PHOTO ESSAY: The year that was in Marawi

The nation stood still afternoon of May 23, 2017 when social media was flooded with photographs and video clips of armed men clad in black, carrying black ISIS flags moving around vital areas in Marawi City. By early evening, some parts of Marawi were on fire and before the nation could fully understand what was happening in the country’s lone Islamic City, President Rodrigo Duterte, then in Moscow on a state visit, placed the entire Mindanao under martial law, shortly before midnight in the Philippines.

Government soldiers battled it out with ISIS-inspired Maute Group and its allies in what would be a five-month urban warfare never before seen in the country.

Residents left their homes and most of their belongings behind in their rush to leave the city. It would be over in three days, they thought. No one could imagine the fighting would take months and their villages would be reduced to rubble — homes, shops, mosques, schools destroyed by aerial strikes, mortars and grenades and high-powered guns.

The war forced some 350,000 residents of Marawi and neighboring towns into a diaspora, as they sought refuge in evacuation centers or in relatives’ houses in neighboring towns and cities, a number migrating to other parts of Mindanao, the Visayas and Luzon.

Although many relied on relief goods for their survival, the entrepreneurs among them continued to ply their trade even inside evacuation camps, hoping to stand on their own feet no matter what.

One year later, some transitional shelters have been constructed but rehabilitation work has yet to formally start in Ground Zero, the 250-hectare former main battle area between the warring forces (now referred to as MAA or Most Affected Area), comprising 24 of Marawi’s 96 barangays, and in the areas outside the MAA.

Meranaws are demanding that they be consulted in government’s plans to build a “new Marawi,” maintaining that rehabilitation is not just about infrastructure but also in ensuring “the totality of our being, our identity.”

“The most important rehabilitation is that of our identity as Meranaws,” says Dalomabi Lao Bula, a retired Literature professor at the Mindanao State University main campus.

Here’s a quick review of the year that was Marawi. (MindaNews)

Soldiers battle it out in the streets with ISIS-inspired rebels. 25 May 2017. Froilan Gallardo
Soldiers conduct patrol operation outside the Amai Pakpak Medical Center, which was among those occupied by the Maute Group. 26 May 2018. Ferdinandh Cabrera
Soldiers show an ISIS flag recovered after a battle in Barangay Bangon. 26 May 2017. Ferdinandh Cabrera
Mother and child flee the fighting. 25 May 2017. Froilan Gallardo
Residents run for their lives as ISIS-inspired armed men attack Marawi. 25 May 2017. Froilan Gallardo
Residents flee Marawi CIty. 27 May 2017. Froilan Gallardo
Fleeing students from MSU-Marawi get shelter, food and water at MSU-IIT in Iligan. 27 May 2018. Bobby Timonera
An Army sniper searches for a target. 1 July 2017. Froilan Gallardo
Soldiers take a break at a mall in neighboring Iligan City. 8 October 2017. Manman Dejeto
A soldier plays with a cat as her colleagues prepare for deployment at the Main Battle Area. 17 July 2017. Ferdinandh Cabrera
An Air Force OV-10 drops a bomb in downtown Marawi. 24 June 2017. Froilan Gallardo
The aerial bomb hits its target. 17 September 2017. Ferdinandh Cabrera
Marawi up in smoke. 21 September 2017. Ferdinandh Cabrera
Medals for the wounded soldiers during cermonies at Camp Evangelista in Cagayan de Oro City. 3 August 2017. Froilan Gallardo
An amputated soldier recuprating at Camp Evangelista. 27 June 2017. Manman Dejeto
Mass burial site in Marawi. 5 October 2017. Froilan Gallardo
Unidentified fatalities from Marawi get burial in unmarked graves in Iligan City. 15 June 2017. Bobby Timonera
Militants gather in Iligan City demanding to lift martial law. 27 July 2017. H. Marcos C. Mordeno
Evacuees endure the crowded space in Sta. Elena, Iligan City. 19 May 2017. Manman Dejeto
Fatimah Lumabao cries over her four missing children. 12 July 2017. H. Marcos C. Mordeno
Meranaw evacuees get medical help from doctors in neighboring Iligan City. 8 June 2017. Bobby Timonera
Evacuees mark Eid’l Fitr at an evacuation center in Saguiaran, Lanao del Sur. 25 June 2017. H. Marcos C. Mordeno
A child enjoys a treat during Eid’l Fitr celebration at a mosque at the provincial capitol compound. 25 June 2017. Manman Dejeto
Children get orientation on the dangers of unexploded ordnance, or UXO. 25 July 2017. Ferdinandh Cabrera
A child calls for a stop to the war. 6 June 2017. Ferdinandh Cabrera
Samsudin Calauto, who sells Meranaw crafts at his shop near MSU, says his income decreased after the siege erupted. 10 August 2017. H. Marcos C. Mordeno
Students of Mindanao State University in Marawi take time to enroll on August 11, 2017, H. Marcos C, Mordeno
Children play kites inside the Tent City in Pantar, Lanao del Norte. 20 September 2017. Manman Dejeto
Residents in one of the tent cities that serve as temporary shelter for Marawi residents were encouraged to plant vegetables for their survival. 26 October 2017. Ferdinandh Cabrera
Boys selling snack items at the temporary shelter area in Barangay Sagonsongan. 27 March 2018. Bobby Timonera
Meranaws are known for their strong entrepreneurial spirit, as shown by Norania Bangon attending to her “store” inside the evacuation camp in Buru-un, Iligan City. 24 June 2017. Manman Dejeto
The military announces the killing of Isnilon Hapilon and Omar Maute, marking the end of the 5-month siege. 16 October 2018. Froilan Gallardo
Victorious Marines celebrate as they leave Marawi City. 20 October 2017. Manman Dejeto
President Rodirgo Duterte arrives at Banggolo after liberation of Marawi. 17 October 2017. Manman Dejeto
Haji Nurian Cabugatan, 51, weeps after finding that her house has been looted of belongings, cash and jewelries. 26 October 2017. Froilan Gallardo
Residents check what is left of their building after the five-month war. 8 May 2018. Manman Dejeto
A religious Meranaw at a damaged mosque in downtown Marawi. H. Marcos C. Mordeno
Meranaws visit what is left of their homes during ‘Kambisita.’ 9 May 2018. H. Marcos C. Mordeno
“I Love Marawi” site peppered with bullets. 8 May 2018. Bobby Timonera