Islam and Marriage
These new belief systems led Mira to convert from Catholicism to Islam in 1994. She notes her anti-colonial views as the purpose for this, and cited the Spanish conquerors who brought Catholicism to the Philippines as her reason for converting. Mira’s Islamic beliefs somewhat conflicted with people’s notions of feminism, but Mira has found a way to mesh the two. “If you really look at the core [of the teachings of Islam] historically, it’s really a feminist belief” says Mira. Mira made many friends in her new Muslim community, and many of those people she is still friends with today.
In 1995, Mira married her husband. She only knew him for three days when they got married. They met at a mosque, which was not a typical mosque. Typically, especially in Arab mosques, women and men pray separately. However, in this mosque it was not unusual to have men and women together. Mira was at her mosque one day, and saw a man whom she described as very good looking. They met on a Friday during their prayers, hung out that night, and while they were talking decided to get married. They argued a lot, but Mira put up with him for a while because he “was annoying but really hot”. The marriage did not last long though, because this man “annoyed the hell out of (Mira)”. The marriage lasted from 1995 until 2000.
While with her husband, Mira left the United States to visit the Philippines. She had come to the United States as a Christian, but came back to the Philippines as a Muslim. Muslims in the Philippines are the minority, and Mira had never realized the discrimination against Muslims until she went back to the Philippines. While in the Philippines, Mira and her husband faced a lot more discrimination than they had intended. This discrimination was both sourced from how they looked and their religion. Mira heard many stories of how the Muslims were mistreated in the Philippines, and these stories impacted her emotionally. Mira compared the Christians treating the Muslims to the way Koreans treated the Blacks during the 1980’s L.A. riots. Mira mentioned how some of the Muslim cities in the Philippines had become highly militarized, and called them a ‘war zone’.
While Mira was in the Philippines, there was a court case where a sixteen year old girl was sexually assaulted by her boss. The girl, while defending herself, stabbed her boss, and she was given the death sentence for murder. Sarah Balabagan was her name and many human rights organizations came to her aid. Mira asked many of the girls who she was working with what they thought of the case, and many responded with fatalistic viewpoints, like whatever happened to her was her fate, and they could have a good fate.