Marawi of Memory
It hasn't always been a city of war.
(SPOT.ph) For the world now, Marawi
Palapa, Ayala, and a cappella
“You sure you want palapa for breakfast?” our host asked as if I wanted her to slap me.
I’d arrived in Marawi with cousins the night before looking forward to a Maranao breakfast. Palapa is as Maranao as anything could get, and being the gracious host she was (being of aristocratic extraction, her traditional hospitable acumen never had to be cultivated), I was granted the indulgence. Chilies and a local allium they call
The meal was served on a patio of the main building on a small hilly
Ayala, which by the time of my visit around a decade ago had already become Marawi Resort Hotel, bore witness to feasts and celebrations of lake splendor. The Maranao version of Minangkabau rendang
Afternoon coffee on the patio would've been idyllic, but since a cousin had brought
The Sultan, Pakistan, and Indarapatra
As the Islamic City of Marawi, it has the distinction of being the country’s only city with outwardly religious character. Housed in the city’s Aga Khan Museum is an antiquated Qur’an, a gift from an Ottoman Sultan, God’s shadow on earth, to one of the Ranao sultans. Not too far from the museum is another Qur’an, a large concrete fixture in keeping with the country’s proclivity for prosaic monuments. In line with the Maranao’s religious vigor, there is an abundance of Mosques’ onion domes crowned with counterpointing crescents.
A noticeable number of its men are partial to Pakistan-style attire with matching embroidered skull cap and scarf; most of them being non-hirsute, they sport wisps of chin hair in pursuit of a beard. Women of parallel persuasion, in an interpretation of Muslim modesty, use black loose dress and veil, thus concealing all manner of blush and blemish.
Because of the intolerance of the style of Islam that arrived in the '60s and '70s, numerous pre-Islamic and syncretic practices have been shamed and shunned. Intricate ritual offerings to
Fortunately, the mythical bird
Sights, State, and Wit
“You want to go out at night?” our host asked as if I wanted another slap.
I wanted to see the night sights; it was a city after all. She advised against the excursion; Marawi wasn't a place for frivolous
Perhaps the only reason we went out that night was
Ten years later, the streets are strewn with rubble, but Ayala still stands. Ayala, which is situated on one end of the Mindanao State University campus, was shielded from the strife since the campus was one of the first places to be secured by government forces. The university was preserved, but the mental and emotional state of the students and its other residents are far from secure. In a month’s time, the city that surrounded their school has been reduced to mere memory.
Our host, in the hope of finding a quieter life, left Marawi years before the siege. It was from her that I got news of what was happening hours after bedlam began. From her current home in Cagayan de Oro, she does what she can to help out—including procuring and distributing seemingly trivial things like toiletries for feminine hygiene. Only her astute sense could've thought of that in such a setting of clutter.
As head of a government health agency in Marawi, the doctor of Magdalena renown performs his duty from nearby Iligan. Hopefully, he has managed to extract much-needed giggles and smiles, albeit wistful, with his exacting wit.
Destiny, Revelry, and Renewal
It seems then that Marawi’s destiny is that of continuing conflict. From the time of the swish of the Maranao warrior’s
Lands whose dominant faith is one that uses an expression of peace—salaam in place of hello are almost inevitably places of violence. This is true for East Africa and the Middle East. That irony also extends close to home. Apologists of the religion contend that violence was inflicted upon them first, and what they have today is a reaction to the infliction. This may be true in most instances, but war and murder by either end, in the name of whatever divinity or chauvinist cliche it invokes, is always a human endeavor. War, for whatever reason, panders to selfish mortal needs—profit, promise, pride, protection, et cetera.
And apart from lives and battered buildings whose images are now familiar to us in