Radzma Sabturani is a young Muslim woman working in a Christian-dominated organization.
A member of the Pangutaran tribe from Sofronio Española town in southern Palawan, the 21-year old is an accounting staff of the Yamang Bukid agri-tourism farm in Barangay Bacungan.
With a Bachelor of Science in Hospitality Management (BSHS) degree, Sabturani’s job involves helping in the paperwork of the farm’s disbursing and budgeting section, where all employees but one are Christians.
“I had reservations at first because they might discriminate against me as I’m a Muslim,” she recalled. “I’m happy that it did not happen.”
The young lass whose smile is as beguiling as the sunflowers in the agri-tourism farm was first noticed by the Yamang Bukid management when she applied for a scholarship grant during her last year in college.
A relative who works for Yamang Bukid told her about the company’s scholarship offer to help deserving students cover some costs their limited funds cannot manage to accomplish.
Encouraged by the activities she saw in the agri-tourism farm, Sabturani asked if she could help during weekends, which Yamang Bukid allowed.
There, she met and worked with Christian co-workers who are now her friends.
“I was overwhelmed, everyone treated me as an equal. I soon became friends with my Christian [colleagues],” she said.
Sabturani said she feels at home at Yamang Bukid and thankful for the respect her friends are giving her despite her different religious belief.
There’s no room for doubts, especially when even the farmers treat her as their “anak-anakan” or little daughter.
“All my own misconceptions against Christians also vanished,” she said, explaining that perhaps the erroneous perception is because of the association of Islam to violence which may have contributed to the apparent distrust between Muslims and Christians.
In a world full of this, Sabturani appreciates, even more, the prevailing Yamang Bukid farm culture of fairness and respect among employees no matter their religious backgrounds.
“Our relationship among employees and the management is tight. Here, you are not just an employee. You feel like family, even if you’re a Muslim,” she says.
Her parents are supportive of her job in a predominantly Christian company that does not look at her differently when she wears the traditional “hijab” for Muslim women.
Although she finds it challenging to pray several times a day because of their busy work, Sabturani said she makes up during weekends.
“What’s important is that you pray to Him and do your duties as a good Muslim,” she said.
She also recalled hearing co-workers apologizing and moving away when they eat pork and other food deemed unholy in Islam.
Sabturani said she appreciates this and thinks highly of them for their politeness.
Now, there are three other Muslims working at the farm apart from Sabturani.
The young girl says she works not just for herself but also for her family.
“I want to help my parents by supporting the studies of my younger sister who’s in senior high school. For now, that’s my dream,” she says, adding her mother owns a “lomihan” (noodle soup store) back home.