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I get excited about trails off the regular path. I’ve noticed that my friends are less adventurous than I am (on the average), thus a bit of frustration on why no one brings me to hop along his adventures.

Recently, adventure found me. I never expected work to be as exciting as this. It was the closest I got to the “peace process.”

I’m not sure how much information I can share. Though the former rebels always say, “It’s fine, we’re not hiding anything anyway.” Well, there are some things, which are not really my official concern.

I don’t know why they disclosed things that might ruin how the whole process. Never mind, I went there as myself, not as an intel.

rebels, San Carlos City, Negros Occidental mountains

Bagonbon, San Carlos City, Negros Occidental

Honestly, I don’t know where to begin, so I’ll just share whatever’s in my head right now. But believe me, there’s a whole lot more…

  1. Perhaps the most touching thing I heard was, “Whatever’s left of my life, I just want to spend with my family.” Commander 1 recalls joining the group when he was 21. It’s been 3 decades of fighting. Though no longer with the government, their former group will continue to threaten their lives, they who disengaged. They said “retirement” will never be possible. As long as they live, the old group is bound to haunt them. Turning over guns isn’t as simple as turning over a lost-and-found item. What security can the government provide?
  2. Political Officer told me about the life they once had. It’s like they’ve memorized the mountains, its every trail, the ins and outs, and how to outwit the military. They trek slopes for 12 hours, they go to battle without having food, and some didn’t go home for 15 straight years. (But Commander 1 was still able to make 9 offshoots :p).
  3. Sometimes we think lowly of them. That they were encouraged to join these groups because they are poorly educated. Well for one, many leaders are intellectuals (some of them never experienced being sheltered by the mountains). But those who fight, they have the capacity to realize that there’s another way to win reform. Some of them join because of the group’s objectives (how critical they may be, I’m not in the position to say), while some join for security. Some are born into it and find family among the fighters.
  4. The whole time we were driving around the city, and along sugar cane plantations, I was trying to figure out how the heck I could escape a shower of bullets.
  5. I got a glimpse of the life where one always looks over his shoulder. Where they secretly go in groups and never go alone. “Let the phone be forgotten, let the wife be forgotten. But never the gun.” I still can’t picture where they sleep; they just go around and around at night, and taking turns in sleeping.
  6. So you think a hitman is just in the movies. I met one. He looks like a weak old man, but he is a genius. He hates rapists. He can’t recall how many he has sent to the heavens.
  7. They had to pay a high price for their battle, one that may have been fought well for they’re almost gonna see the end of the tunnel.
  8. I heard from a friend how the other group “grooms” future leaders. Intellectuals. To overthrow government. It’s been decades and decades, where is this going?
  9. Had I been a normal girl on the street, would they tell me the same stories?
  10. In another era, they may be our heroes. In another’s eyes, they are saviors.
  11. Of course, I might sound biased. That’s why I want to hear from the other group as well. But maybe just not yet :p

It is easy to judge someone who kills.
Doubt is always around the corner, and my fear for death over stupid miscalculations.
It’s my weakness to expect truthful relationship. But once I was reminded that it’s also my strength.

I’m just someone exploring the world, wanting to forge friendships (and never transactional relationships, if at all possible) and expand my horizon for understanding. I wasn’t surprised that Shei (my workmate and guidance) was a bit worried about how the former rebels saw my curiosity. I think they weren’t repugnant, I hope. Still here I am, wondering why people could be paranoid about personal questions, while I thirst for personal relationships.

I would love to believe that the armed conflict will eventually (if not immediately) end. 

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