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Saturday, November 3, 2012

Chapter 15 - RSM

Chapter 15
          “Be my guest,” said Capt. Estrada to his new friend as he ushered him into his residence.
                 “Come on in please,” he added taking Taklin directly to the table.
               Tiny oyster, mussels, chicken barbeque, pork chop, kilawin and calderetas from goat’s meat and some finger foods were spread  in the table. On the other side are files of cases of San Miguel Beer Grande.
              “Are there some more guests coming tonight?” the gentleman asked seeing the smorgasbord menus prepared on the table.
              “Yap, actually just five among you Plebs and several officers of RSM . . . .” the host said as four other clean shaven plebs joined them. Several others were preparing some paraphernalia inside a room for an initiation that would follow.
              “Reformed the Society Movement,” Capt. Estrada elaborated before Taklin could ask.
              “Ah okay,” as  four others taking their time sharing anecdotes.
              “Thanks and you would know all of this once you guys are exemplified after a short ritual,” the host said indicating immediate absolute silence for the meantime.
               “Sorry guys but, it’s all I can say for now as I have to proceed to the room to assist the officers for your initiation rites. You have ten minutes more left to prepare yourself. Col. Rellox will fetch you right here for the opening .. . ,”
              The young men just nodded.
              “Nothing to worry about. You’re all  safe here and in good hands,” said the Captain leaving them.
              Soon a nationalistic song blared and the young RSM candidates herded their eyes closed by handkerchief.
              “Permission to enter Sir,” said the officer leading them in a row hands on each other’s shoulder. This after three taps of a gavel reverberated.
              “Permission granted,” responded the presiding officer.
              “Here’s the five young gentlemen candidates for our organization Sir,” he said whispering each one  take one step forward after each name is called before retracing back to original position.
            Silence was deafening as  National Anthem and later Onward Christian soldier were playing in the background. In front seated were three officers of the organization in brown cassocks  their faces unclear as their heads were covered with an overhead hood seen just enough from the reflection against a huge candle light standing  on  the table. Illuminated on the table is skull and crossbones in between two books -  Constitution and Bible – and huge canvass of President gazing   towards the horizon. At the center is “The New Society” so-called red book of the organization for distribution to memorize and practice by each qualified member of the  organization. At the background is RSM’s banner with skull and crossbones .Black headband on the skull with “Wolves” and icon of wolf apparently embroidered on it. And the most telling of them all – small  Philippine Flag  waving tied to a pole half portion planted to the cranium.
              “A needle!” Taklin would later  see clearly as candle light illuminated against the pole glittering surprised on the creativity of the one making it. But it was no ordinary needle a tailor  uses in sewing. It was customized with leather  jacket as receiver closer to Tibetan needle used as special arm for defense against any aggression.

              “Welcome aboard gentlemen,” the resonant voice greeted the five participants  in an exclusive room.
              “Thanks for coming over joining this rite. Don’t worry, though pre-condition for joining our movement, this  is just an initiation. That simple allowing to validate this decision later after completion of your study at PMA. With the imprimatur of course by your sponsor and final approval of the Head of RSM.” Brief silence as stillness  prevailing all over were felt.
              “Wonder no more why you are here. You didn’t apply alright. That’s deliberate  to secure the long held tradition of secrecy. We intentionally selected you nonetheless looking into your background and possible contribution to the organization,” he emphasized pointing his index finger to the participants. Explaining important details of the organization, he requested the guide the take off the handkerchief of each participant.
              “The logo of RSM as you can see now is – Wolves! No less. Actually the choice is planned given the nature of this animal looking for a prey when the call of nature desires . . . .” brief pause here the speaker giving emphasis the ideology of the organization.
              “Why the choice embodying all people in the organization?”
              “Vanguards of peace and security. And those not, are considered our prey. In our case – people making mess out of peace and order installed by the government. That simple. We will strike them without any let-up and mercy anywhere, anytime as needed. Constitution and Bible, this is our standard. And yes leaving our enemies nothing of their identity dumping their bodies everywhere one pleases. Indeed  no trace except for the sound of silence  blowing in the wind whoever might have done it. . . .”
              Sounds familiar to Taklin recalling the confidentiality of Bp.Valdez’ take on the issue back then at Bishop’s palace..
              “Don’t get us wrong. This organization is a war for order and decency however – nothing personal here. Just doin’ our job. How we do it? Well . . . .” the presiding officer paused his index finger combing his beard gathering his thought.
              “Listen up guys. We didn’t send our men to Fort Bragg in California for nothing. Coming back, they secure just the purpose through which RSM was founded. And to be blunt about it, “ he paused again to drive home important concept in warfare.
              “Torture, yes torture treating each enemy as insect until they reveal and accept their participation in any movement establishing chaos or any evil plan for that matter,” he cleared.

              “Our coup ‘d grace, one that would  send an enemy to dreamland forever . . .,” he stopped gathering his thought reaching  the miniature Philippine flag on the table out from the cranium of the skull, untying the pole and hoisting up for everybody to see – the needle!” Brief deafening silence, the host would like the message to sink into the collective consciousness of the captured recruits.

