According to Fr. Bert Alejo, SJ in an interview regarding the war in Mindanao, “For almost three decades now, the war had cost the economy some ten billion pesos per year.” He added that the rebellion had killed at least at least 50,000 people, driven 2 million people out of their homes, destroyed more than 500 mosques, 200 schools and 35 cities and towns.

In Mindanao, “bakwit” is a popular word. It refers to displaced residents who are caught in the cross-fire between the “lawless elements” and the military and have no choice but to flee from their homes to avoid being sandwiched  in the battle.

Batang Bakwit

Since the start of the military operations against the “lawless elements” last October 15 in Talaib, Payao, Zamboanga Sibugay, many of my parishioners opted to leave their homes. I was moved by the story of Lolo Jose (not his real name) who narrated to me their journey to the Poblacion for refuge: “ang among gisakyan nga bangka nga naay 21 ka sako sa bugas ug 1 sa baboy nakulob. Ang tanan namong dala nabasa, among kaldero wala na makit-an.” (our boat capsized, together with the 21 sacks of rice and 1 pig. All our belongings are now wet, our kettle already lost).

Mga Bakwits sa Mabuhay

Today, there are 35 families totaling 115 pax who are “bakwits” in the municipal gym. But that is not all. Many other ‘bakwits” sought refuge in the houses of their relatives. I know there are also “bakwits” who are staying at the WMSU classrooms. A good number of “bakwits” are also in our formation center in the parish convent of Parokya San Miguel.

Please do include us in your prayers. It will still be a looooong journey for us. We literally live each day according to the grace and mercy of God. Tomorrow is uncertain, but our faith feeds us with hope that in the end, the good always triumphs against evil. God bless us+

17 thoughts on “BAKWIT

  1. I had experiences of bakwit since I was 5 until my last few months of stay in Malinao and Poblacion. I have a vague memory of the first time but we had one picture of me and my sister at the garden of Mr.& Mrs.Montallana, a catholic couple. They welcomed us and let us stay for 2 weeks (or perhaps 2months) my mother.
    The second time was when we had to hide at our neighbor’s galingan (Ila Magdula right beside us). Right after the gunshots we realized that one family member was missing, Mamang forgot my 2month old brother alone at home. Still had the memory of that aninipot like an angel giving light near my brother’s face when my Uncle took him out from our house. There was also one late night when we had to hide under our house in the seawater where older members carried every
    small member in the family.
    What I can say is we’re used to this hiding and evacuating scenes. The difference this time is that gunshots and bombings are nearer and the war is not just in the island but in many parts of Sibugay. I can see people getting hopeless and tired who want to put an end to this in a nearest time. In times like these, only our God and our faith in Him can help us, to pray for each one’s life and for an answer to solve the situation.
    Our prayers here from the JIL church…

  2. Makakaasa po kayo sa aming panalangin…
    And if I may say so: I feel blessed by Filipinos who, in the midst of their problems, still appear smiling. What a resilient, hopeful soul nanay is in that last photo.

  3. Bakwit is actually a bisaya slang derived from the english word “Evacuate”. Naging bakwit kasi matigas magpronounce ang mga bisaya. hehe. My lolo uses that word. I feel bad for these kids.

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