Those who could still leave fled on foot and moved into evacuation centers Iligan City and in neighboring towns. When the first shots were fired, Mayor Majul Usman Gandamra was on his way to visit a relative in a neighboring town. Hindi pwede 'yon." When the mayor reached the city hall complex, he was met by employees who sought refuge inside the main building.
There, reports of the attack reached him — village chiefs had alerted him of swarms of men, firing in the streets, assaulting anyone who couldn’t pledge the same loyalty they professed. Dozens of residents who lived nearby had also taken shelter inside the complex.
they barricaded all doors — piling furniture atop one another — fortifying a basement meant for a few so all 38 of them could be safe. All of them Christians, all of them targets of militants inspired by the Islamic State who were going door-to-door to kill anyone who did not share their beliefs. Their group, mostly teachers and staff members of the Dansalan College Foundation, had sought refuge there after armed men clad in black targeted the Christian school and laid siege to Marawi City. Weapons in position, fingers on triggers, ready to retaliate against anyone who dared enter the premises.
the group decided on rules to survive while in hiding: ration the available food supply, conserve mobile phone batteries, and run stealthily to a nearby rain gutter and stock up on potable water. On the first night of the attack, the school was burned to the ground — lighting up the sky in orange as civilians retreated to the shadows. They were defenders of a castle about to be attacked.
Journalists, both local and foreign, set up shop, too, in the capitol compound. Daily press briefings on the state of Marawi were given there. As he faced TV cameras, he pleaded to be allowed to enter the conflict zone to rescue his wife himself. Huwag po kayo maawa sa akin, maawa kayo sa mga na-trap po sa amin. President, tama na po." Saipoding had just arrived from Manila. Buhay pa tayo." Police officer Alawi, the highest ranking among the trapped police, turned to prayer. He told his fellow cops to offer their prayers for the Christians. A militant on the ground had spotted and stopped them. It took three years before she gave that elusive "yes." "Nahirapan ako sa kanya manligaw. Baka mamaya makuha ko na raw siya sa mga sinasabi ko na forever-forever ta’s iiwan ko lang siya. At this point, a crowd had already gathered around Saipoding, curious to see how the story that had unfolded inside the capitol would turn out. Saipoding put his hand over his wide-open mouth even if no sound was coming out.
Government and military officials set up a crisis center there. And, while the clash was contained at the nearby Banggolo bridge, staying inside city hall still proved dangerous for the mayor and civilians. As he and his companions evacuated, the mayor looked at the section of the city he was leaving behind — abandoned houses, smoke billowing from a distance, and smoldering ruins of once vibrant communities.
There, too, was the Philippine flag still hoisted above city hall, its sun and three stars still shining brightly amid dark times ahead.
Military choppers made several passes, zigzagging across the sky before the humming faded away. Then, without warning, a yellow flash of light from outside broke into the cracks on the floorboard above them. Then the humming returned, followed by another ominous silence. Those who were in school ran in different directions, all looking for a place to hide. The clash began as a covert military operation to capture Isnilon Hapilon, current head of the terrorist group Abu Sayyaf that had pledged loyalty to Islamic State (ISIS) leader Abu-Bakr Al-Baghdadi.
This time, it was more a threat rather than a request. The parents held their hands over their children’s mouths to muffle the cries. Teodoro "Loloy" Dando was one of the 38 who cowered in the basement, which became increasingly claustrophobic as the footsteps grew louder. cross town, the mayor of Marawi City had also barricaded city hall. Soldiers and police surrounded the complex, forming firing lines in key posts.
But there was one rule the group could never break: stay quiet. It went on and on, each explosion seemingly inching slowly towards them. On the fourth day, they heard a voice that wasn’t their own. " The man was speaking in Maranao, the local language. Loloy, a family driver, was at the school to pick up his wife, Gracia. The mayor stood at the balcony, his most trusted men around him, plotting out how to get as many civilians out of Marawi as fast as they could.