              “Sorry if you are dumbfounded on this revelation. But this is it. And don’t you ever worry because each one of you would be receiving as our token of gratitude you probably joining RSM.”
              “Don’t fret for those undecided. We’ll not forcing the issue to you.” You can return it back in its jacket to us anytime and we would delete your name from the roll.”
              “Those who didn’t it means we have to replace one that you used. Don’t worry again we have the people on the ground to check if you indeed delivered your part and that you deserve another needle! That simple.”
              “That’s why we have the Bible and Constitution as our guide and standard. And of course, the man right in the picture representing the immense power and dominion he has all over us. That after getting mandate from his people. By people I mean we, not just those who gave him mandate but more importantly to whom that mandate also covers – all of us Filipino people. Vox populi! Isn’t it?“
              “Sir, yes Sir”  cracked again in the four corner of the initiating room.
              “That should be clear by now. And our parting shot:”what you hear is leave it here or . . . . Yes, recant or sing it outloud and  you would be in trouble. Don’t underestimate the power of this organization. We have you already etched in our palm. Just unleashing one of our man would already enough doing the job for the organization.”
              “Am I clear!”
              “Sir, yes Sir!” roared anew.
. . . . . . . . . .

              Part two started after the initiation.
               “Seem we would be having fattening project down here,” Taklin said elated.
              “As you wish. Not all the time. It’s just our way of invoking God’s grace for you guys hopefully to pass on you your stomach would have always its fill while you’re  there in the PMA.’
Reaching for a family portrait atop the divider he said, “This is Tina, my daughter’ the second one in the right is Liza, the youngest.  Edwin and Roque are in Manila preparing for the incoming semester where both are studying at University of the Philippines,” the Captain said introducing his family to the group.
              Melba, Estrada’s ever loving wife was still in the kitchen cooking some more menus.
               “Feel at home guys.  Don’t be ashamed. We both started from the scratch you know.  Good that our patience pays off. She actually teaches at St. Louie University handling mathematics and chemistry subjects.”
              “Quiet tough subjects….” Marjun, other pleb cleared.
                “Yap. But not to her.  It’s just a question of habit forming you know. Once you’re used to it, you can already manipulate figures using your fingers with impunity faster  than calculator.  How was your night if I may digress a bit from our topic?”
              “Oh definitely I had very comfortable stay at Teacher’s Camp.  How I wish I could stay there longer,” the other shared.
               “And what prompted you to enter PMA if I may ask,” Capt. interjected with reservation.
              “Service. Protection our peoples’ right,” the third young man answered.
              “What else?”
              “Unfortunately, I couldn’t think of any significant idea than preserving democracy,  vanguard of peace,” the fourth suggested.
              “Any enlistment to any war zones in Mindanao later. . . . “ the host ventured as reality check.
“By all means yes if it means testing my loyalty and bravery to my calling.  Serving the people, defending their cause against enemies of various forms is for me honorable act similar maybe to priesthood.  What do you think,” Taklin said taking his turn asking question from his host.
“More than priesthood I guess.  Priest merely dispenses the seven sacraments. That as far as I know the center of their activity to become an alter Christos’ to redeem man’s soul form sin.  But that of the soldier protects his very life. In a sense  his function lords over than that of a priest.  Besides, you cannot just build people nor feed his stomach with empty sermons. Taklin’s curiosity started building amenable that people with empty stomach hardly listen.
              “Excuse me. I’m not saying that we’re promoting atheism in our ranks here.  On the contrary, our members are devout and practicing Christians themselves.”
              “Thanks. I thought I would be in danger of compromising my Catholic belief in our group,” Taklin cleared in jest getting laughter from his batch.
              “No and never. Maybe there would be more spiritual growth coming to your soul.  So welcome to the club kid.  You opted for wise choice.  Cheer and good luck.  I know you will survive given your tenacious spirit.  Bottom’s up,” invited Capt. Estrada for a toast. They did.
              “Reaching a souvenir picture on the cabinet, he offered it for Taklin to see.”
              “Check if you’re familiar to the people  in picture.”
              “Sorry, but I could only identify two – you and Mr. Ludimer.”
              “Good grief kid.  Anything more.”
              “Mr. Mirang on your right!,” Taklin exclaimed looking into the familiar figure of the picture.
              Taklin couldn’t find any other familiar faces among the one dozen sturdy athletic build members of the Armed Forces of the Philippines.  What he found interesting though was the background where the picture was taken. It shows a cave  whose façade was blasted into bits and pieces. Providing an awkward glimpse of an enclave silhouetted by darkness inside tunnel.
              “Wolves in action!” Marjun sighed.
              “That’s Mt.. Sungcal down in the South. We captured that in one of our offensive spree few years back after our graduation from PMA. What a heck baptizing our ranks of an elite force.  And the people right there in the picture standing proudly made that capture possible.”
              “All members of the RSM.”
              “Our initiation  in fact,” the Capt. answered sending chills down the spine of Taklin.
              “And what you’ve got inside?”
