MY, MY, MY MARAWI: We must assert our identity in the rehabilitation of Marawi

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MARAWI CITY (MindaNews /24 Feb) — “We built this city,” so goes a hit song.

We also want to rebuild this city together with the authorities.  But we must continually assert.

February reminds us not only of love but its being Arts Month. The people of Lanao derive our name and identity from Maranao or people of the lake.

Renewing friendship with co-college tribal group mate Gay of the famed Cordillera clan Beyer and everyday living the life of Maranao identity, we must assert our identity in the face of rehabilitation designs for our destroyed city.

Rather than urban designs from the outside, we must recognize its rural vibe from the inside, an energy throbbing from those ancient folk tales.

We invite all to be engaged on the issue of Marawi and calamity rehabilitation which is projected to cost billions of pesos.

We must also always be disaster-prepared and also resilient now. We urge we be enabled to return back at the quickest possible time when bombs have been detonated outside the MAA (most affected area), so we can rebuild our own homes, NOT BE A CITY BUILT FROM THE OUTSIDE.

As I walked the old streets of Intramuros in Manila to cap two days of lobby at the Senate, Congress and now a press conference on a people-centered rehabilitation, I see how important it is to preserve our forts centuries ago. Like our cotas in Marawi once upon time, these fortresses were impenetrable and showed the distinct bravery of the native.

No, the tunnels in Marawi were not in preparation by terrorists against government; they are actually drainage that navigates the underground to the largest lake of the country, Lake Lanao.

I climbed a cute cafe that was wooden like the many Filipino and ethnic houses /torogan, I felt transported in time. With Queenie Muslim, a law student from UE researching for her thesis, we tackle the oldest Islamic bank in Asia, Amanah Islamic Bank. How do we keep it strong, what were its weaknesses, how was it contributing to supposedly advancing the socio-economic development of the people?

And like the Marawi rehabilitation, we wonder if government knows who it is designing for when they design this billion-budget master plan (in the months to come).

I bump into Architect Palafox in this posh dinner at Makati Shangrila by an embassy celebrating its anniversary. He reminded that rehabilitation must be acceptable to the people, designs must be from them. So we assert, a homeowner must build his own destroyed house, not the government.

We in programming must also factor in the non-tangibles, those we cannot see but elements that touch us to the core.

(MindaViews is the opinion section of MindaNews. Samira Ali Gutoc-Tomawis, Ll.B., co-founder of the Young Moro Professionals resigned as Commissioner of the Bangsamoro Transition Commission in late May, days after the Marawi Crisis started, citing personal reasons and policy questions. Samira is one of the organizers of the Ranao Rescue Team, a group set up to respond to the crisis. She had earlier served as an  assemblywoman, women sector, of the Regional Legislative Assembly, Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, was former director, Al-Amanah Islamic Bank, Inc. and former director of the Marawi Resort Hotel, Inc.)

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