My memories of Jolo are clear. It is where (aside from Basilan, my mom's place of origin), I had most of my growing up years. I remember long stretches of white sand along the coasts; of smells of the sea; of breezes that tasted of salt. It was a beautiful coastal haven where the masjids and the churches thrived and co-existed.
Basilan in better times was a bit more tame, quieter, more Hispanic than Moro (depended on which part you lived). The calesas were the mode of transport (still is). The calesas were horse drawn and I remember the excitement whenever we had to go to the poblacion to shop for buttermilk, eggs and molasses (these items were for making leche flans). I remember how young and vibrant my parents were; how green the surroundings were; how lazy the afternoons were as people went for their siestas.
Those were the days when the juramentado bolted from nowhere. (The significance of this entity is clearly seen now. The juramentado was the microcosm of what followed next - the bigger danger, the full blown conflict).
Since then, a few of us have found adobes that have satiated our desires for peaceful existence (our dar-ul-salam). Our lives have changed but both Jolo and Basilan remain etched in our minds.