Cotabato City (May 21, 2019) – The holy month of Ramadhan is celebrated during the ninth month of Hejira or Islamic calendar where Muslims across the world fast. As one of the five pillars of Islam, fasting requires Muslims to abstain from any food or drink from dawn until dusk.

For Muslims, Ramadhan is a chance to get closer to the Almighty Allah and a way to be more compassionate to the needy ones. Fasting is also a way for Muslims to learn patience and break bad habits.

Festivity during Ramadhan

Although it may not seem to be so to the eye of the non-Muslims, Ramadhan is also considered festive. It encourages families to spend more time to bond.

Ramadhan night activities are also mainstays in most Muslim societies. After ‘iftar’ (breaking of fast) and the ‘tarawih’ (nightly prayer), families socialize and go to night markets and food establishments located in malls, parks, bazaars, or in places especially built to make Ramadhan more festive such as trade fairs.

First BARMM Ramadhan Trade Fair

In Cotabato City, the first Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) Ramadhan Trade Fair was opened to the public on May 8, 2019. Located inside the Office of the Chief Minister (OCM) compound, it provides instant market for the employees inside the compound and other nearby customers.

Rosslaini Sinarimbo, officer-in-charge of the region’s trade and industry ministry, underscored the essence of the establishment of the Trade Fair. It will not just provide an instant market for the employees inside the BARMM compound, help mothers save time in preparing for the iftar, but most importantly, it will provide job and income opportunities during Ramadhan.

Sinarimbo said they’ve provided a bigger space for this year’s fair to accommodate more visitors. “It would be more family-friendly. Mas makakadala ka ng friends and family dahil mas malaki ang dining area and common space for the visitors,” she said.

Visitors will experience and enjoy the taste of different Bangsamoro cuisines, delicacies, and native products such as ‘sinina’, ‘randang’, ‘linggil’, ‘balebed’, ‘kumukunsi’, and many others. Trendy food snacks and refreshments are also available like milk tea, lemonade, tapioca, ice creams, mango float, and the likes. Lights and decorations are also installed in the vicinity of the compound to give a more festive ambience.

Feeding body and soul

Sinarimbo also said that Ministry of Trade, Investment, and Tourism has distributed food packs to public hospitals in the city as part of the Ramadhan celebration. “Nagbigay kami ng food packs sa public hospitals. Ang Regional Board of Investors, colleague namin sa Ministry , sa Cotabato Regional Medical Center. While us, pumunta kami sa Cotabato Sanitarium, kasi dalawa ang target natin, yung needy and sick,” she said.

The Ramadhan Trade Fair is not just about satisfying hungry stomachs and quenching thirsts, but also feeding the soul. A nightly program or ‘Muhadara’, sponsored by the BARMM agencies, is being conducted every after Tarawih to provide trade-fair-goers Islamic teachings about Ramadhan.

Baipadz Sinsuat, 21, a resident of Datu Odin Sinsuat Maguindanao and an exhibitor at the Ramadhan Trade Fair said this year’s fair is focused more on simplicity and the variety of foods.

“Mas simple ang Trade Fair ngayon, pero mas madami naman ang mga taong nakakapunta dahil mas conducive ang lugar at mas malaki ang space. Mas malaki ang kinikita naming mga exhibitors ngayon (Alhamdulillah),” she said.

Norhana Mamintal, 34, a housewife and a resident of Cotabato City, often visits the fair with her family. “Tuwing pagkatapos ng pagdasal ng Tarawih, pumupunta kami dito ng pamilya ko para magsaya at kumain. Masasarap ang mga pagkain. Mas madami kang pagpipilian,” she said.

“Gusto ko din ang concept na may Muhadara tuwing gabi tungkol sa Ramadhan at pag-aayuno dahil may natutunan din kami habang nakaupo at kumakain,” she added.

After the Eid’l Fitr, the Trade Fair will be extending another 5 days to compensate for the number of days that its operation had to be cancelled due to security measures put in place during the provincial canvassing of votes at the Shariff Kabunsuan Cultural Complex inside the compound.

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