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Faith and family amid the pandemic

Longer hair means food for Iftar, the Muslim meal the after sunset during Ramadan.




Food for the soul Fish vendor Mokamad Lembak, 72, and his family eat their first meal of Iftar on Tuesday, 13 April, in Barangay Texing, Cotabato City. The month-long fast is intended to bring followers of the faith closer to God. Fasting begins when the sun rises and ends when it sets, and exempts children, the elderly, the sick, women who are pregnant, nursing or menstruating, and people traveling. Ramadan will end with Eid al-Fitr, an Arabic term which means ‘festival of breaking the fast.’ / PHOTOGRAPH BY Mark Navales FOR THE DAILY TRIBUNE

COTABATO CITY — Mindanao’s Moro people are now experiencing a heavy blow from Covid-19 as they observe the holy month of Ramadan.

This year’s celebration of one of Islam’s most significant holidays is far from the usually peaceful and solemn observance of the past years.

“In the previous Ramadan, they were more fun despite the difficulties in life,” Moharif Bacanto Lembak shared to Daily Tribune.

Lembak, a 30-year-old barber, also tasted the bitter economic truths of operating a small business in the middle of a pandemic. Customers now come few and far between that Lembak no longer earns half of the P2,000 he used to get a month.

For them, longer hair means food for Iftar, the Muslim meal after sunset during Ramadan.

His father Mokamad, a fisherman, is also struggling financially. They have become part of the long line of families seeking government assistance to survive.

“If you have a small business during times, you will always end up at a loss because very few are spending. Buying food is more important and you also need to save for tomorrow’s meal,” Mokamad stated.

The Lembak family, however, is thankful for being together despite their dreadful situation.

“As long as we have something for Iftar, that is enough,” Mokamad said.