Tuesday October 16, 2012
Mindanao woman liberated from family-imposed curfew as fears ease
By P.K. KATHARASON and PHILIP GOLINGAI
COTABATO CITY: Minabai Pili has lived most of her life with a family-imposed 4pm curfew.
“It was enforced by my parents as they were afraid that when it got dark, the situation outside my home could get dangerous,” said the 23-year-old. “There was a war in Mindanao and you never know when there would be killings and bombings.”
The married midwife grew up with the fear that leaving her home at night would be inviting trouble.
“The war was a constant threat to our lives and it was a huge security problem,” she said.
In the past four decades of war in southern Philippines, an estimated 150,000 people have been killed and thousands of families displaced.
Minabai, a long-time resident here, said that throughout the years, she always feared for the lives of those close to her.
Her three brothers as well as her uncles and cousins are soldiers with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front.
“But they are not afraid to die because as mujaheedin (freedom fighters), when they die for their religion, they believe they will go to heaven.”
The sweet-looking woman also said she faced discrimination as a Muslim, especially when she visited the Philippine capital.
“In Manila, they accuse me of being a terrorist because I am Muslim and I wear the hijab (headscarf),” she said. “This makes me very sad because I am not a terrorist, I am an innocent Muslim.”
Yesterday, Minabai was at Camp Darapanan in Sultan Kudarat Province, about 15km from Cotabato City, to be with the MILF as they listened to the live report of the signing ceremony in Manila.
“I am happy that peace is coming and we will be able to set up the Bangsamoro government which we have been waiting for a long time.”
Minabai took the advantage of the large presence of MILF fighters to hold a grenade launcher for the first time in her life.
“I have a phobia of guns as they are the weapons that destroyed peace in Mindanao,” she said.
But yesterday was different, there was a promise of peace.