By Vincent Philip S. Bautista
 
MARAWI, LANAO DEL SUR (PIA) — In Bito Buadi Itowa’s verdant surroundings, a family of eight blissfully pack their belongings under the scorching heat of the sun, with every child hauling whatever they can rally from the worn-out tent that they will soon call their old home, with each journey leads them farther and farther from their violent shaky past.
 
Like many of the internally displaced families affected by the siege in Marawi, the Macaindig’s were a humble household full of hope and dreams.
 
Isnairah Macaindig is a housewife with six happy little children. Her husband, Muhammad, worked as a carwash attendant. They lived a simple yet honest life full of love and laughter.
 
Mahid, their eldest son, dreamt of becoming a policeman, while Yasnia, the eldest daughter, wanted to become a teacher.
 
The couple had dreamt of giving their children a better life than what was being provided by them, to soar above the grasps of poverty and to live an educated life.
 
Waking up from a Fever Dream
 
After the terrorist group made their weapons of rumble throughout the city of Marawi, Isnairah’s heart sunk and their dreams were torn apart. Recovery from the siege had not been easy for them.
 
Aside from the trauma, they had to endure a living situation that had not been too kind for them. Picking up the crumbs of their former lives and with assistance from the government, they were able to find stability amid chaos and destruction, albeit temporarily.
 

Isnairah Macaindig tearfully smiles upon learning they can now relocate to a new temporary shelter in Marawi City. (Vincent Philip Bautista/PIA-ICIC)

“We had been dreaming of living at the shelter. Our tents now are not what they are used to. Our children had been sickly since our first day here in the tent,” she shared, as tears flow down from her eyes.
 
In a simple tent, they were able to recuperate and find strength in each other’s arms, but as time’s impassive touch extends its reaches through the unit, the depreciation and decay of their shelter had become apparent and their goal of having a dignified life had transfigured into a pipe dream.
 
“We had been living in a tent for more than a year already. We had no choice but to live in a tent since we lost everything during the siege,” she shared.
 
Isnairah said there wasn’t a single day that they did not look forward to waking up to the good news – to be transferred to their new, permanent home.
 
Rebuilding Foundations
 
After hearing of the National Housing Authority (NHA) project of relocating evacuees to a Mountain View transitory shelter site, Isinairah took it as her clarion call from her family and swiftly jumped on the opportunity.
 
With the fair systematic arm of the government, they were granted shelter and assistance within the transitory community.
 
In the 10-hectare site, the spacious, clean and well-developed shelters provide adequate housing for evacuees.
 
NHA provided them with rainwater collectors in addition to plumbing, and the children can safely play in the streets while parents can access commercial hubs nearby for day to day needs.
 
Now, they almost can’t believe that they are finally moving to their new home.
 

The Macaindig children happily pose in front of their new home. (Vincent Philip Bautista/PIA-ICIC)

Their children could not contain the thrill of having to finally live in a warmer shelter, protected from extreme weather and adequate plumbing – their dream has finally come true.
 
Isnairah will no longer worry about their children’s health since they will no longer have to endure sleeping the cold.
 
As the family settles into their new home, their smiles fill what was once a space of steel and stone into a house full of love and warmth.
 
With a stable foundation, the family looks forward to a luminous future, with candor, Isnairah released a blissful sigh of relief and shared a resounding smile that encapsulates the exaltation of perseverance.
 
“With our faith in the higher being, we know that there is still hope. We were told countless times that we will certainly be given a decent home and we just had to hold on to the hope that it will happen. Now that we’re finally moving, we can’t find the right words to express how grateful we are to the government,” she shared.
 
As of now, there are 192 families at the Mountain View transitory shelter site, with a target of 1000 households, the NHA aims to give stable shelter to internally displaced Filipinos affected by the Marawi conflict before the end of President Duterte’s term. (Vincent Philip Bautista/PIA-ICIC)