         “You might be surprised kid. But just to let you know that the cave is almost like a subterranean city with all laboratories inside. Sophisticated weapons, communication facilities and surprisingly enough, some foreigners manning their operations.”
              “For conspiracy against the government?”
              Capt. Estrada nodded.
              “You’re right. By the way, they were not commies but Muslim separatists who have been up in arms against the government.  Oh we have so many groups today all up in arms against the government.  See how unpredictable Filipinos are regardless they are Christians or Muslims.  They’re unpredictable lot as their colors of their skin. It just doesn’t make any sense you know separating Mindanao from Luzon and Visayas from Mindanao or Cordillera from Luzon. What would happen to our country given this penchant of secession  from wayward Filipino brothers.  Any idea, what do you think?”
              “Sense of history,”
              “What do you mean?”
              “Muslims has never been conquered.  They have fought tooth and nail against the colonizers – Spaniards, Japanese and Americans for many decades . . . .”
              “But did we, Filipinos, ever chased them away.”
              “No and not of course.”
              “But we are not respecting them.  Maybe it’s no wonder why they would like to have  Mindanao partitioned or have some areas established as their  sub states.”
              “What do you exactly mean of ‘not respecting them?”
              “Have you your ever heard  a certain Sharif Makdum or Raja Baguinda. . . ?”
              “The Captain waited for Taklin’s elaboration.
              “Name sounds familiars but beyond that I can’t figure out their roles among Muslims in the country’s history.”
              “He was once a Muslim scholar of the nearly Pre-Spanish Era. He was responsible to the early spread of Islam throughout the country.  In fact, one historian claimed that had Magellan came two hundred years later than he actually did in 1521, the Philippines would have been converted entirely into an Islamic country.”
“Maybe. Anyway, it’s just really doesn’t make any sense calling the Philippines  the only Christian nation in Asia. Islam had been ahead to us so to speak. You see how rhetoric would sometimes explain the issue away.”
              The Captain acknowledged Taklin’s relevance with cheerful bottoms up wiping away some beer’s bubbles sticking  his mustache.
              “But there is another strong argument heavier than that kid. Knows cockfight for sure?”
Taklin nodded.
              “Christians and Filipino Muslims are like just two cocks fitted against each other by whom? Two unseen strong arms.”
              “Whose arms?” all young men almost begging the question indicating their innocence of the subject.
              “That would be your assignment.  Be sure you conduct  some research and find out if what I mean is wrong.”
              Taklin was stunned by the sentiments of his accommodating host. But it helps him at least clarifying some doubts for having very scant knowledge about the complexity of the country’s rebellion.
              Looking upon the empty bottles in the plastic beer case, he noticed that they have consumed four  Beer Grande that fast. He has not consumed that much before. But he is far from giving up specially that Capt. Estrada is giving him very revealing unsolicited in-puts.
              “You smoke?”
              “No thanks. I can manage myself not smoking unless there are mosquitoes in this room.”
              “Not that I know of unless they would die frozen unto death by Baguio’s freezing weather.”
Brief laughter ensued.  Capt. Estrada continue gulping some more beer through attractive beer mug.
               “Hey guys.  That’s the irony of all ironies among Filipinos you know,” the host said calculating his words to drive home significant point.
              “We don’t have any sense of history. We easily forget that we are only part of that history.  How could we afford destroying it when we are all passing mortals only. We don’t own this parcels of territories. It is His’.  We’re merely stewards .  Indeed, how could we ever own that which would outlive us, ” the  Captain stressed remembering Igorot Chieftain Macling Dulag liquated on his belief. Many more challenging thoughts were dished out seemingly engrossed and high of beer’s spirit.
Taklin managed smiling  while Capt. Estrada peered through his eyes.
              “Look what happens to Sabah and probably Spratly islands’ issue.  Our government has been trying to have these islands retrieved sending some of our troops there to have our presence felt by our neighboring countries up for grab  these territories.  You see we’ve got what it takes to add more territories to  our Archipelago as these islands been part of our territories based on nautical miles.  But look what’s happening to many Juan de la Cruzes in his country.  They are also busy cutting each other’s throat, squeezing each other’s neck – all for possible partition of our only country sort of  gerrymandering.  It’s a big, big shame. Isn’t it?”
              The Captain reached out for two or more bottles and opened the cap and pour each visitor’s beer mug to the brim.  Its excess came rushing to the table.
              “And Jabiddah Massacre. . . “
              “Maybe a curse  for that Sabah claim by the government.  This was very timely I supposed. Look what happened? Had it not occurred probably hundreds of casualties from Sabah would have been great earning the ire of neighboring countries harassing us for such ambitious transgression.”
              “A problem of insincerity on government.”
              “I think so.  That’s what I mean when I said that we should learn how to play by roles. If we could not, what a tragedy.  Any effort toward reconciliation, peace whatever would just die their natural death.  Who suffered most anyway,”
              “Naturally, the people themselves. What a waste of our resources.”
              The group remained unperturbed.
