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Miss N Is A Child of War

I was surfing the net when I stumbled upon the picture below. Immediately after I saw it, it felt like I was zapped and transported back in time, back when I was five or six years old. Many memories became as vivid as the many days my family lied face down on the wooden floor in silent prayer amid deafening cracks of gunfire.

My family used to live in one of the remote towns in Northern Samar. The town was often isolated from the rest of the world especially on bad-weather days. At the time, the only means of transport for its people were outrigger boats which navigated the Philippine Sea. The town was located near a mountain and there wasn’t much plains to plant rice on. Most of the families relied on copra production and fishing for a living. But natural calamities often stood in the way.

Life was hard enough. But the gunfights that often ensued between the rebels and the government forces made it even harder. Sometimes, it was the military forces that would raid the town. Sometimes, it was the rebels’ turn. The town stood silently, sandwiched between two warring forces and trying to cling to its dear life.

The house we rented in looked like a barracks. Lined in the walls of the room where our family used to sleep were sacks of copra and sand to protect us from stray bullets just in case a clash occur while we were asleep. We slept with the sacks in the room all the time, and I mean ALL the time.

One night we suddenly heard gunfires so loud we were sure it was only about two blocks away. We had to run with our neighbors. I was running behind my mother who was holding my younger sister in one hand and my younger brother in the other hand. Nanay was running with only one slipper on and she didn’t notice it until we reached a piece of land studded by lots of trees. It was an ideal place to stay. The trees meant more protection from bullets. They meant more chances of survival. We stayed there for several hours, alert and ready for anything every moment, until the guns were silenced.

We did not always run. When my parents felt it was more dangerous to go out, we would lie flat face down on the floor inside our room. At one time, I remember we just lied beside each other holding hands, all six of us. My parents kept reminding us not to move or raise even slightly any part of our body. All we could do was pray, pray in silence. At other times, we would run into a lair which we called “paksol.” (I will write about what a “paksol” is in another post.)

As children, my siblings and I have grown used to so many things that have to do with armed conflict. We’ve learned when to run, when to dock, or when to lie flat on the floor. We could tell if the sound of a gunfire is from a pistol, an armalite, or a machine gun. We were used to seeing people carrying guns, military or rebels. At the age of 6 I could describe to you how a pistol, an armalite, or a machine gun look like. I have grown used to all of these that I thought it was also how things were in other places. Thanks to my parents who did their best to explain to me and my siblings that it wasn’t the case.

My heart aches for the children who are caught in armed conflicts, especially in Mindanao. My family and I are blessed and fortunate that we survived everything. I hope and pray that the children and their families in the dangerous regions of Mindanao will also have a chance at a life that’s better and safer. Let us all hope and pray for them.

I borrowed the image from pixdaus.com

Posted 8 years, 4 months ago at 1:34 am.


65 Replies

  1. They say there’s war because there’s a desire for peace. But I wonder if that’s really the case because many people suffer, may people are killed, many people are emotionally traumatized and many people are left homeless. The civil wars in Mindanao sadden me more because Filipinos are shooting against other Filipinos.

    I wish the money and effort wasted on weapons were invested in more significant programs that would solve the pressing needs of our country. The starving people could have been fed, the uneducated could have gone to school, the unemployed could have been hired.

    I’m happy to read that you and your family survived the civil war in Samar, though. You’re truly blessed. πŸ™‚

  2. nortehanon Jun 22nd 2009

    And the sad thing is that the people who are not directly involved in the war are among those who are affected. Worse, kasama sa kanila ang mga bata.

    I very much agree with what you’ve said in the second paragraph of your comment. I hope those who are involved in wars will realize these things.

    Thank you for your concern.

  3. I agree with you Kit..So if they can’t implement that.
    We will do.In our little way.Kaya nga we involve the PENS OF HOPE IN DAVAO Advocacy.
    Because we want change.Let begin the change and improvement to ourselves.Right?

  4. nortehanon Jan 11th 2011

    You have a very kind heart, Angie. And I’m happy Pens of Hope in Davao has someone like you.

  5. you’ve gone a long way miss N..

    all the hardships in your past really made a positive impact on you..

    some people develop angst due to trials in life.. but you opted to still be optimistic in everything.. and i really admire you for that.

    i will always be your fan. naks. πŸ˜‰

  6. nortehanon Jun 22nd 2009

    nyahahaha! may fan pala ako! πŸ˜€

    Naku, iha, sa dami ng mga negative things na nangyayari sa paligid ngayon, isa sa mga makakapitan natin ang pagiging optimistic. Kailangan talaga natin yan eh.

