By Bonita L. Ermac
Iligan City – When the Islamic State (IS)-inspired Maute Group laid siege to Marawi City last May 23, students of the Khadijah Mohammad Islamic Academy (KMIA) were preparing for their graduation the next day.
It was going to be the fourth higher education and first Graduate School commencement for KMIA which is located in the heart of the Islamic City.
But there will be no graduation rites.
Last Sunday, or 110 days late, the graduating students of KMIS were finally able to go up the stage and get their diplomas at the Frosty Bites Garden Hall in Celdran Village in this city, which is almost 40 kilometers from their Marawi campus.
“Right and quality education is the key and instrument towards attaining lasting peace and development,” said Anngay D. Abdullah Jr., who spoke for the graduates. Abdullah finished his Masters degree in School Administration.
Abdullah added that graduation was “not the end, rather the beginning of a new journey to prove that (the graduates) can be the best model to all, and (that they) can pursue another dream and make it come true.”
While most of the graduates were able to attend the commencement rites in their toga and school uniform, there were some who couldn’t.
Criminology graduates Loveb Sarangani and Hamdoun Cosain said that their uniforms were the last things they had in mind as they had only the shirts on their backs when they left the fighting in Marawi.
“Wala nang selebrasyon, uwi na agad pagkatapos (No more celebration, just go home after this),” said Sarangani.
While the crisis in Marawi may have all but sapped his enthusiasm in attending the graduation rites, Sarangani was nevertheless thankful that despite what happened in his hometown, he was still able to finish his studies.
Cosain maintained that he did not harbor any ill-feeling towards the Maute group members, saying that they were his Maranao brothers and even knew some of them.