When hope fights back amid conflict in Marawi

Redemptive hope

Alongside these powerful statements are inspiring moments that render undeniable hope in the midst of crisis.

When I arrived at MSU-IIT last month, the first ones I met were sociology students from the Marawi campus of Mindanao State University. Many of the students in Marawi are Muslim. The ones I met were in the college dean's office to defend their undergraduate theses. This was, to them, their own way of fighting back and their professors, some of whom are my friends, were not going to let them down. They were all in Iligan to see them through it all.

Let me tell too the story of a DSWD [Department of Social Welfare and Development] coordinator in one of the evacuation centers in Iligan. A Maranao, she oversees its daily operations. She has admitted to me that she, herself, is among the internally displaced. Some relatives have taken her and two of her children in. But two others have been separated from her because there is simply not enough space. She is no longer sure about the condition of her house in Marawi. In spite of all these uncertainties, she has chosen to devote her time to help other evacuees. And she remains upbeat about the future.

Finally, we have Mubarak Macabanding Paingco. He is the first Muslim to graduate summa cum laude – and the only one at MSU-IIT. He is this year's valedictorian. During his valedictory address, he recounted his moving story about losing his mother at an early age. That he was holding back his tears made it difficult for him to finish his speech. He dedicated it to her and those who have been affected by the conflict in Marawi. Many of IIT's students and staff are Maranao.

There are certainly many other hopeful stories. But the parallelism is striking. Violence may have become the new normal but people are not letting it get in the way of their lives.

Fighting back

In the hostel where I am staying for the duration of my visiting professorship at MSU-IIT, I interacted with a young Maranao couple who evacuated from Marawi. They say in the strongest terms possible what I have also heard from other Maranao friends: Ipinahihiya ng Maute ang dangal naming lahat. (The Mautes are a disgrace to our dignity.)

But they are still full of hope about the future of their young family. This again shows how people are fighting back.

Hope in this light redeems not just the future but the present too.

In other words, foresight grounded in present reality can be empowering. It believes that people can fight back. The sociologist Les Back describes it in this manner: "Hope is not a destination; it is perhaps an improvisation with a future not yet realized."

Hope therefore is not just a fantasy. But it does not on its own spring eternal. To hope is a conscious effort among people of goodwill.

And because some people have already chosen goodwill, hope, we shall see, will stand the test of time.

The least that the rest of us could offer them, apart from our donations, is to believe in them. – Rappler.com

 

Jayeel Serrano Cornelio, PhD is a visiting professor at the Department of Sociology at MSU-IIT. The National Academy of Science and Technology has named him the 2017 Outstanding Young Scientist in the field of sociology. Follow him on Twitter @jayeel_cornelio.

Jayeel Cornelio

Jayeel Cornelio, PhD is Associate Professor and the Director of the Development Studies Program at the Ateneo de Manila University. A sociologist of religion, he is a recipient of the 2017 Outstanding Young Scientist Award from the National Academy of Science and Technology. He i...

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