              “It’s really silly.  It’s plain insanity pure and simple.  Right kid? If we could only respect history and makes a virtue out of it, there would be no senseless killing, no graft and corruption in the government I suppose.”
              “Problem is that we always make exception to the rule.  Before we know it, we practically mangle our sense of nationhood.  That’s why guys, we have Joe, Mr. Mirang,  me and many others in the  military service joining RSM. In our oath of commitment, we vow to pursue that cause or there would be killing spree later by the commies, separatists whatever.  The bottom line: let us practice democracy. After practicing, defend it from scrupulous and assuming political messiah claiming it’s all easy to change. I think you know that there’s just no other better substitute up all the way down at local government destroying valid political system.”
              “What about what’s going on in the country  today given Martial Law not serving its purpose?”
              “Precisely, that’s what I said.  Praxis.  It is a challenge addressed to each Filipino.  A challenge mustering  enough strength to have democracy works for good.  For now I don’t like to pre-empt the implication s of Martial Law.  The need I think of enforcing  that law is explainable.  Let’s give the President all our support.  If it means strengthening the existing political system in the country, the better.  If it means killing democracy God forbid, nobody could tell.”
              “Very lucid treatise,” Taklin complimented.
              “Am happy for your  generous remarks but I’m far from over. I have one more proposal buddy.  You see a theory is not considered an effective premise if not proven sound translated into success. In fact, it should be changed with another workable one if it doesn’t make any sense.  But mind you we have to pay sometimes the price for our cause.  This is another story. This is where men are separated from boys, women from girls. One must have what it takes to become one. No guts, no glory as one maxim would  put it.”
              “What sample of price you mean . . . .’
              ‘Killing. Either senseless or aberrations in the parlance of Marcos.  It could be you and me.  That’s the other irony. I’m maybe philosophical about it  but we have to kill sometimes to stop the killing or our bullets could be rusted and weapons conked out.  This is real in the military.  It’s painful but we have no other better choice than face it.”
              Reminiscing their exploit and consequently capturing the camp of the tunnel, he exposed: “I forgot about it.  But you should know the circumstances how it was discovered.”
“We were having our tour of duty that day in the enemies danger zone.  The blistering heat of the sun was practically sapping our strength draining gradually our energy. Then out of the blue, a nowhere man I suppose was seen monitoring the other group across.  Momentarily, he took cover seeing my men in fatigue  nearby and crawled back like a crab safety into the tunnel.  Of course, my CO did not believed the incident until he confided it to me later.  He did when I brought him exactly where the man buried himself into the ground disappearing lie as shooting star adding the thin air in the dark.  There were four of us alerted on that incident; the CO, Cesar, the communication operator; yes, your good friend Joe, the  land mine expert and me.  We discovered the small opening on the ground actually leading to the tunnel our enemies holed in.  Some of our companions were spread out securing the area from snipers. We took no chances for mines were buried everywhere in the perimeter. Events happened too quickly. Just after Col. Ludimer fired the first shot, the gate was shattered by violent explosion.  It signaled the beginning of the end of those who were inside the tunnel mostly separatists  from the South.  Treating poisonous gas inside the tunnel, hapless enemies bolted out coughing heavily hanging to dear life falling to the ground like mosquitoes.  We later learned of four similar opening around the area.  It’s good that the reinforcements Col. Ludimer requested earlier arrived in time otherwise casualties on our part would have been unnumbered.”
              “What you’ve got inside?”
              “Oh too many weapons, sophisticated ones, thousands of mines, communication equipment and what have  you.  As I said earlier, it looks like a subterranean city whose bunkers are equipped with laboratories presumably utilized in manufacturing bullets and weapons are all there.  Where else in the world you could find such discovery in a forest yet. I couldn’t think of any.”

              “Must have been a handiwork of a genius,” Taklin thought recalling how Hitler and Eva Braun holed in a seventh bunker until they were discovered by Massad many decades later people erroneously thought they were long dead!
              It’s no wonder now for Col. Ludimer that an airplane could be seen at night hovering over the area but lost as it probably landed well secured by tunnel.
              “Looks like a movie,”
              “Perfectly directed,’
              “What happened later especially with the coming of the reinforcements?” Taklin probed.
“We cut their radar and shut down their communication networks.  That’s the most decisive act done by our battalion though great majority were left on their posts.  Otherwise we would have been overrun and annihilated from the face of this earth with their own reinforcements.  Who knows? All in war you know is deception and the survival of the smartest,’ Capt said wryly lifting his forefinger stressing his point categorically.
              “You’re right,” complimented Taklin remembering Sun Tzu’s The Art of War.
              “But that was the only one side of coin.  Unexpectedly like an outburst of lighting our companion received their own dose of medicine on our way back home after that conquer of Mt. Sungcal,” he lamented his voice gradually losing  its resonance. Reaching for the picture from the table he pointed the faces of his companions blasted to death beyond recognition by huge land mines.
Brief silence ensued; the revelation sinking inside the group’s heart leaving his face pale not anticipating said exploit would have its tragic end.
              “It’s not yet your time. God up there must have some other very special things in store for you and your group Capt.,” one said.
