Lack of events, dear boy, lack of events
It was a good choice, it seems. This weekend’s supposed Major Offensive turned out to be a let down – even if I’d been there, there was nothing to actually cover. Two soldiers were injured in a small firefight, but other than that, there was no contact with Abu Sayyaf or the MILF. Indeed, it’s not even certain the other side of the firefight was anyone but some locals pissed off at the army coming across their land. Even the Philippine Chief of Staff, the fantastically named Gen. Hermogenes Esperon Jr, admitted it’s actually quite hard to ‘locate the enemy’. In other words, they have no idea where they are.
I, on the other hand, spent the day roaming Zamboanga. As Thomas Crampton wrote in the IHT a few years ago, this isn’t the safest of cities. (Tom’s blog is here too.)
Imagine choosing to move into a place so far beyond normal travel warnings that the country’s own government warns foreigners to stay out…Zamboanga is far beyond the scale of U.S. State Department travel bans. The government of the Philippines itself warns tourists against going to western Mindinao and recently even prohibited foreign diplomats from visiting the area.
Nevertheless, and despite the bomb in the main square that went off last week injuring 14, I figured a day out at the cockfights would make a good photostory. So it proved. I’m in the middle of the edit now, but you can see some first picks here,
here, and here, on my personal blog.