A Filipino woman has gone viral on Facebook after sharing her life living as both a Catholic and a Muslim, and how the two different religions co-existed in their home.
Arizza Nocum, in her Facebook post last week
, said that she grew up in a household with a Catholic father who was a former seminarian and a native of Zamboanga city, and a Muslim mother with a family line that grew up in Siasi, Sulu where “Islam commingled with Tausug customs to create a culture that respected faith, bravery, and compassion.”
According to Nocum, who works as a senior marketing executive at a public relations firm, both her parents wanted to keep their religion and had decided to start a family that “identified with both, respected both, and lived with both.”
She then explained that she had a very odd childhood while growing up in Zamboanga and in Manila where both her father and mother’s side had different customs.
“On one side of the family, I had Catholic relatives who strictly observed Lent and did not even allow us to laugh during Good Friday; grandparents who welcomed their parish priests frequently to their homes for merienda; and aunts and uncles who would pull out all stops for noche buena,” she said in her post.
“On another side, I had cousins bringing in delicious Tausug delicacies during Muslim holidays; tall uncles who, in their Eid outfits, looked like dashing Arabs with their beards and tall noses; and aunts and lolas I would silently observe as they would lay down their mat in our house and get ready for Salat (prayer) five times a day.”
In their own home, however, her family practices a more neutral stand as they don’t have any religious symbols.
“No one was allowed to eat pork – except my dad. And, when I get into big trouble, I would sometimes have two lectures from my parents – one based on what Jesus taught and another on what is written in the Quran,” she said.
Nocum saw all the common traits both sides share including education, careers, upbringing, and connecting with families.
“So, this week, as the holy month of Ramadan comes to a close, I write these words as an appeal to peace, an appeal to empathy,” Nocum said.
“Every Filipino can do a better job at remembering that the Philippines is a country of many faiths and cultures – each one as vibrant and worthy of admiration as the rest,” she added. “The next time we think of stereotypes, belittle or ostracize, or label a person because of what we see in the media, I hope we can think twice.”
“Because of the way I grew up, I learned that, Muslim or Christian, the same stories – stories of poverty, success, failure, sadness, happiness, hope – bound us together.”
While speaking to Coconuts Manila
, Nocum said that she made the post as a personal reflection on what the month of Ramadan was for her, and that she did not expect the post to go viral.
“What I wanted to explore through my post is what this whole period can mean for both Muslims and non-Muslims in the country,” she told the publication.