Al Camlian: Recruitment of Moro Trainees for Guerrilla Training Starts

Perhaps, it was there at the Bandung Conference that Moro independence took roots, for one of the conference’s goals was the promotion of the principle of self-determination.

By EDD K. USMAN | Twitter: @edd1819 | Instagram: @bluestar0910 Facebook: SDN — SciTech and Digital News

Part 3 of 4

Editor’s Note: SDN — SciTech and Digital News is in possession of a rare and ONLY Official list of the names of the MNLF’s elite Top 90 cadre who were trained by foreign military experts. This is a humble attempt to honor the Moro braves and the Moro leader who sent them off.

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MANILA (SDN) — It was a time that saw no apparent violence against the Moro people — at least not generally. That was Abdulla “Al” Camlian’s thinking.

Why prepare when none was happening that would require defending one’s homeland, religion, community, and family.

On the other hand, he started thinking that if preparations were to be made to defend the Moro people from what was then a “phantom enemy”, he had in his mind the course to take.

Al Camlian, courtesy of YouTube and Rappler.

He processed the senator’s (Domocao Alonto) words slowly and surmised that maybe something bad was afoot for the Moro people in Mindanao but had no idea about. Not unexpectedly, Camlian agreed on going to Egypt to study.

So, the senator sent him to Cairo, Egypt.

He left in 1962, staying in Cairo for around four years-worth of study. Alonto was a friend of Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser, that’s why the senator was able to get the young Moro to be accepted at the Egyptian Military Academy, the Arab Muslim country’s “oldest and most prominent”.

Alonto attended the Bandung Conference of Non-Aligned Nations (NAM) in Bandung, Indonesia, on April 18-24, 1955. The Moro leader met the Indonesian leader, President Soekarno, at the conference of Asian-African states. Most of the attendees were newly independent states.

Alonto was also friend to Algerian President Ben Bella, Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser, Malaysian Prime Minister Tunku Abdul Rahman, and Sabah Chief Minister Tun Mustapha, who was of Tausug blood. A lot of leaders to learn nationalism from.

Perhaps, it was there at the Bandung Conference that Moro independence took roots, for one of the conference’s goals was the promotion of the principle of self-determination.

While at the Academy in Cairo, Camlian also took a Special Course in Public Administration. His two courses served him well in the tasks ahead. At the Academy, he finished a Baccalaureate in Military Science.

In late 1965, Camlian returned to the Philippines. He stayed in Manila for a while and studied at the Far Eastern University (FEU) in Sampaloc, Manila, taking up Bachelor of Arts in Political Science.

While taking his course at FEU, Camlian recalled that the process of choosing the Moro youths for the guerilla training was already ongoing. Moro youths in Manila were also involved in rallies in protests against the Marcos regime.

He had to cut short his studies at the Manila university. Sultan Rashid Lucman, one of the prominent Moro leaders from Lanao, in 1967 asked him to get home to Zamboanga City soonest. Camlian suspected that it was Alonto who asked the Sultan to contact him.

Related: Al Camlian & Sen. Domacao Alonto: Origin of the Guerrilla Training of the MNLF Elite Top 90

But then, Camlian while in the southern city still had time to continue his Political Science study at the Southern City Colleges.

And now, the time had come.

Prof. Nur P. Misuari chosen leader of 90 trainees being the eldest

In 1968, in the manner of a cloak-and-dagger movie, Camlian clandestinely sent off via Jolo, Sulu, 20 Moro youths abroad to a “neighboring friendly country” for their training. Sometime in 1969 he sent another 70 youths who sailed off from Langil Island in batches as their boat, the Great Turtle, can accommodate only 25 passengers at a time. Langil Island, ancestral home of the Camlians in Basilan,was the second and final departure gateway for the training.

The number of trainees stopped at 90.

Camlian provided the transportation and other logistics for the transport of the 70 trainees, taking off initially from Zamboanga City for Langil Island, their final jump-off point. The training base is on an island belonging to what he often described as a “neighboring friendly country”. (Of course, many know the country’s name.)

Camlian also formed the “Green Guards” while in Zamboanga City. He even led a demonstration against Marcos when he visited the southern city.

If the Cuban Revolution led by Fidel Castro had its “Grand Ma” boat that ferried rebels, the Moros had the boat named “Great Turtle” which transported the 90 trainees to their training base and back, he noted.

Camlian was not one of the trainees. He remained to continue his mission, preparing for what could turn out to be the inevitable. Alonto either had the premonition, or he already saw what was coming that would forever change the fate of the Moro people, in particular, and the country, in general.

Or Alonto had prior contacts already with officials of the “neighboring friendly country” because hundreds more trainees also were sent to the same country.

If so, did Moro leaders such as Alonto, Lucman, Salipada K. Pendatun, and those from Sulu already were on a plan in collaboration with the “neighboring friendly country” even before the 1968 Jabidah Massacre to wage a war of independence against the Philippine government?

The 90 trainees completed their training in 1971, and soon returned home, batch by batch, secretly, in the manner that Camlian sent them off to avoid being detected by Philippine authorities.

In Islam, as those in the know pointed out, a three-man group or more needs to have an “amir” or leader.

Before they sailed off for Mindanao from their training base, Camlian said the 90 trainees convened a meeting. They subsequently chose Misuari as the “amir” only because he was the oldest among the 90 Moro trainees.

Camlian said they had an understanding that upon arriving back in Mindanao a meeting would again be conducted to formally choose the leader among them.

Here’s more names of the Top 90 cadre:

2. CD Group — 21 (2nd Batch)

  • 21. Abulkhayr “Abul” Alonto
  • 22. Al Hussein “Al” Caluang
  • 23. Aziz “Bari” Malaguiok
  • 24. Ameril “Ronny” Malaguiok
  • 25. Faisal “Batting” Sambitory
  • 26. Hadji Adnan Camlian
  • 27. Harun “Harun” Manta
  • 28. Haroun “Dim” Dimpang
  • 29. Ibrahim “Blah” Datu
  • 30. Issah “Young Soldier” Dangcal
  • 31. Julhambri “Jul” “George” Misuari
  • 32. Masturah “Nestor” Zainuddin
  • 33. Norsikal ” Sikal” Caluang
  • 34. Pipalawan “Popoy” Alonto
  • 35. Samsoddin “Boto” Assi
  • 36. Salafuddin “Asraf” Tayuan
  • 37. Saplad “Tatah” Alamada
  • 38. Subo “Subuh” Gayanandang
  • 39. Tabonawan “Tony” Sacar
  • 40. Utuh “Utuh” Salafuddin
  • 41. Yusof “Tanny” Malaguiok

Camlian was not alone in the initiative for the guerrilla training. There were others who shared time and resources, his Sheikh Abdulhamid J. Camlian, Capt. Kalingalang Caluang (Ret.) who was World War II guerrilla hero, Hadji Nur Omar, owner of Sulu Electric Company, and others who bankrolled the Moro youths’ training.

Next: the names of the 90 Moro trainees continued. (✓)

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