BALIK MSU: What volunteers say about helping students return to MSU Marawi

Photo by Mevi Pangulo, posted on FB by Elin Anisha Guro

BALIK MSU. “Somombak Tano sa Pantaw a Mareg” (literally: Let us earn our education or let us be enlightened at the Rolling Hills) is a campaign launched by Elin Anisha Guro of Marawi City, Director of the Mindanao State University Press and Information Office who is on study leave to finish her PhD at the School of Culture and Communication at the University of Melbourne in Australia. With the help of fellow alumni, the campaign initially offered 100 free shirts and free transportation to students who would return to campus, later increasing this number to 300 with the support of MSU President Habib Macaayong — to encourage students to return to the MSU main campus in Marawi, a city under siege since clashes between government forces and terrorist groups started on May 23.
The university campus is located some five kilometers from the main battle area. The government’s armed forces and campus security have met to ensure the safety of students as the first semester of schoolyear 2017-2018 begins on August 22, 2017. As of
With more alumni from the Philippines, UK, USA, Singapore, Saudi Arabia, and Australia supporting the campaign, all 640 students who participated in the online survey and fifty other students who joined the trivia and games, are provided with white Balik MSU T-shirts, named as Lawanen shirt referring to one of the early lady dormitories of the University, the Princess Lawanen Hall. Guro asked those who volunteered to help in the campaign what the campaign means for them. Here are their answers:

Senior High Student ABM, MSU

MSU is the last thing we have left and if we give it up, that is the end of our legacy. The least we could do is to encourage students to come back and breathe life back into MSU.

Batangan, Saguiaran Lanao del Sur

I volunteered because this campaign is about giving hope to the People of Marawi and bringing the colors back to our Pantaw a Mareg, the place where I’d be spending my remaining semesters in college and my second home.

Iligan City
Department of Mathematics, CNSM

Marawi is my second home ..I should not be there only in Marawi’s ups but also to its downs so in time like this, I want to be part of uplfiting Marawi by being one of the  volunteers

Torogan, Raya Madaya, Marawi City
Mathematics Department, CNSM

I consider myself a true MSUan – my siblings and I are children of MSUans who met as students and fell in love during the first martial law period. We’ve lived almost all our lives in the campus and call it home. I volunteered because I want to protect MSU. I want to help not only because I work as a professor in MSU now but because I know I have to give back.  I want MSU to be preserved so that it may continue to be the stalwart institution it was meant to be for the future generations of Muslims, Christians and Lumads – the tripeople of Mindanao – for whom MSU was created.

Sindangan, Zamboanga del Norte
Department: Mathematics, CNSM

I’ve learned a lot from MSU and MSU helps me most of the time since I came here, to be better (if not best) as a person. Now through this campaign, I see an opportunity to help and  be of service to MSU. So, I willingly volunteered for this endeavor. Thank you so much for allowing me to be part of this campaign.

I am a student and I volunteered because MSU is part of my life and will always be. I know that since the beginning of this armed conflict, the People of Marawi started to lose everything and were becoming hopeless. Quite a number of MSU students reside in the war torn city. They consider MSU as their second home, our second home. Their so-called ‘homes’ are now turned into ashes and if we let those Men in Black touch MSU, what else would be left for us? No, we cannot give up on the institution that’s been producing great people of our nation since then.

And I must say that once an MSUan survives in the University, place him wherever on earth and still can manage to smile with his face showing you the great Pantaw a Mareg!


University Research Associate and Managing Editor at the MSU Mamitua Saber Research & Technology Center

I consider being part of this historical campaign as one of the many wonderful ways in which anyone who has a love for MSU, regardless of rank, age, gender or whatever other inclination can become proactive in keeping hope alive in MSU and by extension, the city of Marawi.

Now, more than ever, there is a need to ensure that young minds are enabled to handle the realities and complexities of the human condition in an atmosphere where their intellectual curiosity is honed for the good. There is perhaps no other societal institution other than academia wherein these kids’ worldviews can be best shaped.

And for those of us who heartfully swore to continue to keep the MSUan spirit and grit alive, perhaps as Yoda says: “Do. Or do not. There is no try”


I am Amer Hassan Guiling Guro, 33 years old, married, a loud and proud MSUan. The University has been part of my life, from kindergarten in MSU-ILS to my Bachelor of Law degree in the College of Law. MSU is not just my alma mater, it is a place I consider home and will always have a special place in my heart.

Despite hectic work load in Cagayan de Oro, I volunteered to the “Balik Eskwela, Balik MSU” activity because it is my way of protecting and securing MSU, as the community that has been an instrument in molding the person I am today. It is my way of giving back to my beloved alma mater which played a major role in my education, and taught me how to live a purpose driven life. Volunteering in the activity gives me an immense feeling of satisfaction and contentment that I was able to give back something to her. And I want to show to the rest of the Filipinos that wherever I am, I will always be proud and honor Mindanao State University. “Saan man naroroon ay bigyang karangalan, dakilang paaralan Pamantasang Mindanao.”

