As of this writing, the Zamboanga crisis is already on its ninth day. I was at the Manila Area Control Center, delivering ATC clearances to Manila Approach when I heard my seniors talking about the security situation of the city. At around 7:40 in the morning, they informed us not to give clearances to all Zamboanga bound flights; we still have to verify the situation of Zamboanga through Mactan Control. Ten minutes before nine, we were informed that all commercial flights to Zamboanga were suspended and only the military flights were allowed to fly in and out of Zamboanga. And at that very moment, I realized that the situation is worse than I have imagined.
Some City That I Used To Know
|Before and After|
I was only two when I first visited Zamboanga City and lived for almost two years with my family. The vague memories of the colorful vintas, the blue color of the sky and sea, and the crowded narrow streets of pueblo are still there and nothing had changed when I went back to my second hometown two years ago. Despite the changes in terms of infrastructures, Zamboanga has still retained its charm, until last week. The clash had made the key port city of Western Mindanao into a ghost town. The streets that we used to walk two years ago became a battlefield between the rebels and the military. Those who lived near Rio Hondo, Brgy. Sta. Catalina, and other nearby areas were literally running for their lives. Travelers got stranded after all commercial flights got suspended due to the crisis. The business sector of the city has been greatly affected by the political turmoil and more and more people seek shelter to evacuation centers. The security situation of the city has never improved since then.
|Sunset at Paseo del Mar|
|April 2011. Golf Beach at Zamboanga with friends.|
From ZAM to DVO
A few hours ago, I have read several news clips about the separate bomb explosions inside the cinema of SM City Davao and Gaisano Mall. There were no reported casualties, however it had caused physical damages inside the movie house and had created mass pandemonium. As of the moment, the MNLF denies this atrocity. More so, the local police had also concluded that the bombs were meant to scare people. There were witnesses who said they saw men who ordered those who wanted to sit near the areas where the bombs was placed to look for other seats instead.
I am a son Mindanao, and will always be a proud son of Mindanao. Mindanao has so many things to offer. Despite its unique culture, abundant natural resources, and rich biodiversity, people outside Mindanao prefer not to explore and visit the island. For instance, first time travelers to the island, say, Davao, would always ask me about the safety and security of the area.
It is really painful to read and hear news about acts of terrorism that have already claimed numerous lives. However, it is even more painful to read sensationalized news, like this one:
How could some members of the media be so irresponsible in delivering such news? The fictitious claims did not just cause confusion but it had also created mass pandemonium to the public. As a travel blogger who unceasingly promotes Mindanao as a travel destination, it is really hard to convince people when they have already this kind of dogma, all thanks to the irresponsible members of the media. I am really tired of reading and hearing news about generalizing the island. No matter how isolated and far the conflict is, they would always associate it with terrorism and Mindanao as a whole.
But, I will never give up. The truth shall prevail. We did not deserve this.
It all boils down to one thing; everyone should be vigilant, whether if you are living in Mindanao or not. Terrorism, henious crimes, and the like don't choose their victims; it does not even matter if you're a member of an affluent family or not. The security lapses shall be treated as a lesson to everyone, and not just to us. No matter how hard we try to protect our families and properties, there are people who find joy in destroying the dreams and lives of others.
A new hope will rise in Mindanao. Pero, kailan pa?