By Dianne Mariano
September 7, 2011
As a Filipino, born and raised in Manila, it is a shame to say that on my first trip to Mindanao I felt mixed emotions. I was happy because I had the opportunity of travelling to this part of the country, but I was also worried due to the stories of war in that land we called, the Land of Promise; at that I could not expect protection from the government on my trip there.
The dominant perception is that Mindanao is a violent place where there are conflicts between soldiers and the rebels and also the terrorist. This is what newspapers, radio and television usually report. Most the stories though are exaggerated and sensationalized but these were the images I had in mind: the island of Mindanao is a violent place.
While on the plane, I could not help but worry about my travel to the island. However, I realised that I had to set my worries aside and prepare myself for a worst case scenario. Questions were flooding my mind mixed with concern. What should I expect from the places where I will be going? Will I learn something from them? What can be done?
As I was deplaning, I just follow the other passengers. Apart from the soldiers near the gate the airport in Davao City is no different to the one in Manila. I saw a crowd of people taking shelter from rain in a tent while waiting for a ride. Later, a man approached me and asked me something but I could not understand anything. But a colleague told me the man was merely asking where we were going and whether we already had a car. I felt awkward. I thought to myself, we are both Filipino but I could not understand a very simple question from this man. I felt awkward. I felt as if I was a stranger in my own country.
You may read the full article at http://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/WO1109/S00148/philippines-a-strangers-thoughts-of-a-place-in-her-country.htm
Dianne Mariano is a former intern of the AHRC. She wrote this article, originally written in Filipino, following her recent trip in Mindanao as part of her exposure programme.
About AHRC: The Asian Human Rights Commission is a regional non-governmental organisation that monitors human rights in Asia, documents violations and advocates for justice and institutional reform to ensure the protection and promotion of these rights. The Hong Kong-based group was founded in 1984.