Very rare and bizarre hailstorm strikes parts of the Philippines

Frightened Muslim peasant Alikhan Omaima performed a sunnah prayer rite after hailstones fell in parts of Balabagan town before dusk Tuesday, which he thought was a bad omen.
Officials of the science and technology department of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao have called on Balabagan residents not to panic and avoid interpreting the phenomenon superstitiously.
In a statement, ARMM Gov. Mujiv Hataman said he had ordered the region’s Department of Science and Technology to initiate an investigation on the reported falling of cold, crystal hailstones on several barangays in Balabagan.
Residents of Balabagan, a seaside town in the second district of Lanao del Sur, were virtually shocked experiencing the phenomenon, which was for them so bizarre, never before heard in Maranaw communities.
“Malamig ito at katulad talaga ng ice na galing sa freezer,” said Mokendi Saripada, 35, mother of three grade school children.
Local officials said the hailstones as big as marbles were crystals that were identical with fragments of ice with jagged edges.
Community elders in Balabagan’s adjoining Barangay Narra and Poblacion confirmed the strange experience to radio stations in Cotabato City via mobile phone.
Omaima said he was so scared that he immediately prayed a sunnah (optional) Islamic prayer, convinced that the hailstones that fell on their barangay could be a divine warning of an impending disaster, or calamity.
“Yung mga bata natuwa, pero karamihan sa mga matatanda ay natakot,” said another Maranaw farmer, Digoh Umpak, 40.

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