Reconstructing Marawi’s ‘economic heart’
“Project Padian: Remembering Marawi” is a creative venture launched early this month to provide an online platform for sharing narratives about the focal role that the “padian,” or market, plays among the Maranaw of Marawi and Lanao provinces. As the blurb on its social media page says, the project is a way to “remember Marawi by reconstructing its economic heart — the old Padian marketplace — and the people who worked, transacted and lived in this space. What food did you eat? What goods did you buy and sell?”
Markets are embedded in any society, and play a central and integral role in bringing people together, from varied social locations and economic backgrounds, in face to face interactions, all aimed toward a satisfying exchange of goods or services.
In the marketplace, everyone is either a buyer or a seller: social demarcation lines of class or affluence are not barriers to a regular buying and selling transaction. Years of repeated interactions between the two parties (buyers and sellers) become the bases for long and deep friendships, where each party refers to each other as “suki.”
But more than just the setting for innumerable economic exchanges, the marketplace is also where many merchant families raise their children. This makes the market an even more significant place in any community — it becomes a laboratory for socializing the young in any society to the intricacies of surviving the harsh realities of life.
These characteristics of the market and even more were true to the padian of Marawi. Now, after more than two years since it was carpet-bombed along with other social infrastructure and houses of the Maranaw, the padian is now a flattened ghost town, a grim reminder of the horrors of war.
The padian used to be one of my favorite places to visit in Marawi, aside from the beautiful campus of the Mindanao State University (MSU Marawi) that is overlooking another breathtaking sight, Lake Lanao. I can still recall how colorful the stalls in the padian were.
I used to love going there to haggle with my suki who sold lovely hijab (headscarves), usually from Indonesia; and intricately handwoven Maranaw malong or sarong.
When I visited Marawi last year, and saw the ruins of the padian and the rest of the “most affected areas,” I could not help but cry. I could not imagine how people caused death and destruction to their fellow human beings, if they were even in their sane and reasonable state. War indeed can turn humans into beasts.
A market is the lifeblood of any society: for the Maranaw, the padian is their economic heart. When you destroy it, you also kill the people who draw strength from it as their main source of livelihood.
Organizers of Project Padian hope to bring back to life the once bustling Marawi marketplace, to remember it and start reconstructing it to what it used to be.
A small group of volunteers—artists, filmmakers, academicians and development workers—want to raise consciousness and funds to translate this vision of reconstructing Marawi’s padian.
One of the videos shown on the Project Padian social media page is the narrative of MSU Marawi history professor Tirmizy Abdullah, whose mother single-handedly raised him there. She was a single mother and owner of a stall in the padian.
Ironically, Task Force Bangon Marawi (TFBM) is nowhere near fulfilling its promise of reconstructing Marawi. Unlike Project Padian that was launched without funding support, TFBM has billions of pesos at its disposal. What does this say of the government that ordered the destruction of Marawi’s “economic heart”?
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