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Marawi is Esau, Iligan is Jacob

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Arnold "Datu Mangompia" Garbanzos
Iligan City, Philippines
June 27, 2017

Marawi and Iligan are literal twins. Marawi is Esau, Iligan is Jacob.

We all know the Biblical perspective. Esau was born first, then came Jacob. Legally speaking Esau is the elder, Jacob the younger. The birthright blessings, therefore, belongs to Esau and not to Jacob. In the same manner, the birthright blessings of the Lake belongs to Marawi not really Iligan.

In the Bible/Torah however, Esau despised his birthright to the extent that he “sold” it to Jacob for a mere porridge or lugaw. On the other hand, Jacob fought for that birthright - to the extent that he even deceived his own Father, Isaac, in connivance with his mother.

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In the Torah or Bible, it is mentioned that “God hateth Esau and loved Jacob” for the very simple reason that Esau did not like what God gave him, while Jacob fought for what was not legally his just to get God’s blessings. Esau was complacent, Jacob was not -- as a matter of fact Jacob schemed and fought his way through just to get those blessings.

That is the Biblical perspective.

On the other other hand, let us now look today at Marawi and Iligan and our current situation. It is true that Marawi is Esau-being the elder and Iligan is Jacob being the younger (for those who do not know our history the Islamic City of Marawi was born on 1940, while Iligan was born on 1950). But noticed how Marawi and the Maranaos are fervently fighting for their birthright through the organization of Federal movements within the ambit of their territorial jurisdiction. While Iligan and the Iliganons are just content with eating “lugaw” or porridge daily. There is no Federal Movement of Iligan being organized. Nor is there any serious endeavor to join hands with Marawi towards this direction.

This complacency can be seen in what is happening to Iligan today. This can be seen from the fact that Iligan has allowed the sale of NSC to the private sector with barely a whimper of protest from its people. Iligan has allowed the EPIRA Law to happen when it should have protested vehemently since it will be losing its number 1 advantage as a City. We have been losing industries like San Miguel ILICOCO, RCP, AZKON Metals, Summa Alta Tierra etc with barely a shout of protest or semblance of complaining - it is as if losing an industry is a simple matter. It is not.

If there is a move for Federalism in Iligan today all is done for the sake of politics. All for a show. No serious signature campaign. No barangay to barangay visits. No leaflets, no handouts. No serious thought as to how the move can change the destiny of this City.

In effect, we have a situation today where the role of Esau and Jacob have been the reverse. Esau (Marawi) is fighting for its birthright through Federalism via the BBL, while Iligan settles for the porridge or the lugaw - not making a serious move for Federalism and not siding with its Brother, Marawi in a common economic struggle to rise and be at par with the best Cities and Provinces in the country. Which is in direct contradiction to the Biblical perspective.

Today it is Marawi fighting for his birthright with Federalism through the BBL, while Iligan is not making a move towards this direction even knowing that it is its greatest advantage as a City - making it the richest in the country once made a reality. 

If there must be a City today which should be siding with Marawi on a common endeavor it should be Iligan. Iligan must realize that there is a synergy between it and its sister City- Marawi. One is symbiotically related to each other in many ways. For unless it does the full benefit of the Lake, the Agus River and the Maria Cristina Falls will never be a reality for both.

What will it take to make Iligan realize that Federalism is the key to its meteoric rise as a City? What will it take to make Iligan realize that it too must fight for Federalism with much fervor and zeal just like its Muslim Brothers in Marawi? What will it take to make Iligan realize that Marawi is moving in the right direction, while it is not?

What will it take to make a Christian City like Iligan support a Muslim City like Marawi in its Federalist endeavor? 

So today we have a Marawi who is fighting tooth and nail for Federalism while Iligan is complacent and uncaring at all about this matter. How can Iligan rise and be the “Israel” that God wants and declare “that I will not let You go unless You bless me”? 

What drastic and dramatic move will God do to make Iligan change its heart over the entire matter? For unless Iligan fights with Marawi for its combined birthright nothing will happen to both - it will forever be eating “lugaw” while its neighbors are rising fast like CDO and Butuan.

This has always been the struggle of Lanao as a combined Province since the 1920s and the 1930s. This is what Senator Tomas L. Cabili saw when he did not sign the 1935 Constitution. We as a combined Province or combined Cities must take Federalism as our number 1 endeavor and struggle always. For if one of us moves in an opposite direction nothing will happen to both - since we are literally twin cities-what happens to one affects the other. Both Iligan and Marawi must realize that. More so for Iligan since all the blessing of the Lake and its waters falls on its side.

Iligan must realize that the denial of the rights of the Muslim minority in Marawi is equally a denial of its own rights as a City. Look at our City now, it is true that infrastructures and investments are coming in from the private sector but look at our City services. Water is not reaching the tap of almost 40% of our residents even Barangay Pala-o- the seat of governance for our City (since City Hall is located there). Look at our City Hospital and see the lacking services which we Iliganons direly need. Look at our power and electricity bills and see how high they have skyrocketed despite the fact that we are the “Battery of Mindanao” and should have the cheapest rates. Look at our industries - we lost NSC, RCP, Summa Alta Tierra and San Miguel-ILICOCO. We do not have a BPO industry despite the presence of much multi-talented youth in our area. We do not have a tourist industry. We have not even developed our water industry which by itself is a multi-billion dollar industry.

What kind of “Peniel experience” will God give to Iligan to transform it from being a complacent, lugaw eating Jacob to a fighting “Israel of God” in order to help its own fighting and struggling Brother, Marawi?

Perhaps this war in Marawi is the start of the process over the entire matter. Anything that happens to Iligan in the next few months is a move that only the Almighty God/Allah can make. Iligan today is in the hands of God and will move according to His compass and direction. For Iligan must have a change of heart as a City and only God can do it. No man can change a heart, only God can do it. How He does it for Iligan collectively as a City is something which I want to see in the next few months. His timetable is always on the dot and always on time. For He knows all things and works all things for His glory alone. And no man or force in the entire Universe can stop it. Truly our God is Great and an Awesome God. May He move the heart of Iligan and change it for the better.

Always remember that it was not Esau which bowed down to his brother, it was Jacob who bowed down before Esau- seven times to show his remorse and change of heart.

May Iligan realize its great role in our country today. A Christian City supporting a Muslim City is great news for a Nation which has long denied the rights of its minority - by not listening to its pleas. This has always been the struggle of Lanao. 

May we realize that we are twin cities and provinces. What affects one, will always affect the other. May Iligan have a change of heart and together with its brother, Marawi fight for its legal birthright and become a City State and unleash its full potential under a Federal government.

May we not repeat the errors of the making of the 1935 Constitution, where Lanao stood alone but was right against 221 delegates who agreed to a Unitary government but were all wrong.

May God/Allah restore the Biblical perspective and change the hearts of both Iligan and Marawi for the better. Let us fight for Federalism together.

God bless Iligan. God bless Marawi.
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