Wednesday, February 4, 2009


The horror of war and kidnapping came to me early in childhood. Then and now, I know fear by one name: Sacol Island.

Now notorious for the recent kidnapping of three public school teachers, Sacol Island is just half a mile away from my hometown Barangay Manicahan in Zamboanga City.

In my elementary school years, war came to us in the form of vintage T-28 Trojan dive bombers – commonly known as Tora-Tora planes – raining bombs and hellfire into the island located east of Zamboanga City. Sacol was then known as a Moro National Liberation Front lair.

The rumbling and shaking of the ground beneath us signal the dismissal of classes. It also triggers panic as our parents pack up clothes, foods, flashlights and other provisions as we jump into fox holes to hide from the fire fight between the army and the MNLF.

Some 35 years hence, things have not changed. They only worsened. Now the Abu Sayyaf Group has made Sacol Island their home. To escape military attacks, some ASG families also settled down in a sitio in Manicahan known as Aplaya.

The horror of kidnapping became close and personal. Recently, a farmer-uncle was kidnapped in Aplaya; and my mother’s colleague in a religious organization was kidnapped and gang-raped by teenage ASG members in Sacol Island.

Truly, poverty and illiteracy has driven many in Aplaya and Sacol Island to see kidnapping as the only effective means of earning a living. Kidnap for ransom activity has turned into a kind of cottage industry.

It is for this reason that through our A-Book-Saya Group (ABSG) book-donation project, we have targeted children in Aplaya and Sacol Island as beneficiaries of less than 700 books we collected through our Satti Grill House outlet in SM-Fairview last year.

Although it is too late to change the minds of their gun-totting elders, we hope that with books we could still reach out to the children of suspected ASG members for them to take the path of peace.

However, we realized that to really get ASG kids into seeing education and not guns as viable means out of poverty, we have to take a pro-active means to initiate an early intervention in their troubled childhood.

Thus, we are embarking on a mission to build the first Kristiyano-Islam (Kris) Peace Library to teach Christian and Muslim children living in Manicahan and Sacol Island that there are other means of livelihood other than kidnapping and banditry.

The Kris Peace Library would be a place for Christians and Muslim kids to get together to read, train in the use of computers, undergo reading sessions, watch inspiring documentaries; and a place for them and their parents to learn some form of livelihood.

As of now, we already have about 90 boxes of books and five used computers donated by Former Senate President Jovito Salonga, PR Guru Charlie Agatep, the International School of Manila, Diether Ocampo’s KIDS Foundation, Ahon Foundation of Filway Marketing Inc, Quota International-Manila, Solar Sport’s Willie Tieng, and Philippine Star columnist Jarious Bondoc, among others.

But the biggest challenge is the building of the simple, two-storey library. It is in this connection that we are asking for your help to project our advocacy in media through your newspaper columns, blogs or e-groups for us to reach out to potential donors.

Potential donors can call us at 7992745, 3393732 and 09175208013. You can email us at or check us out at

Those who want to give books, educational toys and school supplies can drop these off at the Satti Grill House outlet in SM-Fairview Food Court or at the Dean and Kings Legal Public Relations Firm located at Suite 300, Kimvi Realty and Development Building, 1191 Maria Orosa St., Ermita Manila (fronting the Court of Appeals).

Armand Dean Nocum
Dean & Kings Legal PR Firm

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