              “I think so.  Precisely we would like to have the ideals of RSM sustained and propagated passing on to the younger generations to give security of the next generation.  We fervently hope they would follow suit.  I really regret for that incident but what could we do. Death is bridegroom of any military soldier.  Any call of duty sends chills down our spine.  No doubt yes putting the future of our respective family in the sideline because the oath of allegiance we vow to perform. But ours is not in practice our own true family.  The people in general whom we serve is.  Freedom and security mean so much to us men in uniform. That in effect belonging to one great big family.”
              “Country first above all things. This what you mean?”
              “You’re right. Primacy of the country and immediacy of time first before ourselves or we would be nothing but nuts.”
              “Tragic drama but real.”
              “Very true specially breaking the news to the relatives, wives, sons, fathers, mothers and daughters of the casualties.  Until now still deputized doing such heart-rending job is always unfortunately. What could I do, the country is on fire. But you know, I no longer go into the details.  I just tell them flatly that so and so died in action.”
              “Not outright only after  draining emotional and psychological barrier out from their hearts and minds.  No use crying over spilled milk you see.  Besides I don’t like that the concerned parties would get the whole picture of the incident lest I would  be dragging them taking the law into their hands and thus make the killing a vicious cycle.  It just doesn’t make any sense.”
              “For example, if the casualties were skinned to death by their enemies, eyes gorged out, vital organs damaged, dead bodies roasted to oblivion leaving us at loss of their true identity save their name tag either hanging still in their neck or swallowed– Ah yes we have to conduct sometimes an operation probing into that important identification or we would have their coffins sealed.”
              “What would they see or get anyway from the dismembered bodies.  Nothing  but foul odor.  You know human flesh is such a terrible smell worst than urine.  I forget it but the culprit of our tragedy after that successful exploit were three Mc Arthur land mines.  You know what I mean?” the Capt. related back to the incident.
              Except for the familiar name of the famous American General and land mines, the group could not figure out what the Capt is speaking about.
              Staring straight to Captain’s eyes wondering, he shook his head signifying his innocence but whispered, “Meaning?” Taklin snapped back.

              “Well have you ever seen a gasoline container sometimes with a skull painted on its surface securely hanging at the back of a military jeep . . . ?”
              “Yes  we do,” the young men collectively agreed.
              “The bigger one that could accumulate gallons of gasoline?”
              The visitor nodded approvingly.
              “Bingo.  It’s as big as that. Imagine land mines that size blowing right before your faces.  There were three containers in fact erupting that time whose shrapnel’s rendered our bodies completely bloody mess. Those who survived were airlifted to Gen. Luna Hospital in Manila.  Casualties were retrieved back for proper  burial by respective families.”
              “Are those landmines manufactured right inside the tunnel?”
              “And some other equally deadly ammunitions, why not given sophistication of their laboratories.”
              “How many land mines buried at Mt. Sungcal and vicinities?”
              “More than hundred I suppose. Too many that these people living there no longer came back or they would be blown into bits and pieces committing any slightest mistakes passing through them.  That’s another important dimension in war.  The inclusion dragging of innocent people into war not out of their own doing, burning their houses, destroying their security and privacy and destruction of  farms, herding them into school buildings converted into safe houses  overnight as if prisoners of their own land.  Call them as necessary evils . . . .”
              “No they are not,” Taklin for the first time protested.
          “Maybe as sacrificial lambs to the stupidity of war.  Millions of Jews suffered similar atrocities at the gas chamber perpetuated by Hitler’s henchmen, the so-called “The Butchers.”  To the Germans they are their enemies not the third party of war the civilians  you said.  Gerard Green’s Holocausts, one of the best literature there is showing barbarity of Hitler, shows that  Jews were the real targets.  Of course, there’s the Diary of Anne Frank recording the personal account of Anne Frank what’s happening around while she holed in their house ceiling for safety. There producing her classic of  how Herr Hitler’s evil reign looks like then.”
              “Good kid but remember this.  They were waging war against another race.  Aryan versus Semitic race. Ours in the country is a fight between two people of the same race, blood, probably the same faith at the same nation.  We must that  remember  important  distinction  I’m afraid we might have mixed up presentation of events this evening Just consider further this.  War always follows familiar pattern i.e. of vanquishing the enemy at the expense of civilians.  That makes war very dirty business. You would notice for instance  the percentage of civilian casualties increasing dramatically since World War  I from merely fifteen per cent to thirty five and later skyrocketed to eight five percent during World War II.
              Taklin appreciated the statistics of the Captain notwithstanding rough estimate awakened that essentially it’s the truth is the first real casualty.
              “You should not be surprised why I kept on underscoring civilians. They deserve peace as we are.  We’re in the service because of them.  If the military would not protect them, who would?”
              “Shall we just leave to them the task of protecting themselves.  That would invite further excesses – vigilantism and eradicating due process of law. “
              “It’s very easy to just kill you know? No sweat.  The swifter the execution delivered the better justice is served.  But that is confusing.  That’s like  making our own gas chambers.”