  7. I always hear about how the locals suffer from fights between the rebels and the government but this is the first time I’ve read a first-hand account.
    I just hope that those who are currently still caught in the conflict will have a future like yours, if not better.

  8. nortehanon Jun 22nd 2009

    That’s what I’ve always been praying for: a better life for everyone who are caught in conflicts, especially the children. Sana hindi sila ma-trauma. Sana they won’t take it against the society. Sana they will struggle to rise above the challenges that war brings to their lives.

  9. I thank God for keeping you and your family safe during those times…

  10. nortehanon Jun 22nd 2009

    Salamat po, hab. Maraming salamat. Yeah, ako rin nagpapasalamat nang malaki sa Kanya.

  11. it is indeed very sad and i bet traumatic. this is one of the worst things war brings. destroying innocent lives and breaking families is a high price to pay. good thing you were not harmed. i join you in prayer for the people in war-torn areas, particularly mindanao.

  12. nortehanon Jun 22nd 2009

    Salamat PM,
    Yeah, kailangan nating silang ipag-pray talaga.

  13. walang nanalo sa giyera. you are lucky for having survived the war, both physically and mentally.

  14. nortehanon Jun 22nd 2009

    Tama ka dyan, DInah. Walang nananalo sa giyera. Lahat talunan. Indeed, my family is lucky for surviving everything.

  15. Miss N, I am a war child refugee… πŸ˜€

    We moved from our hometown to the city to escape the war… Our parents wanted us to have a better future. My future may have been different if we decided to stay…

    Life in the city was difficult for my parents. I saw our struggles and I never realized we were very poor when I went to high school… My shoes have become a melting pot of fungi due to old age… Hehehe…

    But no regrets… I am thankful still… πŸ˜€

  16. nortehanon Jun 22nd 2009

    Nakakatuwang makakilala nang katulad ko ang kapalaran πŸ˜‰

    And I am happy that you have also found your way to a better life. And that is because mabait kang bata, Mark.

    God bless and keep your Faith shining.

  17. nakakatouched naman ang pinagdaanan nyo Miss N.

    sana nga magkaroon na ng tunay na kapayapaan πŸ™‚

    salamat sa pag share!

  18. nortehanon Jun 22nd 2009

    Maraming salamat din, Sandi, sa pagtitiyagang basahin ang bahaging ito ng buhay ko. Sana nga ay magkaroon ng tunay na kapayapaan. Kasama mo akong nagdarasal at umaasa.

  19. A real heartwarming story…. thanks for dropping by!

  20. nortehanon Jun 22nd 2009

    Thank you, too, sassy mom.

  21. sana, yung mga naiipit sa digmaan ngayon, makalaya rin katulad nang paglaya mo. haay. πŸ™

    btw, miss N, regarding sa price quotation nung sa services ng friend ko, pakiemail nalang sya dito: melissa_pamintuan@yahoo.com. thanks! πŸ™‚

  22. nortehanon Jun 22nd 2009

    Naku, hindi ko pa nga maasikaso yung pag-email eh. Pasensya na, I’ve been really busy.

    Salamat. Yeah, sana nga ay maging payapa na ang mga lugar na may mga paglalaban.

  23. What a sobering post. It’s an eye opening view for someone like me who’s never really been to that part of our world. Wishing you the best.

    On a different note…I smiled when I saw your blog title. Why? Because it’s the same as one of my blogs πŸ™‚

  24. nortehanon Jun 22nd 2009

    Hi Ria,
    Welcome to my blog. Thank you for your wish.
    Wow, you have more than one blog. Nakakatuwa naman na isa dun ay katulad ng titulo ng blog ko. How I wish I have more time to blog, tulad mo na merong more than 1 blog πŸ˜‰

  25. i could only imagine the terror you and your family went through. children and old people who couldn’t run fast are usually the ones who suffer more during armed conflicts. one of my aunts used to have a housekeeper who grew up in the mountains of Negros. this girl would suddenly duck whenever she would hear shots—kahit tambucho ng sasakyan napapailag s’ya, at pinapawisan ang mga palad n’ya. one of her sisters was killed during a military operation in their barangay—the army nor the rebels didn’t claim responsibility.

    it was a great decision for your family to leave that place. i’d probably prefer to starve in the city than live in constant fear in a place where there is an armed conflict.

