After three years of working my ass of overseas to earn a masters degree, I am now back to my hometown. I carry with me this optimism that what I learned in the university and my experience being immersed in a different culture will help me contribute significantly to my hometown. Two weeks in Marawi, to tell you the truth, was nothing but dampening my enthusiasm. In three years that I was gone, not one has changed other than the superficial. Marawi is still Marawi, marumi in all the sense of the word.

The first thing that I wanted to tick off my list is to return to the work force. I have sent my cover letter and resume in advance to all the government agencies that I feel I may be of help. I am very eager to work again and see how the theory I learned in uni can translate in real life. Not many of my people had the same opportunity as I had and so I am eager to be able to share the learning. To my dismay, I was met with silence. I was not given even the simple courtesy of a reply. I do not even know whether they received my resume.

I consoled myself with the idea that maybe my e-mails got lost in the spam folder or I had the wrong e-mail address. So I followed up on my application. I got the same reply in most of them: that I am not needed and my expertise best suits Manila-based corporations. But I don't want to go to Manila. I want to serve my people. I was already offered jobs in the Metro but here I am nakikisiksik in the probinsya.

Yesterday I went to the last office that has not yet given me a reply. I went in person to hand my resume. It was an experience that slapped me with reality. When I gave the secretary my papers, she quickly browsed through them and exclaimed,

"Aydu Ole, mas mapasang ka odi so maporo saya. Sa pud ka pagapply ka amay kwan na bangadun siyambian so maporo saya (Oh no little lady, you are smarter than the head of this office. You apply in other offices or you might end up replacing our boss.)"  

There. There lies the answer. I cannot be employed because I am a threat. They refuse to even let me work under them because they fear I will shake the boat and grab their position. Perhaps I should have listened to my friends. So many of them are abroad and in the big cities earning big bucks, speeding their way through the success highway. While I am here, stuck in a little hell hole called Marawi. I remember my friend telling me, "Nothing really changed there, it's still palakasan system. I am in the top 10 of my board exam yet the ones who got employed were the ones who are I. Believe me, I know them."

Tomorrow I will fly back to Manila. The likes of me are not wanted in my hometown. The same kinds of people will run the system. And so decades from now the world will evolve, development will enrich the lives of neighboring cities but in Marawi it will be the same: offices where people show up at eleven and leaves at two, where meetings and activities are only for the sake of compliance, where the internet is as good as nonexistent, where basic services like potable water and stable electricity in every home will remain just a fantasy. Poor you Marawi. poor you.

(Meranao Millennials is a series of character profiles of people I have created in my mind. These are fictitious characters for satirical purposes. Vol. 1 here, vol.2 here, Vol 3 here.)