FOR this week’s column, I decided to reflect upon recent events that have taken place in Mindanao. These events have both challenged us and tested our resilience. Last December 3, 2023, we witnessed a deadly explosion that shook our hearts and claimed the lives of innocent people during a Catholic mass service at the Mindanao State University Marawi gym. This act of terror, claimed by the group ISIS, has left us grieving and searching for answers and justice!
But even in the face of such darkness, we must remember that there is hope. As our brothers in the Catholic Church begin a new liturgical year and enter the season of Advent, we are reminded of the teachings in the Holy Bible that urged us to begin with hope, to look towards the future with anticipation for the Second Coming of the Lord.
In the midst of tragedy, we are also facing the aftermath of a devastating earthquake that struck off the coast of Hinatuan in Surigao del Sur. The magnitude 7.4 quake, followed by hundreds of aftershocks, has brought destruction and uncertainty to the lives of many. Our hearts go out to those affected by these natural disasters, and we stand ready to support them in their journey to recovery.
Today, we find ourselves again at a crossroads. We are confronted with both the challenges of terrorism and the unpredictability of nature. But let us remember the words of President Lyndon Johnson when he said, "We shall overcome." These words have echoed through history, serving as a beacon of hope and resilience.
As we face these trials, we must embody the spirit of unity and strength. We must come together as one nation, regardless of our differences, to overcome the threats that seek to divide us. The peacebuilding process in Mindanao and the Bangsamoro is as important as ever. We must stand firm in our commitment to fostering peace and understanding among all communities.
Furthermore, we must prioritize the safety and security of our people. We will not let the actions of those who seek to inflict harm deter us from our path towards progress. Our security sector and law enforcement agencies will be relentless in their pursuit of justice and in safeguarding the well-being of our citizens.
In times of tragedy, we often witness the tremendous resilience of the Filipino people. It is in these moments that we see the strength of our spirit, our unwavering determination to rise above adversity. Together, we will rebuild and heal the wounds that have been inflicted upon us.
We are also reminded of the Hadith from Prophet Muhammad (SAW), "Verily, with hardship, there is relief." (Sahih Bukhari)
Thus, I call upon each and every one to keep faith in our collective ability to overcome these challenges. Let us draw strength from one another and extend a helping hand to those in need. We shall overcome the darkness that has befallen us, and we shall emerge stronger and more united than ever before.