Viva Iligan!August 20, 2008
Amid rumored MILF attacks and after the panic last night, Iligan seemed normal today.
I was expecting a subdued air, and perhaps see a little Christian vs. Muslim animosity, but nothing seemed to be out of the ordinary, at least on the outside. I’m not so sure about what is going inside of the people’s minds.
Nevertheless, I couldn’t help but think of the words of our Mayor, Laurence Cruz as he appealed for calm to the panicked citizens of last night. I couldn’t recall his exact words but after hearing them in a replay this morning, I couldn’t help but be inspired. His words made me proud to be Iliganon. The people made a good choice in making him Mayor.
In the speech, he appealed for:
He also urged community leaders to lead the people under them, to prepare for the worst, and fight if the need arose. He also mentioned the presence of the tanks and the several thousand strong army defending Iligan.
He also mentioned that the people of Iligan should not be afraid because God and Senior San Miguel was on our side. He closed his speech with a, “Viva Senior San Miguel!,” to which the people heartily replied a “Viva”.
Although, I’m Protestant and do not agree with Catholic veneration of saints and even angels, I could not help but realize that the Mayor was speaking the heart language of the Iliganon, something that they could understand. He was speaking the old language of the Spanish times at the time when the citizens of the old fort of Iligan defended the fort and even waged battle against the Moros. Historically, even though Iligan was just a doorstep away from the Moro stronghold of Marawi, it was never conquered by Muslims despite the fact that at that time their pirates raided Christian towns as far away as Luzon.
The citizens attributed the miracle of Iligan’s fortitude to San Miguel, known in English as St. Michael the Archangel. Legends about miracles against invading Moros abound in Iligan folk history. In the legends, marauding Muslims would suddenly lose sight of Iligan as they move in to conquer. All they would see would be a large basin of water that corresponded to the land of Iligan. Other legends mention Muslims seeing a very beautiful lady and a child with wings poised above Iligan. The old ones say that the lady is the virgin Mary and the winged child is San Miguel.
When the mayor appealed to the intercession of San Miguel, he let loose words that were spoken only during the fiesta, a day when Catholic Iliganons celebrate San Miguel’s protection over the city. He awakened the latent racial memory of the Iliganons, and let them remember that throughout history Iligan had withstood violent Muslims.
Now that a new violent Muslim threat in the form of the terrorist MILF stands poised to attack Iligan, Mayor Cruz instilled hope and confidence to the populace that the city would survive and perhaps even come out strong now that they are rallying under the banner of God and Senior San Miguel.
As a Protestant, I, of course, would not rally under the banner of San Miguel. Yet for the sake of the safety of Iligan I would rally under the banner of Mayor Laurence Cruz.
“Maayong Iligan! Viva Iligan!”