APRIL is a month full of celebrations for me. In fact, this month brought a significant shift in the lives of the Meranaw people in Marawi.
On April 15, 1980, Marawi became the Islamic City of the South and from then challenges started to grow higher and tougher.
Today, Meranaws have become educated and have noticed so many challenges to government policies when we think of our being an Islamic city.
Since Islam promotes cleanliness, orderliness and peace, Meranaws in Marawi cannot help but notice the difficulty in giving justice to the word ‘Islamic’ when they experience and see dirty roads, poor waste management, no traffic lights, stinky drainages and existence of peace and security problems.
As a concerned citizen, I also notice these problems every day. Every time I walk through the streets going to the market, I get the chance to experience all these.
So as not to be so subjective of my own observations, I grabbed the chance to know the pulse from my social network friends regarding their own observations about Marawi and if they have some suggestions to make in order to make this place a better one.
From their reactions, Yusoph, being one of the elder, reminded me that over 70 percent of the people in Marawi today are not Marawians. According to him, in the time of late Mayor Bato Ali Sr., Marawi was so clean and peaceful probably because most if not all of the constituents of the city were native Marawians.
Actually, 90 percent of the reactions given were all similar to what I also observed but there were some who were wishful and concerned enough to express their thoughts.
Most of my friends are hopeful that Marawi can be a better place in the future. Like Faridah, Myrna and Adom, to name a few, wished for possible wider roads, proper lighting on major streets at night and proper traffic rules and regulations. Some even wished for a traffic light, an improved Pantalan, regulated tarpaulin postings, centralized wet and dry markets and a sanitized lake.
These wishful thoughts may appear so impossible to us all today but with ardent and consistent actions from the masses and the government, these wishes might come true.
In fact, there are still individuals who are courageous enough to introduce changes in the city. Ms. Aliah of the ENGAGE project informed me that presently there are very strong supports on the launching of ecological solid waste management program (ESWM) of Marawi. She said that this year’s celebration of the City’s anniversary focuses on this ESWM launching with a clean up drive activity.
For as long as we all believe that we can achieve our dreams for Marawi, for as long as there are individuals who are vigilant enough to see the problem, and for as long as few good men and women exist and are willing to introduce change, our hopes will be closer to reality.
In other words, Meranaws and non-Meranaws alike who are living in this city should work together in making Marawi a better place.
This is the home of the second largest state university of the country, the place of the second largest lake, the envied melting pot of the south, and most of all, the only Islamic city in this country.
Let this article call on all Meranaws, non-Meranaws, Marawians and non-Mariawians out there to see this as a simple step towards rekindling our thirst for change and for us to value and take pride of our Marawi, our Islamic City!
(Professor Sorhaila Latip-Yusoph is currently the chairperson of the Communication and Media Department, Mindanao State University, Marawi City.)