I CAN'T believe it has already been two years since the Marawi siege. I checked back my photos from before the Marawi siege and I can't believe that the places I used to stroll on a few years back have become and are still in the state of rubbles.
Many student-visitors like me who came from other places in Mindanao to study in Mindanao State University-Marawi would remember the city in many forms and various experiences.
I remember the center of Marawi by its colorful padian (marketplace), the stalls of browa (some sort of a Meranaw muffin) lining on the streets, the majestic masjids, and the rich culture the Meranaw people have tried to imprint in the streets.
During my college years, non-Meranaw students like me would wear our veils to go to downtown Marawi to buy clothes (we could only afford ukay-ukay), stamps needed in our student organizations, get some printing jobs done, purchase souvenirs for guests and other events, and to simply dine.
We also remember that there is a school every few blocks: high schools, elementary schools, and colleges.
Staying out on the streets even at as early as 6:30 p.m. was already dangerous in downtown Marawi. Before 8 p.m., one should already be at home for safety reasons.
Some visitors would comment about how congested and dirty the center of Marawi City is, but to the resident there, it is home. I never liked how murky the streets in Padian is, but well, Marawi is home.
Marawi was never perfect. There were tall and big houses, there were shanties; some lived by the lake and even threw their garbage and human wastes there; there were issues of safety and security, but regardless, what Marawi meant to us will not change.
To me, to them, to us, Marawi is home.
What we hope now is for the rehabilitation of Marawi to hasten and that sufficient support would be given to those who were affected by the siege.