If you frequently pass the highways of Mindanao countrysides, you will see many beautiful and quaint old structures and houses standing proud like honor guards in a parade. A magnificent view to behold, a sight that gives respite to every passing weary traveler.
It amazes me how such ancient structures can retain its beauty and still exude the aura of its past grandeur. Even when viewed only in fleeting seconds, these houses never fail to tell me something. In my mind I make up stories about the place, about the people living in that house. Perhaps it is only through our fictional reconstruction of stories about these structures and its habitues shall they be assured of longer existence. Because in most cases, they are faced with the dreadful eventuality of being demolished to give way for modern structures.
I find it saddening and disturbing all together, our proclivity of demolishing old structures in order to build new ones. In Europe and anywhere else in the world they maintain and preserve old structures not only because they serve as aesthetic monuments of anachronism, but for their sense of history and intrensic value as places of abode.
If only we learn to appreciate that houses are silent witnesses to the making of family histories. They are structures that we will always visit when we stroll down memory lane at night. We can no longer re-invent history, but we can preserve our family histories by making sure that our Homes, like those being served and protected by American Home Shield, are maintained to stand the test of time.
According to Wikipedia, “The writing on the wall” (or sometimes ‘handwriting on the wall’) is an expression that suggests a portent of doom or misfortune.
During our Corregidor trip, we went to the ruins of what once was the Fort Mills Hospital Building. It was here, according to Jibin Arula, that their fateful unit was billeted two months before the Jabidah massacre.
We wandered aimlessly inside the belly of what seemed like the skeletal remains of a giant animal. Inside are dark, cold and damp alcoves and chambers with walls standing as silent witnesses of history. But these walls know how to speak and they tell a story.
In several rooms, we found markings on the wall, graffiti made by men who once had lived here, on earth. I thought that they were just recently scribbled, as the paint appeared to be still prominent, although the dates written on these graffiti were marked four decades ago. A few days later, after our Corregidor trip, I was surprised to find out that old photos of these graffiti were actually used as evidence presented during the Senate hearings on the Jabidah Massacre, forty years ago. As to why those graffiti appeared fresh, as if they were just written two months ago, remains a mystery to me.
It was the usual “Kilroy was here” type of graffiti, but what makes it unusual or can give you goose bumps was that they were names of some of those who perished during the Jabidah Massacre and perhaps these graffiti were even written by them. Most of the dates recorded on the walls was January 1968. By the time they were writing these graffiti, they still did not have any idea of what awaited them, two months hence.
Some of them might have even felt proud that their names found their way to the walls of a historical place like Corregidor. Perhaps they were contemplating that it would be a source of pride for them, when someday family members or friends might be able to visit this place and see their names on these walls. Indeed, under a different circumstance, their names are now made known and recorded.
Seldom does a situation occur when history comes back and looks you in the face. This rare oppurtunity happened to me a week ago on the island of Corregidor. Our office was leading the rite of unveiling the commemorative marker of the Jabidah Massacre that happened in Corregidor back in March 18, 1968.
During our preparation for the event, the idea of inviting the lone survivor of that infamous massacre, Mr. Jibin Arula to grace the unveiling ceremony excited us all. But we feared that such exciting idea might turn out to be next to impossible. We never thought that it would materialize until the Mindanao Peoples Caucus found Mr. Jibin Arula and invited him to join their Caravan for Peace starting from Mindanao going all the way to Corregidor. Jibin accepted the invitation. So after forty years, Jibin Arula returned to Corregidor. And I was there when history was remade.
A young Jibin Arula being interviewed by the late Sen. Benigno Aquino in 1968. Inset photo, Jibin Arula back in Corregidor in 2008
During my College days, we have read and learned about what happened in Corregidor in 1968. My understanding of that event and its ensuing effect was even more emphasized and given deeper context in the radical milieu where I became part of during my youth in the early 80s’. We know the story about the lone survivor Jibin Arula, and how he survived. But again the tale of the Jabidah Massacre and that of Jibin Arula became stories told and retold a thousand times with varying tones and on different versions. Some of it too romanticized, others too fantastic and the rest simply lack luster like its a news report you get to read everyday. Last week, all those stories I heard before came to rest. Now I have listened to the tale of the Jabidah Massacre, as recounted by its lone survivor Mr. Jibin Arula himself, and on the very spot where it all happened.
Who could have thought, that in my lifetime I had met a character of history, in the flesh. This is one story that I’d love to tell the young when I get older.
(Photo taken from the documentary slideshow entitled “Tan-aw Mindanaw: Journey Across Time,” produced and published by the Philippine Center for Photojournalism, September 2002)
Everybody knows Corregidor Island as a historic spot. Everybody knows that in this island hundreds of our gallant heroes stood their ground and died defending our country from the invading forces of Japan during World War II. Because of this historical circumstance, Corregidor Island is now a Tourist spot – a place for people to go on a memorial pilgrimage in honor of those who died heroically for our country.
But how many of us remember that on this same island, forty years ago, about two dozen Moro Youth were summarily executed by forces of the Philippine Government? This incident is now known to history as the infamous “Jabidah Massacre.”
