The Standard-Bearer of Daang Matuwid Mar Roxas became an adopted son of Lanao del Sur on Tuesday (January 12) when he was bestowed the Medal of Honor and the title of Datu by the Federation of the Royal Sultanate of Lanao del Sur in an enthronement ceremony held in Marawi City.

The Federation of the Royal Sultanate is a non-profit organization that has a dynamic role in the peace-building process in Mindanao.

The awarding of the title of Datu, the highest distinction given by the federation, is unprecedented for any other personality. As it stands, Roxas is the first known adopted son of the Federation of Royal Sultanate of Lanao del Sur.

“Tinatanggap ko po ito bilang malaking karangalan at malaking responsibilidad. Responsibilidad na mamuhay ayon sa pinakamataas, pinakamaganda, pinakamaayos na mga asal na nakabahagi nitong titulo at nitong responsibilidad na ito—na mamuhay at mamuno nang matuwid, nang malinis, nang parating ayon sa kapakanan ng higit na nakararami, at magtrabaho nang maayos sa kapakanan natin,” Roxas told the Federation.

Roxas was chosen to be the adopted son of Lanao del Sur because of the progress he initiated in the province. After deliberating, the council of Sultans that comprised the Federation decided that the positive impact of his programs in the province merited his recognition as Datu.

The improvements Roxas introduced to Lanao del Sur during his term as a member of President Aquino’s cabinet include the distribution of 39 patrol jeeps, one for each municipality of the province, and the initiation of 60 projects under the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG).

“Maasahan po ninyo na ang inyong kasama, si Mar Roxas at ang buong pangkat ng Daang Matuwid, ay magiging kabahagi ng ating malawakang pagtapak dito sa daan tungo sa kapayapaan,” he promised the Federation.

To further highlight his contributions to Lanao del Sur, Roxas was also recognized in the ceremony with the prestigious Amai Pakpak Award. The award is aptly named in honor of Commander Datu Amai Pakpak, a widely known Maranao hero who fought and defended his town from both the Spaniards and the Americans during the war against the colonizers in the Philippines.

After the ceremony, Roxas met with barangay and sectoral leaders and residents of Lanao del Sur in the jam-packed capitol gymnasium in Marawi. Over 4,000 people from each of the province’s 39 municipalities attended the event, signifying Lanao del Sur’s all-out support for Daang Matuwid.

In his message, Roxas emphasized the importance of adhering to the principles of Daang Matuwid regardless of one’s standing in society.

“Lahat po, lahat po tayo, kahit ordinaryong mamamayan, ay may titulo bilang lingkod-bayan,” he said. “Ito po ay nagmumula sa isang paniniwala: Paniniwala ito ng Daang Matuwid. Paniniwala po ito nating lahat dahil kabahagi ito, kabahagi ito ng bibliya na nasasakupan ng buong populasyon, ng lahat ng relihiyon. Ito ang paniwala na we are our brothers’ keepers. Tayo ang bantay. Tayo ang haligi. Tayo ang kasama. Tayo ang alagad ng ating kapwa.”

He ended his message by encouraging the people of Lanao del Sur to join him in continuing Daang Matuwid, which holds the key to a better tomorrow.

“Iyan ang ating asal sa Daang Matuwid,” Roxas said. “Walang limitasyon ang mararating natin. Walang limitasyon ang tagumpay natin kung magsama ang mabubuting mamamayan sa kanilang mabubuting layunin.”