Cablegate: Embassy Speakers' Program a Big Hit with Mindanao State

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.





E.O. 12958: N/A

1. Summary. As part of the Embassy Speakers' Program, Assistant
Information Officer Ruth Urry delivered two speeches to students
at Mindanao State University and the Zaid Bin Thabit Qur'anic
Center on March 17 in Marawi City, part of the Autonomous Region
of Muslim Mindanao (ARMM). AIO Urry spoke to students from MSU
Center for Women's Studies and the College of Business
Administration about the U.S. commitment to women's rights in
conjunction with Women's History Month. She also spoke about her
background and U.S.-Philippine relations to Qur'anic students,
who welcomed a U.S. visitor and expressed interest in learning
more about the United States. IRC Director Eva Brillo
accompanied AIO Urry to Marawi and conducted a separate program
for the American Corner at MSU. End summary.

Description of Mindanao State University, Marawi

2. Mindanao State University in Marawi City has a well-regarded
reputation for high academic standards, progressive thought, and
a willingness to engage with the United States. It is located in
Marawi, a city known as the "Islamic heartland" of the ARMM, with
a population that is estimated to be 95 percent Muslim. Under the
leadership of MSU President Campar Umpa, Ph.D., a former
Fulbright scholar, MSU has cultivated good relations with Muslim
and Christian communities and encouraged Muslim-Christian
integration. Note: Dr. Umpa's six-year term will be ending in
August, and Philippine President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo will
appoint his successor. End note.

Reaching Out to Young Audiences

3. AIO Urry addressed more than 100 students and faculty from
the College of Business Administration and Center for Women's
Studies at MSU on the topic, "Working for Women Worldwide: the
U.S. Commitment," in commemoration of Women's History Month. MSU
President Umpa; Professor Salic Abdul, Chair of the Graduate
Department; Professor Potri Riga, Dean of the College of Business
Administration; and Professor Marlene Hofer-Tamano, head of MSU's
Center for Women Studies also delivered remarks in support of
good U.S.-Philippine relations. Following the speech, AIO Urry
answered questions about visas, studying in the United States,
USAID's support for women's development in the Philippines, and
oversight of USAID programs. The response from the students and
faculty, all of whom wanted a picture with AIO Urry, was
overwhelmingly enthusiastic.

--------------------------------------------- -----------------
Dialogue with students from the Zaid Bin Thabit Qur'anic Center
--------------------------------------------- -----------------

4. In the afternoon, AIO Urry, TJIC Director Brillo, and MSU
Faculty visited the Zaid Bin Thabit Qur'anic Center, located on
the MSU campus. The Center is very similar to a Madrassah in that
it offers a Qur'anic education to adolescent males, who come from
various Muslim communities throughout the southern Philippines.
Director Rachid Ouabed, an Algerian native, explained that the
students were selected for their academic potential and ability
to memorize the Qur'an. According to Director Ouabed, funding
for the Center - as well as room, board, and tuition for the
students - are provided by Saudi Arabia. AIO Urry gave a speech
titled "U.S.-Philippine Relations: Why the Philippines Matters
to the United States." She also brought photos of her family and
her hometown to show to the audience of approximately 50 male
students, ranging in ages 12-18. AIO Urry and IRC Director
Brillo staged a handover ceremony of 100 copies of a Tagalog-
language version of "Muslim Life in America" and "Fast Facts
about the USA," two IIP Publications. Following the speech, IRC
Director Brillo explained that the Qur'anic Center students were
also welcome to visit the American Corner in MSU and use its

--------------------------------------------- --
A Hunger for English-Language Materials
--------------------------------------------- --

5. The faculty and students at the Qur'anic Center were very
welcoming toward visitors from the U.S. Embassy, and invited them
to tour all of their facilities. Director Ouabed showed them the
Qur'anic Library, a small dusty room with about 100 books in
Arabic donated by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. He expressed a
great interest in receiving English-language texts and English-
language instruction materials, mentioning that the Center was
working with MSU to integrate English-language instruction and
computer science into the curriculum. PAS Manila made a small
donation of IIP publications on U.S. history, economics, and
government. PAS has contacted USAID's Education Section to
report the Center's request for English-Language teaching

American Corners Outreach

6. IRC Director Brillo addressed an audience of 45 students and
faculty from MSU's Department of Library Science and Information
Technology, librarians from the unit libraries of the MSU library
system, and librarians from libraries in Marawi City on the
topic, "American Libraries: Re-shaping The Philippine-American
Library Tradition." During the open forum she answered questions
about the American Corner (AC) and the services and resources it
provides to the community. The Chair of the Department of
Library Science and Information Technology expressed appreciation
for the up-to-date reference materials in the AC and the online
periodicals database. After the lecture, IRC Director Brillo met
with the librarians from other libraries in Marawi City to
encourage their library users to visit the American Corner.
These librarians confirmed that students and other people from
the local community, such as elementary and secondary students,
are using the AC.


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