Peace Process

The last glimpse of paradise

Posted on 2017/08/17

Around 1:00 pm, 23 May 2017, after completing a make-up class of our law school subject, my friends invited me to go with them to Padian, the famous public market located in barangay Banggolo, the business district of Marawi city, to unwind following the completion of successive final examinations. At first I declined, because I was having conversation with a beautiful and adorable woman who would take a special exam. Fortunately, her professor arrived early to administer the exam and told me that I should go with my friends since she would still review for the exam. Along with my friends, we rode on our motorbikes and left for Padian around 1:30.

The road we chose would bring us to Padian via barangay Cabiangan, a place known for its famous road called Heaven. This road is prominent to members of Mindanao State University (MSU) community because it serves as an alternate route to the busy, narrow, and traffic-prone major thoroughfare that passes along barangays Sarimanok and Basak Malutlut. Heaven is unique; it is endowed with a vantage point overlooking the mystic lake Lanao and the breath-taking scenery of pristine forest surrounding the lake. At Heaven, we took time frolicking around, shouting and laughing, trying to unload the harsh realities of academic and mundane life. Our feeling then was like of a bird flying high above the sky with only happiness and pleasure in our mind. Indeed, I could not think of any other way of relieving stress better than what we had.

After Heaven, we continued our journey passing along barangay Sarimanok where we were momentarily stuck at its traffic-congested intersection. While waiting for the traffic to ease, a slow moving large army truck was headed towards our direction. As the truck crawled slowly past us, I could see only three passengers inside including the driver. To me that was strange since the vehicle was too big for only three passengers. Nevertheless, we managed to extricate ourselves from the traffic and move on. Then, we reached barangay Bangon, home to the city’s prominent schools. On the road, we saw students rushing to their school buildings; students chatting with each other while walking on the street; men and women joking and laughing while waiting for items they bought from stalls. The scene reminds me of my primary and secondary education days when everything was simple and less complicated unlike in law school where everything seems to be the opposite – difficult, intricate, and confusing.

After a few minutes, we reached the government compound of Marawi city. The façade of most government buildings is adorned with distinctive Maranao design, and uniformed men stand by at the building entrance to indicate that the seat of power of local government is based here. Guests to the compound are greeted by written words “Bolos Kano” emblazoned across the wall outside the building, a reminder that such power is not in the hands of those inside the compound but to the common Maranao people. The Maranao love democracy, i.e. the involvement and participation of the common people in the decision making process concerning their own welfare.

Subsequently, we reached Banggolo bridge, one of the three bridges which serves as the entry point to the business district. While traversing, we noticed the countless tarpaulins that depict successful Maranao. This is perhaps the reason why Marawi City is sometimes fondly called the “Tarpaulin city of the Philippines” One of tarpaulins bears the name of one of our seniors in the college and a good friend of mine, who just recently passed the 2016 Bar Examination; others from the other fields of discipline, i.e. nurse, real estate. Name any examination and one can surely find a tarpaulin with a Maranao name on it. It is but a strong indication that we Maranao are professionals, i.e. well-educated, skilled, and equipped in most, if not all professions in the Philippines. This is a fact that we Maranao are very much proud of.

Then we reached Padian, famous for Maranao products which include: food, delicious pastries, fabrics, kulintang and other musical instruments. At the place, we searched for the cheapest restaurant and went to a building which has a divisoria-like setup. The place offers maranao dishes and delicacies such as, beef randang, bakas, piarun a badak, piyaparan a odang, and most of all, the famous Pater. However, we only had a budget of Ph70 for lunch that time, so we decided to go to barrio Paypay, known for rows of barbecue stalls providing varieties of street food. Thankfully, our budget sufficed and we were able to eat, and by then it was already 3:00 pm. While eating we saw scores of people running and screaming; young and elderly fleeing. We asked those running about what’s going on and they told us that a group of fully armed men in black were marching just 100 meters from us. After a few minutes, a gunshot was heard and the people strated to cry. Immediately, we left the area and traversed the road along Moncado colony. Upon reaching barangay Mapandi, we noticed that the street was deserted in a way that can only be seen in apocalyptic movies. And I thought to myself, this is real!

We ignored this strange scene and headed towards barrio Saber. But when we arrived there, we were stopped by the people in the area because, according to them, Amai Pakpak Medical Center Hospital was occupied and controlled by the ISIS. The sudden turn of events confused us even more which led us to retreat to barangay Matampay to think of another way to get back at MSU. During this time, we contacted our loved ones, including the adorable lady earlier, and asked them if they were okay. Then, we heard series of gunshots not far away from our location which prompted us to return to Heaven, and from there hundreds of people were also panicked, and it was just madness. Since then, I began to realize that our little paradise was slowly but brutally being destroyed. And this was my last glimpse to paradise known as Marawi City.


Is an Non-Government Organization Catering Youth Services


Liceo Legal Aid Center (LiLAC) doing business under the name and style of Center for Alternative Lawyering of Liceo is the legal aid center of Liceo de Cagayan University, a privately owned university based in Cagayan de oro City. The group is composed of law students, alumni of the College of Law of the University, and lawyers who are passionate in the practice of alternative lawyering. LiLAC is guided by its vision of a holistic formation of law students committed to the transformation of society by promoting justice, empowerment, unity and peace, through helping the marginalized sector of the depressed areas here in Mindanao, in the Philippines and in the world. While the group was registered only this year with the Securities and Exchange Commission, it has been providing services to marginalized communities in partnership with NGOs for more than 8 years now. LiLAC has more than 50 members, 15 of whom are taking the active role of running the groups activities.


The Mindanao State University Legal Aid Clinic or Mindanao SULAC for brevity, is the Legal Aid Clinic of Mindanao State University College of law. It is the first and currently the only one of its kind to be established in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM). It strives to cater the legal needs of the underprivileged and/or indigent clients of the Region and to help promote the proper administration of justice as a key to lasting peace in the region and in the country as a whole.

Office Address: 1F MSU College of Law Bldg.,
MSU Main Campus, Marawi City 9700 Philippines
Contact details:
Mobile No.: (+63) 907 336 7762



The Notre Dame university is a Catholic Institution in Cotabato City run by the Oblates of Mary Immaculate and member of the Notre Dame Educational Association Philippines.The Notre Dame University Legal Aid Center started sometime in 2009. Its members are the officially enrolled students of NDU-College of Law.

The following are the official pages and e-mail address of the group:


The Palawan Cradle of Rights is a unified composition of law students from Palawan State university school of Law, established last August 26, 2013 after the culminating activity of the Basic Orientation Seminar by the US Embassy in partnership with the MYVC.

Through our linkages and with the help of the different Government and Non-government organizations we aim to provide free access to people who need legal assistance.


The University of Mindanao Legal Aid Network (ULAN) is a non-stock, non-profit, and service institution of the University of Mindanao. As a service institution, it provides legal assistance, advocates human rights and social justice, and facilitates the formation of law students for alternative lawyering. It consists of law students and alumni of the College of Legal Education of the University of Mindanao committed to provide an adequate and greater access to justice of the community through its programs.


The CENTRO ADVOCACIA LEGAL is organized exclusively for charitable, socio-cultural and educational purposes, more specifically to serve the needs of the marginalized communities specifically children and youth and the minorities in Zamboanga City through Legal Aid Assistance and Human Rights Based Advocacies.