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My Cup of Tea: I Am Marawi

Even before I get to know and befriend a Maranao and being mistaken as one, I know that Marawi City had a vital part in my existence. It was in this lovely place that my mother, after years of marriage to my father, finally conceived me.

Naturally, I was fascinated of Marawi City even as a child for the reason stated above. I have always wanted to visit the place where Allah SWT granted me as a gift to my parents. And I did when I went to Iligan City, which is an hour ride from Marawi City, for college. 

I can still remember my first visit there.

I love cold weather. I don’t know if Marawi City contributed to my weird fascination of this climate, but it is a fact that I have known ever since an infant. My mother told me before we stepped out of our apartment that I will know when we are in Lanao del Sur already when it becomes colder. So, in the jeepney, I was eagerly waiting for the change in temperature.

Indeed, the weather became colder. And I was enjoying the whole experience. During our visit, we were able to roam around Mindanao State University – Main Campus, Padian, and other places we didn’t know the name. Thanks to my high school friends who attended MSU. 

I went to Marawi City a couple of times after that, but the first experience was still stuck in my head and in my heart. It felt like I lived there. It somehow felt like home. Indeed, it is one of my most treasured memories.

Fast forward to 23rd of May, 2017, the news broke out…


I was in deep thought when I saw the news from the hotel room in Malate, where I was staying last week. I had just arrived from an exhausting seminar-workshop in PICC. Then, I had to swallow this news. But, I managed to sleep.

A few hours later, I woke up and checked Facebook. To my horror, I learned that the President declared Martial Law in the entire Mindanao. I was shocked. I was alone in the room. All I could think was that this is serious. This had to be, or else it would not be this way.

There and then, everything came to me like a strike of a lightning - the fond memories of Marawi City, coupled with the horror of my experience of Zamboanga Siege.

If you’ve not known, my mother was in Zamboanga City during the 21-day siege last September 2013. She was already very sick that time. It was the most difficult time for us because I was reviewing for the board exams in October.

It was almost like I can see how families of those in Marawi City will react. My heart broke a thousand times again.

I have friends in Marawi.  I have Maranao friends whose relatives are living in the city. Some were trapped in the battle. Some made it to Iligan City. Some preferred to stay. 

I prayed hard for everyone because I believe that they are like my own siblings, even if I don't literally have one, like how I did for my mother’s and relatives’ safety back in Zamboanga Siege. And when I couldn’t find words for my prayer, I surrendered my heart to the Almighty for He understands it better than I do.

I won’t elaborate how I extended a little help to my siblings in Islam and Muslim Mindanao. But I know you can do better than I did. There are countless ways to help. If you can, please head over to Hijabi Mag to read my article on things you can do to help Marawi evacuees in Mindanao.

Let’s pray that this clash will be over. And although Marawi City right now is not the Marawi we once knew, we can always stand again and rebuild.

To a better and more peaceful Mindanao!


  1. I have no words, just tears.

  2. Thanks Kai for writing this. I dont have many memories with Marawi. I visited it a few times only. It’s my hometown that I’ve never lived at yet. But, I always have this feeling that it’s my home that constantly waits for my return. It’s heartbreaking seeing our fellow Moros suffer this way and in this month of Ramadan. Allah has reason for all these. It is both a test and a lesson to all of us.



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