Revisiting the old Marawi and the lake

Masiding Noor Yahya

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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