ILIGAN CITY (MindaNews / 27 May) – The OIC Director of the University Library of the Mindanao State University in Marawi City and former hostage Fr. Chito Soganub graced the opening Monday of the photo exhibit, “Marawi Before The Siege” at the Robinsons Place Iligan.
“Thank you for helping us remember what we have lost,” said Elin Anisha Guro, Chancellor I, Research and Extension and OIC Director of the University Library
Guro appreciated the efforts of MindaNews editor Bobby Timonera, a non-Meranao, for his pictures depicting life in Marawi before its downtown area was destroyed after the five-month siege in 2017.
“There may be people trying to put a wedge between Muslims and Christians,” she said. “But with people like you and efforts like this, we can continue to live together in harmony,” she added.
Timonera mounted 31 pictures of Marawi and its Meranao residents taken in the first decade of the millennium. The pictures include its more famous mosques still in pristine condition, children enjoying Lake Lanao and attending school, Meranaos celebrating in the streets and everyday Marawi scenes.
The exhibit runs until May 31 at Level 3 of Robinsons Place Iligan, at the entrance to the Food Gallery.
Soganub, Vicar General of the Prelature of Marawi and chaplain of the Mindanao State University’s main campus in Marawi City, was among a hundred civilians hostaged by the IS-linked Maute Group and its allies in 2017. He was held from May 23, 2017 until mid-September of the same year.
Soganub said it hurts looking at the photographs as these are “my sceneries everyday in the last 23 years of my life before May 23, 2017.”
Soganub echoed what Guro said about living in harmony, having actively participated in inter-religious dialogues for at least two decades.
“No mater what happens, we are still brothers and sisters,” he said.
Soganub later shared with other viewers his experiences as a hostage as he went around looking at the pictures. “Diri, diri Diri mi hapit ma execute” (Here, here. Here was where we thought we would be executed,” Soganub said while looking at the photographs of children playing Kasipa sa Manggis, a traditional Meranao sport, at Plaza Cabili in Banggolo.
Guro and her colleagues at MSU came wearing colorful landap malong and the headwear, hijab.
Arrangements are being made for the same exhibit to be mounted in the University Library this year. (MindaNews)