March 1, 2024

FILIPINOS IN GENERAL they say are great ‘survivors’ – or at least ‘resurgents’ viz. flexible, resourceful, or even ‘humourly’, in spite of dangers and adversities.

DITO PO SA amin – in ‘these Heights’ (ditoy kabanbantayan in Cordi Iluko), stories of the past war surface now and then – some of which may be ‘new’ to you, but already threadbare to others who’ve heard it twice or more before – as such stories keep being told and re-told.

MANY OBSERVERS SAY there may be several reasons why folks don’t forget or discard those stories for good, but three of such reasons stand foremosts, viz. to treat the listeners to light humour; to give a little spark of how evil, difficult, unwanted, etc., war could be; and to lesson the present and younger generations how hopefully world leaders shall eventually abandon war as an option to address their conflicts or differences with their rivals, perceived ‘threats’, ‘traditional’ enemies, or what have you. But going back to those stories of WWII, in ‘these Heights’, here are a few examples. The horrible ones first:

THERE WAS THAT high municipal official, and his Chief of Police – they were executed both – for the simple reason and we quote: ‘they were friendly not only to the native organized forces, but as well as to the enemies’; and quote further: ‘said native forces for example came free to dine in their dwellings; but so did the enemies’; and the quotes punctuate this with ‘but the main reason the high official and his Chief of Police did these was: according to themselves when finally asked before their execution, they “always wanted to protect the civilians – from both forces!”. Next, the Story of Peon Sama (earlier discussed in-length in previous issues, cf. Supra).

HE WAS A Policeman caught by enemy forces in Bokod, Benguet – through the help of some spies and fearing informants. He was accused of being a Guerilla native officer. The Story goes this a-way:

HE WAS MADE to stand atop a moving vehicle – slow enough to be witnessed and heard by Public view. The questions came:

“WHERE ARE YOUR companions hiding? Who are your commanders? And related questions more. Informants say, each time he answered “No” [he was not a guerilla] or he didn’t know where the guerillas were, he got clubbed, and harmed: Until
HE EXPIRED from those clubbings and injuries at Menac, Ambuklao, Bokod.

THE CASES OF both the municipal official with his Chief of Police and Peon Sama are now buried – but not historically (Oral) forgotten. They remain being narrated about in wakes, special occasions – even sometimes in ordinary discussions. Now, to some lighter humourous ones.

THERE WAS ONE guerilla volunteer – was his name Kapsorell? The guerilla sergeants were happy to receive him. So,
THEY TAUGHT HIM how to handle the gun – e.g. ‘unlock, aim and fire’; and they gave him his first assignment: to keep watch over some scattered little bushes not so far away from where they were camped.

[THE NARRATORS SAY] Kapsorell heard some noises of twigs being stepped into and so he readied himself: how?
HE GOT HIS rifle ‘ready’ okay, but he set the rifle butt on his knee [the gun now vertically positioned]; then, he pulled the trigger and bang! When he touched the trigger, he closed his eyes! When he opened them again, there were these other guerilla men near him pointing to an enemy running away from the scene! Did the enemy soldier intend to have some fresh air under those bushes, or what? Another one.

NEAR A SMALL hill close to a riverback, some women reported the presence of a ‘big animal or what’, ania ngata?, stealing their camote/Ipomoea batatas. The guerillas did some checking – day and night – as they were later convinced, the way the camote and other tubers were dug out was by no less than a human.

THEY GOT THE enemy soldier caught one day! But lo and behold: how they secured his non-ability to escape or untie himself anywhere, whichever way.

THEY TIED BOTH his hands and they were supposed to be doing fine, but they also separately tied both heels – like how they do it with newly-caught bulls. Those two ties, they call them Semmed; anytime these are pulled back, the tied one shall fall down, flat face! Ah, the horrors and lessons of that dreaded war, they come in different versions! Ayuhh kha nete!