‘Kambisita’ sa Marawi: A photo essay

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I joined my colleagues to Marawi City on Tuesday to cover the “Kambisita,” wherein displaced Meranaws were allowed to visit their homes in the most affected areas and retrieve whatever is left of their belongings in the rubble. I was told that on that day, those in “Sector 9,” referring to the area in the padian (market), were the ones to visit. Authorities just can’t let every Marawi resident visit at the same time; there’d be chaos with the sheer number of people. This being the padian, the crowd were a mix of ordinary residents and businessmen who once had shops in the area. Can’t imagine how I would have felt if I were in their shoes, had the five-month siege happened to my place, the city closest to Marawi. I frequented Marawi starting in the late ’80s as a young promdi journalist fresh from college.

The queue was looooong, some joining the line the day before. But people seem upbeat, excited that they can finally see a glimpse of their home, or what’s left of it. Photo: BOBBY TIMONERA / MindaNews
Two guys restoring the tip of the minaret of a mosque, as the Philippine flag flutters nearby. They didn’t have any safety equipment at all, not even as basic as a rope. But they seem happy doing it, I see them trading smile every now and then. Photo: BOBBY TIMONERA / MindaNews
Wonder how the dogs survived. As a dog lover myself, I don’t wanna know. Photo: BOBBY TIMONERA / MindaNews
A hawk looking for a victim. Photo: BOBBY TIMONERA / MindaNews
Medics were around, in case some folks get injured. Who knows some unexploded bombs may go off. There were lots of rusty rebars lying around. City Health personnel were advising those injured to get anti-tetanus shots. Photo: BOBBY TIMONERA / MindaNews
This is Plaza Cabili in Banggolo, in the middle of town. I’ve covered a number of protest rallies here since the ’80s. I would often stand at the rear part of the stage, at the back of the speakers, shooting the crowd as they wave their flaglets and chant “Allahu Akbar!” Photo: BOBBY TIMONERA / MindaNews
Their homes in rubbles, these Meranaws still manage to smile and say hi. Photo: BOBBY TIMONERA / MindaNews
Selfie time for these millennials. Along Gomisa Ave., which used to be called Quezon Ave., Marawi’s main thoroughfare. I walked this street a lot. Photo: BOBBY TIMONERA / MindaNews
A popular shopping area along Gomisa Ave. Photo: BOBBY TIMONERA / MindaNews
Buildings collapsed like being hit by a strong earthquake, except that the structures here got hundreds of bullet holes on their walls. Photo: BOBBY TIMONERA / MindaNews
Gomisa Ave., with Signal Hill in the background, which is part of Kampo Ranao, site of the headquarters of the military brigade operating in the province of Lanao del Sur. I remember first climbing up that hill maybe in 1969 or 1970 when we visited Tito Ben and Tita Letty, who were then teaching at the Mindanao State University. Photo: BOBBY TIMONERA / MindaNews
Bato Ali Mosque, scene of heavy fighting. Along Gomisa Ave. Photo: BOBBY TIMONERA / MindaNews
That’s padian (market) in the foreground, Lake Lanao behind it. Wonder how it felt living across the lake, so near the fighting yet untouched by the aerial bombs that flattened Marawi. A ring-side view indeed, but the stray bullets must have been scary, and the ground must have shaken often. Photo: BOBBY TIMONERA / MindaNews
Human bones, we were told. Photo: BOBBY TIMONERA / MindaNews
Residents wrote their names on whatever material they could find, just so they could claim their properties. Reclaiming their properties later must be chaotic, considering that most of downtown Marawi is government property, being a military reservation. Photo: BOBBY TIMONERA / MindaNews
Warning against dud bombs, or unexploded ordnance (UXO), which may still explode. Photo: BOBBY TIMONERA / MindaNews
A religious man with Koran in hand walks past the ruins. Photo: BOBBY TIMONERA / MindaNews
A couple takes a break from salvaging work. Photo: BOBBY TIMONERA / MindaNews
I love Marawi. This is my father’s birthplace as Amai Pakpak Hospital, established by US Army doctors under the command of Capt. John Pershing, was the most modern hospital in all of Lanao a century ago. Photo: BOBBY TIMONERA / MindaNews
If only this flag could speak. Photo: BOBBY TIMONERA / MindaNews
It was somewhere around here where Isnilon Hapilon and Omar Maute were killed, says this soldier. The killing of the two ended the five-month siege. Photo: BOBBY TIMONERA / MindaNews
Packing whatever items are still intact in what used to be her family’s home. Photo: BOBBY TIMONERA / MindaNews
A two-year-old girl once owned this toy car. That’s her mother sitting in the background, who vowed to clean it up so the girl could play with it again. Photo: BOBBY TIMONERA / MindaNews
Taking refuge from the searing heat of the summer sun at noon, under a fallen mosque. Photo: BOBBY TIMONERA / MindaNews
That’s a mosque minaret, which came tumbling down. Imagine the force that razed it to the ground. Photo: BOBBY TIMONERA / MindaNews
Salvaging a sala set, beside a damaged mosque. Photo: BOBBY TIMONERA / MindaNews
A religious man contemplates his future amidst the ruins of a mosque. Photo: BOBBY TIMONERA / MindaNews
What to do with the car? Photo: BOBBY TIMONERA / MindaNews
This soldier was running amidst the ruins, at high noon during summer. Must be a really dedicated runner. We saw him in another part of town later several minutes later, running by his lonesome. I’m a running addict myself, but I very rarely run through noon, only during long races, or when running with my friends in the mountains where you can seek cover under the trees or take a dip in the rivers. Photo: BOBBY TIMONERA / MindaNews
The Islamic Center. I was here a few times, covering protests and Friday worships. Photo: BOBBY TIMONERA / MindaNews
St. Mary’s Cathedral. My wife and I once slept in the convent of this church back in the late ’80s. Fr. Chito’s domain, which used to be Bishop Tudtud’s. Photo: BOBBY TIMONERA / MindaNews
Skeletal remains of one of the buildings of Dansalan College, which was burned down. This school is run by the UCCP. Photo: BOBBY TIMONERA / MindaNews
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