Former Abu Sayyaf captive writes about life in captivity

She e-mailed two parts that day. On Easter Sunday, she told MindaNews in an e-mail that she was sending the third part. The series, she said, highlights “the context of the kidnapping problem and the sensitivities involved in dealing with kidnap victims.”

“I wrote this only in the hope of giving inspiration to others, and making people in authority and the general public understand better the plight of kidnap victims in the hands of the much-dreaded ASG,” Mendoza wrote.
Her 61-day journey is one marked with  fear, frustration, helplessness, even to the point of contemplating suicide, but these negative feelings would be replaced, too, with what she refers to as “little miracles,” including being given two pieces of candy by one of her abductors, and how Mother Mary and Mendoza’s friend and mentor, Fr. Rey Roda who was killed in Tawi-tawi in January 2008, helped her through.

Mendoza has been doing humanitarian work in Mindanao since the drought of 1998 in South-Central Mindanao, as Executive Director of  Tabang Mindanaw and later when the Estrada and Arroyo wars against the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) displaced hundreds of thousands of predominantly Moro communities in 2000 and 2003.

In recent years, she has been helping Pagtabangan BaSulTa (Help Basilan Sulu Tawi-tawi) and has been getting in and out of these three provinces.

Before her work with Tabang Mindanaw, Mendoza was with the National Unification Commission, secretariat of the government peace panel in the negotiations with the National Democratic Front, and Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process.

Mendoza is a recipient of the 2005 Ozanam Award conferred by the Ateneo de Manila University and is a founding member and steering committee member of the Asian Disaster Reduction and Response Network (ADRRN), a coalition of dedicated Asian humanitarians with experience and expertise and emergency humanitarian work and disaster reduction programs.

Mendoza was the last to be released among five persons seized at gunpoint on September 15 in Tipo-tipo, Basilan as they were returning to Isabela City.

While their companions were freed on the same day, Mendoza, former executive director of Tabang Mindanaw and Esperancita Hupida, program director of the Basilan-based Nagdilaab Foundation, were taken by suspected Abu Sayyaf members.

Hupida was freed October 30, Mendoza on November 14.  She took the 5:20 p.m. flight from Zamboanga City to Manila on Saturday, 15 November. (MindaNews)