mayor, and the situation worsened. I was then persuaded by the elders of my clan to already assume the leadership, and I became the Mayor at 24 (in 1988). My efforts to reform the image of my town, and the economic development that followed are also written about. The foregoing Background of my life had played a tremendous role in shaping up my personality, I count my education not so much in terms of years at school but more so in actual and practical experience in dealing with people and coping with events. An adopted dear Christian brother shared with me the saying "spare the rod and spoil the child", a gem of wisdom that means so much to me. As young father of my town, I had to "crack the whip" and do some "spanking" in order to put back into line the "problem children" of my town. My present responsibilities may be summarized as : making sure that the gains in terms of peace and economic development my town was blessed with, be preserved, be replicated in other places, and I be prepared to serve when needed. This has in fact, become a mission for me. My interests maybe summarized as: seeing my less fortunate fellowmen, regardless of faith, tribe, nationality, have a fair share of opportunities that are just waiting to be grabbed. I had submitted myself to be an instrument of peace and development. My kinship with rebels, both returnees and active MILF on one hand, and my being an adopted member of the PMA on the other has put me in a unique position to be a bridge between these contending forces.