              “How would we know that Juan or Pedro is a criminal? Nobody save for the Court.  I repeat war of order and decency. That’s what should  come first.  Unfortunately, we failed.  Thus, the President declaring Martial Law.”
              “Again, I may be a military. But  you see we need to be strict in administering the law. The contrary holds true - just be lenient or soft on this and people would be breaking whatever rules there are to be broken.  With insurgency problems, criminality rising and abuses to those in authority who could be lenient.  How far will it go, I repeat I could not tell.”
              “Not sure what’s your take  on the subject. What I can tell is understanding how benevolent dictatorship works is crucial. This  giving the penchant again of Filipinos  playing around  politics.  Know what I mean?”
              “Like a disciplinarian father who’d like to put first above all things peace and order to a family. Benevolent despot you might say. What’s the difference?”

              “True enough and you got me there kid. But it’s more than that. One that knows what he’s doing what is best for the family.  Taiwan, formerly Formosa had Generalissimo Chiang Kai Shek, Indonesia has Suharto, Cuba has Fidel Castro, India Mahatma Gandhi.  Incidentally, our very own Jose Rizal is far greater than these people.  How I wish he had lived that long. You see kid we really need to trust the President.  Never  mind the personality. President is only a public face of  Chief Executive. He comes and goes but the essential which is his office,  remains.  By all means, strengthening the political system and providing security to all people is the President’s prime concern.”
              “What are we in power for if he could not legislate a  better world. So to speak,” Taklin remarked.
              “And if I may ask you. What if the President would go berserk and perpetuate himself in power using Martial Law as pretext.  We just don’t know the possibilities?”
              “An invitation to God punishing us. . . . Civil war you know is the heaviest punishment a nation could have, Cardinal Sin would say.”
              “Civil strife, you probably mean?”
              “What’s in a word.  People of the same  race, blood and country you said,” Taklin challenged for the first time the host. 
              “You’re correct and that is an apprehension of any God-fearing Christian today.”
By now all six beer grandes were consumed.  But there’s no indication that exchange of pleasantries is far from over.  The host requested for a break.  When he came back he brought with him a bottle of Gilbey’s gin and lime juice.
              “This would be an excellent clincher,”
The group fidgeted that they had  already  their fill and that they have consumed more than enough.
              “Have you reached your limit already guys?”
              “Not yet. Maybe nearing,” they lied wanting to extract more information about military life from their generous host.
              “Want some more stories about us in the field?”
              “You see what I’ve shared to you is only about separatists.  I would say that the strategy they have is practically peanuts vis a vis to the one used by  commies.”
              “Like what?”
              “War of the Flea.”
              The gullible visitors  remained glued to the talk of their new found friend and mentor now   professor extra-ordinary in full throttle revealing the anatomy of Civil War.
              “Are you familiar with Vietnam War?”
              “Not much,” Taklin answered despite his considerable readings he has on the subject.
              “The complexity of war in Vietnam is also happening right in our country.  The only difference is that Uncle Sam is seemingly directing the traffic at the backstage.  And this I don’t like honestly. Lest I would be misconstrued as spectator.  I’d like you to know how the Americans work. Look at our yearly budget.  Each department gets the lion share? And where do you think these money taken from? US military aid, rental of their naval facilities, military bases agreement and all that. Oh the list is long.  You could provide your own guess and let me tell you that it would be as good as mine. In one term, intervention in our political and economic affairs.  That’s what they have been doing to  other countries, Cuba, Puerto Rico, our very own, Philippines. It’s quiet amazing.  But look how they would qualify their involvement in the political affairs of these countries.”
              “Manifest destiny and Benevolent Assimilation,”
              “Bulls eye kids.  But what made them think they are superior than fairly skinned Orientals like Filipinos.  Good to them that they tested dose of their own medicine. You know how many casualties involved?  One source said that of eight hundred thousand conscripted to war, half died.  North Vietmen of course suffered heavy losses but if law proportion is used, the Americans suffered more in numbers.”
              “I recall a photograph lately from Time Magazine showing Vietnamese children running scared to death from the napalm strike of the Americans. Imagine innocent lives threatened to extinction. How fortunate that picture painting thousand words. So stunning telling us the grim reminder of another side of war.”
              “Unfortunately, such propaganda was overshadowed by their defeat.  What does this imply? The war of the Flea, protracted war, civilian warfare and many other terms used, shows that it is far superior than any other military strategy conceived by the Americans.”
              “Featuring guerilla sniping.”
              “You’re right. So where that leave us and what’s the bottom line? I think it indicates how hard and useless killing an idea. Right in our country, the commies  have the upper hand.  A commie killed would have several other commies’ replacement probably  hundreds. Reason versus force.  We just can’t kill an idea you know. You can’t use force either.  You may win but you can’t stay long.  You would gradually fall because it’s human nature to cling to that which is good. Solzhenitsyn’s Gulag  shows us how and why.  The only way you can defeat an idea is to change it with better idea.”
