DAVAO CITY – The tribute program for fallen New People’s Army commander Leoncio “Ka Parago” Pitao opened with a song themed with what has been a monicker of communist guerillas, that they are “soldiers of the poor.”
“Ang sundalo sa kabus, andam makigbisog, ang sundalo sa kabus (the soldiers of the poor, ready to struggle, the soldiers of the poor),” the song goes amidst the roar of applause of the attendees of the tribute program.
The Davao City Sports and Recreation Center, the venue of the program was filled with mourners who appear to have just arrived in the City, 7pm of Thursday.
Ka Parago is a known NPA commander in Davao City’s Paquibato District which share borders with Panabo City, Davao del Norte.
Statements from the NPA say Paquibato residents call him “Tatay (Father).”
The tribute program’s first message was given in a video present by another prominent NPA leader in Mindanao, Ka Oris.
“While Ka Parago came from the poorest of families and have not reached a high degree of education, he understood what the revolution meant,” said Ka Oris.
Ka Oris said “he was already old and sick but he continued to fight till the end amidst problems and obstacles in the family and his work.”
1BAP Partylist Representative Silvestre Bello III, in his speech, said coming to Ka Parago’s wake is his “obligation to a friend.”
He said when news reached him of Ka Parago’s death, an Army friend from his hometown Legazpi, Albay, said “it’s the end of the Communist movement.”
“Whoever that military official is, he is ignorant of history. While poverty, injustice and corruption still prevails, the revolution will continue,” said Bello.
Bello said he admired Parago since his youth.
“I admire him because he still fought even when he is already old, but us, we stopped,” he said.
Bello said “we should salute someone like Parago. But you (the younger generation) must continue the fight for us.”
The program heard a few speeches at 8pm but people seem to have started to come in while many still lineup at the gates.
The gym, said to hold a capity of 5,000 people, was already full from the bleachers to the court.
At the back of the gymnasium, mourners aim their eyes to the large mural of Ka Parago as the viewing of his remains, which lie at the stage’s center, was temporarily stopped till the program’s end.
Manong Rody, 48, a farmer from Paquibato came with a backpack.
“I packed some food and malong. I came alone since it’s hard to bring my children with me,” he said.
Manong Rody said he, along with many others from Paquibato, will stay the night to attend Ka Parago’s funeral march 7am of July 10.
“Like the soldiers of the poor, we poor farmers of Paquibato came prepared to bid Ka Parago our goodbye with the promise to keep the fight,” he said.(davaotoday.com)