As one born, raised and residing in Mindanao, I have to say that I don’t feel great about the declaration of martial law in the region.
I was scared when I first heard of the crisis in Marawi, how could I not be? But when President Duterte declared martial law in Mindanao—and from Moscow yet during an official state visit that he cut short—it made me even more scared.
I’m from Mindanao so the pressure to keep my opinion to myself, else I be branded a bad Mindanaoan or, worse, a bad Filipino is tough.
I have my questions, my misgivings, but I try to stay silent, because frankly, I’m scared. Scared to be singled out in an already scary situation.
This isn’t the first time I’ve felt drowned out; afraid to say what I believe, afraid to point out what I believe is wrong. I’m from Mindanao and since the President is, too, I should be nothing but proud of him—never questioning, never wavering my support.
When this administration started, I tried to speak of the wrongs I saw, wrongs that directly affected me. But others told me to shut up. I’ve lost friends and family as a result.
It was the same over and over again, till I just learned to hide it inside, scared to lose even more friends and relatives for a battle I felt I’d lose anyway.
Shunned in the land I call home, I’ve become a coward, using my privilege as a wall from the news around me. I’ve shut myself off from the world, I’ve gone offline, I’ve avoided different forms of media.
I’ve become apathetic.
As the old adage goes, “What you don’t know won’t hurt you,” and I have tried to take that to heart, trying to live in blissful ignorance, nurturing my cowardice.
But my apathy and cowardice are hurting me. I feel bad that I am not free to voice out my concerns; it eats me inside not being able to speak for myself and for others like me who feel something’s terribly wrong, yet try to ignore or be blind to it.
So I applaud those who aren’t here in Mindanao and have perhaps the better vantage point to be more objective and less hysterical. I applaud those giving a different opinion and voice against the blind majority, because I’m a minority here, in Mindanao, scared to say what I really feel.
Most people around me think differently and they drown me out, my fears disregarded. I may be 1/5 with this opinion maybe 1/20, or maybe even 1/100, but I’m here and I’m sure there are others like me who need a voice.
So to those who have voiced a contrary opinion and oppose martial law in Mindanao, thanks for being the voice of dissent that I can’t be. Salamat kaayo, kay dili gyud lalim ang kahimtang na sige lang ug tago. —CONTRIBUTED