As a Roman Catholic, I had been very religious since childhood. Everytime a priest came to our barrio to say Mass, I'd listen to him attentively and marvelled at his sermon. This once a year visit of a missionary priest to our barrio gave me a strong desire to be one someday.
When I reached high school, the same longing beset me. In Notre Dame of Dulawan, Datu Piang, Cotabato, I was an active member of the Student Catholic Action. I never missed going to Mass and serving the priest. I often went to confession and received Holy Communion everyday.
Seldom did we find quarrels with our Muslim neighbours. We helped them with their health needs by administering First Aid and by giving them medicine for every affliction.
College time came, I continued my studies as a self-supporting student. I graduated from notre Dame University, Cotabato City, with the degree of Bachelor of Arts in Education after 4 years.
After graduation, I immediately attended a workshop with the Oblates of Mary Immaculate, a missionary organisation, but I failed the psychological test. I tried again with the Diocesan Seminary in Nuling, but after one year, I was dismissed due to my arguments with the Bishop of Cotabato.
I then applied for a teaching position at the Notre Dame School of Jolo. I taught General Science, Theology, History and Economics. Due to the Civil War between Moro activists and the Army, our classes ended in March 1974.
I went back to Cotabato City and worked at the Vicariate Housing Project. I was assigned as a construction foreman with 275 workers, 95% Muslim and 5% Christian.
I lived and worked with Muslims for 13 years. On Fridays, I permitted them to go home early for their Friday prayer. For 18 years, I lived with an old widow who considered me as her son while I considered her as my mother.
After her death, I tried to concentrate on my studies for a Masters degree. I lived with a poor widow with many children in order to observe their way of life, in connection with my thesis proposal: "Feminisation of Poverty Among Selected Widows of Patikul, Sulu."
So, at a lukewarm point in my religion, I decided to try fasting during Ramada, 1994. After a few days, I felt contented and gained much improvement in my health. I was able to finish my Academic Requirement and Examination in Master of Arts in Social Sciences.
With these blessings from Allah, I finally came to the realisation that Islam is the true religion. Thus I embraced Islam.
By Abdulsalam Tagamolila from Cotabato, Philipines in a "Letter to the Editor" of The Muslim Reader, Vol. 16, No. 1-2, Jan-June 1996 - A publication of the Muslim Converts' Association of Singapore.