The past week has been both educational and memorable for me.   I was assigned to Central Mindanao to cover issues about the conflict in the province of Maguindanao.  Most of my work was to interview people who have been displaced by the conflict between the government forces and the MILF. 

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When friends found out I was going there, a friend from Davao warned me to never go out without military escort.  I knew he was exaggerating but even with the announcement on the suspension of military operations from both AFP and MILF, I was a little, well, anxious.

The first thing I asked the hotel receptionist upon arriving in Cotabato was where I could run.  I was upset, although not really surprised, to be told that it was not advisable for me to run outside the hotel!  What I thought at first to be inconceivable happened.

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I had an average of 2 or 3 hours of sleep every night and was observing self-imposed fasting (as some kind of respect to the Muslims I was with for most of the 5 days) so I had to accept the fact that there would be no physical activities for me for five, long days!  I was able to do some push ups and crunches here and there but no running for that period of time was unthinkable.

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While I talk about PR, VO2, DNF, LSD and ITBs and complain about my daily drudgery, the children in the conflict affected areas of Mindanao are hearing about IDPs, WFP, ICRC, MILF and CVO.  It definitely gave me another reason to believe that I am very lucky with my modest but happy life in Luzon.  I wish these children and all the other people in the evacuation camps get all the help they need and deserve.

Did I regret going to Mindanao?  Definitely not.  Especially now that I have a deeper understanding of the island and its beautiful people especially the ones from Maguindanao.

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Sukran, Mindanao!  Till we meet again  🙂

Now, where did I put my running shoes?…

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