BY: JUSEPH ELAS
|PHOTO: Nouf Birung | edited by Juseph Elas
ZAMBOANGA CITY, Philippines – She was with her one year old niece when they were told that a group of armed men were at Sta. Barbara. She thought that they were just soldiers passing by and so she decided to go back to sleep. When she woke up a little later, it was then she found out that the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) Misuari faction entered the city and were taking the area under siege.
Nouf Birung, of Sta. Barbara, lost their house in a fire caused by the gunfight between the government forces and the elements of the MNLF. Together with her relatives, they’ve decided to leave the house to seek refuge somewhere safe.
When they were in flight, a few blocks, she returned home to get the milk of her niece. However, on her way out, after acquiring the things she needed, the house was already cordoned by some of the MNLF rebels.
She saw the rebels outside and she noticed a shadow of cluelessness painted across their faces. It’s as if they don’t know that this is what they were called to be here – to join in a war. She decided to hide and stay there for a while. Then the firing begun.
When she finally got the chance to leave the house, that was when the armed forces and MNLF were at a cease-fire, she decided it’s time to leave.
She was surprised because the rebels permitted her to leave – unscathed – and did not take her as hostage just like what they did to some others.
It was there when everything had sunk in and she started to feel that fear was crawling on her skin, sinking deeper into her veins, running like a wild fire within her.
Nouf Birung recounts some events of that day.
Directed, written, and researched by Juseph Elas,
AB Masscom III of WMSU
Nouf Birung continues life as though what happened was just a bad dream. She still goes to Western Mindanao State University (WMSU) and live life.
As of the present time, clearing operations are being conducted in the areas of concern – Sta. Barbara, Sta. Catalina, Veterans Avenue, etc. Curfew is still up in the city. However, in downtown Zamboanga, life is being gradually restored to normal.
The fear is still there for the people of Zamboanga, but the local government assured that what happened will never happen again.