No time to relax

Sunday, October 14, 2007
Local Color
Sun.Star Davao

The city is in full red alert again, following two bomb explosions in Kidapawan City which claimed the life of a 10-year old and wounded over 30 people. In Digos City, government troops immediately deployed troops to patrol the terminal area. Check points are functional again, conducted in almost all entry and exit points in the different towns and cities. The idea of exploding bombs and body parts flying above pools of blood did not exist in the minds of people, but just seen in television and read in newspapers happening in the war-torn countries, but not in Kidapawan, not Davao or its neighboring towns and cities, and certainly not in my hometown Makilala.

The Kidapawan of my childhood is a peaceful place, free of pressure where people moved at their own leisurely pace, the sprawling and un-organized market teemed with vendors who can freely display their wares and merchandise in sidewalks and about anywhere they wanted to. I have had my share of sheer terror because I was in Kidapawan when a forgotten sheet of paper spared me from becoming a victim in a hand grenade explosion at the very terminal I was heading for, but I was hit by bits of flying stones just the same. I remember staring in shock when horrified shouts rent the 7 o’clock evening air, a bloodied student passed by me holding a dangling and bloody hand.

Just about a couple of months before that, I was riding a bus and we had just arrived at the terminal in Kabacan when an explosion racked the public market a few meters away. I stared helplessly as bloodied people scrambled to all directions, while the unfortunate ones were left dead. The sight is not pleasant. I was at the Ecoland bus terminal when the first bombs ripped two empty Weena buses respectively, and sad to say that was just the start of the succeeding bombings. I was assigned to cover at the Davao Medical Center when the Sasa wharf was bombed. Believe me it’s traumatizing to see doctors come out of the operating room, erase a name from the wounded list and transfer it to the list of dead persons, and this will be followed by deafening screams from family members who waited hopefully for the victims to survive. That sight is something that will haunt me for as long as I live.

Not too long ago I wrote about being “arrested” at the Ecoland terminal for taking pictures but last week, the Task Force member assigned at the female entrance to the terminal barely glanced at my bulging shoulder bags. There’s no time to relax against the threat of terrorism. Maybe not until the perpetrators can formulate a bomb that would choose its victims, or shrapnel that would automatically dodge when innocent people are near. After an attack, the perpetrators will wait for our guards to be down and when everybody’s not expecting it, they will strike again.

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