‘Ang Misyon: Marawi Siege Story’ director shares story when he was kidnapped by Abu Sayyaf
It is no secret that next to men in uniform, media people performing their duty amidst flying bullets face death anytime. Stories of journalists being kidnapped by rebels and extremist groups have been common time and again and “Ang Misyon: Marawi Siege Story” director Cesar Soriano is no exception.
Currently a Radyo Inquirer 990 AM news anchor and an occasional film producer and director, Soriano was formerly a television reporter for ABS-CBN during the early ‘90s. He was batchmates with such big names currently in the media industry including Gus Abelgas, Henry Omaga-Diaz and Pia Hontiveros.
Hailing from Zamboanga, he was often assigned to cover stories such as kidnapping and terrorist encounters in Mindanao.
One particular assignment really exposed his life in total danger.
“One time nung kinidnap ‘yung American missionary Charles Walton in 1994, ‘yung presidente natin nasa America, si then President FVR [Fidel V. Ramos]. Pinadala ako doon kailangan marelease si Charles Walton pero ang nangyare pumunta po si dating Vice President Joseph Estrada siya ang pinadala so solve the crisis,” he said during the special screening of the movie at the Dolphy Theater in ABS-CBN last May 25.
“He declared a news blackout. As a reporter po napakasakit po ayaw namin ng news blackout kasi may quota kami kasi ng istorya, everyday sa desk namin dapat ganito ang storya. Ano gagawin namin? Wala ka storya wala ka kwentang reporter,” he added.
As a young reporter, he wanted to please his bosses and get to the core of stories at all costs. On the ground, he and his team were strictly instructed by the military to stay put as inching further into the post assures an encounter with the Abu Sayyaf.
With a bold heart and duty first in mind, his team went off and faced the consequences. More so, even a media affiliation could not excuse a captive from an enemy’s hurling tortures.
“Talagang hinanap namin ‘yung Abu Sayyaf, hinanap namin ‘yung kumidnap, dumating kami sa Patikul, Sulu ‘yun na nasalubong namin,” he said as everyone silenced to hear his story.
“Nung sinalubong kami, sinaktan ako, sinipa-sipa ako, ‘di na kami pinauwi. Akala ko pupugutan na ko ng ulo, sumulat na ko sa mother ko salamat sa lahat sa pagpapalaki sa akin. Kumain kami ng cassava, dilis, ‘yun ‘yung araw-araw naming pagkain,” he added.
However, he was able to use his affiliation to turn things around. He baited the bandits that their aim of televising their terrorism will be of no avail if they don’t set them free. Hence, they were freed.
“Pero sa stratehiya namin, sino mag-co-cover kung ma-realease ito? Sinabihan ko ‘yung Abu Sayyaf sino mag-co-cover nito kung i-release ‘yung Amerikano, eh sayang namang ‘tong ano niyo eh di’ba gusto niyo ma-televise? So ‘yun nag-ka idea sila, sige i-release na natin ‘tong mga to para ma-cover nga tayo. Sa awa ng Diyos na-release po tayo,” he closed.
“Ang Misyon: Marawi Siege Story” opens in cinemas starting May 30. /jpv
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