To Whom It May Concern:
Suggestions for the rehabilitation of Marawi.
1) Signages. At least three languages to be more inclusive.
- a) English for those learned in secular education and for general consumption.
b) Arabic. For those in the madrasah. Not because they cannot read English, but because they need to see themselves in the society. Marawi City should not be a city for those who can read and write English alone.
c) Meranaw. To reclaim our language and so we do not forget our own. Like, do we know what is color in Meranaw? Well, aside from the word “korol” that is.
- a) Color
2) Meranaw / Iranaon art and architecture. Our heritage is not only Islamic. We are Meranaws first before we became Muslims. Our okir design should be prominent and define our rehabilitated city too.
3) Public spaces where people can play kasipa, kapangolintang, kangogorowa-i. Whatever it is that people want to do. We need public spaces.
4) Public toilets with ablution areas. No need to over-emphasize this if we want to preserve Lake Lanao.
5) A reconstructed public Torogan with huuuuuuuuuugeeeeee parking space. This should be free for all to enjoy and not be made just a display. Should be functional and emulate what Torogan was to the Meranaw people a long time ago. It was a free social space and a multi-purpose hall. So that, people who need to get married can have the ceremony here without paying for the venue. The emphasis on parking space is obvious. We build function halls and schools in busy areas without parking spaces and the narrow public roads become the parking areas.
6) Gardens. Botanical Gardens. Herbarium.
7) Solar panels, so we curse NPC (National Power Corporation) and Lasureco (Lanao del Sur Electric Cooperative) less for our dancing lights. Sustainable too.
8) Make the city a garden and vegetable city so we do not need to go down to Iligan city to buy a twig of kalamunggay.
9) Zoo. Anybody who puts up a zoo should be the one put in that zoo.
10) Women’s Center. A real one. Not a token one. Where women can exercise, weave, take care of their children, organize, and simply to hang-out.
11) Children’s Center with a children’s playground. They are the future right?
12) Youth Center. Because hey, they play basketball on the streets because they have no space for that.
13) Public art scattered all over the city which celebrates our culture. Example, a massive replica of the Dansalan Declaration! Add more to it folks.
14) A memorial tower dedicated to the those who died in this war and most importantly to all the people of Marawi who remained hopeful for their return to their beloved hometown. That tower should be the tallest structure in the city and at no instance should it be rivalled in height. It should be symbolic of the rise of the city from the rubble that it is now. Its design should reflect the Islamic and Meranaw heritage of the city and have a prayer room. A coffee shop, a restaurant, and a souvenir shop.
15) Cultural Center. A space where local artisans should be paid for their skills in handing them down to the next generation. Their products will then be marketed by the local government.
16) Media Center.
17) Riverwalk. Contentious. But those houses need to be relocated to prevent the soiling if not the death of the river. Make it a riverwalk-garden-meditation-prayer place where people can appreciate what made us Meranaws — the Lake. The Lake is for all of us, not just for the people who live right next to it and who have made it their toilet and garbage area. Sorry, but that’s the truth.
18) Hotels. Because we are going to be a tourist magnet soon.
19) The new city should be able to have the best Internet connectivity available. Or, if this is not possible, then people can just go to the tower in number 14 to catch signal.
20) All schools, offices, and big establishments should have prayer rooms. You know what, my beloved Melbourne University has prayer rooms for us Muslim students — one for males and one for females. Yes, to be honest, these rooms are bigger than our ranggars in pre-siege Marawi City and well-equipped than our mosques. This is not even an Islamic City. We are the minority here, most of the Muslims here are in fact migrants.
That’s all folks!
P.S. These suggestions are simply those that do not exist in the pre-siege Marawi City.
(MindaViews is the opinion section of MindaNews. Elin Anisha Guro of Marawi City is Director of Mindanao State University Press and Information Office, on study leave to finish her PhD at the School of Culture and Communication at the University of Melbourne in Australia. She finished her MA Media Studies at the New School, New York City as a Fulbright Scholar)