It has been exactly 21 days since the cornfields of Mamasapano were watered with the blood of the 44. As Thomas Jefferson, The Sage of Monticello said “The Tree of Liberty sometimes require the blood of patriots and tyrants to nourish it and grow”. The 44 shed their blood on that cornfield. They watered it with their own blood. They did it for God and country. On that fateful day, they had no idea that their sacrifices will nourish the Tree.
They will never know that their dreams and aspirations will sow the seeds so that dragon teeth will spring forth. That their dying would resurrect a nation long moribund in a culture of corruption, decadence, degeneracy, moral turpitude and relativism. A nation that always wants to sleep after each awakening every generation. A nation that seems to never learn its lessons.
They attribute it to resiliency. Of the Filipino Character that deals with tragedy and loss with a smile and even create jokes about the unfortunate turn of events. That of a coping mechanism designed to forever keep us in chains rather than basking in the light and warmth of liberty and independence. A culture that never sees past 7 days in advance. Those who benefit from such a state of affairs extol it and purvey the idea that the Filipino can always be manipulated and have a short memory and no institutional memory at all. That we let our wounds fester and laugh at it because it is “malayo sa bituka” (a long way from the guts or intestines). That such wounds contribute to a weakening in the moral fiber of a nation. That our values continue to retrogress since multiple wounds have been inflicted but we are still alive.
But is it Malayo sa Bituka?
Historically, Filipino uprisings have never been about the Bituka. Filipinos became squatters and lost all rights to their land the moment Magellan stepped foot on these shores. Thus, Filipinos have to work doubly hard to eat and have a place of their own to sleep. Hard work never fazed the Filipino. If they have to get up before the break of dawn and work until sunset, the Filipino will do it. “Trabaho lang” they always say. There is honor in work. No matter how hard. No matter how difficult. Deep inside, each Filipino finds joy in watching their love ones eat each meal from the fruit of their labors. That it is always a source of pride that they can provide the basics. No matter how humble the meal is. As long as it is partaken together. That after each day, they are still complete and give thanks to Providence. These Filipinos would never take anything away from fellows who share the same experience since they know how hard and difficult work and its fruits can be. I hear my father say “may buhay din naman yan”.
Even the hardships of eking out a living never fazed Filipinos during colonial times. You can steal from him, grab his land, tax him to the point of penury, they even performed “slave labor” or Polo to the Church, one month free labor for God. Such were the lot of our ancestors. The lived and they endured.
But one thing that can never be done to a Filipino is to insult his sense of self worth. Never ever cross his Amor Propio. For such a transgression, the Kalabaw for all its patience will gore anybody in its path.
The book of Vice President Salvador “Doy” Laurel clearly disclosed what makes the Filipino rebel and revolt. The Communist Party of the Philippines extolled Dialectical Materialism to persuade the Filipino to wage revolution. It was not the unequal distribution of wealth that is the key to the Filipino. The Filipino would always take economic hardship in stride. Filipinos would ascribe economic hardship as something that is present. That as my mother used to say “lilipas din yan” and work even doubly hard to get over the hump. Something that we always did get over.
The Dagohoy Revolt lasted for 100 years. It was not about economics. It was about Dagohoy who served the church so faithfully. He had a brother who had mental instability and committed suicide. The church whom he served without question told him that his brother cannot be given the Final Ritual and is thus consigned to hell. Dagohoy’s self worth was insulted. Now there goes 100 years of revolt. The main issues of the Propaganda Movement was representation to the Spanish Cortes. It was not about economics again. Representation was denied and now we have the Philippine Revolution. It was about the hunger of being treated as human beings and not mere colonial chattel.
The Japanese thought that they being fellow Asians, the Filipinos would not resist. They failed to understand the Filipino. The Japanese were used to slapping each other on the face. You might as well punch a Filipino on the stomach. But never slap the Filipino on the face because by doing that you degrade the Filipino. It is a personal affront to be satisfied only by restoring his honor.
Marcos forgot that lesson. He brutalized and killed and took away freedom. Filipinos adjusted. They agreed to go to discos until only 10:00 P.M. because of the curfew. But a generation experienced Voltes V and video games being banned. Now that was a slap in the face. The covenant was we allowed you to govern, but whatever small joy we had, you also took that away. It was then we knew. Now we know. We will not allow you to do that to us anymore. That is why my generation also stormed Mendiola Bridge.
Last Stand of the SAF 44
As the days after that Sunday rolled past, we learned about how the 44 were massacred. How the Last Man Standing had 2 grenades in his hands. Of the desperate fight, of the help that never came. Of the orders to let the gallant who fought for hours, perish in such an ignominious manner. Even the Defenders of Bataan had submarines deliver supplies even though it was never enough. The 44 died to the last bullet and the last man, They had their version of “Delios” to tell the story of the 44. That we also wept and were in anguish over the statements of Gen. Espina.
This nation was grievously wounded. That we haven’t wept like this as a nation since 1983.
Yes. 1983. So, I send this to you President Noynoy and your sister Kris. Your father died on that tarmac 32 years ago. It led to an enormous upheaval not seen since 1898. But let me disabuse you that we owe our freedom to Ninoy only. Actually, we owe it to ourselves. Why? Because when your father was assassinated, those of us who joined the rallies and marches after, also felt assassinated. We also felt the loss of a loved one. We knew that we would be next if we allow such state of affairs. So we marched, many shed their blood until 1986. We do not owe you Kris, such as you tweeted. You owe us! To disclose the truth, there were many who went to EDSA but many came there armed to the teeth. They just left their arms in certain rally points. It was no longer about Cory. It was about freedom that we wanted to have that was taken away in 1972. Many came there to die for freedom if needed. So again, Kris, we do not owe you anything.
A wounded nation, that is what we are now. But President Noynoy, it is you who owe us. You and your family owe us the truth.
Your mother became President. You are now President. We marched because Ninoy was killed. With the powers of your mother and now that you have, you owe us the truth. The truth of why we marched to your father’s funeral. Who killed your father? Why did we risk our lives at EDSA? Why were so many killed from 1983 to 1986? Tell us why it was worth it?
President Noynoy, you owe us. You owe us the truth why you refuse to condemn the MILF. You tell us what are the interests that prevent you from waging all out war against the barbarians who massacred the 44. Why you are so quick to condemn others but not the MILF. Why negotiate with murderers, heathens and barbarians!?
By 1984, our tears for your father’s death had run dry. By 1984, we had a quiet resolve to end the dictatorship by whatever means and we sacrificed for that. Many mothers cried rivers of tears for sons and daughters never to be seen again because of that struggle.
Now, President Noynoy Aquino, 21 days after the cornfields of Mamasapano were watered with the blood of the 44, you owe us. Tell us! Tell us, since the souls of Rizal, Bonifacio, Jacinto, Mabini, our heroes, martyrs, sacred dead and now the Fallen 44, wander the halls of Malacanang. Tell us!
** Originally appeared in Facebook on February 15th. 2015
Written by: Jonathan Edwards J. Olabre