From Vitoria, Brazil

 

WHAT IS HAPPENING HERE?


I'm a Filipino, and perhaps the only one, to my knowledge-- who lives on this coastline city of Vitoria, in the state of Espirito Santo, in the southeast of Brazil.

I wanted to tell you and explain to you, from my part, of what's really happening here.

Since Saturday, February 4, 2017, all sorts of violence have taken place in the whole state of Espirito Santo. We are talking about robberies, homicides, hijacking of cars, looting of stores, and assaults. It's not safe to be out in the streets, so to speak.

Why?

This was the result of the ongoing strike of the family members of the military police (Polícia Militar), mostly women, who are barricading the stations to prevent the policemen from doing their job into the society.

Their outcry?

They were promised three years ago for a salary increase. But up until now, they have not received such raise nor are they even getting close on having that raise this year. The negotiations on live TV was unbearable to watch.

The result?

Bandidos or bandits, that's what most people call them here-- took advantage of the time and opportunity to take whatever they can, whatever they could, and whatever they should from anybody. Some of them were heavily armed with guns. While the others took a ride on this bandwagon, as they loot grocery stores, electronic shops, and shopping malls. 


It was a horrible nightmare that no one expected to happen. Media outlets make a reference to this weekend with the movie, Purge


I have always considered Vitoria, a very safe and peaceful city. Honestly, I had no idea that such horrible acts were taking place until the school I worked with, posted on their Facebook page that our first day of the school year was being suspended for safety concerns of all our students.

It was only until then that we were able to understand the scale of the problem when colleagues and friends started exchanging messages, even adding graphic videos & photos of some of the crimes that were posted on social media.

I still wasn't convinced myself, thinking that they might just be exaggerating the news and whatever they received from their news feed. Because in my neighborhood-- Sta. Lucia, no such thing was happening.

Not until I witnessed and took this video last Monday, around noontime-- on a broad daylight, no less, right under our building! Thankfully, no one was killed or shot after this. Although, this wasn't just the tip of the iceberg. 


To say it's crazy and tense around here--- is an understatement. People are literally afraid of going out, supermarkets have long queues, businesses came to a halt, public buses stopped their service, and innocent people lost their lives. I continue to pray that this, too shall pass.

I want to understand and empathize with the heartbreaking stories from this side of the world. I want to tell you all that this is not the Vitoria that I love. I want to paint you a beautiful picture of what it's like to live here. I want to give you the information that I was able to sleep peacefully last night. That I was able to do grocery shopping today. I am safe and this is what I wanted to share to the world...

While I want to say to my friends, colleagues, and all the Capixabas here in Vitoria. You are not alone. You should not be ashamed of this. It's very easy to put a blame to the policemen, to their families, to these bandits, and to the government. But in times like this, your compassion and kindness can go a long way. Keep in mind that most of these people have felt oppressed their whole lives. Try walking in their shoes. Then maybe, we can all stop the blaming for now. This may seem like a war zone here, but this is nothing compared to the people who are living in war-torn countries. There are more people and countries suffering more than what we are suffering here right now. 

You are still lucky. Very lucky. 

And I may not be in the right position to tell you of what to do. But what about just bringing in the good things instead of the bad?

So let me remind you through these pictures of how beautiful Vitoria is...


And we all wanted to protect and keep the beauty of Vitoria.


The only way of doing it, is to STOP HATING. Hate will be another form of defeat. Hate will only make matters even worst. So let's start a conversation other than hate and anger. Let's start from...



What do you love about Vitoria and what can you do to help?