WATCH: Soldier composes song for conflict-torn Marawi
MANILA, Philippines – "Kapatid, gumising ka! 'Di ka ba naaawa sa bayan kong nagdurusa?" (Brother, open your eyes! Do you not see the suffering of our nation?)
These are lyrics from Sergeant Ronie Halasan's original composition, "Bangon Marawi" (Rise Marawi), a tribute to the conflict-torn city which was recorded right in the heart of the battle zone.
Through his song, Halasan attempted to paint the grim conditions of the ongoing crisis in Marawi City, based on his experiences fighting on the frontline. He also called on all Filipinos to collectively triumph over this adversity.
As of early Wednesday evening, July 12, the Facebook video showing Halasan performing the song has gotten more than 2,000 reactions and been shared over 3,000 times.
In "Bangon, Marawi," the soldier sings of the need to put an end to "maling pakikibaka" (the wrong way of fighting).
Marlon Magtira, who is from the Joint Task Force Marawi Digital Media Team and one of Halasan's comrades, described "maling pakikibaka" as the terrorists' attempt to occupy Marawi City and create chaos.
Halasan was assigned to combat operations and later on to administrative duty during the siege. He witnessed firsthand the perils of the crisis and its effects on children, the elderly, and all those who have been displaced since the clashes began on May 23.
As of Tuesday, July 11, at least 101,086 families or 471,411 persons have been displaced by the Marawi crisis, according to the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD). The affected residents come from all 96 barangays of Marawi City and from 20 municipalities of Lanao del Sur.
Pained by the suffering around him, Halasan used the experiences of civilians as his inspiration in composing "Bangon Marawi." He began creating the song two weeks into the siege and finished it a month later.
Magtira said the sincerity and raw emotion are evident in Halasan's song.
"Hindi po professionally ginawa sa studio ang 'Bangon Marawi.' Sa katunayan nangangapa pa nga po no'n sa chords si Halasan eh," Magtira added.
("Bangon Marawi" was not professionally recorded in a studio. In fact, Halasan was just experimenting with the chords.)
Call for unity
As the battle rages in Marawi City, the song hopes to encourage all Filipinos to set aside their differences and help one another build a peaceful nation.
As Magtira said: "Simulan na natin ngayon. Magsama-sama tayo sa pagbangon ngayon." (Let us start today. Together, let us rise above this struggle.)
The crisis in Marawi City entered the 51st day on Wednesday, July 12. Government troops continue to battle members of the Maute Group, which previously pledged allegiance to the Islamic State (ISIS).
As of last Sunday, July 9, there have been 507 fatalities due to the siege, most of them terrorists. Among the dead are 89 soldiers and policemen as well as 39 civilians. (READ: Marawi death toll tops 500) – Rappler.com
Gari Acolola is a Rappler intern. She is also studying sociology at the University of the Philippines Diliman.