Young Meranaws stage “paint for peace to rebuild Marawi” exhibit in Davao City  

DAVAO CITY  (MindaNews / 22 April) — Fifty young Meranaw artists from war-ravaged Marawi City will stage a five-day “Paint For Peace to Rebuild Marawi” art exhibit to express their hopes and aspirations for the recovery, reconstruction and rehabilitation of their city.

The exhibit, open from April 24 to April 27 at the Art Portal Gallery for Contemporary Art in Paseo de Legaspi along Legaspi St. aims to support the advocacy for durable solutions in rebuilding the country’s lone Islamic City.

A briefer released by the VSO Philippines said artworks of the Meranaws (age range 14 to 24),  were the result of the workshop conducted by volunteer teaching artists Alfred Galvez, Erwin Teves Pascual, Tomas Leonor, Ymmazul Yamomo and Ping Salvador from Manila and Davao who taught them the basic of drawing and painting.

The exhibit seeks to increase the awareness of the people on the conditions of the displaced Meranaws; promote the value of comprehensive solutions, and the need for developing policies and programs to effectively address the needs of the internally displaced individuals; and engage and mobilize other stakeholders within the country, including non-traditional stakeholders such as artists and socio-civic groups.

It said each artwork will be sold during the five-day exhibit for P2,500 and all proceeds will go to the children, so that “they can see that art is also a viable source of livelihood.”

The Islamic State-inspired Maute Group laid siege on Marawi on May 23, 2017 following a foiled attempt by authoriteis to arrest Abu Sayyaf leader Isnilon Hapilon in an apartment in Marawi City.  President Rodrigo Duterte deployedt troops to Marawi and declared martial law, extending it twice last year to last until December 31, 2018.

The Marawi siege displaced nearly 400,000 residents. Although the city had been declared liberated from the the influence of the terrorist group, the center of Islamic heritage, remains half-empty, while thousands of displaced Moro families remain in evacuation centers or with their relatives and friends with very minimal support.

“Although the military has allowed some of the residents to return, the bigger portion of Marawi – a sprawling field of debris, unexploded ordnance and booby traps – is still no man’s land,” it said.

Young Meranaw paints for peace to rebuild Marawi. FIfty Meranaws agaed 14 to 24 will exhibit their art pieces on April 24 to 27 in Davao City. Photo courtesy of VSO Philippines

VSO Philippines is working with the Maranao Development Center (MARADECA), a local NGO based in Marawi City implementing a peace building and governance program that promotes good governance advocacy and supports the rights of the Bangsamoro for self-determination.

It added that two young IDP artists will share their situation in Marawi during the formal opening on April 24.

“It is also not ertain how long the rebuilding process will take.  There are fears that the rehabilitation plans will further displace the residents. Not many Moros hold titles to their land, but their ancestral claim to the land is based on the burial grounds of their ancestors,” the briefer added. (Antonio L. Colina IV / MindaNews)