Aspiring Marawi mayor to preserve Maranaw history, cultures PDF Print E-mail
Saturday, 02 April 2016 13:40

The former mayor of Marawi City now aspiring for the same post is convinced the preservation of local cultures and arts are essential in keeping the area’s stature as bastion of resilient people.

The city, capital of Lanao del Sur, was founded as “Dansalan” in 1639 by invading Spaniards led by Francisco Atienza, who repeatedly tried, but failed to establish large encampments in the area due to strong resistance from local Maranaw folks.

Mayoral wannabe Solitario Ali, who had served Marawi City as mayor from 2001 to 2007, posted on his Facebook that peace, discipline and order, strong socio-economic linkages and networks and new livelihood opportunities will improve the city’s geographical distinction as an eco-tourism and investment hub.

It was in Marawi City when some 30 sultans signed in 1935 the Dansalan Declaration, urging then President Franklin Delano Roosevelt of the United States of America to grant separate independence to Filipinos and what was known at that time as Mindanao’s “Moro Province,” comprising Muslim communities in the country’s south.

The declaration was to become the epitome of the decades-old Moro quest for self-governance, more than 60 years before the contemporary right-to-self determination by indigenous nations doctrine became an international norm.

Supporters said Ali is promising good governance, highlighting how he had served Marawi City folks for two terms and how he had implemented various socio-economic and infrastructure projects and settled family feuds involving Maranaw clans via traditional interventions.

Ali’s younger brother, now outgoing Marawi City Mayor Fahad “Pre” Salic, whose third and last term as the city’s chief executive will end on June 30, 2016, is aspiring for the gubernatorial post of Lanao del Sur.

Ali’s bid for the mayoral post of Marawi city is being contested by the less known Majul Gandamra, a former member of the Regional Legislative Assembly in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.

Ali had also stated on his Facebook he will focus on preserving Maranaw arts and traditions, those meant to promote hospitality of local folks to outsiders and enhance community order and fraternalism among Muslims, Christian and Lumad groups.

Jehanne Mutin, chairperson of ARMM’s Regional Commission on Bangsamoro Women, said she witnessed how Ali implemented programs intended to empower Maranaw women when he was still city mayor.

Mutin was a member of the Marawi City council when Ali was at the helm of the city’s local government unit.

Mutin said the Maranaw family culture is, in fact, even more matriarchal since it is their women, particularly mothers, that gives final blessing on clan decisions like marital arrangements, on commerce and trade, in selecting family leaders and candidates for various elective posts during electoral exercises.

“That is contrary to the undue perception by people in other parts of the country that Muslim women are second class citizens in patriarchal Moro communities,” Mutin said.

Mutin said Marawi City is not just historically important, but is also essential in sustaining Mindanao’s economy as well.

“Marawi City is the capital of Lanao del Sur, where the majestic Lake Lanao is. The downstream flow of the lake to nearby Lanao del Norte areas propel hydroelectric plants supplying electricity to large parts of Mindanao,” she said.

The state-run hydropower plants driven by rampaging waters that drain downstream from Lake Lanao, at one side of Marawi City, to Iligan City and Lanao del Norte supply about three-fourths of Mindanao’s daily power needs.

“We need a strong leader in Marawi City, one who can address domestic peace and security and socio-economic issues besetting the city,” Mutin said.

John Felix M. Unson

Staff Writer for Central Mindanao and ARMM