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Interrogating the Story | The Banago dilemma: fears based on rumors but could lack of clear information be the culprit?

Part 1 of 4

Around 9:45am, Monday.

A woman’s voice rang out as the DNX team made its way to the seaside where fisherfolk launch their frail bancas to catch fish.

Third line, first stanza of Englebert Humperdinck’s song.

“To west our laybs
Wod be a sennn
Reless me and lit me lav agenn”

I caught to my left the wall of sliced bamboo browned by the elements with my right hand to prevent stumbling onto the wet eskinita.

I have a left drop foot and it caught the three black hoses that crossed the eskinita, potable water connections, illegal or not, we don’t know.

I was not startled by the lyrics. I wanted to avoid a fall.

Up the eskinita – a narrow passageway criscrossing crowded communities like Kitahanon – the one we are headed to, a mother in her teens watches over her young son, around three, possibly four, as her husband, also in his teens, suns a baby while sitting on a chair.

I saw dog poop before the eskinita bends left but the elder child saw it first and promptly announced his discovery.

“‘Nay may tae (Mom, there’s dogshit),” he said like one who had just seen Prometheus bringing fire.

“Amo gid na kay ara ta sa…”

The young mother paused and looked at me, adjusted the blue towel with a giant printed face of Stitch draped across her chest as I passed her by.

“…Squatter,” she told her son as I reached the bend and turned slowly.

Squatter – the 1980s term for the now “politically correct” term coined in fancy hotels: “informal settlers” precisely describes the situation of residents here who have been living here for decades.

I passed three houses and three sari sari stores – small neighborhood stores selling anything from needles to charcoal and people inside these houses all asked the same thing.

“To, diin ka makadto (Son, where are you going)?”

“To Palito,” I replied, saying the nickname of Jason Atillio, the community leader we were about to meet.

It was kind of weird to be asked so often and to see boys, at least two of them, darting from behind and running ahead of us.

I don’t know what it means.

Kitahanon is in Banago, one of the villages in Bacolod City that police say is affected by illicit drugs, where people, young and old alike, are allegedly involved in the narcotics trade.

While much of this is mostly anecdotal, police records show Banago topped the list of five barangays in Bacolod City with the most shabu seizures in 2020.

The shabu seizures in that village alone was valued at P13.1 million.

If these reports remain to be rumors, DNX has found out on the ground that villagers here, or at least those we have talked to, are afraid of a possible eviction based on rumors they have heard about the projects.

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