              “I bet it will work.  That is democracy at work here.  We just don’t know for instance that we have right here the answer to insurgency problem. For all we know the monkeys in hinterlands might have better ideas than us if not the best.  So you see how could we ever condone the importance of free market of ideas given the presence of sensitive issues like peace and order situation, land reform and what have you.”
              “And that’s where the real battle should start,” Taklin snapped.
              “And speaking who controls the nation‘s economy for instance. . . .”
              “Excellent kid.  That’s good for you.  I hope your tribe would increase later,” answered Capt. Estrada while taking his fourth shot of Gilbey’s gin.
              “You see the folly and infamy of man.  He is too assuming little God as if he has the answers to all  questions of this world. Oh I could probably stomach seeing them killing each other.  But I could not bear the sight of children mercilessly killed in the crossfire.  Rubbing them off of  their innocence, making the sun and the stars as mute witnesses to our follies.”
              “But isn’t it that we have Protocol I protecting innocent civilians with no less than our country  one of its signatory of that document in Geneva?”
              “But that is in paper only guys. All in war again you see is deception. As we clarified, truth becomes always its first casualty.  So where all this things leave us.?”
              “Square one.”
              “Right there guys.  If only we practice what we probably mean then by all means ours could be most peaceful place this part of the world. No children raised in sorrow, hunger, all children frolicking with joy the foam in ocean and sun as one song would put it.”
              “Then there would no economic sabotage; no killing. Try to imagine that is almost a Utopia.  It’s a shame that Filipinos are killing each other.”
              “Whatever happen to our religious faith?  That is another irony. We profess to be Christian but practice Devil’s teaching.  No wonder Gandhi one time remarks that he loves Christ but hates Christians. And he was right because we seem to be not practicing what we read professing the faith.”
“Thanks for the compliment. Unfortunately, my discourse is still far from over.  Lest you would be left groping in the dark. The other equally important dimension is the kind of war people would engage in normal circumstance. I’m not speaking of  brutality raising arms against the constituted authorities at the slightest  provocation and or making the people believe of the wrongdoings of the government – a mere mud-slinging and black propaganda, very cheap measure and far from reality, fiction as they would say it – war of order and decency I mentioned earlier.”
              “That is very crucial. That’s why we have the so-called peace and order to have it respected. If the people could not respect it, what do you think? That’s where the government comes in.”
              “That’s why we have people like Maj. Ludimer, me and the rest in RSM. If there would no people like us who will protect the people – by people I mean the government, don’t tell me we have to summon Uncle Sam to do it for us.  Most importantly, the intellectual dishonesty.”
              “These  are what the commies famous of.  Explaining the issues away using rhetoric.  Sounding like a song sang all over again, but we will defend.  That is what we in the Reformed The Society Movement stands  for.  And  we will do it to the last drop of our blood,” Capt. Estrada said leaving his young visitors stunned.
              “Did I scare you? . . .  a  bit or none at all. Oh common. It’s all in the mind you know. If ever there is one thing you would be afraid about, it is no other than your own fear itself.  But you can conquer that by first licking it yourselves. It’s all in the mind, you know.”
              “Excuse us Capt. but no.  Neither our enthusiasm was dampened by your bright  ideas nor our will subjugated by dangers implied joining your group.  Not yet, not now. Or  I might not be able to sustain the rigors of training in PMA,” one clarified with reservation.
              “Well just cross the bridge once we get there,” the other cleared facing reality without any illusion where it would lead them.
              “Great to have you around. Thanks indeed.  That means I have the passing mark for my lecture to you this evening.  My good friend Joe, Mr. Mirang would be happy learning this   development. So I do hope you could have your hands full when you are with us.  Thanks again indeed,” he said vowing his head as sign of respect and admiration to visitors.
              “And for the idealist, the extreme ones who are still dreaming of Utopia.  Damn for this people,” the host seemed to be carried away by the spirit of liquor commented.
              “Beware and don’t give all your trust to the commies. We owe nothing to this faceless individuals  feeding on the industry of others.”
              The group just glued himself to  Capt. Estrada who might be on his last treatise on the Commies.
              “And the people just love them  too anyway. Isn’t it is high time to clear the issue.  On the first place, these people are leftists, communists, pretenders, idealists. Come to think of these guys. Are they paying their taxes? Look, they should pay damages to the government from those sabotages they incurred. That on top of extortion. Excuse me that’s direct corruption in the highest level.”
              “Ergo, beware playing around with these people. They may be even your friends and relatives or direct members of your family. Know that they could even afford eating your palm not just foods offered to them, ” Capt. Estrada emphasized his voice getting slower and eyes directly fixing his gaze to Taklin.
              “Let’s go around Makati, the financial capital of the country as it seems it has the semblance of socialist RP,” he continued.
              “Makati’s experience is unique as mostly all of the basic needs of its residents are provided. Hospital and medicines, education and computer sets, recreation and other entertainments to its senior citizens, roses and cakes for newlyweds to burial expenses of its people. Name it and the government is there to provide all this basic necessities in life.”
“In sum, full  enjoyment from all basic necessities of life specifically food, clothing and shelter. And as the TV Ad further continues, “I wish all these privileges are enjoyed by all citizens throughout the country.” And so be it!
