‘WE WANT TO GO HOME’: Residents displaced by Himamaylan clashes caught in uncertainty

By Glazyl Y. Masculino

HIMAMAYLAN City, Negros Occ. – “Kung mag dugay pa gid ni, te maano na lang kami ni ya man?”

This was the sentiment of Melvin Parcon, one of the evacuees at the gymnasium of Barangay Carabalan, Himamaylan City, Negros Occidental.

Parcon was among the thousands of residents who were displaced by the series of armed encounters between the Army and the New People’s Army (NPA) in the village since Oct. 6, 2022.

Parcon, a leader and resident of Sitio Sig-ang where most clashes occurred since last week, said the evacuees really wanted to go back to their houses.

He expressed his concern regarding their livelihood, especially those with animals who were left behind when they evacuated.

“Kabudlay gid ya kay ang palangabuy-an namun ara to te indi kami ka obra,” he said.

Parcon recalled that he was at his house when the first encounter broke out.

They thought at first that it was just fireworks, until successive gunfire followed while a helicopter was seen in the area.

Parcon said this prompted about 90 families to voluntarily leave their houses as they feared for their safety, considering that the firefight was just 500 meters away from their houses.

He said it was the first time for him to experience armed clashes that lasted for a week now.

He said he was allowed by the Army to go back to his house on the fourth day of the encounter because he needed to get the doctor’s prescription of his wife, but if the troopers were on the ground, they were barred from entering their sitio due to risky situation.

“Delikado sang sitwasyon didto,” Parcon said.

However, he noted that their situation at the gymnasium was also difficult.

“Wala problema pagkaon, pero ang tulog tapos ang mga personal man namon na mga gamit tani. Agahan, hapunan, gab-ihan, agahan liwat, te amo na lang kami ni gihapon? Te mahulat na lang kami kung tagaan ka gobyerno, indi na ya ka trespaser,” he said.

“Bisan wala ya kami kakaon maayo na sud-an, bisan uga lang to ya, kung tawhay lang ya amon to sinalayo, wala sang nakulbaan, mas bentaha tani,” he said.

Oscar Quingco, 73, was worried that he could not get his four cows that were left behind.

“Kabudlay sa amon na indi kami kasulod sa amon panimalay,” Quingco said.

Quingco said that he’s been staying in the village for more than 40 years, and it was the first time for him to experience the incident.

“Ang amon tigulang gin pas-an lang namon tabok sa talamnan para maka rescue kami dayon dalagan,” he added.

“Tanan kami may kasapatan to kung ano kasakit na pamayaan namon amon panimalay kag maglayas kami tungod lang gid na ma safety amon kabuhi,” Quingco said.

Quingco said that he would want to go home if they will be permitted. “Kinanlan namon ya kalinong,” he added. He prayed for peace to reign in their village.

According to Barangay Captain Mildred Titular, 451 individuals or 192 families from 24 sitios in the village are staying at the gymnasium.

She said the most affected sitios were Sitios Sig-ang and Medel, where the clashes occurred. In fact, the Army placed a barricade to prevent people from entering the areas in the village which they considered risky.

Titular said that people flocked to the gymnasium when the firefight erupted on Oct. 6, prompting them to call for the assistance of the local government and other government agencies.

When it comes to the concerns of the evacuees, Titular said they were worried about their safety since only a limited number of village watchmen were deployed to secure the venue.

She said they need additional security for the evacuees.

The humid weather also brought discomfort to the evacuees at the gymnasium.

To ease their discomfort, some individuals who were donating relief assistance to the evacuees held games for the children, Titular said.


Vice Mayor Justin Gatuslao went to the gymnasium yesterday to distribute relief assistance from his own pocket and from donations to the evacuees.

Gatuslao said they were able to provide assistance to a total of 13 evacuation centers.

He said that this is an opportunity for the government to prove to the people that during these difficult times, the government is there for them, and to show solidarity with them.

‘Noble act’

A pastor and his wife, who are from End Time Message Church, accommodated at their house in Barangay Caradio-an at least 125 residents of Sitio Campayas in Barangay Carabalan.

The Romano family opened their doors to their relatives and some strangers who sought refuge amid the armed conflict in Barangay Carabalan.

Helen Diaz Romano, the house owner, said that she decided to accommodate them because aside from the fact that most of them were her relatives, they were also members of their Church.

“It’s for their safety, kaysa didto na indi sila katulog kag gina pahalin na sila didto daan,” she said.

Upon learning about the news, Romano said they sent their canter truck to fetch their relatives, and since the situation was crucial, other residents also hitched, prompting them to send another truck owned by her sibling.

The affected residents were occupying their Church, and two other rooms in the house, where they can sleep comfortably with aircon, which means more power costs.

“Dako na ang kuryente kay tanan pati tubig provided, pero wala kaso. God can provide,” Romano said.

To maximize the spaces, the evacuees use Church pews as dividers to provide them privacy.

As to their food, they would chip in so that they can cook and share the meals with everyone.

Despite their situation, the evacuees were able to celebrate a birthday of a nine-year-old girl at the said house this week.

Romano said that the child’s late father was supposed to prepare a lechon for her birthday, but because of the armed conflict, they failed to do so as the pig which was supposed to be roasted was left behind.

Instead, the evacuees decided to chip in to buy food for her birthday and balloons that decorated their house.


Thirty-year-old Genijade Caseres, who is 9 months pregnant, said that she felt nervous when she heard a series of gunfire in the village on Oct. 6, prompting them to immediately leave their house for the safety of her three children.

“Kahadlok ang nabatyagan ko kay siyempre manugbata na ko. Pagkabati namon lukpanay, nag karan-karan man kami kung diin kami manago,” an emotional Caseres said, as she recalled her experience.

Caseres said they were thinking of immediately escaping from the area with her three children, who were just at home when they were caught in the middle of the crossfire.

“Gapanawagan ko nga tani malinong naman,” a teary-eyed Caseres said, as she expressed concern that she might give birth to a baby boy anytime this month due to anxiety.

Meanwhile, two boys aged 10 said they were afraid when they heard gunshots, prompting them to run into the sugarcane field.


Brigadier General Inocencio Pasaporte, commander of the 303rd Infantry Brigade (IBde), said that the clearing operation in all Sitios in Barangay Carabalan is ongoing.

Pasaporte said on Thursday that they have identified some Sitios who were already cleared from the threat of the NPA, but they could not provide the list yet.

However, he assured that some affected residents could return to their houses by this week, except in the areas where the series of clashes occurred.