DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 20 May) — “Given all the means, the Meranaws can rebuild Marawi by themselves,” Archbishop Emeritus Fernando Capalla said as he advised those at the forefront of rehabilitation efforts in the country’s lone Islamic city to understand that for the Meranaws, “culture and religion are very important.”
Capalla, Bishop-administrator of Marawi from 1987 to 1991 and co-chair of the Bishops-Ulama Conference since 1996 said he learned over the years of interfaith dialogue that “one lesson which could be advised to all of us non-Muslims trying to help the Muslims: And this advice is that to the Meranaws, culture and religion are very, very important.”
The retired archbishop on Saturday told a forum on “Revisiting Marawi from the lens of Interfaith Dialogue and Multiculturalism” that it is important to study the Meranaw culture and how the Meranaws live Islam “because culture gives expression to … Islamic faith and Islamic faith is the soul of Meranaw culture.”
Capalla cited the Meranaws’ “maratabat” which has no direct translation although many refer to it as “pride and honor.”
Dr. Nainobai Disomangcop of the Mindanao State University, had earlier written that maratabat is associated with shame, honor and dignity, rank, self-esteem or ‘amor propio,” reputation and ‘face.’
“But maratabatat is more than any of these,” she said. Disomangcop noted there is no single word or phrase that can clearly define maratabat “for the Maranaos have surrounded it with many socio-psychological concepts of their own.”
“I believe that given all the means, the Meranaws can rebuild Marawi by themselves. Given opportunities, Meranaws can rebuild Marawi,” said Capalla, who was Archbishop of Davao from 1996 until 2012.
Capalla was reacting to the what retired Prof. Dalomabi Lao Bula, a resident displaced from Marawi’s Ground Zero, said that “the most important rehabilitation is that of our identity as Meranaws.”
“We lost our identity in one year’s time, and we pray to Allah to give it back through the help of His other creation, like you, and all the others, most especially the religious groups,” Bula said. (READ: Meranaw Prof on revisiting Marawi Siege: “We lost our identity in a year’s time”)
Capalla was the Bishop who assigned Fr. Teresito “Chito” Soganub to Marawi City for interfaith dialogue. Soganub, who was held hostage on Day 1 of the Siege, stayed in Marawi City for 23 years until his escape from the ISIS-Maute group on September 16.
Capalla was installed as Bishop of Iligan in May 1977 and was concurrent administrator of the Prelature of Marawi from 1987 to 1991, named co-adjutor Archbishop of Davao in June 1994 and installed as third Archbishop of Davao on November 28, 1996.
He also served as chair of the Episcopal Commission on Interreligious Dialogue from 1990 to 2002; and President of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines from 2003 to 2005. (Carolyn O. Arguillas / MindaNews)