Last day in Mindanao and I was most anxious to go back in Manila! Don’t get me wrong, I was having a blast in Mindanao, but since yesterday, I already felt that urge to go back home. Anyway, we still had to do one last interview of a beneficiary in Kolambugan, Lanao del Norte, and from what I’ve heard, the community would also be having a meeting so we’d have the chance to meet all of them.
The original plan, however, was to visit Kauswagan. But as there was a tensed atmosphere in the area since yesterday, we had to have a last minute change of plans and headed to Kolambugan. From Iligan, the drive was just around an hour and a half, and we had been having glimpses of Iligan Bay from the road. Before we knew it, we were already turning left to a dirt road going to the community.
Who would have thought that we are already on our sixth day here in Mindanao? =) I was really nervous and excited to be visiting Marawi City, given the context of the place explained to us. However, I was looking forward to see our colleagues in our field office that even the power interruption during the discussion and presentation did not prevent us from having a lively atmosphere to exchange ideas.
For today, we just had to do interviews and shoot clips of our colleagues in Cotabato City — it was the same thing we had done in our Davao City office. It was an overcast day and I had a great time taking B rolls of the environment, especially the mosque next to our office. =) I did not realize there was one, not until I went to the rooftop and saw the familiar structure. Thanks to the timer function, I was able to get several shots of myself with the mosque, while Rob was conducting the interview.
Again, like what I’ve been telling the group I was with, it was really nice to see our colleagues in person, and put faces on names we just see on emails. They were the most welcoming bunch, and I had the highest respect to all of them working in the field.
Leaving Estosan Hotel at around 7:30 PM, we went to our office in Cotabato City for a briefing of the activities of the day ahead. Seeing the situation in Cotabato City and Maguindanao during the daylight made the situation clear: it was not a surprise to see checkpoints and armed soldiers in every kilometer of the road. It was no good pretending that it did not make me feel uneasy. And as we were going to Maguindanao, it made me more worried. It was no secret that the mere mention of “Maguindanao” in mainstream media invokes images of the infamous Maguindanao Massacre. But as we have seen, Maguindanao is more than just a place that should be associated with such a heinous incident.