ZAMBOANGA CITY (MindaNews/22 November) — I write this letter not simply for myself, not for the scars I have received or the injuries I have survived of the emotional anguish I have gone through.
I write this because I write in the name of the nameless widows of war, of fatherless children, of orphaned kids, of people who have their whole culture wiped out, of generations who have lost touch with their forebears because of wars, because of the need to create wars and conflicts. All for the gain of few and the loss of many. I write in the name of them, and so I shall use “We.”
We all have been warriors, scarred by the throes of battle, scarred by the challenges and pains on the road. And when the clarion call to take up arms for sacred ideals rang, we stood up and answered the call.
When we took our paths to the streets, to the forests to the seas and the jungle, each of us believed that we had a sacred task before us, the accomplishment of our goals.
Many of us came from different and even opposing paths. Paths that caused us to do battle with each other in the pursuit of our beliefs, duties and goals.
There were those who took the noble cause for love of motherland and country, wore dog tags and went to different places hoping that they can stand up for their beloved Inang Bayan defending it from invaders. Some went to the point of considering going beyond the limits, killing non-combatants such as community activists and community development workers in the name of the red scare; while others killed pro-government individuals and loyal state servants who simply were there to serve the extra mile in this fluid and weak state.
There were those who wished that political power be given to the people. Some took up the struggle to the streets, carrying flags, placards and streamers, while others silently took up to communities to make them understand the everyday ills of society and the need to change it for the betterment of all. There were those who believed in it so strongly that it made them take up arms to bring the system down and to build a new one.
There were others who stood up because their lives, their people and their culture were at risk of being lost, and so they stood up and fought for the land, the people and their way of lives.
And in the end their paths crossed with each other, each side claiming a victory, each side claiming painful losses, each side with victors, champions and martyrs. Their ideologies and beliefs may differ but their penultimate goals were all the same: peace in our time, if not to fight for the peace for of our sons, but of their sons.
How do we all find sense in this carnage, of battles, of violence, of weary widows and mourning families? How do we find closure in this never ending cycle of violence, Settler against Indigenous Peoples, Christian against Muslim, Government against communists and other rebels?
Like others, some of us have taken on new lives, like dogs licking the wounds from a battle, seeking new grounds for a fresh start, like lost cats seeking a new place to live in, or of rats finding new places where they could settle. And yes we have made new friends, even from the other side, and nurturing friendships and relationships that we shall honor till the end.
But there is a tragedy we face. Many times our government wasted covenants with different groups, unable to implement these agreements in letter and in spirit, with implementation all to the detriment of the other party. These covenants have been the cause of many splits, of many wars and distrust of the people. The failure of these peace agreements dishonors the memory of the fallen, and shames the honor of the living.
And today, we face not only the challenge of another Peace Agreement, an agreement that is hoped to be inclusive, and a peace agreement that has been totally wasted by the selfish ambitions of a few and the inhibitions of many in both houses of Congress and the Senate. Is it because many in the hallowed halls of both houses are landlords, hacienderos and slave to the powerful capitalists that they cannot muster the numbers to form a quorum and legislate the Peace agreement so it can be fully implemented?
When you reap the seeds of your stocks from your corporations, sitting in your homes, enjoying the benefits of protection of your businesses, being in Government, have you ever thought that in the end this island will sink to the depths of the sea, if you forget the custodians of this land? Perhaps it does not matter while you pass other unimportant bills granting franchises and economic concessions to private and international businesses, have you ever thought that when all of this ends, there shall be nothing left in the land after you have plundered it asunder?
The peace we seek since many years ago you deny us. Is this because our lives do not matter, or that you seek more reward and compensation for your presence so that there will be a quorum?
One cannot deny as we write this letter, battles are raging on, another round of widows whose husbands are in flag-draped coffins, with the future of their children ruined forever, as well as the future of families who have lost their relatives, when mortars fall on the wrong places, when people are forced to undertake actions, when they have run out of choices.
Do not spoil the peace, but seek to resurrect it.
May you who have read this think of these when you think this peace is not worth believing at all. But for us, we believe in it and hope it shall happen, even if it shall come to pass, during the lifetime of the sons of our children. (MindaViews is the opinion section of MindaNews. Yusuf Morales is the Muslim Affairs Coordinator of the Social Development Office of the Ateneo de Zamboanga University. His interests are Sufism, Southeast Asian Islam, Islamic Philosophy and Theology. History of Religions and Social Development. The author has written articles on Islam and Muslims).