from the commuter

The photos which I took myself are random images of commuting and life. Enjoy the ride!

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Zamboanga Crisis

Day 17 of the Zamboanga Crisis, I went home to Zamboanga. I could have gone earlier to check my folks, but flights were all cancelled. When the Aviation Authority finally ok'd the resumption of flights, I made it a point to catch one home the soonest.

There aren't any Krispy Kreme nor JCO Donuts in Zamboanga

Zamboanga Airport

Airport Security

The media had their field day every day. This is the Solar News Team getting ready to beam live from Zamboanga
I thought that living in Mindanao had prepared me for wars, but I was wrong. When I set foot on the airport, I already sensed the mood that was devoid of festive chatter and noise that usually come with every arrival. My folks could not bring their car to the airport parking unlike before, and I had to walk some few meters out of the airport complex just to meet them. Suddenly, no well-wishers and pushy tricycle and taxi drivers asking the passengers if they needed a ride; men in military fatigue seemed to outnumber the arriving passengers in the airport.

My mom and aunt accompanied my dad to pick me up. They did not have work; school and work had been cancelled for days then. We talked of nothing but the crisis. When we got home, the local tv was on broadcasting images of my city's sorry state. The footage showed the dismal condition at the sport complex housing the 100,000 plus evacuees. Huge smoke coming from the conflict area indicated that families were losing their house.
Rush hour in Zamboanga Downtown

UV Vehicles calling out passengers to depart before the curfew
I went to the downtown, the name we give to the city's center. My parents advised me to bring with me an ID in case I am asked. Shops were closed and streets were almost deserted. I tried taking pictures, but stopped after taking three. I did not want to be interrogated for the photos I was taking. During those times, everybody was cautious. A face, any face, could be suspected of gathering intelligence for the other side. I hid my phone and went back home to make it before the 8 pm curfew imposed on everyone. After 8, no one is supposed to be out unless one thinks that a night at the police precinct is like checking in a luxury hotel.

Common sight in Zamboanga
The curfew made Zamboanga a sleepy town with sporadic gunshots and bombs being detonated elsewhere. Business was heavily affected. The prostitutes were not spared. At 2pm on my way back to the hotel, I heard girls in sleeveless  shirts shouting at me from the second and third floor windows of a massage parlor, "Pogi! Pogi! (Handsome!)" There must have been six girls calling my attention.
Camins Street in Zamboanga used to be one of the busiest streets in the city. Checkpoints abound vigilantly checking on each vehicle

I thought I was prepared for war; no one is really prepared. I went back to Manila after three days of seeing how that crisis would change my beloved city forever. I arrived in Manila on the 28th of September, the day when the Government announced that the crisis was over. It is never over, really.

Flight to Manila