(MindaNews/05 September) — I am more than half a world away. Yup, I am in my comfort zone. Coming home has been wonderful, even if I had to wade through some of my tribe’s snags and unmapped quicksands. The end of summer is imminent in America. My son has started his second year in college. Fall seems more welcoming than the last season especially, it seems, in Henderson, Nevada. In Davao, the Kadayawan has just drawn to a close. Successful and peacefully uneventful other than the good memories and maybe some intrepid experiences the visitors bring with them to wherever they go home to. Except, in the afterglow of this successful Davao event, the Manila hostage thing happens. The news, to this day, is filled with it. So that everything else, it seems, is now subordinated.

In the midst of all the “investigations” being done, and all the blaming parried left and right by those named and/or unnamed, I hope we all remember that things happen for a reason. Because if nothing else, there has to be something in this sad and serious catastrophe that must make us Filipinos, conscious of our tenuous reputation in the international community. How do we get up from this and scrape off the mud that seems to cling to us like a barnacle on a rotting ship.

These unhappy thoughts bring me back to this place where there seems to be no escape from having another of my two cents (the election piece makes this a total of four I guess) put on paper, or else I regress to writing none at all. And, because this has taken up more than it deserves in an unworthy public display of humiliation, allow me to dwell on what it allows us to hope for instead.

It is indeed a tragedy, meaningful lives lost in the violence of anger and hate and bitterness and frustration. The gunfire that cut them down was loaded with all of these. Even now the same sort of arsenal is continuously hurled across the oceans, dividing our islands and, sadly, its people too. Might we not also make this unfortunate calamity an opportunity to come together and reflect on what may have gone wrong? Beyond the number of people killed, or the bullets fired or the people responsible for all the things that happened, there must be some very fundamental key to how something so terrible could have happened. This has nothing to do with having the right training or the proper equipment. This is about each individual’s looking into himself, taking the time to be quiet, and maybe consider how and what could have contributed to the damage. There is no one reason for all the things that happened that rainy Monday night. That one man’s desperate attempt to be heard was a confluence of a very sick social and political system that created him in the first place. How could it have gone so far and even involved foreign nationals? (How about the Ampatuan Massacre last year? Is this not as important too?)

Foreigners in our country used to be treated with the utmost respect and hospitality. We were a country known for its congenial and giving nature, especially to our foreign visitors. How has this changed so much? Are we not part of these too? Do we not inadvertently also contribute to what makes the country the way it is? These are questions we must ask ourselves. We must realize that each one of us, no matter where we are, are part of a larger organism.

Now, as I must travel back to my other home in America, I know I may face the hostility that the Manila mishap has attached to the passport I must show. I cannot just joke about how I am not from Manila anyway and thus should not be lumped together with those from that part of my country. I hope to have the courage, instead, to nod my head and acknowledge the affliction of my country as my own too and maybe assure some of them of my conviction that as long as I continue to carry that document, my optimism will, one day, bear fruit.  (Mindanawon Abroad is MindaNews’ effort to link up with Mindanawons overseas who would like to share their experiences in their adopted countries. Dabawenya Margot Marfori is a writer and visual artist who continues to live the Davao she loves. She taught at the University of the Philippines in Mindanao from 1996 to 2002. She is now based more times of the year in Henderson, Nevada, while her youngest son is studying at UNLV, and, where her two older children in San Francisco are near enough to visit).