Of Covid-19 and revisiting the old Marawi

By Masiding Noor Yahya

The Pandemic is real but the trial and errors approach, the mistakes, the lies and inconsistent pronouncements of government agencies and allied NGOs mostly based on cascades from the World Health Organization (WHO) instill phobia or paranoia among many Filipinos that whatever information or advisory as far as the Coronavirus disease 2019 they hear, read or see as coming from authorities are unreliable. It is the feeling, of course.

The only thing is special laws on this pandemic are more fearful than the Anti-Terror Law.

In the past few weeks, officials in the Bangsamoro region themselves announced in social media platforms as having infected by the dreaded virus. The region’s health minister Saffrullah Dipatuan and his wife publicly announced that they were found positive of Covid-19.

The Lanao del Sur provincial governor did the same announcement. Then other government officials including municipal government chief executives announced too of their infection. Many however doubt the veracity of such infections.

The way of announcing it appeared done systematically in same format which reveals certain sense of somewhat a pride but only done in dissimulation. And observers both netizens and not alike began to ask, “What is the purpose of such pubic revelation?”

The development creates more persons to shy away from believing on what are being announced.

Revisiting the old Marawi and Lanao

Marawi is my hometown. I have grown up in the city since childhood. Although at times I was brought by my grandparents for business ventures to such cities as Butuan, I always came back to Lanao.

I spent years in enjoying taking bath in the fresh water lake, which at that time was the sweetest drinking water I ever knew. Throw a needle to the lake and you can clearly see it below of even six to ten feet deep.

During those days, every morning, I took with me a couple of water containers and paddled my awang (banca) a little far from the shore to be sure that water to fill my galloons was clean enough to drink, or for my mother to use for cooking, or washing dish or clothes and other chores which needed water.

Even our neighbors got their drinking water from the lake shore of our barangay in Raya Madaya.

Top water was a luxury, but who cared? Ranao gave us everything and that was why we were so proud to be called Meranaos because we are the people of Ranao — or Lake — our lake, the best, and incomparable, that only us had the right to enjoy what it used to give us: when there was no Napocor, nor Transco, nor power plants, nor institutional loggers yet; when there was no alien or migrant interference which killed our tropical fishes and replaced them with such undesired Katulong, Katipa, or even Tilapiya.

We were proud we owned the Ranao, our lake.

Now, many of us, especially the young ones, feel somehow uncomfortable when they are called Meranaos. Ironical, isn’t it?

Perhaps, they feel embarrassed of the degraded lake now which is sometimes sarcastically called biggest toilet on earth (I beg your pardon for the blatant term) because the people no longer care for their environment and make the lake a big garbage bin and toilet. What a sigh!

I took my early college days at a downtown private school. College students would attend classes from 4 PM to 9 in the evening. Nobody was afraid of anybody. It was such a peaceful city that we enjoyed the serenity of the night and coolness of the day. There was a few land transports but we just loved walking our way home or visiting friends and relatives even in the middle of the night.

Family ties and friendship were two upheld and dignified tradition of the Meranaos. Of course, the two still exist in our midst but san the sincerity and honesty against the hypocrisies, pretenses and lies that engulf them today.

In those days, life was beautiful. There was no fear, no hunger.

It is true we did not have the amenities that people of today are enjoying. We did not have the luxury of sporting today’s latest cars, or eating in nice restos, or sleeping in mansions. Although rido was still there, it was not that worst as it is now.

What a beautiful life then. And if I had my way, I wish to relive the past. (MNY)

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