Ayeesha Dicali during the Kambisita sa Marawi

Exactly a month ago, my family and I visited our house in Marawi. May 3, 2018 was the schedule of our barangay to visit MAA (Most Affected Area) in Marawi City to salvage what is salvageable and take a last look at our homes before MAA is closed for the next three to I-don't-know-how-long years until the rebuilding and rehabilitation is complete and the residents will be allowed to rebuild their homes from the rubbles that the government's massive bombs have left of our once flourishing city.

I have vlogged the whole thing, see the video below.

But there are things I have not covered in the video, thus, I am writing this blog post for posterity.

1. MARAWI CITY HAS BEEN LOOTED TO THE BONES 


After we left Marawi when the conflict erupted on May 23, 2017, and President Rodrigo Duterte subsequently declared Martial Law all over Mindanao, checkpoints were established in all entrance points of Marawi. The military manned them strictly that ordinary civilian cannot enter the city even to save a trapped loved one. The checkpoints stayed all throughout the siege and relaxed a bit when the Maute was declared vanquished. But still, access to the MAA was reserved for the Army, the Police, and VIPs. 

When the residents were allowed this opportunity to see their homes after approximately a year, they were shocked and pained to see that nothing is left of their belongings. 

In my experience, our house did not collapse although it is severely damaged. It baffles me why our clothes are scattered all over the floor, still recognizable, but the more durable belongings like pieces of furniture and electronics have no trace at all. The only logical explanation is they were looted. By whom?
 #alamnathis #obviousba
 Even the homes in Barangay Matampay, the ones near the military checkpoints and the ones near the military camp, were wiped out clean.
 #yourenoherosir

Marawi IDP during the kambisita
My mother looking at the scraps of what was left of our home.

2. KAMBISITA WAS A POORLY ORGANIZED ACTIVITY


My family left Iligan at 3 AM and was able to enter MAA at 10 AM. We spent 7 hours stuck in traffic 95% of the time. That morning, around a thousand cars were lined up at the entrance. The problem was, we were allowed to enter quite late. If only they opened the checkpoint earlier, we could have spent more time in MAA. My aunt who is a neighbor was able to enter MAA at 2PM. We were asked to leave at 3PM. Imagine spending hours queueing, but you're only allowed to visit your house for a few hours. That is not enough time. Although we were allowed to reenter for two days more, the trouble was too much to bother. It wasn't worth it.

Marawi IDP during the kambisita
My neighbor sifting through the ruins for anything of value.

3. WE LOST THE WAR


The destruction was nothing like I've seen in my lifetime. The victory against the Maute, a small group of mostly adolescents, cannot compensate for the big buildings that collapsed to the ground, beautiful homes punctured by a thousand bullets, and the loss of civilian lives. The takeover of the city could have been prevented had the military used their force to protect the city given the intelligence that Hapilon is already inside and the previous clashes with the group in neighboring municipalities. I am no military tactician, but I believe that dropping that many bombs is unnecessary. Are our soldiers that incompetent to be dominated by a handful of young boys? We lost so much in the war but gained very little. 

Hapilon and the Maute brothers are dead but the ideology lives on. Lives and properties were sacrificed but the end was not met. Martial Law still oppresses us. We still go hungry. Many of us are still homeless. All for a humbug of a President who taunted the Maute to go down Marawi. You're Meranao ancestors are turning in their graves, Mr. President.



Despite the pain of the Kambisita, a thorn has been pulled out. I am now sure that nothing is left for us in Marawi. I can stop hoping that I can still save a few memorabilia. I can stop looking back to a lost cause. Marawi is no more. It's time to focus forward, pull strength from within, stay resilient even when no helping hand is in sight.

The sons and daughters of Marawi are standing up. Justice, we shall have.