A personal journey
with the 'bakwits'
By Leonardo " Bau" Bautista /
Posted 23 September 2008
Tiburcio with a bandage where his left ear used to be.
“Wala nako nakahigayon nga
makadagan ug motago tungod sa akong kondisyon. Tigulang nako ug luya
na. Nadakpan ko nila sa dalan. Gikulata ko nila, gituklod, ug kalit
gitigbas ang akong wala nga dalunggan ginamit ang bolo. Giguyod ko
nila ug gibilin sa dalan. Grabe ang dugo sa akong dalunggan. Human
ato nga kasinatian, maglisod nako matulog. Naa sa akong hunahuna ang
mga nahitabo ato nga gabhiona. Hadlok ko nga mobalik pa sila.”
(I did not have the chance to
run and hide because of my poor condition. I am already old and
weak. They caught me in the street. They beat me up all over, pushed
me, and suddenly one of them hit my left ear with a bolo. They
dragged and left me in the street. My ear was bleeding severely.
After that experience, I have a hard time sleeping. I have these
thoughts of that night’s events. I am afraid that they would come
These were the words of
73-year-old Nong Tiburcio as he vividly recalled the events that
happened to him during the first day of the attack of an MILF
renegade group led by Commander Bravo in several towns in Lanao del
Norte last August 18, 2008. It was a shocking experience for this
old man. While he shared his plight, his hands and feet were
Spending time with the people
of Barangay Lapayan in the town of Kauswagan, Lanao del Norte has
been a learning experience for all the participants of the Trauma
Healing Basic Training last September 3-4, 2008 at the Balay
Mindanaw Peace Center. This was the hardest hit barangay in the town
during the attack of the rebel group.
I was overwhelmed while
listening to the sharing of Nong Tiburcio. It was my first
experience to listen to the ordeals of members of a community
affected by armed violence. I have heard of such stories of violence
from the news but I never thought that I would be given a rare
chance to hear such stories direct from the victims themselves.
Personally, it has touched my soul and innermost self. It has opened
my eyes into the cruel realities and effects of violence not only to
the properties but also to life – the long term effects of fear,
trauma, and shock to the people. It was more than what I expected
when I volunteered to help. The people would need long term support
not just in terms of relief goods, logistics, and medicines, but as
well as support for their inner healing, emotional processing and
recovery. Looking at them, I wished that more organizations would
consider extending this kind of support to the affected communities
as an important post-conflict intervention because I can only
imagine how the trauma will affect the men, women and children if
this will not be processed and continue to be suppressed.
houses in Lapayan.
But with my limited skills, I
asked the help of one of our trainers, Bebot Rodil, to process Nong
Tiburcio. Ate Bebot immediately asked Nong Tiburcio how he was and
what was his feeling. Then she asked him where he was physically
hurting. While he was talking, his hands, legs and feet were still
trembling. Ate Bebot requested him to take deep breaths and be aware
of his body, his trembling and the pain. She let him tremble for
minutes while doing deep breathing.
On my part, if I did not have
any internal preparations myself, I might not be able to listen to
them and focus. The exercises introduced on basic trauma healing
such as the deep breathings really aided me to also calm myself. And
yet I took this opportunity as a unique experience listening to
stories like the ones told by Nong Tiburcio since I know it is not
easy for the victims to trust a stranger for them to be able to
relate their painful personal stories.
Deep inside I know the
process will not end here … it is just a start of a continued
processing intervention to the communities … and a continued
journey with myself.
Peace, indeed, is a way of