By Tara Yap
Boracay, Aklan—They came to this resort island last year to rebuild their lives after Marawi City became a warzone, but their lives will once again be in limbo.
“Nasasaktan ako. Biglang nasira yung lugar namin nakaraang taon at lahat kami natigil sa pag-aaral. Pumunta kami dito upang maghanap buhay ng maayos, pero eto yung nangyari (I’m hurt. Our home was destroyed last year and we had to stop going to school. We came here to find a better life, but this is had to happen),” lamented Mariam Ali.
Mariam, 21, runs a small shop selling souvenir shirts and beach clothing along the beachfront of Station 2. The day after the government formally closed down Boracay Island from tourists, her shop was still open.
Mariam told Manila Bulletin she’s trying to sell whatever items she can as majority of her supply was only purchased days before President Duterte decided to totally close Boracay for six months.
Mariam came to Boracay with her married sister’s family and thought they could make it a home for a longer period of time, but the island’s closure will again spend their lives.
“Uumiiyak siya kasi maghahanap naman sila kon saan makakita ng pera para sa dalawang anak at saka buntis siya ngayon (She’s been crying because they have to figure out where to get money to feed their two children and she’s also pregnant),” Mariam said.
Mariam will try her luck in Metro Manila while she said her sister’s family will have to go back to Marawi.
Aralia Batuampar, another 21-year-old from Marawi City who sells souvenir items, will also be forced to head back home.
“Wala na ako magawa dito eh. Wala na yung mga turista (I can’t do anything here anymore. The tourists are gone),” Aralia said as she is packing up her things in preparation to leave the island this weekend.
The number of Marawi natives displaced by Boracay’s closure is still unknown, but some of them have already availed financial assistance from the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD).
One of them is 18-year-old Norain Abdul. She hopes to be able to travel back to Marawi with the Php 3,500 she received from DSWD.
DSWD Secretary Emmanuel Leyco vowed that those who wanted to return to their home provinces will be able to avail financial assistance.