by Israelbelle Ferolino
In June of 2001, the terrorist group Abu Sayyaf entered the city of Lamitan bringing with them 20 hostages. Then-president Gloria Macapagal Arroyo immediately declared an all-out war against the extremist group but the terrorists already took over a hospital and a church compound. Abu Sayyaf who was composed of a suicide squad was threatening to use the children and hostages as human shields.
Mark Conrad “Maco” Ravanzo was then a kid, but he can still vividly remember the horrors that ensued. Helicopter gunships prowled the sky of his hometown and battle tanks roamed their streets.
“We hid in our basement and all we could do was pray.” Maco recounts in horror “As in, nag ro-rosary kami habang naririnig ko yung bombs and putukan sa labas.”
Maco was supposed to be preparing for his first day of school. He was so excited he even slept with his new shoes and bag. But instead, he was in a dark basement, waiting to be killed at any moment.
This is not the first time the war took something from him. His dad, who is a soldier, has been missing for years after a military assignment tragedy. Decades have passed but until now, his dad is nowhere to be found.
“It was one of those memories that made me realize I had to do something especially in providing safe spaces for the kids.” Maco smiled as he explained how his experiences pushed him to become an advocate of peace.
In 2009, Maco co-founded I am Making A Difference (MAD) Inc. I am MAD Inc. is a volunteer organization that aims to advocate Filipino values to its children beneficiaries. The organization conducts a three-day outreach program that promotes the values of love for others, love for the environment, and love for the country. I am MAD inc. have over a thousand scholars all over the country. The organization has been awarded by the Palace of Malañang as one of the Ten Accomplished Youth Organization.
Maco is now a multi-awarded civic leader in the Philippines. His experiences during the Lamitan Siege and the loss of his father made him MAD, but Maco is not angry. Maco is Making a Difference.
Mayroon ka rin bang kwentong #TatagPinoy na nais ibahagi sa Now You Know? Ipadala ang mga kwentong ito sa amin! Mag-email lamang sa firstname.lastname@example.org o mag-send ng PM sa aming Facebook page.