Iligan City, Lanao del Norte, Philippines


It's 11:55 in the evening in Iligan City. The neighborhood fell silent an hour ago, the silence was broken only by dogs barking. My younger sister sleeps peacefully on my bed while I am still slumped on my laptop angry at the word processor for remaining blank for the past two hours. The throbbing pain in my skull is being outdone by my stomach cramps.

Marawi evacuees
These are just some of faces of evacuees from Marawi. I hope these children were found by their parents. When I met them, they said they got out of Marinaut with neighbors and they didn't know where their parents were.

I want to write.

And I want to cry.

Because I, unlike most of my bangsa (people), am sleeping on a queen size bed without a threat of a bomb falling from the sky. I had chicken curry, doughnuts, and fruit salad for iftar while they had NFA rice and a can of sardines.

I am angry.

Let's be blunt. While we paint Marawi as that of an idyllic summer capital, the masses have lived under constant fear for the past decade. Marawi has grown fragile, dried to brittleness by corruption. While many go hungry, mansions have sprouted like mushrooms in every corner, hiding in their bellies vaults of millions of pesos. Greed is the norm. We used to be equals, our elders were bound tightly by kinship and friendship. But we created castes. The upper class, fed by haram, sashayed like peacocks, stepping on the masses, keeping them under thumb pressing just enough to keep them oppressed, while their eyes are fixed somewhere, feigning apathy. Growing dissatisfaction, distilling into insanity, has pushed our brothers to hate so deep, they wish for our annihilation.

Marawi airstrikes
Watching from afar our city bombed and burned down.
This is too much.

My sanity is slipping away.

I was drenched in violence, the stench of death clung to my pores. I feel dirty. I tried scrubbing everything away but the images clung to my mind, polluting the serene spaces where I felt safe. In my nightmares, I long to taste blood. And I wake up feeling violated.

So I am walking away from all of this for a while.

I need to silence the bombs. And the bullets. I need to wash away the blood stains in my mind.