Oh, Zamboanga

Hi. If you’ll pardon me, I’d like to take a break from the usual decadence on my blog. It’s just that this is probably the only outlet I have right now, and I need to process feelings. I need to articulate it because I might never have the chance, since right now I’m in the moment.

A few days ago I woke up to some really bad news. My hometown, Zamboanga, is under attack. The Moro National Liberation Front, well a faction of the whole entity led by Nur Misuari, entered the city through coastal communities and began a standoff with the security force. The group began taking hostages – men, women, children, even a priest, and declared their demands. Why they did all of this is something I still have trouble explaining, because historically it has been a dispute about identity and sovereignty. This is not even an issue about religion. It’s about basic human rights being taken away from us.

There are no nitty-gritty details here. It’s currently day 4 of the standoff and I’m scared. I’m sick to my stomach knowing that my family is in danger. I’ve been talking to my mom every day and her tone suggests that the family is pretty safe but still. The fact that there are lawless elements with the capacity to kill, peppered around the city makes me so angry and frightened.

People have been downplaying the situation – that the government has “contained” the situation and there are only a few areas that are really high-risk.

But the thing is…everyone is afraid. If they’re not out volunteering (because hundreds of families have been displaced), they’ve locked themselves inside their homes. Banks and businesses are closed. People have liberties taken away from them. As far as I can tell, the whole city has been taken hostage.

Syria is a big deal. 9/11 was a big deal. The pork barrel scandal our government is facing is a big deal. In my heart I know that Zamboanga is a big deal.

Now I understand. Because of what happened to Jad, I’ve been holding a grudge against my hometown. He loved Zamboanga but Zamboanga couldn’t protect him. But here I am gutted, knowing that evil is trying to take my hometown away from us. Looking at photos friends posted, of people out on the streets lighting candles, saying prayers for the place I still call home, and reading all the status updates, I’m trying to process this feeling.

People still love Zamboanga, and are trying their best to protect her by protecting each other. What a comforting thought. What a sight to behold.

And I know more than half of what I’m talking about might not make sense to you – but hear me out. If you’ve ever felt that your family is in danger, that the odds of them falling in harm’s way are great, that it suddenly feels unsafe even in your own home…then that’s all you need to know.

What’s the point of me writing this? I just need to articulate my muddled feelings. And also to ask you to say a prayer for my hometown. I’d like to believe that good will always trump evil.

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6 thoughts on “Oh, Zamboanga

  1. Hope everything will be all right. Few years ago my country was bombed and I remember that we watched the evening news when I saw lightning signal on a map of our town indicating that the bomb was just dropped and just a few moments after that we heard the explosion. My husband (we where not married back then) was living with his family(mother, father…) then and because their house was pretty close to the military airport that was bombed I was very scared for him. During this period there was dangers of conflict between the military and the police in my country and the army has carried out constant mobilization. That few months we were in constant fear that they might knocked on the door and mobilize my husband.So I can pretty well understand how you feel but everything turn out just fine for us so I hope your folks will be fine also.

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