MARAWI CITY (MindaNews / 27 October) – Teacher Baicona Hassan, 41, was anxious as she walked the final steps to her house that she had not seen since the ISIS-inspired Maute terrorists seized Marawi City on May 23.
She and other residents of Barangay East Basak adjacent to Barangay Basak Malutlut where the first shots were fired that Tuesday afternoon five months ago, joined a Peace Caravan Thursday that would prepare for their return next week.
Entering the orange gate, Hassan broke into tears when she saw what used to be home for her husband and three children, in shambles.
“I think I lost all my appliances that I bought through hard work. They looted my home,” Hassan said, after carefully inspecting all the rooms of her two story-house.
In her bedroom, Hassan found the beds turned around and the sheets soiled, their clothes strewn all over the floor.
“The looters picked our best clothes. They left us with our old ones,” Hassan said, wiping the tears from her face.
She continued to her kitchen where she found her refrigerator, washing machine and oven gone.
“My only relief is that our house was not destroyed like the others. My family can clean all the mess,” Hassan said.
Farther down the street, 65-year-old Haji Norain Cabugatan wailed after seeing what has become of her home.
The looters found her jewelry box which she stashed inside a cabinet in her bedroom.
She left all of her valuables when she fled last May 23 to a neighboring area, thinking that the fierce gun battle would be over in a matter of hours.
“I am fond of the watch that was given to me by my late husband. I lost a lifetime of memories,” Cabugatan said.
The first batch of evacuees – 6,469 families from nine barangays outside the war zone — will finally return to their homes between October 29 and November 2: October 29 in Basak Malutlut; Oct. 30 in Marawi poblacion and East Basak; Oct. 31 in Loksadato and Green; November 1 in Matampay and Tampilong; and Datu Saber and Panggao Saduc on November 2. (Froilan Gallardo / MindaNews)