While waiting for the Board of Inquiry to complete their investigation of the Mamasapano tragedy,  it may be good to train our eyes on the communities where cornfields had been turned into battlegrounds.  And these are cornfields where corns did not grow by themselves.  Much sweat from days of plowing and furrowing and seeding and weeding had been shed to make them flourish and bear fruit until they would look like a sea promising a heartening harvest.

​The farmer residents of Barangay Tukanalipao were peaceful in their sleep on the night of January 25. Never did it occur in their dreams that something horrible would visit them in the early dawn.  If there were dreams, they occurred in their waking hours—the dream of fairly bountiful harvest of the ripening ears of corn.  And that would not be far behind.

​But soon after their dawn prayer, terror came.  Silent as a crawling serpent. But it soon reared its ugly glistening head.  Soldiers in camouflage—were indeed virtually crawling on the highway—their vibrations stirred the village air, awakened the barangay residents to unspeakable fear.  Soon a burst of gunfire, closely followed by a piercing cry of a child.  It was the final living voice of eight year Sarah Pananggulon who was roused to her death by a bullet. Her parents Samrah Sampulna and Pananggulon Mamasalaga, were wounded as they tried to run away from their house to safer neighboring village.

​In other village sites of the same barangay residents rushed out of their homes, grief and  panic on their faces.  Soon more than a thousand families from different barangays hastily fled to nearby communities. A case of forced evacuation.

​Then the earth seemed to shake with endless bursts of gunfire. And the cornstalks in the farms bearing fruits of hopes and dreams of the farmer residents summarily were felled—the entire spread of the cornfields– to the ground. They lay wasted on the bloodied field. A truly pathetic sight.

​Eric S.B.Libre, a Visayan poet recaptures the dream in the eyes of a Mamasapano farmer in his short versified narrative of what remains of the dream in the heart of his cornfield after the tragic incident.  I took liberty in translating it into English, herein below.


ANG KAMAISAN                                                                          ​​​​​​CORNFIELDS

Sa luag ug patag nga darohan                                         ​​​​On the wide and plain farmland
tabok sa nagtuyà-tuyà nga taytayan​​​on                          the other side of the swinging footbridge
nga gamâ sa kahoy ug kawayan,                                     ​​​of bamboo and round timber made,

dagkò na ug bus-ok ang mga pusò                                 ​​​The ears of corn were robust and ripening
sa mga mais nga himsog nga nagtubô.​​                          nurtured by the fertile soil. The fruits
Hapit na masanggì ang bunga sa kahagò.​​                    of my labor were almost ready for harvest.

Mapahiyumon akong nagsud-ong                                 ​​​Smilingly I beheld the heartening sight,
sa maong makadasig nga talan-awon                           ​​​the promise of their bountiful present
sanglit kini nagdala man og paglaom,                          ​​​a flooding stream of hope in my soul.

Paglaom sa yano uyamot nga kalipay sa mga             ​​Hope for a simple rustic joy my brood          anak nga mosayaw ug motalidhay sa bag-o ​​to           fete in dance and laughter wearing

unyang palit nga sininà, bisan lang ukay-ukay.          ​their  newclothes from the ukay-ukay.

Apan pagka-alaot! pagka-walay palad!​​                         But what misery!  what misfortune!
gihagoang kamaisan kalit na payhag​​​                             my cornfields are now totally gone
ug nahanaw tanan nga gidahom sa damlag,​​                 along with the promised tomorrow,

Ang tabunok nga darohan​​​​                                               The rich generous farmland
sa pulang dugo gibisbisan                                               ​​​​now sprinkled with blood of them
nila nga sa kinabuhì nakabsan.                                      ​​​whose lives were sacrificed.

Ug dinhà sa dagami sa mga damgong naalaot     ​       And on dried leaves of the shattered dream
migitib ang mahulgaon, makahilo nga sagbot,           ​now grow some horrifying, poisonous weeds
sagbot sa kayugot, sagbot sa kagubot,                          ​​of hateful vengeance, weeds of terror,

Samtang ako gihakop sa kahingawa​​                            And while my heart in sorrows wrapped    kay ang sanggionon ko nawalà na.​​​                              seeing my bountiful harvest of corn wasted,
Manghagdaw na lang ba ako og basiyo sa bala?​       Shall I but collect the empty bullet shells?

Tabok sa nagtuyà-tuyà nga taytayan​​​                           Scattered on the fields near the footbridge
nga gamâ sa kahoy ug kawayan,​​​                                  of bamboo and round timber made,
sa luag ug patag nga darohan​​​​                                        across the wideand plain farmland

Sa makausa pa ipugas ko ug amomahon                    ​​Once more I shall sow and tend
ang mga binhì sa mapadayonong paglaom.               ​​the seeds of continuing hope to grow.
Hinaot nga abagan mo ako, igsoon…​​​                           Would you give me a hand, my brother. . .


​Ignored and neglected in the midst of the rigmarole in the Senate and Lower House of Congress, fuelled by the surge of hateful anti-Moro sentiments in the social media and most everywhere, the sad plight of the civilian population in the villages near Mamasapano cries for even just a brief notice and attention.  Theirs have been a nightmare of terror, human rights violations, actual injuries and deaths.

​But President Noynoy Aquino and the other public officials in the national scene are deaf and blind to the demands for justice by the civilian communities in Maguindanao. The President would rather spend hours cajoling the families of the Fallen 44, trying hard to appease them in their anger and dismay.  Perhaps, he has realized his mindless act of sending those SAF troops as cannon fodder in obeisance to the US demand for Marwan’s head?   No, he is such a tongue-hanging puppy he will never compromise his US masters.  He is just trying hard to make up for his misconduct vis-a-vis the events surrounding the Mamasapano tragedy.

​But in his unseemly awkward ways, one never fails to see through his hypocrisy. And the back-up cabinet boys and girls behind him are just as awkward as true misfits.  Like round pegs in square holes, they mumble and rattle and cackle incoherently like hens and roosters in face of the mounting disgruntlement of the people. It turns out that Noynoy is far worse than her predecessor Gloria whom he always ascribes to as the  rootcause of  his government’s misrule and bunglings. Ah, even his own big-landlord uncle berates him!

​Verily, President Noynoy is fast slipping from his footing.  His puppetry to the US imperialists boomerangs in explosive ways.  He can never escape the consequences of his own making.  One misstep after another characterizes his incompetence and ineptitude.  That’s the trouble with being a devotee to a system of puppetry and hypocrisy and cajolery! The more he tries to cover his mistakes, the deeper he sinks in misconduct and foolery. The walls of his conscience are closing in on his official uprightness. Truly he  reaps what he plants. His days in Malakanyang are numbered.

​And in the remote villages of the Bangsamoro, it will take yet another round of  harvest season before the rhythm of normal life returns to the poor farmer residents of Tukanalipao and the other neighboring barangays where humble people’s dreams on their cornfields had been wasted by the Mamasapano incident.

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