Dear Children of Marawi

(An Open Letter to Children of War)

I wish I could say I know how you feel but really, no one of us, outside the war zone could say that.

I understand you have been through a lot and I salute you for not giving up.

5 months of fear; 5 months of uncertainty, 5 months of being in evacuation area; 5 months under the mercy of people sending you your basic needs; 5 months out of school;  5 months of terror; 5 months of questioning what happened to your beloved place. Long months of asking: ‘Will we ever get out of here alive?’

I know that’s too much for kids like you to experience.  I know that’s the most unfair thing children like you would ever have to deal with. But please know that after the war, you are the strongest and bravest kids in our eyes.

It’s not easy to be children of war, I know for sure. I was born and raised in a place known for its Peace and Order problem and that was already too much, let alone war, terrorism, airstrikes and gun fires.  I am sorry you have to experience that. I am sorry your family had to go through that. I wish this would be the last not just in Marawi but for the country and for the world.

Being able to experience war all together, and being the ones to witness the damages that it left, please help each other the best way you can. Go back to school no matter how hard. Start reading the Bible or the Quran and understand the word of Allah. Try your hardest to read and write and seek for understanding and wisdom so people won’t take advantage of you, so people won’t abuse you. Do good things each day. Think positive all the time. Respect all Military Men who fought for your freedom. Love all men in uniform more. Love your country, love your town, love your neighbors, and love Marawi.

Always look after yours and your family’s well-being. Ask Allah for wisdom so you know what to believe in. And never lose your core. Always remember what damage this war has brought to you and your family, and use that as a weapon to stand your ground and never get persuaded by other people.

Though moving on is the way to go, but never forget the lesson this battle has instilled in you. Use these to be positive individuals. To be productive citizens and to be peace-loving children of Allah.

Big sisters and brothers, look after the kids, YOU are the future of Marawi. Together, your town will rise again and YOU will make it a better place to live at. Do all things with love.

Do it for your parents, for your neighbors and for everyone who has risked their lives to fight for freedom and peace.

I will keep praying for you.  I will keep helping in my own little ways. I know you can do it. I know you will rise above all these because you are at your strongest now.  The whole place maybe crushed, but that should not crash your dreams. It’s  not an easy way, but keep going, kid. We all pray for you.

Spreading Peace and Love and virtual hug to all of you.

Love,

SimplymeSMC

Of Walls and History

I have been to a lot of places. Yes, I have travelled Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao and even a certain foreign country. I consider myself well-travelled ( as compared to other people my age, I supposed ) , but it was only lately that a reality hit me:  I was a  Stranger on my own land – this is how I was whenever I was asked about Intramuros; Fort Santiago and other land marks in the old City of Manila . What a shame, I know. I don’t even know anything about these historic places right at the center of  Metro Manila.

I know I’ve been here a long time ago, but hey, as a kid, what will I remember about war and history? All I could probably recall was the dirty Ice Cream I asked my mom to buy and the Calesa ride, of course.

Well, I was not alone; I have colleagues who haven’t been there too. ( Whew, what a relief! J ) . So, one Saturday Morning, we decided to go to the walled city of Manila – the Intramuros.  We also took the chance to tour our guest from India around.

So as a backgrounder, Intramuros (Spanish, “within the walls”) is the oldest district and historic core of Manila, the capital of the Philippines. Also called the Walled City, it was the original city of Manila and was the seat of government when the Philippines was a component realm of the Spanish Empire. Districts beyond the walls were referred as the extramuros of Manila, meaning “outside the walls”. (Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Intramuros)

So Why walls?

Well, history has it that the city was in constant danger of natural and man-made disasters and worse, attacks from foreign invaders. This has been attacked so many times which prompted the construction of the wall to protect the district.

Not only did we tour within the walls, we also went beyond to visit The Manila Cathedral ; San Augustine Church, museums and we even went across  to visit Fort Santiago. Touring around Intramuros and Fort Santiago made me realize how much part of the rich Philippine history and culture I was missing. I know I still have a lot to explore within my native land, but I am glad we have started this journey.  And I know for sure, this is just the beginning.

One side of the wall
One side of the wall

11215053_1682937195259117_5416477565590573130_n

Plaze de Gobernador - currently the COMELEC office but it was originally where the head of the state was residing
Plaze de Gobernador – currently the COMELEC office but it was originally where the head of the state was residing
Manila Cathedral
Manila Cathedral from afar
Inside Manila Cathedral
Inside Manila Cathedral
Kids enjoying the Calesa ride
Kids enjoying the Calesa ride
Jose Rizal- Philippines' national Hero on his prison Cell
Jose Rizal- Philippines’ national Hero on his prison Cell

11846713_1682937258592444_165948726532195895_n

manilacathedral2
google images
Rizal's footsteps
Rizal’s footsteps
Intramuros Gang
Intramuros Gang

P.S:  Shoutout goes to my colleague Francis Lauron who took all the photos.

Featured photo : googleimages