National Geographic Locked Up Abroad Series: American Missionaries Kidnapped By Islamic Extremists in the Philippines
On May 28, 2012 At 6:23 pm
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Martin and Garcia Burnham were Christian missionaries in the Philippines kidnapped by a group of Islamic extremists, called Abu Sayyaf, just before 9/11. Their tragic love story is on National Geographic’s Locked Up Abroad series in its entirety on site and below.
The two decided to go on a romantic holiday and while staying at a hotel, Islamic extremists broke into the hotel and kidnapped them and 22 other people.
For a year, they dodged bullets, saw people die, and struggled to survive.
While they were in captivity, they heard about 9/11 on the radio the Islamic extremists had and were shocked by the news. After the report, their captures forced Martin to sing our National Anthem. He choked with tears as he tried to sing it, while their captures laughed, especially concerning the word "brave".
In addition, during that time, Martin told Garcia that he saw greed, selfishness, and hatred every day, but all those feelings were in him. Garcia realized she saw it in herself too and realized we are all human.
The Extremists received the ransom they requested, but wanted more money for the hostages.
Eventually, the Philippine military charged in to rescue the remaining hostages. During the rescue, Garcia was shot in the leg, but she managed to return home to her three children and started The Martin and Garcia Brunham Foundation, which works with both Christians and Muslims.
She did return to the Philippines to testify against her Islamic captures, who received life sentences for kidnapping and murder.
Garcia also wrote a book about the ordeal titled In the Presence of My Enemies, but for those who do not care much for religion or are not Christian, the National Geographic story has tolerable levels without preaching.
The movie triggers tears throughout, especially towards the end, but it is a great story of human struggle for survival, against all odds, and then surviving it to courageously go on with life. Garcia stated the time in the jungle changed her and she no longer saw in black and white, with a judgmental heart. She hoped the change made her a better person.