Monday, March 31, 2008

Stranger in Marawi

A professor friend in MSU- Iligan Institute of Technology (IIT) which I got to visit in the campus, after learning that I am heading to Marawi, persuaded me not to continue the trip. He once taught in MSU-Marawi and had unpleasant experiences which he hesitated to divulge. He just hinted me on cultural differences and the danger of traveling in and out of the place. But instead of being discouraged, I never showed hesitation in my facial gestures and just flashed an eager interested smile. I continued the trip anyway, as planned.

I was warned when boarding a public vehicle (just the jeep, if in case you are thinking of a bus) men should not seat right next to women. But on the actual scene, it was nothing like a set-up  in any ordinary jeepney ride, men and women seated together with no especial or specific seats for separation (maybe those were the olden days).

I was never been so paranoid in my trip. I was also warned not to display cell phones and gadgets, too bad I missed to take pictures of the power plants, manmade lakes and other unfamiliar sites. I just held mum and instead of being annoyed at the loud noise  by the engine's high gear uphill drive, I was thankful that the noise made my thoughts occupied and kept off paranoia at bay.

As a benchmark, Lake Lanao, located at the heart of Marawi, is already 703 meters above sea level, so the city and MSU main campus (where I stayed) is more than this elevation. Geographically, it is a lake on top of a mountain. (It has only 112 meters as its deepest). It is Lake Lanao, which is believed to be more than 2 million years old, that I came here in the first place - The very lake that is the source of more than 50 % of Mindanao’s power source that include Davao City and my hometown Tagum City. Aside from the power harnessed from the Agus River by NAPOCOR, it is also the water source of Maria Christina falls, Tinago falls, among others.

On our way to MSU Marawi, I checked on the Philippines electoral dates, it ain’t election season. Plenty of streamers and billboards are displayed on fences, houses and trees; theses were not for politicians but to family members academic and community achievements, let say, passing the board exam or job promotion (those of very special positions). Marawi indeed has very proud inhabitants, the Maranao. Culturally it is a good communal trait. The whole clan as well as the community is celebrating one of their own’s triumphs. Well I should also have one myself (ma, pa I did pass the board exam right?).
Walking pass old MSU buildings made me feel nostalgic of my college days. It has resemblance of USM (see, the letters were just interchanged?) my alma mater, only with colder atmosphere and rolling terrain.

The Admin building facade with colorful designs borrowed from Maranao’s intricate torongan houses
King Faisal Mosque - towering in green

Lined trees providing shade to passengers by and studying students.


At the back of the Admin where small buildings stand is an old and forgotten students’ postal box office. It still bears the old Republic’s seal.
Golf course within the campus or campus within a golf course?
Lake Lanao and the sleeping lady which was partially covered with thick morning clouds.

The Aga Khan museum, home of a large collection of Moro indigenous arts and historical artifacts.

Inside MSU hostel where air conditioning is in full blast despite the already very cold weather.

Welcome! (This spot is a few meters from the entrance gate just across the golf course). I like to end my post with welcoming greeting, because I want you to also experience Marawi and its unique culture. Just be sure upon leaving Marawi, to log your name and address on the sheet passed around inside the jeep. Don’t ask me, I don’t know what that is for.

Next stop: Butuan City!

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