BEHIND THE LINES: One year ago: The aftermath PDF Print E-mail
Thursday, 11 September 2014 11:25



SAN JOSE, CA. — Two days ago, Zamboanga observed in mourning “Violent Day” as  well-armed, death-determined group of Moro National Liberation Front fighters stormed four barangays in the heart of the city, took several civilians hostage, killed countless of people, including soldiers, may have even raped some of the women hostages, and left our city in political and economic shambles. They got a beating from our brave soldiers and police, losing their leader in days of fighting that transformed Zamboanga into a virtual ghost town. Shops and grocery stores were closed for three solid weeks and food became a scarcity. But we lived through it. When the enemy’s guns were silenced, hundreds were captured and since then transported to Manila to stand trial. But their foremost leader, Nur Misuari, is still out there, although a warrant for his arrest has been issued.

City Hall has started rebuilding a city of past bestiality. It’s going to cost a lot to come back from limbo and join the pieces together again and lift Zamboanga to her feet. Slowly, we shall, I am optimistic, recover from the ruins because we got up from more violent scenarios in the 70s and 80s and stood firmly, as if waiting for another tempest to come. That’s the mark of Zamboanguenos.

Our courageous soldiers and men in blue uniform fought inch-by-inch to retake the four ravaged barangays because like Harry Truman said, “We believe in the unity of free men. We believe in the unity of great causes. We don’t believe in the unity of slaves or the unity of sheep being led to the slaughter.”

We shall make the ground green again. I know that by experience and heart because we have leaders (not necessarily politicians) who can plant the seeds of progress. Our elected officials have less than two years in their mandate to transcend, to rise above expectations and steer Zamboanga back on course. There’s much to be done in a little town as ours if only they (politicians) can think more and act concertedly to lift us to prominence as our forefathers wished it. Our politicians must stop fighting in the session room and on-the-air, for noise, as Mark Twain said,proves nothing. “Often a hen that has merely laid an egg cackles as if she had laid an asteroid.”

I’ve seen the video on the sports stadium and R.T. Lim boulevard. Now, we’re clear for take-off. After clearing the stench, we can now refurbish the complex and transform it into a first-class, modern playing arena so we can host big sporting events. The “boulevard of broken dreams” can now be widened and lighted up to make it a “Promenade”. Then, we can pray for our blessings, for as George Washington said on the field of battle, “without the humble imitation of the divine Author... we can never hope to be a happy nation.”

The raid on Zamboanga was not a City Hall failure. It came as a warning — a chance to look ourselves in the mirror so we could correct the bungle on our faces. The raid was an opportunity, not a misfortune, because now we can now re-examine our priorities, realign our vision and mission and change our direction for a better future. We have the opulence to do it if only we set aside politics, criticisms and denunciations and work as a team — a cohesive body with the aim in view of getting ahead. Personal ambitions must be struck down to give way to humility.

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow said: “Most people would succeed in small things if they were not troubled with great ambitions.”

Alleluia, Zamboanga!