I felt like tons of weight was lifted from my shoulder. I still felt euphoric. I remember one friend told me, I like how you go around and make things happen.
This is one comment I remembered this morning. Four months ago, I arrived in a place I know I would not like, not the clean and cheery place that I am used to and at the back of my room which is the side of our office buildings are sacks of bones, skeletons of people who were unidentified and unclaimed for more than six years.
These skeletal remains were exhumed by government forces and were executed in the late 1980’s or early 1990’s during the internal purge by the insurgents. Some were killed in Operation “Zombie”, others were not clear since there are no more records except those exhumed in 2006. The remains of these people are in the office for more than six years and seems like nobody cared. I do, not that I only want to get rid of their bones since someone is asking me to use them as exhibits and learning tools for forensic anthropology>
I believe in the after life and the presence of souls, these people souls may be wandering. I decided to give them a decent burial and started with the cemetery lot which I asked from the City Mayor through a convincing letter, this was granted with Resolution from City Council providing for a vacant lot in the public cemetery. Next would be the tomb, services and other funeral requirements. I asked the staff during a conference for donations but the Regional Director hearing my requirements said that it will be a command activity to be financed by the Region, so my expenses were minimal, just the tombstone and other preparations.
We invited the Office of the Presidential Adviser for Peace Process, Director of Mindanao PAMANA or PAyapa at MAsaganang PamayaNAn who is the project development officer for the conflict areas in Mindanao. The ultimate aim is for the people of Mindanao to have quality of life so that peace would be given a chance. Healing the wounds of divisiveness start with small acts of kindness and taking care of those whom nobody remembers or were lost from their loved ones.
In time that there would be claimants, we can open the grave to re-examine and determine the identity of these people or when science has been developed that we can reconstruct their faces when they were alive so that they can be identified by their family. One day at a time… until the day that peace will come. I come to love this place and to really care.