I am from Marawi Let Me Go Home
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October 26, 2018, as I stand with fellow young people in front of the barricade in Banggolo Bridge, I cannot help but hear this Les Miserables song in my head:
Do you hear the people sing?
Singing a song of angry men?
It is the music of a people
Who will not be slaves again!
When the beating of your heart
Echoes the beating of the drums
There is a life about to start
When tomorrow comes!

Will you join in our crusade?
Who will be strong and stand with me?
Somewhere beyond the barricade
Is there a world you long to see?

Then join in the fight
That will give you the right to be free!!
I am from Marawi Let Me Go Home
The #LetMeGoHome Movement spearheaded a coffee meetup which they called Kapehan sa Marawi, reminiscent of the good old times when Meranaos spend leisure time in the traditional coffee houses called "painitan" along Quezon Ave. in Banggolo that used to serve delicacies like palao a apang, a rice pancake that is a staple in Meranao life. Attended by social media influencers and bloggers, the kapehan mainly was about kamustahan, hearing how everyone is coping after the siege. 
It was an emotional afternoon for everyone. The attendees told their stories, each one unique, and each one similar to the other. They answered the question for the afternoon: Mapipiya ka? Are you okay? 
I am from Marawi Let Me Go Home
History tells you that all revolutions were headed by youth.

When it was my time to answer, I was taken aback. I just arrived, unprepared for what was expected from me. I only know that I wanted to see my friends who were behind the event. We have been talking only through Messenger and it would be nice to touch base in person. Anyway, here's what I said. 
How am I? When asked with that question, my reflex is to say that I am okay. I mean, look at me, well-dressed, healthy, seemingly happy. That goes to show my resilience. But am I really okay? I am not. I am longing for home. For the past year, I have lived in three houses. I have experienced being evicted from a rented dwelling. My family still do not have a house to call our own.

There is a barricade behind me. What does this barricade mean? Why are we not allowed to rebuild our homes again after more than a year? They made promises of rehabilitation, but more than a year, nothing was built there, nothing was repaired. And it tells me that maybe they do not mean to honor their promise. It's too gargantuan. It's too ambitious to build a Dubai-inspired city when the Task Force Bangon Marawi could not even come up with a database of the real IDPs.

My family has gone through all the profiling conducted by different agencies mainly by DSWD. We have queued under the heat of the sun. We have passed whatever paper they required from us. And at the end of all those profiling, the TFBM required another validation. But lo! When we came, tagging along with us my grandmother who can barely walk, they said we are not in the DSWD and LGU database?

I am from Marawi Let Me Go Home
From left to right: Ann Macarao of CMYM, Jamela Alindogan of Aljazeera, and moi.
Is that how easy it is to remove names from lists? Is this how inept, how incompetent our line agencies are to not have a database of all the IDPs more than a year after the siege? This is but a simple task, but they cannot do it well. How can they even take on the task of rehabilitating our ruined city with their amateurish ways?

How am I? I am angry! You have not helped much and yet you have the guts to barricade us from our homes. You hide behind the excuse of unexploded bombs yet we see military men in their t-shirts and short walking down our streets with comfort and ease, we see tourists selfie-ing in front of our ruined homes. This barricade, what does it mean? Does it mean you are taking away our rights from our private properties? Does it mean you have occupied our lands? Why do you keep us from temporary shelters, from tents, from rented rooms, when we have homes we can rebuild?

Perhaps there are answers to my questions. I am yet to hear them. But for now that we are met with silence, sometimes with vague promises, and a strong barricade, we will continue to demand our rights. Remove the barricade, let us rebuild. It's taking too long. Our lives are at a standstill until our feet have found our homes to take root in.



Will you join in our crusade?


Who will be strong and stand with me?


Somewhere beyond the barricade


Is there a world you long to see?


Then join in the fight


That will give you the right to be free!!


Join us next time, there will be more kapehan. Kamustahan tayo. Like our Facebook page: 


for more info.