CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY, Philippines – Government and private sector groups are holding a trade fair in Marawi as they mark the battle that brought the predominantly Muslim city to its knees five years ago.
The Marawi Trade Fair and Expo at the city’s gymnasium, which runs from May 17 to May 23, showcases the rich and unique Maranao culture through the products of local traders, many of whom were displaced after the government launched a military offensive against the extremist Maute group in 2017.
The products highlight the traditional arts and crafts as well as unique Maranao culinary offerings and show the resilience of Marawi’s people, said Sittie Rahana Jhan Ganda, chief of the Peace and Conflict Resolution Regional Division of the National Commission on Muslim Filipinos (NCMF).
“Of course, we still long to go back to our homes, but right now at this level, we learned to understand the need to have the basic facilities inside the Ground Zero first,” Ganda told Rappler.
Ganda said the government was also helping local entrepreneurs – many of them displaced when their communities were reduced to rubble by the 2017 bombardment – in selling their products online.
She said they were also setting up a digital marketing platform for Marawi’s entrepreneurs.
“Most of them are very new to online selling,” Ganda said.
Thousands of Maranao families lost their homes and are still living in tents and other temporary shelters after the five-month fighting between the military and pro-ISIS militants who, according to the government, wanted to establish a caliphate in the city.
Task Force Bangon Marawi said more than 70% of the infrastructure projects intended for the city have been completed.
The majority of the displaced have yet to return and rebuild in Marawi City. – Rappler.com