It was allegedly planned as worthy CNN material, an opening for a disgraced power figure to get back into the good graces of the President. The orchestration must have played seamlessly in the power figure’s mind–send his boys, not the military group trained in anti-terrorism and knowledgeable of the enemy’s turf and terrain; because only he should get the credit come announcement day.
“Mama, I never thought I would come home this way. They call me a hero now, Mama. Your little boy, who grew up climbing trees and sweating in the cool mountain breeze.”
Then all his indiscretions would be swept under the rug and his nameplate and rank would be reinstated to glory. But the scene turned gory, and insulted with terms like “misencounter”. Now, give them medals, give money to the bereaved families — results of an operation that didn’t reach HQ.
“Mama, I can hear the mountains crying! It’s the start of the ba-diw, isn’t it, Mama? The voices of the mountain mothers reaching to the highest of heavens, grieving the loss of their Igorot braves. We left home as hunters, Mama, and we came home as heroes.”
I lost 2 Igorot cousins in this orchestrated Maguindanao carnage, among the 13 young Igorot SAF policemen killed, mutilated, robbed.
“Mama, remember me in the next kanyao. Tell Manang and Manong to dance one more dance for me, tell my uncles to beat the gongs louder and louder until their music is heard all over the mountains. Tell them to strum their guitars and sing their country songs with wild abandon, as the fire grows ever stronger. Laugh and smile and gossip, Mama, for even the ba-diw will not last forever.”
They were convenient pawns sent to the battlefield haphazardly for one power figure’s quest for hideous, untamed, greedy power.
“Mama, tell my cousins to climb the tallest trees and conquer the highest mountains. Tell them that they need not be afraid, for in them runs the blood of headhunters and fierce warriors. Tell them that they are more than conquerors—they are Cordillerans.”
We await their bodies to be home tonight, not in their boots but in their caskets. Then the haunting Ibaloi funeral ba-diw will soon be sung by mothers with grieving hearts.
“Remember me, Mama. Remember what I died for. Tell everyone not to forget what we started and finished. Mama, don’t let your sadness turn into fear or hate. Mama, fight for peace, because peace fought for you.”
Take me home, country roads
Almost heaven, West Virginia,
Blue ridge mountain, Shenandoah river,
Life is old there, older than the trees,
Younger than the mountains, growing like a breeze
Country roads, take me home
To the place I belong,
Mountain mamma,take me home
Out of the 44 brave men who perished during the Maguindanao massacre, 13 were sons of the Cordillera. In light of this, a fund is being set up for the bereaved families. For those who may want to donate, please contact either Alexander Bangsoy or Annabelle Bangsoy on Facebook or comment on this post.
*Country Roads – John Denver
***By Annabelle and Karin Bangsoy