Butuan City, Agusan del Norte
IV- Secondary Education

I want to be part of this campaign Balik MSU because I want to be an example for the students that even if you’re a student, you can also volunteer and help to raise practical hopes and service without any payback or money to be given to you because it is your initiative and your dedication to serve people as much as you could do, your willingness to help and encourage students to achieve the goal of the campaign at the very least to apprise the students to continue and finish their education to our beloved Mindanao State University.

Moreover, the campaign Balik MSU: Somombak Tano sa Pantaw a Mareg is not merely for the benefit of the students, but also to mend MSU from silence, sadness and formidable situation caused by war on terrorism – which makes the entire Marawi City at risk. And this is why MSU is quite affected and its students and constituents are fear and afraid to go back due to this terrible scenarios. Something that put peoples into a negative thoughts about returning to the campus. And this is more likely a challenging task as a volunteer to continue your part of the campaign but it is still getting more interesting to move forward because we believed that we love MSU so much.

With the help of this campaign, it opens possibilities to rebuild and reunite students to continue their journey as MSUans and as hopes of the entire Marawi City. That regardless of the terrible agony which caused affliction to a lot of individuals, we, students are still willing to fight and continue our education in spite of difficulties happening in Marawi City. MSUans are tagged as survivors so we believe that it is just one of the challenges that a survivor must face and overcome. And as a volunteer, I’m now taking the Challenge.

Marawi City
4th year, BS CE
I have not volunteered, I have been recommended. Yes, being recommended is different from volunteering in a direct sense. But being recommended did not make me have second thoughts to take the step and grab the privilege and opportunity. A step to be part of the campaign. A privilege to be a guiding student leader. And an opportunity to assist my fellow MSUan.

I am not only a student, I am also a citizen of the country, most especially a resident of my hometown Marawi.

So why I am eager and glad to partake in the campaign? The answer is simple. Knowing students don’t want to come back in MSU or transfer from other universities is just very heartbreaking. We know these students don’t decide themselves but with the consent of their parents and family so we, concerned individuals, have no total control over it. Yet, with the presence of this campaign, many were enlightened that there’s nothing to be feared about in returning in our beloved MSU but with a fear of only one thing: to lose MSU.

Without students, MSU is of no hope. MSU is not only a university, MSU itself is Marawi. Upholding the existence of MSU proves one thing: that Marawi as well still has hope of regaining its past living and to the extent of much glory (In Shaa Allah). Being part of this campaign is beyond overwhelming in a very optimistic way. The purpose of the campaign is not only limited in giving freebies but to the whole idea that from the start of the survey many wanted to be registered and what was so surprising about it, many are Christians. This only means a motivating part that other students will also be at ease that they’re not alone in having debates with their family. They voice out what’s right. Right thing? To finish our studies. What’s good about the campaign? Continuing our studies in MSU.

To sum it up, in my case, I will not use the word “volunteer”, rather: I partake in the campaign to be part of the major turning point of MSU. The point at whatever circumstances, what we started should be finished. We will return to our beloved. Such crisis should not be a hindrance for success. For more than once, MSU will rise. Marawi shall live!

Bubong, Lanao Del Sur
4th year, BS-Civil Engineering

A friend of mine asked me if I’m willing to be part and a volunteer of the campaign and I replied yes. The campaign will help and motivate the students of Mindanao State University- Marawi. It shows how true “TATAK MSUAN” will help other MSUAN and keep MSU-Marawi soaring high. I volunteered because I want to help in encouraging students to come back to MSU and let them feel that despite of the crisis in Marawi, we are one in bringing back the spirit of MSU. I want to be part of this historic campaign that encourages and helps students in returning to our beloved MSU. Now that it’s not only giving them the courage but also helping and assisting them in returning back in MSU is a great privilege.

In our life we encounter different challenges, both ups and downs. We need people to help us in fighting the struggle. It is very good in feeling when you know that there are people who are always ready to help you. There are times that I needed help from others and they helped me. This time I do good for others not just helping them but to inspire them also. I am also one of those victims of the Marawi crisis, I don’t know what happened to our house in town but things that surely I can do is to pray to ALLAH and continue the things that make and will make my life colorful and one of it is to continue my studies because I want to achieve my goals in life. I pray, may ALLAH S. W. T guides and bless us always in our journey.


PANTAW A MAREG: MSUans do not wait out the war, they bring in the peace

TURNING POINT: Building a City of Peace

Back to school: students return to MSU main campus in Marawi

BALIK MSU: What students say about returning to MSU Marawi