The night is still young as I begin to write this. It's New Year's Eve. I hear Budots playing in the neighborhood. Fireworks are banned in the city but I expect these people to find a way to make noise come 11:55. 
 
I have kept away from my blog for a long time. The writer's block that hindered me was a force to be reckoned with. I wrestled with it. Hard. There were days when I form a few sentences in my head that are worth sharing, I carry them in my mental pocket but when I open the word processor, the words melt away like icicles turning to water as spring creeps in. The words felt feeble, they were flaccid, I felt ashamed to stain the blank page. 
 
For months, my soul was sitting in a puddle of darkness. Hatred, disgust, regret distilled into their vilest form enveloped my being. The puddle feels sticky like blood, and in my dreams, I sea innards spilling out and skulls exploding.  
 
So I kept away. I did not want to spoil the sanctity of a blank page with my vile words. As many of you know, 2017 was when Marawi was left in ruins when ISIS attacked. With the government's unintelligent response to terrorism, thousands of us lost almost everything in our lives. Billions of property and hundreds of lives were sacrificed to exterminate a handful of men. I do not believe the claim that there were a thousand of them. There were photos of hem out in the open when they set up their posts during the siege and many eyewitnesses. They weren't that numerous, and many of them are adolescents. Yet, the government poured billions into the war, bombing our homes with all their might, like berserks. Here I am rambling again. I can go on and on with what I believe transpire during those months but perhaps not today. 
 
I am writing again because it is new year's even and it gives me a sense of hope. What hope? A part of me, a voice I haven't had has surface, she raises her eyebrow and me and mocks me for feeling festive tonight. She reminds me that Martial Law is still in effect, that every day innocent people are killed in the name of a drug war that has gone out of hand, that we have a president whose words flip-flop a little too much for trusting, that there is no clear plan for Marawi that we are adequately informed of, that the government may give Marawi a makeover--one which is uncalled for, one which will rob Marawi its essence, one that will disrespect our religion and culture. With her badgering, it is difficult to be hopeful.
 
Tonight I remember our dear pet cat that we left in Marawi. Portia, I haven't had grieved enough for you. I have hoped you are still alive but they bombed our compound, I can't be too hopeful.
 
The river of time tugs me with it as it flows and falls with the gravity. I cannot resist. Move on, I must.
 
Here's my thoughts on moving forward in 2018:
 
1. We will continue to fight. This year has taught me that rights are not guaranteed by the world, we have to fight for the and protect them everyday. They may be taken away from us stealthily if we lose our focus.
2. We will not forget the lessons we learned such as preparedness for man-made and natural calamities, vigilance in our communities, the importance of choosing a good leader, and courage to unite against our common enemies.
3. We will not forget our leaders who were absentee when we needed them the most, the leaders who were supposed to speak for our interest but spoke for their own political gains instead. We will strip them their office next election, In Shaa Allah.
4. We will not forget those who helped us. We will not forget those whose bravery and service inspired us. May we have their strength too.
5. We should stop looking at the years in our lives as separate entities, rather they are in a continuum. What we fought for in 2017, we should fight harder in 2018 and the ears to come until the war is won. Our advocacies should not be a one-time thing, but a lifelong vocation. As the years go by, we should evolve carefully, tempering and fine-tuning our strings, and not forcibly changing masks every year. 
 
I don't think I want to add more. After letting go of writing for months, the keyboard feels a bit strange and my mind is a bit hazy with the sudden outpour of words. So dito na lang muna?
 
Happy New Year!