              The best TV Ad thus far articulated with all sincerity and honesty the services and privileges extended from Makati to its people endearing its officials to all people  addressed the very core of their existence – bread and butter -  returning to them their compliment with resounding “Yes” gauging from overwhelming mandate catapulting the diminutive Chief Executive Officer and sustaining his solid position as Chief Executive of  the City for many decades. Well said but whatever  happen to its status now. What is the political dynasty say of this?
              “They must increase the revenue first as precondition for the realization of that ambitious but  highly probable State of Socialist RP dream.  Or the vision would simply die its natural death remaining  a dream in TV only,“ he emphasized in succeeding  interview by Ted Failon of ABS-CBN.
              “Feasible. Yes and why not. But not when you compare the status of first class and highly urbanized Makati where their City Hall alone,  twenty eight story buildings tall with all amenities can afford subsidizing its population’s needs compared to an Internal Revenue Allotment subsisting municipalities with negligible income yet accruing from poor  tax collection and capital gain tax.”
“The President could even  hold  his office there should he wishes instead of Arlegui Mansion which is yet to be  exorcized away of  evil inhabiting the mansion for many decades.”
              “What more when you go down to some depressed provinces and municipalities buildings unfinished yet. Why and where have all the taxpayers money gone? Feudal system existing and people not giving damn to it is contributing factor. Leaving their fate to their masters  running the affairs of government, they would soon wake up shortchanged. Controlling and almost taking all the resources by concerned senseless local executives down to barangay government  leaving even no mechanism for check and balances until new set of elected officers take the reign of power perpetuates the vicious cycle of building their own municipal halls one after the other. Reason that there’s an unending construction of some Municipal Hall buildings in some areas. Noted of such glaring corrupt practice are those in Muslim provinces explaining repeated  emergence of graft and corruption. Explainable too that many of these provinces are featured as poorest among Philippine provinces.”
              “There ensued the problem. Socialized or collective  way of addressing the peoples’ concern  is simply doable. But that’s precisely the problem. Makati is Makati probably because its residents from different villages are merely waiting  its windfall trickling in.”
“That’s  Makati,” Capt. Estrada clarified, a smack right on the face of many Chief Executives in the local offices because of their inability in providing basic social services because of  the lack of resources.
              “Unless the system is already in place with resources free-flowing from revenue collection sustaining like lifeblood securing the basic services for the people, there could only be one Makati.”
              “Where then would we draw the line?” Taklin ventured raising the question.
              "Back to basics, to the villages itself where the real action is. The village is truly where our home is. Unknown to man and we should this, it is considered a small republic complete with three seat of power from legislative, judiciary and administrative rolled into one exercised by Village Captain as Chairman.”
              “When all its resources are tapped it will be more than enough addressing the basic services for its people. With clear-cut Village Development Plan collectively formulated with utmost participation of its people increasing its revenue not just relying on national government’s IRA, everything is simply possible.  That’s the real Makati. Go back to it if you lost your way because where your heart is, there’s your happiness also.”
               “I know some countries carrying the load  and enjoying the burden of its people providing them all amenities and handsome salary and benefits  among its employees to boot. Taiwan for instance answer its people needs from head to foot through association. Similarly, oil rich countries of Middle East dish out regular share of allowance  to its people from the profits derived from   oil.  The rest maximizing its basic services, tie up with other rich municipalities abroad through sisterhood pact and complimentarily introduce technology and or implement infrastructure projects benefiting the majority.”
              “Ergo, socialist RP? Hello there! Yes but only in Makati unless you revolutionize the system starting from its base, the villages,  all the way up carrying  the load  of your people. Yes we can and better they should  be. That’s what they were voted for in office in the first place.”
. . . . . . . . . . . .

              Reeling from last night’s initial bout with Capt. Estrada, Taklin took his shower to clear his head from hangover. What a night it has been? Taklin thought still trapped by the wisdom of his lost last night. Sipping his coffee downstairs, he feels he is in dire need of rest.  Hurriedly, he went upstairs after breakfast. On his bed, he tried sorting out inputs learned putting them in proper perspective. Capt Estrada’s mention of war zones where the real battle is continue licking his thought providing direct  contrast to his ambition.  Like devil’s advocate, it makes him uncomfortable.
              “You still have enough time to decide  for yourself whether  you have to proceed or  withdraw,” says his alter ego.
               It’s an easy trap to fall into and difficult to get rid from. So far he believes his aim in life is legitimate as all are. No illusion there or he would fail, he reminded himself.
               The thought of Capt. Estrada and Col.. Ludimer provided  him the inspiration.  Few more minutes, he was snoring soundly carried away by the beauty of last night’s  meeting with Capt. Estrada.
              Outside the sun  gradually cleared the dews atop pine trees. Its rays penetrating minute cylindrical liquid before they slip down dropping to the ground provided reflection creating rainbows at the background. What a  beautiful scene to behold  as countless liquid crystals balls glistening from the reflection of the sun ushered dawn of new day.
. . . . . . . . . . . . .

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