In Brief, the Jabidah Massacre was a result of a bungled covert operation. In 1968, then President Marcos made a covert plan, codenamed OPERATION MERDEKA (Freedom), aimed at infiltrating Sabah, Malaysia to sow chaos and organize the locals of the island for an eventual invasion of Philippine forces to reclaim Sabah from Malaysia. Sabah was historically part of the Sultanate of Sulu.
A select unit of AFP officers gathered a number of Moro youth from Sulu and Tawi-Tawi to a secret military training in Corregidor. Without them knowing their mission, these Moro youth thought that they were trained for some other purpose. But after learning about their real mission, they protested and refused to follow the mission. They would not want to take part in destroying the lives of people many of whom are their relatives. Marcos and his butchers knew only of one solution that will keep this botched mission from leaking out. Batch after batch, the young Moro trainees were mercilessly slaughtered at Kindley Field , an abandoned airstrip in the island of Corregidor. Had it not for a lone survivor who was able to tell the world about the massacre, the incident would have remained unknown. This single incident sparked the resurgence of the Moro liberation movement in the 70’s. And the rest is history.
Finally, after more than a month of waiting, Anak Mindanao (AMIN) Party List has been officially proclaimed by COMELEC as having won 1 seat in the 14th Congress.
Isang Rally lang pala ang kailangan para pirmihan ni Chairman Abalos ang COMELEC en banc resolution proclaming AMIN as winner of the last National-Party List elections. AMIN members in Metro Manila conducted a rally last thursday in front of COMELEC office to compel Commisioners, particularly Chairman Abalos, to sign the resolution and proclaim the victory of AMIN party list. AMIN has already garnered more than the required 2% for one seat in the Congress long before the National Canvassing Board had ended the canvassing of election results. Chairman Abalos offered the AMIN rallyists with the lamest excuse of not having been informed about the results of canvass for AMIN. AMIN now sits in the Congress on its third term.
Anak Mindanao gets House seat
By Nikko Dizon
Last updated 11:22pm (Mla time) 08/03/2007
MANILA, Philippines — The Commission on Elections on Friday proclaimed Anak Mindanao (Amin) as one of the winners in the party-list race in the May midterm elections.
In a two-page resolution, the Comelec en banc, sitting as the National Board of Canvassers, said that Amin is guaranteed to have one seat in the House of Representatives after it obtained 324,433 votes, or more than the two percent minimum to win a seat.
The Comelec said that the projected maximum total number of party-list votes, on which the two percent threshold is based, is 16,221,659.
Mujiv Hataman, Amin’s representative in the previous Congress, slammed the Comelec for the delay in his party-list group’s proclamation.
Hataman surmised that his group’s criticism of the strong showing of Byaheng Pinoy headed by the brother of Comelec Chairman Benjamin Abalos in Mindanao could have something to do with the delay.
Abalos said that the special elections in Pantar, Lanao del Norte, delayed the proclamation of Amin.
Only An Waray, another party-list group, has a chance of still winning a House seat since its votes could reach the two percent threshold.
I don’t hate the American people. I only hate Americans who belong to the stupid, ignorant and arrogant species. Topping the list is the idiot sitting in the White House while the rest are scattered elsewhere in the world waging war killing people or learning about geography and lessons on culture which they don’t have.
A lot of these species are found in the Philippines, some raping our women but can’t be arrested by our government. There’s another one, quite a full mature breed of this species, who landed in jail in Davao City because he thinks that being American is a license to insult anybody. This asshole insulted a young Moro woman in public and bragging that, “Iâ€™m a New Yorker! I remember 9-11 and all that! Go tell your husband and Muslims! We have guns you know! We could kill you all! Bring Osama bin Laden! Weâ€™ve been looking for him!â€ Read the whole story about this stupid American here.
Meanwhile in Sulu, local village folks recovered what seemed to be an RQ-11 Raven , an Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) used by American troops for real-time reconnaisance on enemy locations. Interviewed on TV, an American GI confirmed that it is indeed a UAV but didn’t elaborate on why it was flying the friendly skies of Sulu. Proudly he just reiterated that the objectives of the American forces in Sulu are only to conduct socio-civic actions, like building or repairing roads and other infrastructures and also conducting medical missions. If that is so, what on earth is the UAV spyplane doing, looking for someone that needs medical attention?
Jose can you see, by the dawn’s early light…
“There are places Iâ€™ll remember all my life
Though some have changed
Some forever not for better
Some have gone and some remain”
– Beatles, In My Life
Iligan City like any other urban center had undergone major facelift. Unlike most European Cities where old structures are renovated and preserved, in our country urban facelifting means completely tearing down old structures and replacing it with ubiquitous modern buildings.
Through the years amidst the transformation of the city landscape, the humble St. Anthony’s Maternity Clinic in Iligan City has stood its ground. While the housepaint may change color every now and then yet its old wooden structure and quaint architecture remains in its original state. The clinic stands out preserved even as it is now dwarfed and shadowed by new buildings surrounding it.
The Clinic might not get the privilege of being preserved and cited as a historical landmark, but it holds a special place in my heart. It is here where I and three of my brothers were born. I hope it will continue to stand the test of time. I no longer live in Iligan City and I hope that someday when my children visits my birthplace they can still get a glimpse of the very place where I was born.
photo source: http://www.iligan.us/