I am writing this post inside a hospital, while waiting for my turn to be called. Almost four months have passed since I last saw my orthopedic doctor,  and I wasn’t able to consistently do the prescribed exercises for my legs. My left knee hurts more than my right,  and almost everyday I have to deal with the mild to moderate pain. I just started swimming last week,  but to be able to recover quickly,  I need to swim 2-3 times a week,  or find another physical activity that would complement it. I am nervous to know the condition of my knees now – I hope it has improved. 

On the other side, I woke up this morning with alarming news. At almost the same time I slept last night, an explosion at the night market in Roxas Avenue, Davao City happened. Around 12 people died, including a 12-year old. More than 60 people were injured by the blast. Early morning, President Duterte proclaimed the whole nation under the state of lawlessness. The AFP has declared full alert in Mindanao and heightened alert in the rest of the country. Just few hours earlier, Abu Sayyaf claimed the incident as their doing. 

In 2003, I was able to experience a similar incident. We were doing post-competition celebration with our coaches for the division math contest at the food court of the local mall when we suddenly heard an explosion and breaking of glass. In a split second, chaos ensued – people were screaming and running towards the stairs and exits. Too shocked, we stayed in our seats – one of the Math teachers told us to stay calm and not to go with the stampede. 

For the first time in my life,  I felt very frightened and helpless. My teeth chattered and my knees shook as we made our way down and out of the mall. Our parents were informed of the incident – and I went home, still shaking but able to talk. I think ever since then,  I became much more sensitive to loud noises and touch. 

What happened in Davao City last night reminded me again of the traumatic experience I had. Even as I work in a medical field, death and dying still has that great impact on me. 

Terrorism has no place in this country. Innocent civilians die,  get hurt and feel traumatized for the rest of their life. To be free of fear and to live in peace shouldn’t just be people’s dreams. 

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