Bakwit Diaries: Dilemma of an Internally Displaced Person

“ I’m not afraid of the two warring parties. I knew them since then. I’m afraid that the stray bullets might hit my siblings and grandchildren” says Babo Mariam Tiban, one of the evacuees.

Family feud or “rido” in the local Maguindanaon language refers to a state of recurring hostilities between families and kinship groups characterized by a series of retaliatory acts of violence carried out to avenge a perceived affront or injustice as defined by The Asia Foundation Research. This problem is not new to the Moro women of Pikit, Cotabato. The “rido” in the area is re-occurring from generation to generation. Thus, it structured the violence for the entire community.

Babo Mariam Tiban, 63, is one of the IDP’s from Barangay Talitay, Pikit, Cotabato. She and her fellow Bangsamoros decided to evacuate their village last June 7, 2020 at around 7 in the evening due to the worsening stand-off in their area. They spent almost one month in the evacuation center, praying and wishing for the conflict to end.

The consequences of being IDP’s are various struggles and challenges that they need to face.The havoc starts from finding a safe place to go with. Accordingly, not all nearby communities are having open arms in welcoming the IDP’s. Some difficulties include unavailability of tarpaulins (laminated sacks) for building temporary shelters, inadequate beds, shortage of safe and potable water, inaccessible facilities for personal needs and inadequate food supply.

Babo Mariam shares that she is used to these difficulties, referring herself as one born “bakwit”. But, her teary eyes are not amenable to her statements. She said, “ I’m not afraid of the two warring parties. I knew them since then. I’m afraid that the stray bullets might hit my siblings and grandchildren.” As a widow senior citizen, Babo Mariam planted coconuts, bananas, and vegetables to sustain her living. Unfortunately, due to the stand-off, she is not able to visit her inset. She wants to put up a small sari-sari store in the evacuation center, but she has no enough money to start a small business. She prefers to use her savings to buy rice, and dried fish for their meal.

The situation in the area affects Babo Mariam and her fellow IDP’s a lot socially, economically, and psychologically. She emphasized that she could do nothing about the conflict. She feels powerless. She feels sorry for the children who are suffering from the conflict at a very young age. She even mentioned that no one deserves to stay in the evacuation center especially in this time of pandemic.

Truth be told, no one deserves to face this social burden again and again. And, for humanity sake, we need to find solution to ease the burden of our brethren.