On the fourth day, I asked God to show me a sign if I would still survive. Looking out the window, I asked Him to show me a bird. I waited for minutes.
God did not let me see birds but he made sure that I would hear the sounds of birds chirping. He made sure that hope would not vanish during one of my trying times.
Hope and love are what kept us firm and made us survive while we were in the hands of our abductors. Hope and love are also the reasons why we chose the path of struggle for peace, justice, and genuine social change.
Amid the economic and socio-political turmoil that our country faces, we hold tight with the hope of eventually attaining a better society for all – a society free from exploitation and injustices.
One way to achieve this is through our deep love for the service of the marginalized Filipino people.
However, hope and love will only remain as abstract ideas and intangible feelings without the decisive and collective action of the people who are one with us in holding on to hope amid the uncertainties and the darkness.
It was our unwavering and collective action that was vital in forcing our abductors to have us resurfaced. It was our collective efforts that made us return alive to continue with our advocacies and struggles.
Our words are not enough to express our sincerest gratitude to all of you who took part in the call to resurface and unshackle us from the hands of our abductors.
We cannot think of any better way to repay your support than by continuing to walk on the path of service.
Our struggle for justice and accountability is far from over. We know that the coming days will still be tough.
The economic and political situation will continue to worsen under a government that neglects the genuine interests and welfare of its people in favor of profit, personal interests, and power.
Attacks among the ranks of development workers, unionists, activists, and even ordinary individuals will persist in order to suppress and silence dissent.
However, we have made it a reality that collective action, prayers, and love are a force to be reckoned with.
We have triumphed in the fight to have us resurfaced and we will even more become victorious in our quest for justice not only for the two of us but for all victims of human rights abuses and attacks against the oppressed Filipino People.
We will continue stronger, hanggang sa ganap na tagumpay!
Dyan Gumanao and Armand Dayoha are Cebu-based development workers. In the broad daylight of January 10, 2023, the couple were forcibly taken by men at Pier 6 in Cebu City who later identified themselves as policemen. They were Desaparicedos for six days until they were rescued after they were abandoned by the abductors at a resort in Carmen town, some 41 kilometers north of Cebu City. Gumanao is now in Geneva as part of the Philippine UPR (Universal Periodic Review) Watch delegation to the UNHRC session