In a blink, Islamic City of Marawi is on the world stage of media mileage. Yes, not because of the cultural heritage or new wonders and spectacles being spotted but because of the war that under siege the city. Forty (40) days plus and still counting but hostilities and terror continues… and while the combats and fighting remain unrest, I could not go back to visit my old home. Now, critically rules by Martial Law.
But here are some few things I missed so badly about Marawi
The infamous Lake Lanao, lifeline of Meranaws speaks a lot. But in one word? “WOW!” Marawi is blessed with crystal-blue deep water. Because it is so abysmal, no human being has ever reach the trench of the lake. It remained a mystery. It is below unreachable, thus immeasurable that adds the intriguing secret of the Ranao. No such lake I’ve seen as still as Lanao yet it sometimes waves. Adding to its clandestine, many also believe that a sleeping volcano lies beneath the waters which anytime will erupt and explode. I may born and raised in Marawi but never in my whole life have had the opportunity to swim in the lake. Not that I’m afraid of but Ma’ and Pa’ told me not to do so (such obedient child I was, naks!) But rather touching it was the farthest thing I ever did. And yeah, the water is too cold to resist. This lake drains into the Agus River and flows northward unto Illana Bay. And so i’m no longer surprised that the swimming pool goers of Timoga, Iligan city enjoys the ice-cold waters.
Sleeping Lady Mountain
One of the loveliest sights. Spending chilly early morning or windy late afternoon while sitting under the tree at the glorious natural green carpet of MSU Golf course, be it sunrise or sunset spell, is ecstasy. I forever love the panoramic vista of Sleeping Lady. There’s no end to her beauty. It’s timeless. Sometimes, the white cotton candy-like clouds hugs the silence of her sleeps. Sometimes, a radiant clouds tiered the head of the Lady. Much more that ray of the sunlight beams her magnificent glorious crown. Royalty indeed, “Bae a Labi” on its very own kind. Guarded with vast bask of lush greens, likened to a Sultan that serves her kingdom as her mighty knight. One thing I miss so badly is watching the Lady on her sleep while sipping my favorite drinks and munching sweet corns vend through improvised cart that strolled by little boys and girls who passionately barking “Ka’Mais” (corn). Such majesty to witness while the ray of the sun magnifies over the waving waters of Ranao while the sparkling beds of gems or diamonds dazzles the eyes. A marvelous wonder, indeed. She is there always, waiting to be always seen her thousand mysteries (again). Oh, I miss you my dear Lady! When will I see you again? Hope you are not lonely…
The Carmelite Nun’s Monastery at the Top Hill
The monastery in the hill no longer exist. But in early 90’s, I still vividly remembered that after celebrating Easter Sunday mass, all children who participated were invited by the Carmelite nuns unto their convent set at the top hill overlooking the placid blue Ranao. Carmelite sisters loves children and they want us (children) to hunt Easter eggs painted in different colors hidden all over their field and gardens. It was cool and so fun… But knowing that I had the opportunity of going there even the years where the nuns and the convent are no more, it is so frustrating that I don’t have any single photo of them and its place… The Carmelite sisters had wonderful days and colorful life years spent in the hill yet had incredible ordeal which force them abandoned the place. The last time I set my foot on the place was in early 2000’s during someone whom I call Nanay and Tatay temporarily took care of the place. It took them some years in guarding the haven from trespassers but external burdens heavily pressured them to leave the house… They said nothing is left as looters took everything all to smallest things left by the nuns. I terribly miss the hilltop, really…
Two-purpose, i’ts either appetizer and or condiment mix in other recipes. It’s the smashing star factor on my taste buds. Made of scallions (sakurab), ginger and generous amount of chili that are mixed and pounded together using wooden mortar and pestle. Added also with salt and other flavoring such as MSG depending on their preference. People of Marawi loves to eat foods with hot chili, and so do I.
Although, it originates in Indonesia. This dish is palatably irresistible that exist in Marawi. It’s a braised beef in coconut milk slowly cook in a simmer heat until caramelized and turned dark brown. What sets apart of this dish from the Indonesian way is the spice called (sakurab). It is actually a type of scallion abundantly produced to the place. Beef rendang is best serve with hot rice.
It’s best prepared in grill. Then cook in a pure coconut milk added with sakurab (turmeric powder) and other spices. For me, the best Tilapia in the country can be found in Marawi. It varies in all different sizes. From small about the same size of your palm to big one measured akin to the half-body of a human adult. It’s thanks to the Lake Lanao that abundantly produced tons full of tilapias and different kinds of fishes. All are natural, no artificial being fed.
An infamous food serve in Marawi in every canteen or eatery. I don’t know where this originated from but the way it was prepared is a little bit of an old school yet “innovatively” thought for marketing purposes. It’s literally commercially economical to budget cost with a price ranging from 20 to 25 pesos only. It’s a dish in one-pack enveloped on a banana leaves comprising one cup of yellow cooked rice and meat (karne o manuk, LOL!), and a trifling amount of “palapa” as condiment added with flavored sauce.
My all-time favorite fruit whenever I’m in Marawi during abundant seasons. It is commonly called Madang among Meranaos. Madang is one of a kind sweet in flavor with favorable scent when ripe. Nutritiously considered a complete food and the taste is phenomenal. Depending on size, the price ranges from 10 to 40 pesos. So cheap and affordable. Its Marang season in Marawi these days… I miss you so badly…. Tsk tsk tsk…
My Old Home and the Old Times
Marawi for me will always be my home, a place like no other. It’s where the heart is. Always in my thoughts. All because it’s where everything began; life, childhood to adulthood. Made friends, few good friends, real friend… Challenges. Struggles. Adventures… – so colorful.
I so badly am missing the old times where you can soundly slept all day and night because of the chilly friendly weather…
‘miss those days having meals from your friends house loudly pigging out the left overs of bulad (dried fish), uyap and ginamos (shrimp and fingerling pastes: appetizers), inun-on (fish cooked in vinegar) paired with bahaw (left-over cooked rice).
‘miss those “sky is the limit” random chit-chats from daylight mornings to dusk ‘til dawn.
‘miss the old times when evening starts to unfold and everyone is lining up along the street crossing. Excitedly waiting who in the gang is going to start the long talks, funny and corny jokes. Of who’s going to be the laughing stock, the actor, the hero and the antagonist while some guitarist “wanna-be” pluck the sound of music under the moonlight that shines over LANCAF’s. Where all songs over the starry starry nights devotedly sang all in at beginning but stops at the chorus or refrain’s. And never until its end while all dogs from the neighborhood jointly howl and yowl (chuckles). All good for “introvoice!”
‘miss the old times where all talks begins in from more life serious and sensible to classic super powers and the story ends in an epic yellow submarines.
‘miss the old times of “manyanita’s” where friends serenade you songs early morning when birthday comes.
‘miss those days where each and everyone starts to share in building up their dreams for the future.
‘miss those epic time where you can asked your neighbors to give you some water when your supply is empty. You can even asked to take bath in their bathrooms for free.
‘miss those days whenever anyone wants some guava, banana, “manga”, santol, papaya, cacao, boongon, tanglad, sili, malunngay, sayote to udlot sa kamote. It’s their for free.
Whenever there is party, everyone in the neighborhood is invited.
I miss the community! Small but joyful! Those days… I just miss everything.
War, when will you end??!
Marawi, I miss you so badly-deeply…