The entrepreneur Maranao ‘bakwit’

Norania Bangon attends her small sari-sari store inside the evacuation camp. MindaNews photo by MANMAN DEJETO

ILIGAN CITY (MindaNews/ 24 June) – Even during these hard times, it is difficult to dampen the Maranao entrepreneurial spirit.

Take the case of Norania Cadalay-Bangon, a resident of Barangay Tuca Marinaut in Marawi City who left for Iligan in a hurry after the Maute attack last May 23.

She, along with her family, has since sought refuge at an evacuation center inside the Iligan City National School of Fisheries in Barangay Buru-un.

Norania, a 40-year-old housewife with eight kids, soon felt the pressure of supporting her family.

But then something happened last Tuesday, June 20 – President Rodrigo Duterte visited the evacuation camp. At the end of his speech, he held a thick wad of thousand-peso bills, saying he would give it to the evacuees so they could party.

Apparently, instead of holding a party, someone distributed the money.

Noranaia and her sister, who stays a few bunks away from her, got P1,000 each.

It wasn’t clear if they got the money from the President or from the Department of Social Welfare and Development because Secretary Judy Taguiwalo, during a press briefing in Malacañang two days later, also announced they have given P1,000 to all the families that evacuated as assistance during the time of Ramadhan.

Norania and her sister pooled in their money and bought goods in nearby Linamon municipality, just across the river, and sell these for retail to their fellow evacuees.

The sisters now have a small sari-sari store inside the evacuation camp selling basic food items like salt, sugar, eggs, cooking oil and spices to fellow evacuees. They also have dried fish and the favorite Maranao condiment, the palapa.

Their store may not answer all their needs, but at least it now helps them make both ends meet. (Manman Dejeto / MindaNews)