- Featured image is the Holy Ka’aba at the Masjidil Haram, the center of Islamic worship. Screen grab from YouTube of Saudi TV.
By EDD K. USMAN | @edd1819 | @bluestar0910 | SDN — Science & Digital News
Short link: https://wp.me/paaccn-jXh
(SDN) — National Commission on Muslim Filipinos (NCMF) Secretary/CEO Guiling A. Mamondiong has vowed to not abandon stranded pilgrims in Manila until all their problems are resolved.
The Moro lawyer made the vow as the hysteria arising from hundreds of Filipino pilgrims who were not able to leave for Makkah, Saudi Arabia, reached a deafening crescendo in the past week or so.
Dr. Dimapuno A. Datu-Ramos, Jr., director of the Bureau of External Relations (NCMF-BER), revealed this in his updates on the status of the intending pilgrims for this year’s Hajj, the Islamic pilgrimage.
In a whiff of fresh air, meanwhile, the NCMF Medical Team headed by Dr. Abdulnasser P. Masorong has received a shot in the arm (no pun intended) through a donation for medical supplies and pilgrims’ health needs.
Datu-Ramos said the Mayor of Marawi City, Lanao del Sur, Atty. Majul U. Gandamra, provided the financial assistance worth Php.3 million. He said the money “will be used to purchase additional medicines and supplies for the Filipino pilgrims.”
Gandamra visited the NCMF Central Office in Quezon City to hand over his donation as he listened to updates on the pilgrimage from some officials of the Commission.
Datu-Ramos noted that NCMF Finance Service Director Jeng Neri, Chief Omar Mandia, and Hajj Finance Officer Hadja Dulcenda Lidasan were present to witness the turnover from Gandamra to NCMF officials.
There were other Maranao leaders who provided material support for the pilgrims.
Top winning senatorial candidate in the May 9, 2022 elections Robin Abdul Aziz Padilla also provided Php3,000 cash aid each for some of the pilgrims.
In a related development, Saudi Arabia’s flag carrier, Saudi Arabian Airlines (Saudia for short), communicated with the Bureau of Pilgrimage and Endowment (NCMF-BPE) over the week, informing the BPE of the rebooking of some of the stranded pilgrims with Saudia flight schedules.
The airline told BPE Director Malo Manonggiring that of the 471 stranded intending pilgrims under Saudia, 398 of them were rebooked for a July 1 flight to Saudi Arabia. This leaves only 73 pilgrims under the airlines as they await their rebooking, said Datu-Ramos.
He added that 212 pilgrims under Qatar Airways still have no scheduled flight yet at present as the NCMF awaits further developments from the Qatari flag carrier.
Philippine Airlines (PAL) has rebooked 207 pilgrims for a June 30 flight; while 42 pilgrims without their VaxCertPH papers were able to secure certifications, and already left for Saudi Arabia, he said.
On the other hand, over 200 stranded pilgrims personally bought their tickets for the pilgrimage (even after paying for it already to the NCMF, apparently) and are now in Saudi Arabia preparing for the conduct of the Hajj.
Hajj ritual in Makkah, Arafah, and Mina
“We would like to inform you that out of the 471 no show passengers from flight SV 871/MNL-MED last 19 June and 20 June 2022, we have already successfully transferred 398 passengers to our scheduled flights. We are continuously working on the remaining 73 passengers and hoping to complete soon,” Saudia told the BPE in its communication.
Datu-Ramos further said that Mamondiong “had stated in a previous meeting that he will not leave for the Hajj unless all the issues with the pilgrims have been resolved.”
“It follows that his entourage and the rest of the NCMF officials bound for the Kingdom (of Saudi Arabia) will remain in the country as well.”
As a result of the pilgrims’ being stranded in Metro Manila, a number of the affected pilgrims and their relatives have called on the concerned NCMF officials to resign.
Information from some news portals said the five- or six-day 2022 Hajj pilgrimage shall take place from June 12 to 17.
However, Hajj authorities in the Kingdom has not confirmed the dates, saying this will be known after the sighting of the new crescent moon of Dhul al-Hijjah, year 1443 Hijri (corresponding to July 2022).
The Islamic pilgrimage is performed annually and begins on the 7th of Dhul al-Hijjah (the last month of the Islamic year) and concludes on the 12th day.
Islamic calendar is lunar, basing its days on the moon cycle, thus it is short by about 11 days compared to Gregorian time reckoning.
The Hajj is the fifth of the five pillars of Islam, which adult Muslims are obliged to perform once in a lifetime of they are physically and financially capable.
Pilgrims perform the Hajj rituals in Makkah (Mecca) — Tawaf or circumambulation of the Ka’aba — at Masjidil Haram (Grand Mosque); in the plains of Arafah — Uqof or Standing in Arafah; and in Mina — stoning of Satan — symbolizing the Prophet Ibrahim’s , (Abraham in Judaism and Christianity) rejection of Satan.
This year marks the participation of pilgrims from outside the Kingdom with the overall quota at one million pilgrims.
Saudi Arabia allotted 150,000 for pilgrims from the Kingdom and 850,000 from various other countries. In 2020 there were only some 1,000 pilgrims and 60,000 in 2021 as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. In both times no pilgrim from outside the Kingdom was allowed. (✓)