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Islamic City of Marawi: Love at First Glance

Part of the Autonomous Region of the Muslim Mindanao ARMM, Marawi City in Lanao del Sur, must be one of the least favorite destinations to visit among travel enthusiasts. There had been reports from the media regarding the political chaos in the city and this negative public image had been shrouding visitors to discover the loving nature of the city.

Marawi City, the capital city of Lanao del Sur, was known as Dansalan until 1940 when Lanao was still undivided to Norte and Sur. The name Marawi came from the second largest lake of the Philippines, Lanao Lake which is also called Ranao and the locals are called Maranao.  The city was then renamed to “Islamic City of Marawi” as Muslim brothers predominantly occupied the land by almost 90% of its population.

We were visiting the Majestic City of Iligan when Marawi came across to my mind. I have no friends or known local contacts in the area but with the thinking that it was just an hour away from the city of falls, we decided to hop into a jeepney parked in the south bound terminal.

We don’t know much about the places to visit in Marawi so we decided to wander instead around one of the best campus in Mindanao,  Mindanao State University (MSU). Starved from our travel we hit first the UP equivalent “shopping center” of MSU for a late lunch. We spotted “The Dining Room” in of the corner of the street and look into their menu. The halal food selections were all quite affordable and delicious dish for a slow as P75.00. After a satisfying lunch, we walked around the vicinity to observe the general environment. It really looked similar to UP with its wide spaced campus and very silent environment conducive to learning. The city stands 2,300 feet above sea level making the ambient temperature below the normal tropical climate.

Riding a tricycle, we went to the nearby golf course inside the campus. From a point in the course is the majestic view of Lanao Lake. Beside the golf course is the Marawi Resort Hotel. We entered and looked around with the permission of the attendants. Visitor can use their rooms and facility for a minimum price of P1500.00 for a standard cottage. For future reservation you may dial this number +639177166379.

After a resort tour our feet led us to Aga Khan Museum of Islamic Arts. It was an unfortunate day that the building was closed that day due to maintenance. This museum displays a large collection of indigenous arts, music, native folk dances from different regions of Mindanao, Sulu and Palawan. It also showcases the native tools and weapons used by the Muslims and the different artistic designs of houses reflecting the culture and traditions of Maranaos.

Trying to catch the last trip bound for Iligan, we left the city before 5 pm. Left unsatisfied with our escapade, we will surely come back to discover more of Marawi, very soon.

Other Places of Interest in Marawi:

  1. Agus River , located  in Saduc and Lilod, the swiftest river in the Philippines
  2. Bagang Beach in Caloocan, 2 meters from the commercial site of the city
  3. Dansalan Junior College, founded by the American Protestants after WWII
  4. Kilometer Zero Point Marker, a land mark  from which all distance in Mindanao is measured
  5. Sacred Mountain National Park in Brgy. Guimba & Papandayan, a 94 ha. National and protected area.
Getting there

There are manypoints of entry  going to Islamic City of Marawi. Coming outside of Mindanao (Manila/Cebu) the most comfortable and convenient way is to land in Cagayan de Oro City. From CDO, take a bus in Bulua Bus Terminal Station and take a bus bound for Iligan City. The travel is less than two hours with fare of Php 85.00, non-stop airconditioned bus. From Iligan, take a jeepney, with a signage of  Buru-un and tell the driver to drop you at the South Terminal Station. There are jeepneys bound for MSU/Marawi, travel time is one hour with fare of Php 50.00.

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