Sunio: How to live in the midst of threat

IT'S been almost a year since the siege. We’re still recovering from the trauma from the war. I, personally, am still a little scared, but I’m getting better. But here comes another threat disseminated from the news.

On Feb 20, reported an interview with Ebrahim Murad, leader of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF),who disclosed that Islamic State fighters from other countries have been recruiting members in the Philippines and are planning to take over Iligan City and Cotabato City.

Iligan is not too far from Marawi, but regardless, it gave me the feeling that the terror we had ran away from last year is still not over. That danger is still lurking in the corner, ready to pounce at us anytime.

Just when little by little, I had been learning to let my guard down a bit when going out of my boarding house here in Mindanao State University – Marawi while reminding myself that the war is over and that I don’t have to be so agitated anymore, another threat comes.

Just when I have started to become less nervous with loud sounds, which I had associated with the sounds of bombs and bullets, here comes another news which tells me to pack an emergency go bag for another brewing war.

I have been able to get over my anxiety when travelling between Marawi and Iligan every week, but I’m thinking of being a little bit more vigilant now.

When I hear the news, the sounds of the bombs and ricocheting gunshots replayed on my mind; how we tried to desperately plan out a safe escape route from Marawi the day the siege started.After our escape from Marawi, there were days when I panic at the mere sound of fireworks or loud clattering of pans. But with the disclosure of another coup in the cities near Marawi, I ask, am I about to go through the same survival adrenalin again?

I’m a little bit confused on what to believe in: the seemingly peaceful setting that I am in, devoid now of any sound or hints related to violence or threat – or the news and so opt to raise my walls again to protect myself?

Just in case, I have already made a mental list of what to pack and bring in case of another war breaking out. Last year, I brought all of my credentials, some clothes I might need for a new work I might find, should we decide to leave Marawi for good; some money I saved, and jewelry, among others.

Others may feel that I am overreacting, but I think I’m done with going through what I did last year where even the idea of stepping out on the streets to find a way to get out of the City during those days is frightening.

I’ve also imposed a personal curfew to, as much as possible, be already home by 7 p.m. I’ve also stocked some food and other needs, should I need to lock myself up at home for days. It might be safer to stay at home than go out to look for an exit route where you make yourself susceptible by being out in the streets.

There’s also the way I programmed myself to walk as fast as I could when passing through quiet streets with a few or almost no people around.

So why am I still staying in Marawi?

People have also been coaxing me to get out of the city already. That’s actually a better option. I may finally be able to have days of not worrying about what will erupt anytime.

However, I have friends and loved ones to be with in this city. Most importantly, there’s also my studies which I am trying to desperately finish. I’m waiting for another semester, hopefully, to finally graduate. After that, I still don’t know what are about to come.

What I am hoping now, aside from my graduation to come, is for Iligan and Cotabato to not share the same events that we had here in Marawi.
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