MY, MY, MY MARAWI: Muslim-Christian efforts: eating Meranao meal in a Christian compound

ILIGAN CITY (MindaNews / 19 Aug) — Even in weakness we find ways to seek strength in the solace of those who seek to understand.

Our feet must walk the extra path to open and bridge faiths as we have to continuously pray for the hostages of the Marawi crisis.

Balo-i, Lanao del Norte is the new home to (some 30,000 evacuees, according to DSWD report as of August 15) of the Marawi Crisis. The Church and Mosque sit side by side with just a wall of the Peace Compound separating them.

In this compound of my mom’s native place, I was honored to be invited. In a Balo-i forum with Franciscans (Thursday), I earlier shared a lunch with nuns and priests. What a wonder to get a Meranao meal with papar/spiced up chicken  from a Christian community, my first peppered meal from this siege. I got to share a moment who lend themselves to communities giving up on many amenities of life. And they were brought together in this martial law moment to hear ground stories .

At this forum, I heard such great kindness and pouring of dedication from a doctor, Christian and lay leaders on efforts for children and victims of the Marawi Crisis.

Iligan Vice Mayor Reverend Jeemar Vera Cruz shared effort about Marawi’s plight complete with Powerpoint and photos. He even paused from emotion as he described evacuation, truly difficult to be adjusting from the cool environ of Marawi to the industrial heat of Iligan. We thank neighbor Iligan City for opening their arms to the biggest number of evacuees all over Lanao and Marawi. Robinsons management was very happy with the massive turn-out of visitors in its opening weeks ago, Vera Cruz noted.

Our Christian leaders say it kindly, let us care for the home-based and those in the evacuation center.

We remind, we have to affirm localized solutions after 80 days of armed operations, 3 billion pesos in security expenses. We have to learn lessons from the Abu Sayyaf travails in Sulu and Basilan of the 1990s. Peacekeeping in Marawi for the past decade needed more cops to secure the capital of Mindanao education, Marawi. Sixty cops for 200,000 people or one cop for 4,000 seems to be such a travesty.

How can the world help the evacuee? We urged sharing narratives of those who otherwise cannot be interviewed . The fear of martial law prevents many from speaking up. Our concern is food not being exposed.

Speak for the voiceless, said Switzerland-based Boody of Indonesia, Franciscan International in front of the convent representatives from Basilan, Davao and Zamboanga. (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 and was former director, Al-Amanah Islamic Bank, Inc. and former director of the Marawi Resort Hotel, Inc.)