Friday, September 21, 2018

Eid’l Fitr memories

CAGAYAN DE ORO. Soldiers walking along the war-ravaged Marawi City after several months of siege. (SunStar File Photo)

COLLEGE classmates Amerah Manalocon and Sittie Khansa, both Meranaws, used to spend Eid’l Fitr similarly. Eid’l Fitr is an important celebration for Muslims, marking the end of the month-long fast during Ramadan. Muslims celebrate Eid by saying prayers, giving money to the poor, sending Eid greetings and feasting with their families.

This year’s Eid is the second away from Marawi City. Before the siege, the Manalocons used to celebrate on the vast area of the Mindanao State University Grandstand in Marawi City.

Amerah said they used to buy new clothes for the special day and prepare food for their relatives, just like the family of Sittie Khansa. Family has always been a big part of celebrating Eid'l Fitr.

Asked about how his family used to spend Eid, Amerah's father grimaced, pain and sadness reflected on his face.

“After the Marawi Siege, I can’t visit my relatives anymore because they have gone far,” he said.

“Their homes and businesses were destroyed and some of them have to live in evacuation centers or far places like CDO and Manila. We can no longer buy anything we want,” he said.

“I can't bring my family to Iligan because I am after their safety. I am the only one who goes back and forth to Iligan to buy everything that we need.”

“I can't give a big amount of Zakat and Zadqah because my family needs it the most and I can't be fully happy because of what happened to Marawi City,” he said.

Zakat, a type of worship and of self-purification, is the systematic giving of 2.5 percent of one's wealth each year to benefit the poor.

Sadaqa' literally means “righteousness” and refers to the voluntary giving of alms or charity.

“Now I can't be with my relatives and they will be celebrating separately and it is such a melancholic feeling knowing that it will take a long time to rebuild Marawi City.”

“I miss everything about Marawi; the noisy people asking for discounts, the vendors shouting at the streets, the vehicles which keep on beeping. I am used to these daily routines of the people even if it's not Ramadhan.”

“I miss the old days,” he said, crying.

For Khansa, this year’s Eid was spent alone.

Asked how her family used to spend Eid, Khansa became emotional.

“Last year, it was the most unforgettable Eid'l Fitr for me as it was the first time I celebrated Eid outside Marawi. I was with my cousins during that time because they were the same people whom I evacuated with. It was a day filled with mixed happiness and longing; happy that despite the war that is going on in our home at Marawi, I was still able to fast during the month of Ramadhan and my family survived. I'm also happy that the Almighty never abandoned us in all of the tests He gave us. However, I was also sad at the same time because I really miss my own family.”

“We were supposed to spend this special day together, if not for the fact that our beloved home is now bombed out and our houses and mosques destroyed,” she said.

Before, Khansa said they were “like other Meranao families residing in Marawi.”

“Everyone was excited a day before the actual day of celebration. You would see the Padian, our Public Market, very crowded and everyone busy completing their what-to-buy lists. It was always noisy that you sometimes had to shout just to hear what the person next to you was saying.”

“My mom usually bought fish, meat, fruits and sweets and of course, I had to accompany her because I know she'll be carrying a lot of bags when she goes home.”

“The night before Eid, we would be preparing the meat, fish, and ingredients that will be used for cooking on the early morning. We would wake up early and do the cooking while my brothers make their way to the masjid to position their praying mats so they could reserve their spots inside the masjid. Then when everything was ready, we would lock the house and go to the masjid together to perform our prayers.”

“Eid'l Fitr do not just symbolize the breaking of the fasting period, but it paved the way for families to spend the special day with their loved ones. For my family, after eating the delicious dishes prepared by my mom, that would be the time we head to some of our relatives' houses to visit them and eat the food they prepared. It was always a good time to spend with your family, with all the loud laughter from my cousins and naughty nephews and nieces.”

“Now it's a different. It is really heartbreaking that we are apart