Marawi is my hometown. I have grown up in the city since childhood. I spent years in enjoying taking bath in the fresh water lake, which at that time was the sweetest drinking water I ever knew. Throw a needle to the lake and you can clearly see it below of even six to ten feet deep.
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Every morning, I took with me a couple of water containers and paddled my awang (banca) a little far from the shore to be sure that water to fill my galloons was clean enough to drink, or for my mother to use for cooking, or washing dish or clothes etc.
Even most of our neighbors got their drinking water from the lake shore of our barangay in Raya Madaya.
Top water was a luxury, but who cared? Ranao gave us everything and that was why we were so proud to be called Meranaos because we are the people of Ranao — or Lake — our lake, which was the best, and incomparable, that only us had the right to enjoy what it used to give us: when there was no Napocor, nor Transco, nor power plants, nor institutional loggers yet; when there was no alien interference which killed our tropical fishes and replaced them with such undesired Katulong, Katipa, or even Tilapiya.
We were proud we owned the Ranao, our lake.
Now, many of us, especially the young ones, feel somehow uncomfortable when they are called Meranaos. Ironical, isn’t it?
Perhaps, they feel embarrassed of the degraded lake now which is sometimes sarcastically called biggest toilet on earth (I beg your pardon for the blatant term) because the people no longer care for their environment and make the lake a big garbage bin and toilet. What a sigh!
I took my early college days at a downtown private school. College students would attend classes from 4 PM to 9 in the evening. Nobody was afraid of anybody. It was such a peaceful city that we enjoyed the serenity of the night and coolness of the day. There was a few land transports but we just loved walking our way home or visiting friends and relatives even in the middle of the night. Family ties and friendship were two upheld and dignified tradition of the Meranaos those days. Of course, the two still exist in our midst but san the sincerity and honesty against the hypocrisies, pretenses and lies that engulf it today.
In those days, life was beautiful. There was no fear, no hunger.
It is true we did not have the amenities that people of today are enjoying. We did not have the luxury of sporting today’s latest cars, or eating in nice restos, or sleeping in mansions. Although rido was still there, it was not this worst as it is now.
And if I had way, I wish to relive the past.
The killing last Saturday of the chief of police of the only Islamic city in the country came as a shock to peace loving people and others believed that in a situation where the very chief of police in a city is murdered in day broadlight, it is only God that can help its people.
PSupt. Al-Abner Wahab Santos, chief of police of the City of Marawi in Lanao del Sur, was killed in Sarimanok area, one of the busiest parts of Marawi City where he was always seen leading traffic enforcement. He was killed in after he had just attended a peace conference nearby.
It was said that Santos was driving his car when another car (or cars) overtook him and the passenger or passengers shot him.
The incident might be the reason of the holding of an emergency joint meeting of the Regional Peace and Order Council (RPOC) of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) and the Provincial Peace and Order Council (POC) of Lanao del Sur days ago..
In that councils’ meeting, it was said that the angle of the killing is because of the intensified campaign of the late chief of police against illegal drugs trafficking, rapes, kidnap for ransom, carnappings and other heinous crimes. Santos campaign led to breaking crime syndicates, killing and arresting suspects. And it was surmised that suspects’ relatives or syndicates’ members retaliated.
Personally, I am not certain if the killing of Santos was a retaliation only. I feel there was more in it. I am talking of foreign meddling that is maneuvering what is going on now. The kind of Machiavelli Theory, or the Low Intensity Conflict or other covert stratagem may have a hand in the deteriorating peace and security here. What do you think of the aid and assistance granted by foreign funders to locals in exchange of information? Such information could be used to invent troubles that may justify the need for foreign interference.
And this might also give us the idea why there was ISIS, or there were ISIS-inspired jihad groups operating in the locality, groups that now you hear, now you don’t. Come on, let us think of it.. TNRS