Bang, bang! Gunshots were fired into the open sky, or so I thought. I wondered if that shot was meant for anyone in particular or was it just because Ramadhan was fast approaching. Nevertheless, I continued on eating at the rooftop of my Lola’s house. Here in Marawi, you learn to live life with striking beliefs and you adapt to their culture. A gunshot could mean many things; it could either be that there is a rido family feud or a festive celebration of some kind. When I first encountered such peculiar tradition, I panicked, shouted, cried and hid behind closed doors and cemented walls. I was afraid of flying bullets.Order now
But to my dismay, everyone around me just rejoiced and laughed. Ramadhan was a few hours away, and many show their extreme excitement through the triggering of such firearms. I learned to live with it eventually, until now that is. Weird yet strikingly true. As a student of Mindanao State University MSU, I have intellectually accepted their way of life and way of thinking. Being raised in different parts of the Arabian world, I was not used to witnessing such scenarios. I am proudly a Maranao myself, but these beliefs I was never aware of until now. One time, a man was killed two houses from ours.
He laid there like an abandoned dead cat. Only after a few hours did people gathered around him, created a commotion and then left. Even the police did not come to investigate. They were afraid of interfering for fear of being involved themselves in the rido that caused the man’s death. Believe it or not, just admiring a lady for having a sexy body would summon their guns to fire at you. Here, their pride comes first, and not some legal laws or officials could instruct them which is right and wrong. But do not get me wrong. Despite this, the other good traits and traditions of Maranaos I am certainly proud of.
We are unique in our own way. This only means we have laid a strong foundation for our future generation — the Maranaos cannot easily be stepped unto. Besides, the guns are only fired when we feel like we are not respected and are oppressed or harassed. And the end result: a unified city with people looking after one another, and sharing the blessings of Allah. As the Prophet Mohammad SAW said: “All men are equal before the eyes of Allah. No rich, no poor. ” This we show in our community. Even the poor ones have the right to be heard. What is superb is the love we show for our Muslim brothers and sisters.
We offer help to those who needs it, even those who are not of our blood, exchanging of “ulam” during meal times this I encounter everyday in my Lola’s house, and the assurance that a fellow Maranao will let you borrow money even if you have just been acquainted for a few weeks. In Marawi, you will never be lost. The house of others is open for everyone to stay, and everyone knows everyone. Even the blind beggar on the side of the mosque, his life history everyone is aware of. The fenced mansion on the corner, closed yet their life is an open book. The lady on the bakery is sick again, so everyone pays a visit and prays for her health.
The girl with the red car is getting married, her house flocked with well-wishers and advises to offer for the next big leap she is about to make. A kandori party is being held and visitors come in to watch the kulintangan, and mouthful bites of the exquisite cuisines such as dodol, kuning, manok a lalawagan, etc. I know others speak of my hometown as hazardous and unsafe, but I’ve never walked in a place alone in the streets before without any fear attached. In other countries I’ve been to, I could not do such thing. Maybe because I am from Marawi, I belong here so I feel free and unharmed all the time.
From waking up in the morning till hitting the bed at night, I am assured by my instincts that my day will be okay and no harm will strike upon me. Elders occasionally give us advices, especially the experts of our religion imams. Everywhere you go, you’ll feel like they are looking after you. You’ll feel like you are loved. In my hometown, you’ll seldom hear fights nor hatred being expressed, wild teenagers at night nor loud parties. In short, my place is quiet, so quiet that when the clock strikes 6pm, no one is out in the streets. Everyone is in their homes, enjoying a great bonding with their families.
Never could you hear youngsters running away nor families unstable. Even a man with 2 or more wives is still able to keep his family happy and intact. Seldom have I encountered an unstable family with dozens of problems to endure; instead, they’re always enthusiastic, blissful, and full of energy. I have proved these people are not rebels with firearms blatantly displayed, but rebels of God — to spread His words and to live according to His teachings; and rebels for others — to pull them off when they are dangling off a cliff, to look after them, and to guide them in the right path.
I writhe in pain when I hear Muslims being stamped with the word “terrorist” on it. I’ve known Muslims, Maranaos at least, my entire life and I strongly disagree with such. My people have no fault of having born to live a life as simple and conservative as they have been. Their beliefs and principles they want to inculcate in others’ minds — the peace, tranquility, and love for humankind Islam has to offer. Yes, we are rebels. Rebels we are proud to be.