Lito ! Willie! My true and loyal friends, come! Let us celebrate! Today is Freedom Day! INDEPENDENCE…! Let us laugh out loud! Let us burst out to our utmost hilarious laughter until the whole planet earth rocks to the beat of our rejoicing!
Late in afternoon yesterday, as I went out to buy some RTE (ready-to-eat) viand for my dinner in the little Coop Eatery in my purok, I overheard this conversation among village folks –
Encountered mess and damage we did. We had barely caught our breaths after the hike from Nasilaban to the neighboring village of Sambulungan when some of the Talaingod Manobos started approaching us. Their houses had been ransacked, items were missing, one kitchen’s GI roofing had been ripped off.
Nobody wants to be dominated. The natural disposition of anyone is to be free—free to steer the direction of one’s own life, free to seek one’s own well-being and happiness. But the other side of this mold of thought is the desire to control—to control everything that figures in one’s drive for freedom. It is as much an irony as a mystery. But it is an undeniable fact of human existence and history.
Damgo sa matag Pilipino ang makalingkawas gikan sa kuko sa kawad-on, ug edukasyon ang labing halangdong agianan padulong sa maong damgo.
[It is every Filipino’s dream to extricate ones’ self from the clutches of poverty and education is the most honorable way towards that dream.]
Again my former student and friend from the Davao School for the Blind, Willie G, gave me a surprise visit the other day. This time he brought along a short but interesting anecdote about animals— a fable, we call it— purportedly to prick my mind into a critical discussion about its allegorical meaning. Immediately after he finished retelling the fable, he asked, “Sir Don, unsa may pagtulun-ang atong makuha aning istoryaha?” [Sir Don what lesson can we get from this story?]
Homecomings are joyous occasions. They mark the end of journeys, of settling in to comfort and familiarity, of leaving behind uncertainty and loss of security.
The usual question asked to someone who is in the midst of an unspeakably trying situation but who has somehow admirably survived the tribulation or ordeal sounds like this: “Where do you draw strength during this fateful moment in your life?”.
It has come! There’s no question about it! What has been feared would happen is now happening. And happening fast! It’s like the US and Philippine authorities are making up for lost time. And so we witness a scenario akin to “a scampering for space” in military camps all over the country! Here and there, this and that AFP officer is offering a space within a military camp for use as military base for American soldiers. There’s no feeling of restraint or hesitation—or shame!— no different from an offer of a booth space in a carnival fair!
One of the main destinations of this week’s national fact-finding and solidarity mission (NFFSM) to investigate human rights violations was the municipality of Talaingod, Davao del Norte, which has been in the news lately with the evacuation of more than a thousand of its Manobo residents after the start of massive military operations in late March. More than 900 of them eventually found refuge in Davao City, where they stayed for a month until an agreement to remove military presence in their villages was reached in a dialogue facilitated by Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte and Davao del Norte Governor Rodolfo del Rosario. They have since returned to their homes, but their recovery is just beginning, and its completion by no means certain.