House in Pieces
After the war in Marawi, survivors try to piece back their lives as they confront the loss and deformation of home and the long road to reclaiming it.
When the war between ISIS-affiliated extremists and Philippine government forces broke out in Marawi City on 23 May 2017, most of the city’s residents expected the fighting to subside soon. Instead, the crisis forced half a million people to flee, with most of the evacuees seeking shelter in Iligan, the neighboring city. During the five months of fighting between the Philippine army and militants of the Maute extremist group, most of Marawi’s buildings were damaged or destroyed. This includes houses representing Maranao culture and heritage, such as the torogan, of which only a few remain.
The making of the Balay-Balay 3D architecture puzzle of the Maranao torogan is used in the film as an allegory of piecing together what was lost after the siege. When the first handmade architectural puzzles were produced years ago, its creators in Davao City didn’t expect that they would eventually be used for psychosocial recovery after the war.
The film follows different displaced residents of Marawi (Maranaos) facing the prospect of piecing back together their interrupted lives in the aftermath of the destruction. Some, like carpenter Yusoph and his family, have returned to the war-ravaged city to rebuild their homes and lives after spending months in an evacuation center. But other evacuees like volunteer Nancy hail from the “ground zero” targeted by airstrikes. With no prospect to return to their hometown for years, they face a future full of uncertainty.