Don’t Tell my Mom That I was in Maguindanao

November 23, 2009, the Filipino nation and the international community were shocked with the killing of 50+ victims in what is now known as the “Maguindanao Massacre”—the worst election-related violence at that time. Brought up by rivalry of powerful families that ruled the Cotabato basin, the supposedly peaceful convoy for filing candidacy was turned into bloodbath when armed men allegedly belonging to the ruling family intercepted the convoy and mercilessly killed, mutilated and hastily buried the victims in the hills of Maguindanao—leaving their lifeless bodies, crushed cars and a backhoe bearing the name of the ruling clan. Most number that was killed were journalists, same as with the wife of the opposition leader, his relatives, and some who weren’t part of the convoy at all. The event has left a lasting imprint to every Filipino psyche regarding Maguindanao—armed, lawless, deadly and violent. As of the time of writing, the province of Maguindanao, now under the then-opposition leader’s rule, is still under state of emergency.

Somewhere over those hills, the howling and the wailing of the dead seeking justice

Personally, I myself was stunned by the event. That same highway that I passed in 2005 (read my article on my 2005 trip at Maguindanao) was the same highway that the convoy was intercepted. I got numb when some of Tacurong City Hall people, whom have helped me in my thesis in college, was also murdered point blank-despite their non-involvement at the convoy. It was unbelievable that such cold-blooded act happened in this modern day and age—barbaric and devoid of civility. Then the opportunity came in, I was to visit Cotabato City when I went to GenSan—no other choice but to pass by Maguindanao once more. This time, I face Maguindanao on a different light, a different era…

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The Road Less Traveled: Along Verde Island Passage

The Lobó-Batangas City Road, Verde Island and Mindoro Island

After scaling the mountains of Lobó, we head our way back to Manila. However, instead of passing by the main road going there from Manila, we went on the road less traveled—the coastal road between the town of Lobó and Batangas City, right along the busy Verde Island Passage. As for us, it is retracing back memories of one particular barangay along the lonely road—Ilijan…

The route was more than a 40 kilometer sojourn from Lobó poblacion to Batangas City, about 10 kilometers longer than the main mountain pass road where most jeepneys and cars pass. The route traverses the rugged and isolated barangays of the two localities, notably Barangay Banalo of Lobó and Barangay Ilijan in Batangas City.

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