Debate of Khalid Ibrahim Mabute of Balik Islam Movement and the Catholic apologist Cenon Bibe Jr. in the University of the Philippines was indefinitely postponed
I arrived at 9:30 a.m. at the Quezon Hall of University of the Philippines Diliman, which is behind the Oblation Statue. Khalid Ibrahim Mabute and Shakil Ibrahim of the Balik Islam Movement were there before the giant Greek columns. The former was a youth of 18, beardless; the latter about a few years older with a goatee. They were talking to a certain Manny who was a friend of Cenon Bibe Jr. The two asked Manny why he came. Manny said he is a friend of Ceno and he wants to know more about the Catholic Faith. I just stood behind them trying to eavesdrop their soft conversation.
There were no other people in sight, except a few students doing other business and some guards of the hall. There were white monoblock chairs arranged in the wide lawn behind, perhaps a sort of graduation ceremony will be held. But it was raining; the lawn was empty.
Then Cenon came with a black shoulder bag of books. He was about in his late thirties, taller than Mabute and Ibrahim. Cenon’s beer belly made him look older.
Cenon asked if the debate will start. The two members refused. They said they think they were only trying to arrange a pre-debate signing of memorandum of agreement. Mabute said he was only a mediator. Cenon was a bit annoyed. He canceled his work only to come here. He asked for an informal debate, but he was refused. Voices were raised. The guards went to them and asked them to go down the stairway. In the end, they signed an handwritten agreement:
Kami sina Khalil Ibrahim Mabute at ako si Shakil Ibrahim sa ngalan ng mga Balik Islam (Islamic Faith Defenders of the Philippines) ay naghahamon kina Cenon Bibe at mga kasamahng Romano Katoliko sa isang maginoong debate isat lugar at petsa na pagkakasunduan ng dalawang panig.
Ito ay palitan lamang ng paliwanag. Hindi ito dapat maging religious war.
We, Khalid Ibrahim Mabute and I Shakil Ibrahim, in the name of Balik Islam (Islamic Defenders of the Philippines), are challenging Cenon Bibe and his fellow Roman Catholics to a gentleman’s debate in a place and time that will be agreed by both parties.
This is only an exchange of explanations. This should not become a religious war.
Signed: Shakil Ibrahim, Khalid Ibrahim Mabute, and Cenon Bibe.
They decided to photocopy the agreement. Cenon asked for a time for his friends in the Defensores Fidei to come. About three of them came, each armed with bags of books: Manuel Protacio, Kit Lumnigkit, and Lito Jamisola. These are veteran Catholic apologists who prefer to debate in front of large crowds, such as in Luneta Park in front of the Japanese Embassy, near the chess center.
Cenon told them the debate was postponed. After the agreement was photocopied, I went with apologists for a lunch of fishball and buko juice. And I heard their tales that may be worth several blogposts. I left them at 3:30 p.m. I still have work to do.
The debate never happened, and I don’t think it will ever happen in the near future. But at least I learned a lot and met new friends.