THE Maguindanao massacre would definitely go down in the pages of history as the most savage carnage ever beyond human comprehension in that thirty journalists mercilessly suffered cold-blooded murder -- five or more were even raped before being killed.

Twenty-seven other innocent and gullible persons were sacrificed in the altar of greed, power and partisan politics by the almightiest-the Powers-that-be-on province. As such, the incident did not only relegate Afghanistan and Iraq in the sidelines as the most dangerous place among journalist in the world but more so validated the findings of international body that indeed Philippines belongs to the lowest in terms of civility worldwide.

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Worst, the collateral damage felt by affected families has its spillover effects to Mindanao's tourism industry. "Bill the Ampatuans," the title of an article by our colleague in other paper, responding to the cancellation of one huge golf tournament that otherwise would have generated P30 million in revenue to Cagayan de Oro City.

Like all the rest of tax-paying citizen, this writer also keeps himself posted on the development of the case. And thanks that the wheels of justice begun grinding at Camp Crame, elating Toto Mangudadato.

I happened to have very special attachment with Maguindanao where I spent my salad days. I was a shoeshine boy in Tacurong. Marilyn, the daughter of my stepfather, one of the casualties in Buluan Public Market fire, was buried in Buluan alongside with all the children of her foster parents who suffered similar fate. And yes I finished my elementary education at Buluan Central Elementary School in 1970. Most of my classmates were Maguindanaos and not only they were kind but also, intelligent.

My first crush was also a Maguindanao. Because I always patronize all that is Maguindanao, especially their food and language, I was addressed as Datu to my delight. It's been more than forty years since then but surprisingly I'm still very articulate speaking Maguindanao. I could even sing one of their favorite ditty "Aron na nato ni Babo na bulawan na patdayan. Ding an ding unan unan..." In sum, I speak, eat, live and breathe like any Maguindanao until I left Buluan in 1970 for Romblon, my province for secondary education.

Fast forward. Riding on my KMX-125 motorcycle, I was revisited Buluan few years back rekindle beautiful experiences down the memory lane on my way back to Cagayan de Oro after visiting some relatives in Alabel, General Santos City via Saranggani--and what a sight to behold--the municipality was no longer feast to the eyes. Lake was silted; its rice fields once thriving with catfish, mudfish and frogs gave way to low-cost residential houses. There was an apparent polarization of people gauging from the stark different housing structures indicating existence of feudal system.

But I didn't entertain any doubts about its status and its ability of coping up with the needs of the people until the Maguindanao Massacre happened, shattering those graphic beautiful memories I have.

It is hoped therefore that justice would in the end prevail to restore sanity of once my adopted hometown. Until then the families' victims, especially among media sectors, could finally heaved deep sigh of relief that all is well that ends well. (Ric F. Maulion)