23rd OF MAY
The whole city burnt into ashes
Right before my eyes,
My precious City! My beloved City!
Our playground when we were young
From Barrio Naga to Banggolo
That long stretch of road was our park
Oblivious of the sound and snare of pedicabs,
hawkers and pedestrians.
And now, they are all gone.
Some say, nay judge,
We have deserved the wrath of God
Because we were on the wrong path
So they feel justified to bomb all of us alike,
The young and the old,
The poor and the rich,
The sinner and the holy alike,
The guilty and the guiltless.
And so, on that fateful day of May 23rd,
We were forced to flee
A few of us barefooted
Leaving behind the only home we have known
With nowhere to seek refuge
Carrying nothing but our sorrow unleashed.
Some offered their hands in sympathy
As we walked not knowing to which direction
But they will never know fully well
What it means to be us-
Internally Displaced People, IDP!
While still others are apathetic
Blaming us for what happened
Despite us being the victims ourselves.
I never dreamt that time will come
For my proud family to line up
For relief assistance,
But we did! Over and over again.
I smile my sweetest smile
Because it pains me
To see my relatives-my beloved mother
Standing next in line to me.
What have we done to deserve this?
What has our family ever committed
For all of us to be waiting in line
For that small token of assistance that you give us?
What have we done?
Despite the forced and brave smile in my face,
I cry, I ache and I bleed deep inside
For the land I am forced to abandon
For my entire family’s lifetime effort gone in one smoke
Because of some nameless people’s
Supposed blind creed, if not unlimited greed.
Deep down in my puzzled mind
I ask why is life cruel to my beloved Inged a Pilombayan?
Why did she suffer this unbearable pain?
All because of those whose wretched lot
Those pretentious people
Who hide their true intentions
While claiming innocence
In truth, corruption is their middle name.
Oh, my precious city!
Once a city of my hopes and dreams,
The symbol of the rich culture of the Meranaws
You are now a town of lost souls
And the valley of our tears.
Though I still stand today,
The pain of the 23rd of May never ever left me,
Not even for one moment.
My precious city, now the graveyard
Of the people of Marawi.
(Narsimah R. Sampaco, 23, of Barangay Datu Naga in Marawi City, is taking up MS in Community Development at the Mindanao State University main campus in Marawi City where she also works as Administrative Assistant V in the Office of Information, Press and Publication.
Nasrimah presented this piece at the ‘Meranao Spoken Word Festival’ held at the American Corner of the University Library, MSU main campus in Marawi City on 23 May 2019, to commemorate the second anniversary of Day 1 of the Marawi Siege. The Festival’s theme was “Reflect, Recreate, Reclaim.” President Rodrigo Duterte declared the country’s lone Islamic City “liberated from the terrorist influence” on 17 October 2017.
‘Meranao Spoken Word Festival’ is the first of a series of Spoken Word events initiated by the Iranon Gumilang as a Meranaw Cultural Heritage project in partnership with American Corner Marawi and English Majors’ Society)