To give the internally displaced children new experiences to overshadow their ordeal from the Marawi siege, the MSU-IIT College of Arts and Social Sciences (CASS) Evacuation Center conducted on July 19, 2017 its second “Peace-Ta!”, an activity for the children that includes storytelling at the CASS student lounge and a tour at the Institute’s Natural Science Museum, College of Science and Mathematics.
According to Prof. Sittie Noffaisah B. Pasandalan, CASS Assistant Dean and who spearheads the center, the children had their first “Peace-Ta!” on July 10, 2017. They gave away toys and had a children’s party at the Ma’Had Al-Nor Islamie, Ceanuri Subdivision.
“Realizing that the children needed to be taken out from a stressful environment, we planned something outside the evacuation centers. It would be very costly to bring them to a fast-food for a party and since the Institute is capable of providing something unique like our Natural Science Museum, we worked out the logistics of bringing the children to IIT,” said Pasandalan.
With their parents’ permission, around 80 children, aged 3-13 years old, were brought to IIT and selected parents came along as chaperones. The children listened to stories told by Odessa D. Aberilla, Sittie Akima A. Ali, and Mehanih Cali and went on a tour at the Natural Science Museum. They also received toys, school supplies, and storybooks from Tukod Foundation.
When asked why the activity was named Peace-Ta, Pasandalan said “Lynrose Jane Genon, a volunteer at the center, crafted the name. We want a festive atmosphere, we want peace. We want to be together. This was a play on words – Peace Ta sounds fiesta. Peace is our goal, “ta” is from the Sebuano “kita” and Meranao “sektano” which all means together.”
The MSU-IIT CASS Evacuation Center has been distributing relief goods to evacuees from Marawi City since the start of the siege. Pasandalan saw that the most vulnerable in the situation are the children. “Most often, we forget about them since we believe that their parents will take care of them. Some have parents and some don’t. We think that children don’t have stories to tell and that their ordeal is less. I have realized that the children have so much to say, that they carry pain with them and in their own ways, they deal with it.”
“I have come to realize that they have been forced to become adults at such early stages in their lives. We want to make them feel to be children again, to be carefree,” added Pasandalan.
After the Peace-Ta activity, the center plans to send toys to children in Baloi evacuation centers. Currently, they are working out logistics with nurses in the rural health unit of Baloi so they can distribute the toys during the children’s immunization schedule. They also plan to have another children’s party or a magic show.
With Pasandalan leading the team, the MSU-IIT CASS Evacuation Center is supported by the Institute, CASS Dean Marie Joy D. Banawa, Septrin John Calamba, Zarina Villadolid, Sittie Akima Ali, Lynrose Jane Genon, Paolo Baquiano, and student-volunteers from CASS and the College of Business Administration and Accountancy (CBAA).
Iligan City – To have control over one’s self by knowing the truth, to learn from religion, to be patient, and to be respectful, were thoughts shared by one more bright, young Maranao who graduated summa cum laude at the Mindanao State University-Iligan Institute of Technology (MSUIIT) yesterday, July 5, 2017 at the MSU-IIT Gymnasium.
“I believe that the young should be enlightened about what is happening in Marawi. They should not be forced to believe in one thing only. They should strive to seek the truth and learn from religion (Islam)”, Mubarak Macabanding Paingco, 20 said in Taglish and Ceblish in an interview with this writer.
Paingco hails from Pantao Ragat, Lanao del Norte. His triumph comes on the heels of another Maranao summa cum laude graduate from the University of the Philippines – the first bright light to emerge during the Marawi crisis that has entered its 6th week of clashes.
During the Commencement exercises at the MSU-IIT, Paingco with a cumulative average grade of 1.10268, greeted his fellow 1, 964 graduates with an Arabic invocation to Allah before he delivered a prepared speech, interrupting this with sobs and the wiping off of tears as he reminisced about his late mother’s passing. He was only eight years old at the time.
As a child, he had told his mother not to worry promising to cure her when he would become a doctor. But this would not be realized.
His mother passed away and this had increased his resolve to pursue his ambition to be a doctor by choosing to major in General Biology in college.
Recently, Paingco got a 99 percent passing rate in the National Medical Admission Exam.
All these achievements, however, have not changed him. He had worked hard, he said, simply because his family had egged him on to excel by always reminding him he has a good head. He finished Valedictorian in the elementary grades and as Salutatorian at the Philippine Science High School, Central Mindanao campus located in Nangka, Baloi, Lanao del Norte.
He said, in a detached way, that he had simply studied and he had understood his lessons.
Since high school, he had always been “proficient” in Chemistry, Filipino and the Social Sciences, while in college, he breezed through his subjects in Mathematics, Physics and in Chemistry.
But his advice to students is to “relax” in between classes for the sake of their physical well-being. As a college student, he became a member of the MSU-IIT Student Muslim Association and the Varsity Volleyball team.
Steering the conversation once more to the Marawi crisis, Paingco said he does not support extremism, at the same time, he said, that the Maute rebel leaders are knowledgeable about Islam having studied in the Middle East. He, however, declined to comment on how the rebel leaders were also politicized abroad.
When asked to theorize about the possible start of the Marawi crisis, he emphasized that he is not really clear about what is happening in Marawi saying that it will “take a lapse of time” to know the real score of this crisis that is taking a toll on both the government and extremist forces as it enters its sixth week of fighting.
On the whole, Paingco expressed optimism for the future of Mindanao saying that the island is rich in natural resources that many can benefit. When he becomes a doctor, he said, he will serve the general community.
Photos by Alf Caro Evan, MSU-IIT Office of Publication & Information