ILIGAN CITY – Military operations in Marawi City have ended, but the anguish has not ebbed for widows Mary Jane Apao and Minhati Madrais who come from both sides of the war.
It was a nightmare for Mary Jane Apao everytime she hears “Marawi.”
She lost her husband, Sgt. Philip Apao of the 5th Mechanized Infantry Battalion, Philippine Army, in an airstrike last May 31, when the military was on an intense assault against Maute terrorists in Marawi City.
The military told her Philip and 10 other soldiers died due to a “friendly fire.”
“Hindi siya namatay sa kalaban, namatay siya sa kasamahan niya sa airstrike. Madaling matanggap kung namatay siya sa kalaban,”[He did not die from enemy attacks, but from airstrikes by his colleagues. It seemed easier to accept had he died because of the enemy.] she said.
Before he died, Mary Jane held an hour long conversation with Philip. “Nung nag-usap kami, sinabi niya sa mga bata ‘Mga anak, huwag magpasaway sa Mama nyo, magpakabait kayo,” [He told my children, do not be naughty, always be good to mom.] Mary Jane said.
Several minutes after that conversation, she got a text message saying Philip was hit by a bomb.
She went straight to St. Peter’s Chapel in Iligan City after receiving the information.
“Mainit pa siya pagdating ko, parang kamamatay lang niya. Sobrang sakit,” [When I got there, his body was still warm, as if he just died. It was so painful.] she added.
While grieving, she had difficulty handling her 6-year old and 4-year old sons.
“Mahirap lalo na kung sasabihin ng mga bata ‘Ma, nami-miss ko na si Papa, mabubuhay pa ba siya’? Ang hirap sagutin,”[It was difficult everytime they say, Ma, I miss father, would he be alive again, it was hard how to answer them.] Mary Jane said.
Grieving in jail
Unlike Mary Jane, Minhati Madrais grieved for her husband, Omar Maute, under more difficult circumstances.
Madrais, 36, and an Indonesian teacher, is currently detained at the Iligan City Police Office together with her six children, four girls aged 12, 10, 7 and 6 and two boys aged 2 and 10 months old.
She saw on television her husband, Omar Maute, one of the top leaders of the ISIS-inspired Maute terrorist group who led the siege in Marawi City, killed in an offensive operation early dawn on October 16.
On November 5, she was nabbed by authorities in Barangay Tubod, Iligan City on charges of
illegal possession of explosives.
Davao Today talked to Madrais inside her room at the ICPO headquarters but requested not to be asked about what happened in Marawi City.
Minmin, as her family called her, said she met Omar when she was studying at Al Azar University in Egypt. They got married after their graduation in 2003.
She said their marriage was not a ‘parental arrangement’ based on the Muslim tradition. They got married because they liked and loved each other. Omar’s parents went to Indonesia to see her parents and asked for their consent.
They got wed in Egypt.
Omar, according to Madrais, was a very religious person. She learned to pray regularly and read the Qur’an because of Omar.
She said she did not have regrets being Omar’s wife.
“No regrets because I have my six children,” she tells Davao Today.
Apao remembers Philip as a good and responsible head of the family.
They met at the market in 2010 where her family was selling meat.
They exchanged contact numbers and fell in love.
Mary Jane told Davao Today they became a couple through text, the same way she learned about his death.
She said she was thankful that she got to see the remains of her husband before he was laid to rest.
Family in detention
Madrais did not have a chance to see her husband.
She is also worried about the situation of her mother-in-law, Farhana Romato Maute, the mother of Omar, who is detained in Manila.
“She is the only family I know who loves me and my kids,” she said. (davaotoday.com)