by Jullie Y. Daza
NO bells and whistles, no frills and furbelows to greet the end of the battle for Marawi.
Soldiers and policemen, civilians and hostages, they shed blood, they sacrificed their lives. As casualties of war they may not have heard or seen or received our eternal gratitude, but wherever they are they share with us this worrisome truth: An ending has come but it is not the end. There’s a Marawi before and a Marawi after, but most important, a Marawi of the future.
Please, let us implore heaven, do not let what happened to Yolanda’s victims and survivors happen again with the reconstruction of Marawi. Do not cheapen Marawi and degrade its dignity, as pockmarked as it has been by bullets and bombs, with the viciousness of merchants out to make a fast buck. You vile and vicious creeps, look for other prey elsewhere, keep out of this sacred zone of peace, paid for by the deaths and sufferings of our countrymen, whatever their creed, whatever their calling.
In this light, the urban planner-architect Jun Palafox makes the point that “the ruins of Marawi should be left as a memorial for the victims of terrorism, a remembrance of how a peaceful city was destroyed by terrorists.” As a pope once reminded the people of God, “War never again.” Never again should we witness the devastation wrought by five months of fighting – even the Commander in Chief did not foresee the terrorists’ endless supply of ammunition, nor did his intelligence funds scrape the tip of the iceberg in sniffing out a maze of tunnels – so, yes, symbols are important to keep certain largescale memories alive, the better to dramatize our loss while deepening our resolve to help Marawi rise from the ashes.
Before Mr. Palafox planned the city of Dubai for an emir who was a practising environmentalist, he had a master plan for a modern, efficient Metro Manila, ages before it became a megacity with a megaload of problems, and it is safe to assume that if only 30 percent of that plan had been followed 45 years ago, we would not now be wailing and bewailing the present state of things. A prophet is without honor in his own country, but that’s his fate and our punishment, that we were ruled by leaders who thought they could design a city by playing politics.
Jun’s wish is to see a “new Marawi built (to be) safer, more resilient, walkable, bikeable, environment-friendly with modern transport, underground utilities,” and nothing to stop it from becoming “an international Islamic interfaith city.” May the force be with us.