Friday , May 25, 2018

A hero by the day

THE recent clash in Marawi City has given birth to many heroes in unexpected places. With a beaming smile and cheerful face, Xavier University student Clyde Maghamil recounted the events that made him one of the heroes for the people trapped in Mindanao State University (MSU)-Main Campus when the terror attacks began.

On May 25, when Maghamil realized the extent of the damage and how much more students were trapped inside MSU-Main, he himself immediately made the decision to go to Marawi City and save his friend, Roland Sindayen. Amidst the terror and the explosions that are reported to be happening inside the attacked city, Maghamil said that as a friend who has the means, it was his call to do that.

"I believe it was my responsibility to do what I could," he said.

At that time, Maghamil was in Cagayan de Oro, working the hours of his shift as an intern in Cagayan Electric Power and Light Company Inc. (Cepalco). When he realized that nothing more could be done for his friend, he left his job and immediately got on a bus en route to Iligan City. He was overwhelmed with emotions as he was both nervous because of the news reports of what was happening in Marawi while he was eager to get his friend out of there.

When Maghamil got to Iligan City, he was instructed to go to the Southbound terminal because that is where the jeepneys to MSU are alleying. Maghamil wanted to have at least two jeepneys to fetch his friend and whoever he could in MSU.

"The people call the jeepneys 'Armaks'. Local Muslim drivers were the ones who accepted my offer to drive me to Marawi and get my friend. It was a paid roundtrip," he said.

The trip going to MSU took around two hours as compared to the usual 45 minutes. Maghamil said there were tons of vehicles going in and out of the city to evacuate at that time. Aside from Maghamil's two jeepneys, there were also other locals who were rushing out, wanting to go to their families from Iligan.

They went through two checkpoints, the first one in neighboring town, Saguiaran and another in the city proper. Maghamil said that he could remember seeing burnt buildings from afar and military personnel moving towards a certain area. He was not able to hear any continuous and nearby gunshots but just feint ones at that time.

"Before we arrived I was told that a bombing was conducted. I wasn't able to see any suspicious men, except the old man who claimed to know them. Of course, I was very scared," he said.

His friend could not contain his excitement and relief when Maghamil told them that he has arrived by 11:30 in the morning in Sindayen's residence in 6th street. Sindayen and some 40 other students and faculty staff all went aboard Maghamil's two jeepneys, determined to go as far away as possible from ongoing terror crisis.

"I believe, they had no proper food, water and electricity. At that time, their admin and a few of the military personnel were able to keep them calm naman, but each and every one of them was eager to ride a vehicle to evacuate," Maghamil said.

The travel out of the place was one of the longest rides Maghamil has ever experienced in his life. By that day, the people in Marawi was already leaving the city in such a big wave that it was hard for their vehicle to move. It took them six hours to reach Iligan City after so many checkpoints along the way.

Hunger, anxiety, and exhaustion were seen on their faces in that dragging journey out of the war zone. It was past nightfall when Maghamil and the two jeepneys full of evacuees were able to reach Mindanao State University-Iligan Institute of Technology (MSU-IIT). There, Sindayen and the other students and faculty of MSU-Main were given food and places to stay for the meantime.

Sindayen and the other students whom Maghamil saved that day are thankful of him as they have safely reached their provinces without physical harm.

"I was able to text most of them days after the event. They will come back as the place (MSU-Main) is beautiful by the way, and their education is among the top," Maghamil said.