Hoping for normalcy in Zamboanga

Karlos Manlupig

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Despite the ongoing hostilities, the people of Zamboanga attempts to bring normalcy back to their lives

AT THE MARKET. A mother carries her child as she walks past makeshift stalls at Zamboanga's city market, September 21, 2013. Photo by Karlos Manlupig/Rappler

ZAMBOANGA CITY, Philippines – As the world commemorate the International Day of Peace on Saturday, September 21, another fire razed houses in Zamboanga City followed by loud explosions and sporadic bursts of gunfire.

More than 100,000 residents were displaced and are still taking shelter in different evacuation centers. Their present living condition is very poor and the government is struggling hard to provide the needs of the residents.

Many of the evacuees said they have not heard about the International Day of Peace but they expressed that they are praying hard that order and harmony will reign over the troubled city again.

Despite the ongoing hostilities, the people of Zamboanga attempts to bring normalcy back to their lives.

Vendors at the famous barter trading complex has started to slowly reopen their stores. Colorful textiles, shawls, malongs and shirts are now again being displayed.

But the shop owners worry about the effect of the conflict on the tourism industry.

“Many of our customers are tourists and those who are attending conventions in the city. If the conflict will continue, there will be no tourists and conventions here,” a shop owner said.

The city’s public market remains closed but vendors have occupied guerilla-style a small alley near the market.

Those who sell rice, beans, eggs and other items use trucks and cars as their temporary stall because the government has not yet allowed them to reopen their shops.

Vendors, using colorful beach umbrellas, transformed the gutters as their stalls to sell vegetables, fruits, fish and meat.

Other establishments have also rolled up their shutters to cater the needs of their customers.

Inside the Joaquin Enriquez Memorial Sports Complex, residents said that they will start from scratch after the conflict but they are optimistic that they will get through it if they will face it as a family. – Rappler.com

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