VOICES FROM MINDANAO: Help us get back home

(Samira Ali Gutoc is among three “Voices from Mindanao” invited by the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines to share their insights on what is happening in Marawi and the rest of Mindanao on the last day of the CBCP’s 115th Plenary Assembly on 10 July 2017).  

Bismillah , in the Name of Almighty.

If Manila’s torrential rains flood our streets , Maranaos’  tears even loudly made from men in “pulpits” can be as body high. The highest reproductive part of our country with a youth bulge sees as many extended kin of 40 to 50 people  cramped in a home away from home.

I wonder Fathers, Bishops, if we who “counsel” the carers now need some counselling, we who provide spiritual redress in interfaith activities must be the one to be redressed. Kaya pala may five prayers kami, when the worst in us, shaitan or devil comes whispering  before the 4 p.m. or 6 p.m. or 8 p.m. prayer, we have time to get back to some sanity. And there is hatred growing in hearts.

Bear with me, I am supposed to have resigned from government to enter a motherly mission of bearing a child, but circumstances changed, so I may  talk jibberish.

The story of Marawi is in these photos. One is of people out by 400,000 in various places in the country. Thanks to Iligan City and Cagayan and various places for hosting us.

Evacuees  have to line up for relief  but majority are in homes, many unserved and unreached because they don’t line up.

Mothers and women, oh the many suffering.

Babies are most affected, dehydration seeps in. They need nourishment .

Elderly need protection and dignity, one was buried right in his front yard  in just a few feet of soil .

Rituals  of life for us in Marawi have definitely gone 360 degrees. The feeling that you stay with one congregation or station your whole life is changed. Many people among those trapped in the war zones chose to stay and not leave. Imagine one day fleeing your home with only yourself, pati underwear di nadala. Mahirap at mayaman pare pareho .

I talk of Fr Chito and that is a compelling reason to have come here.  He invested his life in Marawi City, and his waking commitment to Muslims in so many activities. He chose to be for the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) in 200 plus discussions by BEING JUST AROUND. He was a father figure to me because I lost my dad in 2004.

Will we get back home?

I close with an appeal: Help us get back home.

Books, not bullets.

Trucks, not tanks

Talk . not stoke .

Dialoguing not RPG’ing.

(MindaViews is the opinion section of MindaNews. Samira Ali Gutoc-Tomawis, Ll.B., co-founder of the Young Moro Professionals resigned as Commissioner of the Bangsamoro Transition Commission in late May, days after the Marawi Crisis started, citing personal reasons and policy questions. Samira is one of the organizers of the Ranao Rescue Team, a group set up to respond to the crisis. She had earlier served as an  assemblywoman, women sector, of the Regional Legislative Assembly, Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao and was former director, Al-Amanah Islamic Bank, Inc. and former director of the Marawi Resort Hotel, Inc.)