Here in the hotel room, charging our body batteries, we’re still trying to digest the rocky road to peace. I’m physically exhausted and my brain has used up its reserves. All I’ll have are short naps in 30 long hours. The most I can give now is a weak, grateful smile (and a few words).
We’re leaving to Zamboanga Sibugay in a few minutes. This is by far the southernmost that I’m experiencing the Philippines. I am not on vacation. And for security reasons, we’re advised not to wander around, especially in Basilan.
Try Googling these places in Mindanao, if you want to know what I’m saying (unless, Google filters our search results differently). At least for metro-Filipinos and the international community who hears news, these places are quickly linked with terrorism, kidnapping, bombing, rebels, massacre, ambush, family feuds… Plus these are Muslim areas so I might/would have to strictly observe a different set of norms.
To me, this is no longer just a job
What am I trying to say?
At this point none, I know nothing about these places (news and travel advisories aside), more so the people and how they live. At some point, I’m thinking of getting a tattoo to the effect of As-Salāmu `Alaykum, dreaming that it would save me especially from naked hostility and forthcoming death. And how staring into the eyes, into the soul, of another would prove that humans are essentially good.
Wish me luck, as I unravel how to bring peace to the consciousness of my people. And how we could see “we-are-all-connected” in a brighter light.
I’m not trying to be a hero, I’m just one of the curious lot.