ON AUGUST 12, 2012, I made my first column here in SunStar Cagayan de Oro, a year later, I also began writing Bisaya columns for SunStar Superbalita Cagayan de Oro (although quite guilty of not submitting regularly). All of these, with gratitude with then editor-in-chief Terry Betonio, and Managing editor for Superbalita Jen Besere. It was a five-year experience of writing and maturing at the same time.
The process of learning the flaws, not only grammatically (which often happens up to now) but also how you present your arguments based on current issues was like a hard pill to swallow, especially on a realization that you can never be an all-knowing, or an omnipotent talking head trying to push your own agenda towards a certain topic, but you can only give insights and possibilities based on you evaluation and understanding.
On the day my first column was published (titled, “Manic Monday”), the country was at the height of a critical legislation of the Reproductive Health (RH) Bill in Congress, which later would become a law, and its implementing rules and regulations are still currently being rolled out one step at a time up to now (while in some sectors there remained a debate).
Back then, the renegade faction of the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF), who were former members of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), ran amok in some parts of Maguindanao and North Cotabato provinces, as the Government of the Republic Philippines (GRP) and the MILF resumed its peace talks in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. All these talks were at the expense of the new “bakwits” or displaced families due to BIFF’s attacks.
Now, we saw the result of the creation of the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) which drew more controversy and dissent after the incident of the SAF44 in 2015. However, the new and revised draft of the BBL has yet to be proven a success in this new administration.
Five years ago, a story about the death of a six-year old from a stray bullet, which was a result of a commotion committed by some armed groups inside the Mindanao State University in Marawi City, brought a shock especially in the Islamic world, it was a time for Holy Month of Ramadhan, a time where every Muslims should overcome the evils and temptations around, let alone the random violence.
Who would have thought five years later, more than half of Marawi City was destroyed, and not only one six-year old has died, but thousands – men, women, children – and thousands more have fled after Islamic State-inspired extremists, the Maute group, terrorized the place, leading to the imposition of Martial Law.
In 2012, there was an alarming rise of dengue fever not just in the city but throughout the region along with the declining supply of blood, that could help extract its platelets for the patients. And how lucky that Northern Mindanao was spared in the mass vaccination of Dengvaxia since last year.
But it wasn’t dengue the city had a burning issue back then, it was illegal mining, as a result that this contributed to the floods in the city, and when Sendong came in, it killed and displaced thousands.
There was an operation of one of the six known “barge-like-quarrying” vessels floating in the Iponan River, and it was put to a halt as members of the Philippine National Police in Opol, Misamis Oriental and the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) in Region 10 chained it.
The late Jesse Robredo, who was then the Secretary of the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) issued a memo to DILG-10 Rene K. Burdeos: to assist in the investigation of “alleged unabated illegal mining operations.” After some series of raids, and a change of leadership in the local government, some claimed that the Iponan River now has come back, albeit slowly, to its natural state, although much work has to be done, and the whereabouts of these Chinese businessmen seem to get away with legal consequences.
So much have happened within a span of five years, so many things to happen in decades to come. As long as we are alive, and we can tell the story truthfully as service to the public.