BEHIND THE LINES: Rebuilding together PDF Print E-mail
Tuesday, 05 August 2014 11:33



SAN JOSE, CA — We’ve got to smell the roses again. There have been too much violence in Zamboanga the last three years, the worse having been the raid on Sept. 9, 2013. The United States has their 9/11, while we had our 9/9.  In less than two months, the city government will lead in a wreath-laying ceremony, perhaps at the “war” zone, in memory of the soldiers, inocent civilians and volunteers who perished during the daring, bloody attack by a losT force of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) on orders of its leader Nur Misuari. That attack could have been avoided had the military and police intelligence paid more attention to text messages that circulated a day before the siege. We suffered much from such maladroit. Now, we can’t rebuild what went up in smoke, not unless the national government pours in the needed money to help us recover.

We say “never again” to similar violent incidents that ripped apart our once great city and shredded our bright economic future. That raid turned away prospective investors that would have translated into employment and spur small-scale business opportunities. We lost our single, most precious commodity — tourism. Who else will set foot on Zamboanga this coming October for the month-long, colorful festival that brings together our unique culture and spirited tradition? Even hardcore Zamboanguenos living abroad or elsewhere in the country are afraid to go home to their native soil. The nurses showed more spunk when they went on to celebrate their biennial get-together last October, barely a month after the siege. They’re going to do it again in Las Vegas, Nevada next year.

It’s time to curl up, not to be enigmatic and pessimistic about our future and work from scratch, if we have to. We should, through our city tourism office and the economic affairs office of the city mayor’s office, try to erase that danger of fear because fear brings in more dangers. Those twin offices must be supported with more funds so the city can advertise like other cities do and show to the whole world that we are a beautiful city, a city of brave souls that crept from the ugliness of the World War II to posterity in the post war era. We were a prosperous city. We had taxis and first-class movie houses, fancy hotels and tall buildings when other cities in Mindanao had tricycles, arid lands and nothing to boot. It’s exactly the opposite now. Shouldn’t we be ashamed of ourselves? We should not go back to obscurity for we are a highly-urbanized city.

I have to commiserate with Mayor Beng Climaco-Salazar for the woeful state of Zamboanga. Our politicians take too much politics on their tables everyday that they have forgotten their primary mandate of providing law and security to our people. I know “Beng” will survive the problems besetting her administration with the usual grace and confidence she is flaunted during her long, political vocation.

But, she must also listen, not hear, to her spiritual advisers, relatives and close friends. It’s not too late for her to have an open mind. If we have to rebuild Zamboanga, let’s rebuild it together.