MARAWI CITY | Meeting the Islamic City

The Capitol Mosque is a  stand out. Even with grey skies on it’s background, it stands massively at the corner — in GOLD. The dome is plain and not elaborately decorated than the other mosque we saw, but it is breath-taking. The larger center dome houses the large prayer hall inside this architecture for worship. This was the quiet reminder that I was in Marawi City, and not at my hometown which was just 45 minutes away.

Visiting Marawi City was a first for me. And I was adamant about the trip hearing some negative publicity about this Islamic City, but I was to find it out and about it as I go  around this charming Summer Capital of the South —  for myself.  Marawi City is the provincial capital of Lanao Del Sur. It was once called Dansalan, the provincial capital of the undivided Lanao, when Lanao Del Norte and Lanao Del Sur was still one province from 1907 to 1940.

Predominantly Muslim in population, 99% of the population in Marawi City are Muslims and uses Maranao dialect as the medium for speaking. However, inhabitants can speak Tagalog, Cebuano, and English.
I gave my brother little details to where I was off at Marawi City. Mainly, because I went to the streets when what he really said was just go around the MSU-Marawi campus. There, I spilled the beans. *wide grins* Marawi City and it’s people are just the usual city and people you see and meet in your travels. New, different, and I could tell how deeply embedded their culture are to these people.
 We passed by the C&D Centerpoint. The cool blue facade mall, they said, is packed with cools stuff but we had other things in mind.
So we went to the local market at the downtown Marawi, the Padian. It is a long strip of  pathways beneath an old building. They have colorful Malongs, veils, clothes, shoes, textiles, and dry goods. In as much as I would have love to take some long shots of the place, all that we could do was take photos of what is displayed. But shopping here is a very interesting activity and haggling, a must, can get you great deals for an already cheaply priced goods.

Our first stop was the Ma’ahad Marawi Mosque. We had to ask permission to take a shot. We were told that the reason why people sometimes get offended is that, it is not usual for them to have a strangers going around taking pictures. Understood. So, it was best that we ask before we shutterbug around town. I fully respect that, so most shots were that of facades and architectural structure — the best paparazzi way that I could do.
And then we passed by the Islamic Center Mosque. The dome is like a crown on top of a cushion. And it is a work of art sitting at street corner. Located strategically at the center of the city, people get to go there for prayer from workplace, or when running errands. Taking the pedicab, we were on our way to check out of what remains of the Carmelite Church where the late Pres. Corazon Aquino supposedly stayed during one of her visits at Marawi. But the pedicab driver took us at a secluded area to a Christian Church that he thought was the one we were referring to. That short trip was long for me. And I prettily got scared easily, I still could not shake off the nagging fear, I guess.
So we cancelled the Carmelite Church trip for another time since it was  late and we had one last stop before heading back home. With only less than an hour to spare, we headed off to the New Capitol Central Park.
The dark grey sky threatened an early setting of darkness. I felt really safe at the Lanao Del Sur Provincial Capital, partly because it is guarded and fenced, and mainly because they welcome tourists and travellers up and about for good shots.


TRAVEL NOTES:

* Dress appropriately. Maranao, it is within their culture that follows a decent dress code. Not everyone is open to changes and the evolution of form-fitting and skin-baring clothes. It is best you keep covered to blend in.
* Do not wander off when darkness sets in.
* Bring your cameras but also understand that they might not welcome shutterbug as easily, always ask permission and discretion on your photos.
* It would be nice if you get to tour around with a local who knows the place all too well.
* Be open. To everything. And to all impossible.