War wounds: Small steps to closure

CompanyPhilippine Daily Inquirer
PhotographerKarlos Manlupig
Prize1st Place in Deeper Perspective
Entry Description

This is the story of Filipinos who at a very young age realized that wounds may easily heal but what is more harrowing is the lingering pain inside. The story revolves around the life of 18- year-old Kim Pascua and his 10-year-old cousin Kiko from the village of Tubigan in the town of Maluso in Basilan in the southernmost region of the Philippines. It was around 5:45 in the morning in 2010 when heavily armed rebels swooped down and attacked their village. Kim, her mother, her two siblings 8-year-old Argie and 11- month-old Karen Mae, and her cousins, Kiko, 8-year-old John Luis, 9-year-old Angeline and 10-year-old Jebrian all got trapped inside their house. The assailants continued to fire their automatic rifles until they decided to burn houses down. All members of the family except Kim and Kiko died in the incident after sustaining burns and gunshot wounds. At least 13 were killed in their village while 24 others were injured. Kim and Kiko lost all their legs while their faces and bodies were covered in burn scars. Five years after the incident, Kim and Kiko are now staying at a dimly lit dormitory of a rehabilitation center to finally get their own custom-built prosthesis. They shared that each step they make as they try on the prosthesis is a step towards moving forward. However, the neither prosthesis nor facial reconstruction can give what their hearts truly desire. Justice is what the country needs, they said. And with the government now talking peace with the rebels, Kim commented that this might be the closure that they have been yearning for. “I do not want revenge. What I dream of now is that no other child will experience what I have experienced,” Kim said.