Friday, February 3, 2023

A Traumatic Experience of My Own

by Leander Palalon | October 22, 2021

Let’s face it, trauma hits hard. A lot of us have been traumatized by something beyond our control, something so sinister that it left a mark on us and changed our lives forever. We try to get on by suppressing it and not letting it show, but deep down, we seek to find healing and acceptance from this haunting menace.

Let me tell you about my own traumatic experience. I remember it vaguely, so bear with me. As a kid, a Grade 5 student to be exact, you would normally be in school, learning and playing with your friends and interacting with those around you. My school year started normally: I enrolled, met new friends, and studied hard to make my parents proud.

It was around this time that something happened. At 12:00 AM, we were sleeping in my grandfather’s house when I was suddenly woken up by a commotion. I always knew something was wrong because we had to stay with my grandfather when my father was in Surigao. So, I proceeded to ask my mother what was going on and the only reply I got was: “Something happened at the house. Stay here and look after your sister.” As a child, I was naturally curious when I saw them leave the house with a police escort. However, I immediately went back to bed because I had exams in the morning. 

During breakfast, I finally found out what had happened. They said that someone had thrown a grenade in front of our house, believing we were there. Then it all became clear, we were the target of an apparent intimidation attempt by business rivals from our hometown. My father immediately rushed home and proceeded to prepare for what was to come next. He knew they would not stop until something was done.

I was in school then, preparing to take my first quarter examinations when my mother came and picked me up, telling me that we were going to Zamboanga City to avoid the people who had tried to hurt us. We were brought home to the scene of people with weapons and fully-packed suitcases in the trunks of cars. Seeing as there was a threat upon us, we were escorted by soldiers on the way to Zamboanga City. 

In Zamboanga, we tried to make sense of the situation. We asked all our relatives for help and they had only said that it was better if we were to lie low somewhere far. The next thing I knew, we were on a plane to Davao, where we were picked up by a friend and taken to Surigao, where we proceeded to travel to Leyte, then towards our destination, Cebu. 

We lived in Cebu for two months, and that was two months of neither school nor assignments. We waited and waited for the situation to die down in our hometown. After we got the all-clear, we traveled home through Zamboanga Del Norte, and eventually arrived early in the morning. Our relatives were happy to see our faces again for they knew our return meant that we were strong and that we would not let something as small as a grenade tear our lives up. 

Of course, it still pains me today that someone had to use extreme measures to intimidate us. I did not move on from this situation easily. I had gained a habit of checking out every person to see if they were a threat or not. I had learned to inspect their body movements and language, as well as the accessories they would carry. Not to mention the trauma that had to be dealt by that 10-year old kid, who tried to comprehend the situation, only to find the brutal truth that this world bears.

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