Social Worker Board topnotcher from MSU: ‘No one deserves war’
MANILA, Philippines – War has only one face to many Filipinos. It is about the government against the rebels, or the government against the terrorists. The nation has become too fragmented that it has forgotten about the people who unfortunately, have to live their lives in between the crossfire – even children who eventually grow up hearing gunshots at night instead of lullabies.
This is what Paramisuli Aming, the 2017 Social Workers Licensure Exam top-notcher, believes in.
Aming hails from Tawi-Tawi in Mindanao. She moved to Marawi City in Lanao del Sur to study social work at Mindanao State University and to help her own people one day.
On Tuesday, August 2, her dream finally came true as she became a registered social worker.
The 20-year-old has known war all her life and she understands that it doesn’t choose who it will slay next.
In her own words, “Walang pinipili ang bullet, ang bomba, whether you’re a good person or a bad person.” (Bullets and bombs don’t choose anyone, whether you’re a good person or a bad person.)
Aming said that it is just unfortunate for them to be accustomed to armed conflicts because it should never be normal. She added that people have forgotten about the social impacts of war to people.
“It is sad that it’s almost normal to us to hear gunshots. No one deserves this (war)."
She is not alone in her desire to help fellow Mindanaoans. Two other top-notchers also came from Mindanao State University. Catherine Caulawon ranked sixth while Elmer Villamucho Jr. ranked seventh.
‘For the people’
Growing up in an island enveloped by armed conflict, Aming told Rappler that many young people like her who go to college usually choose to pursue nursing or other development courses. She is one of those whose dream is to help uplift people from Mindanao.
“It’s for the people. It is basically helping the people in a professional way,” she said on wanting to be a registered social worker.
According to her, seeing other social workers make an impact inspired her to do the same. Despite Filipinos being a resilient people, Aming said that victims of conflict, particularly the Marawi siege, direly need psychosocial attention from the government.
For Aming, the best way to completely help the victims is by rebuilding the homes and communities of the affected families. (READ: Duterte creates task force in charge of Marawi rehab)
“People need rebuilding and rehabilitation in their own places. They need the sense of normalcy,” Aming said. “There’s a lot of things that we should do. There’s a huge challenge to uplift these people,” she added.
She does not only have this perspective as a social worker but as someone who experienced war herself. In fact, Aming was in Marawi the day the crisis erupted.
“We were happy the night before when we were in our dormitories. I was with my batchmates,” the then graduating student said.
The graduating batch of MSU was having their torch parade the night before the Maute group and the military clashed against each other. They were grateful, happy, and celebrating, without knowing that the next day would possibly be the darkest day of their lives. (READ: MSU Marawi students graduate away from home)
When the Maute group invaded the city, people in MSU started shouting “Go home! Lock your doors,” in their local language.
Aming was in panic. She ran to her cottage barefooted.
Since MSU is located in an elevated place, she said they could see establishments burning and bombs falling. Her voice started to shake during the phone interview while narrating her story.
Her roommates started to leave one by one while she went with their landlady to Balindong – a municipality 30 minutes away from the battleground. She stayed there for a night and eventually went to her sister in Cotabato.
After 8 days, Aming went to Iligan City to prepare for the board exams.
Advocating for unity
Beyond her experience in Marawi City, she is no stranger to conflict and violence. During the election day, she event witnessed one watcher shoot another watcher.
“May pinapatay without justice served even without investigation,” she said. (There are people being killed without justice served and even without investigation.)
Prejudice has also been prevalent in the environment she grew up in. She narrated that she found it difficult to find a dormitory to stay in Iligan City – one of the many examples of the social impacts of armed conflicts.
“They are quick to reject us whenever they would see our head scarves.”
She said that there is a big need for the Philippines to be united but Moro people like her find it difficult to reach out because of stereotyping.
Aming added that she gets hurt whenever other Filipinos attack and blame the Muslim community of what is happening in Mindanao.
Despite going through all that she has experienced, Aming remained hopeful for her fellow Muslims and countrymen. The first thing she plans to do is give back to her people.- Rappler.com