  26. nortehanon Jun 22nd 2009

    Hi Luna Miranda,
    Nakakalungkot marinig ang tungkol sa household help ng aunt mo. I can relate. Malaki ang pasasalamat ko that not one of my family members was traumatized. My siblings and I thought it was just how things were kaya medyo hindi nakaka-shock sa level ng understanding namin. Ang masaklap sa kanya, namatayan siya ng mahal sa buhay. Kawawa naman. I hope she has recovered now.

  27. i’m speechless.
    thanks for sharing.

    this conflict would mean nothing but fear, hunger and pain…and sad to say, in this war, no one would win. pinoy vs pinoy, kawawang mamamayan.

    thanks for sharing this story. ang galing mo, dalawang gyera ang nalampasan mo. una, yong conflict at pangalawa yong pakikibaka mo sa kahirapan.

  28. nortehanon Jun 25th 2009

    Si God ang magaling, Kapatid. Dahil inilayo niya kami sa kapahamakan at tinulungan araw-araw upang kahit paano ay magkaroon ng mas magandang buhay kumpara sa kung anong buhay meron kami noon.

  29. I guess we do have the same experience. I lived in Mindanao and our barrio was a war zone between NPAs and the military. I remembered my father piled up sand bags in the walls of our house to protect us from stray bullets. We also had fox hole made available inside our house (the kitchen part). Almost every week, as young as we are, dead people were common sites. Salvage victims daw. Ang iba naman, military informers killed by the rebel hit squad.
    Anyways, those are the days. Peaceful na ang lugar namin ngayon unlike the rest of Mindanao na magulo pa rin…
    Your story is nostalgic pero ayaw ko nang balikan. Back then, hindi ako natatakot as a kid dahil hindi rin natatakot ang mga parents ko. Pero I realized na nakakatakot na pala yung mga events na yon…

  30. nortehanon Jun 25th 2009

    Yes, because as kids akala talaga natin na normal ang lahat, that it was how things work in other parts of the world lalo na’t wala naman tayong access sa information sa kung anong nangyayari sa ibang lugar.

    I am glad na-survive natin yun.

  31. This must have been a very traumatic experience especially for a child…I remember my grandmother telling me about what happened during WWII and told me horofic tales and what they did to escape the Japanese…

  32. nortehanon Jun 25th 2009

    Oddly enough, it wasn’t traumatic for me and my siblings. Our parents made it bearable for us.

    I have read a lot of books about the experiences of people during WWII. I couldn’t imagine what they had to go through. You grandmother is blessed to have survived it.

  33. the picture looks so eerie..it gave me goosebumps. It’s really nice to know that you and your family were able to survive all those traumatic incidents. I also pray that Mindanao and all other places in the Philippines achieve better harmony and peace.

  34. nortehanon Jun 25th 2009

    Thank you, Marites. Maraming salamat sa pagsama sa akin sa pagdarasal.

  35. Ayun! Natapos din ang back reading ko. Pasensya na po Miss N kung hindi ko na ma-commentan lahat. Pero nabasa ko na lahat. Sorry din kung naging busy ako these past few days. Busy sa school. Hehe..

    Natuwa ako sa post mong ito. Na-imagine ko ang life ninyo kung saan ka lumaki. Hindi ko siguro kakayanin ang mga bagay na kinalakihan ninyong buong pamilya. Isang putok pa nga lang ng kahit ano, lobo, short circuit, lalo pa ang gunshot ay talagang ninenerbiyos na ako. Pero mabuti naman at naging safe ang buong family ninyo. Isa lang ang ibigsabihin nun. You are blessed.

    Sana nga ay maging safe ang lahat ng mga families na napapagitnaan ng mga ganyang conflict. Nakakalungkot isipin na hindi pa rin matapos-tapos ang ganyang sigalot sa bansa. These families will be in my prayers tonight.

  36. nortehanon Jun 25th 2009

    Hi ems,
    Naku, wag na wag kang mag-a-apologize dahil sa schooling mo. Alam mo naman na todo ang suporta ko sa ‘yo sa pag-aaral mo. Isinama ko ‘yan sa prayers ko.

  37. mahirap nga ang experience na ito…kasi malalim ang sugat na naiiwan nito…minsan pa nga di na talaga naghihilom…my heart goes to a child of war like you …….

  38. hey NORTEHANON,

    i know you’re a busy blogista but i don’t care
    i know i only knew you yesterday but i don’t care
    i know i only read your blog yesterday but i don’t care

    i am inviting you to join us in barrio siete dot com



  39. nortehanon Jun 25th 2009

    Hi Reyna!
    Maraming salamat sa imbitasyon mo. I am honored. Naku, kaya ko bang sumulat para sa Barrio Siete? hehehe.

