(Continued from yesterday)
Marawi City—Mayor Majul Gandamra has been working on temporary housing in his battle-scarred city. These 22 sqm-concrete shelters offer a bathroom, an extension for the kitchen and dining area, water and electricity. Six people can live comfortably in this space.
Tricycle driver Masiding Bani, his wife, and four children were elated to move into the house in Sagonsongan. During the war, his family stayed at a relative’s house in Iligan City for two months, then transferred to an evacuation center near Sagongsongan.
They lived in humid and crowded tents and made a beeline to use the portable toilets. Bani said they are content with their new home.
Omangan Benito, a community leader in Area 3 of Sagongsongan, recalled that during the siege, his family sought refuge at an unfinished building beside the City Hall. Since last year, the Benitos have been living in one of the shelters that were built by the National Housing Authority with aid from South Korea.
“We are happy to have a roof over our heads,” he said in Tagalog.
Trader Alnasser Busara and his family lived with relatives in a town in Lanao del Norte, then eventually rented a space in Iligan City. When they returned to Marawi to reside in Sagongsongan, Busara said he felt their lives had stabilized.
Bani, Benito and Busara expressed their gratitude to Gandamra, who had constantly reassured his constituents that the situation would slowly improve.
“He didn’t let us down. When the houses were built, he urged us to return to Marawi,” said Busara in Tagalog. “He made sure that we received relief goods regularly.”
Some locals, aside from Gandamra, are still residing outside of Marawi.
This writer’s nephew, Haroun Mamainte, a government employee of Philhealth-ARMM (Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao), lived with his in-laws in Barangay Lilod Madaya, which was near the commercial center.
When the siege began, he and his family packed a few pieces of clothing and hied off to Iligan. Thinking that the battle would last only for a few days, they left their jewelry and other prized possessions. It turned out that snipers invaded his in-laws’ home.
Subsequently, the area was blasted by the government troops. His mother-in-laws’ other properties were damaged by the war, and her valuables were looted.
Meanwhile, Mamainte was transferred to Philhealth Iligan. Relatives comforted his family by providing canned goods and some financial assistance.
“My friends lost their loved ones during the friendly fire. Others were killed by the ISIL because they refused to join them. Some yielded to the ISIL to protect their lives,” he said.
Mamainte’s children have also transferred schooling to Iligan.
“My children are traumatized. Every time they see people in black, they immediately fear that the ISIL will attack,” he said.
This January, he will commute to the new PhilHealth ARMM office in Marawi City.
“I should be thankful that I have kept my job, and my family is together,” he said. “There is hope as life slowly returns to normal.”
Mayor Majul Gandamra is a first-termer mayor who has inherited the chaos, problems, messy management, bad governance, habits and culture of Marawi. Even so, he has a very good vision for the city.
“We know that we all want to return immediately. But, of course, let us also consider the safety of our people,” he said.
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