Memories hit close to home
Activists rally in Manila to mark the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 US terror attacks
Evangeline Iquina, a school teacher in central Philippines, lost her brother Hector Tamayo in the September 11 attacks on the World Trade Center. Though the pain of her loss remains, Iquina says she has learned to accept the death of her brother. “Sometimes I feel guilty for being the one who persuaded him to go to the US, but on second thought, it was the best decision since he was generous to his friends here,” she said. Hector was one of nearly 3,000 people killed in the attacks a decade ago. Tamayo was working as a project engineer responsible for renovations at the site when the towers were attacked. Iquina received the news of the incident by phone from other siblings in the US. “I did not have a choice then but to pray until our relatives … confirmed my fear that Hector was among those who died.” Tamayo funded the construction of a local chapel in Tambuan village in Malinao, from where his family hailed, with money earned abroad. He also founded the Santo Nino, or Ati-atihan festival in New York as a way of introducing a bit of his home culture to Americans. Iquino said the death of Osama bin Laden in May brought some relief. “I felt justice had been served,” she said. “All I can do now is to accept God’s will and forgive the terrorists. Deep inside me, I still hate hearing the name of the terrorist leader and seeing his picture portrayed on television. Also Sunday, an interfaith group in Manila held a rally in memory of victims of the September 11 attacks and the US-led ‘war on terror.’ The commemoration continued on Monday, with some Catholic schools lighting candles and offering prayers for peace. “There were two paths forward from the ashes and rubble of 9/11. One path led to war, torture and fear, but another path was marked by soul-searching, genuine mourning for the lost and standing up for peace-building,” said a statement issued by the international religious group Sojourners during a ceremony at Miriam College in Quezon City. The militant Bagong Alyansang Makabayan, or New Patriotic Alliance, also observed the 10-year anniversary of the attacks by condemning the US government’s use of the attacks to justify what it called an “anti-people” war on terror. “We continue to condole with the victims of this unparalleled tragedy, and we continue to condemn this unacceptable act of violence against civilians,” the group said in a statement, adding that the US invasion of Iraq and Afghanistan was equally condemnable. For Iquina, the anniversary is personal and still painful, but she refuses to despair and remains resigned to her faith. On Sunday she commemorated her brother’s death by attending Mass at St. Joseph the Worker in Malinao. "For me, no matter how man will plan for his life when God decides what to do we cannot do anything about it," she said.