  40. thank you for your comment on my LP post this week πŸ™‚ you mentioned your admiration for your first grade teacher…so let me invite you to join a contest I am hosting honoring your most unforgettable teacher πŸ™‚ http://theaccidentalteacher.com/2009/05/my-most-unforgettable-teacher/

  41. nortehanon Jun 25th 2009

    Naku, so sorry, Ria. Hindi ako nakaabot sa deadline ng pa-contest mo eh. I’ve been super busy at work and I had to go on a very important trip.
    Meron pa bang susunod na pa-contest? πŸ˜‰

  42. This is another revelation from you Miss N. Swerte pa rin na matatawag yun mga taong hindi nakaranas ng giyera, like me because we didn’t experience the mental, emotional and physical abuse the war has brought to your family. I admire you for your courage to go back to your painful past and share it with us.

    God bless Miss N.

  43. nortehanon Jun 25th 2009

    Oo nga, Enjoy, another revelation. But I hope my readers will not see it much as my story, but as the story of many others who are still caught in armed conflicts, especially in Mindanao.

    God bless din, Enjoy. Maraming salamat.

  44. pahug naman Miss N.


  45. nortehanon Jun 25th 2009

    Thank you for the hug, Joyo.

  46. So glad your life has changed and you are safe now. I would imagine those memories will never fade. it’s hard to imagine a life so dangerous..

  47. nortehanon Jun 25th 2009

    Hi Balisha,
    Nice to have you here again.
    Those memories will never fade, Balisha. But they will be teaching me forever of the value of peace and harmony.

  48. this is indeed real miss n… we are really fortunate dahil di tayo nalagay sa sitwasyon nila and let’s be thankful to God.

    nwei, one thing to help these kids is to pray for them always. πŸ˜‰

  49. nortehanon Jun 25th 2009

    Yes, Yhen, malaking bagay ang prayers para sa kanila. Salamat.

  50. maayos din ang gulo, nakakaawa ang mga naapektuhan ng mga ganito. Diyos ko gabayan nyo po ang mga sibilyang walang malay,,,,

  51. nortehanon Jun 25th 2009

    Maraming salamat sa panalangin para sa ating mga kapatid na biktima ng walang kabuluhang armed conflict.

  52. uy, nasa Top Ten kita at may invite ka pa sa reyna para maging part ng barrio! ang galeng, hanep πŸ™‚


  53. hahaha oo nga eh. Ewan ko what I did para ma-invite niya. Sadyang malakas lang siguro ako sa kanya kaya inimbita niya, parang nepotism hahaha! Matagal na kasi kaming may nakaraan niyan hehehe πŸ˜‰

  54. Hi Miss N! Kamusta na? Hindi na tayo nakapag kita jan, busy din kasi ako, baka malay mo next year no? Nag mail po ako sa inyo ng maliit na bagay lamang sa po box mo jan sa leyte.

  55. nortehanon Jun 25th 2009

    Okay lang po, sa susunod na lang hehehe.
    Maraming salamat pala sa padala mo. Nakarating po. it will go a long way on children’s hearts πŸ˜‰ Salamat sa suporta.

    Btw, ako po ay nasa Samar, hindi po sa Leyte πŸ™‚

  56. Miss N…pahug po ako…

  57. nortehanon Jun 25th 2009

    Joyo, maraming salamat sa hug. Sending you back a hug.

  58. Great post, Northehanon. Great post!

  59. nortehanon Jun 25th 2009

    Maraming salamat, Grace.

  60. oh my! miss N, what experiences you’ve had! speechless ako! you know, one of the things I would never want to experience is being caught in a war. i could only imagine what it is like! at ayoko talaga!

    your experiences must have made you brave and strong. πŸ™‚

  61. nortehanon Jun 25th 2009

    Indeed, kg. They made me who I am now, brave and strong πŸ˜‰

  62. Na-speechless ako. Pero gusto kong ipaabot na saludo ako sayo. πŸ™‚
    At nawa’y dumating ang panahon na wala nang batang mamumuhay sa ganitong kalagayan. Because no child should be in this kind of constant danger. Sana malapit na yun.

  63. nortehanon Jun 25th 2009

    Tama ka, Vera. No child should be in dangerous situations katulad ng war. Nakakalungkot nga lang na nangyayari ang ganito.

  64. a very nice story. . . i don’t really know what to say. . . i was kinda afraid na baka one day it will happen again..waaaaaaah .

  65. nortehanon Jun 25th 2009

    I hope not…I really hope not, my friend.

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