Once aloft a time, in the aboriginal 2000s, I helped some bounded government units (LGUs) in Samar and Leyte ambit adapt their Land Use Plans or achievability studies for assorted projects that at the time benefitted banking abutment from the civic government.
One night-time in an altitude barangay (Cabang, Hinabangan, Samar), I begin myself getting “interviewed” by three New People’s Army (NPA) combatants. I told them I was allowance the LGU adapt its CLUP and bare to allocution to humans in the community. They said they knew what I was accomplishing and they knew the dates if I was accepted to be in a accurate barangay. They added told me that they already saw me the day before, in addition barangay. This afraid me because except for the acreage plan action plan I submitted to the LGU, it would accept been accidental for anyone to apperceive my itinerary.
(My consequence from this and agnate adventures is that, like the US and added superpowers that abet wars in abject countries to addition their abridgement from auction of weapons, blood-soaked clashes amid the insurgents and government armament appear abandoned because of miscommunication or mis-encounter, because one usually knew the abode of the other. The consequence was buttressed added by letters during the Arroyo administering that the aggressive was affairs ammunition to Muslim agitator and antipathetic rebels.)
The NPA in Cabang fabricated me accept that government armament were sending “spies” application assorted covers, and they capital to check. They were heavily armed, and the accent they acclimated was appropriately abundant with hints of “or else” threat.
One of the three aswell approved to betoken that as a government-paid “Consultant”, I was beneath obligation to pay tax. I abject the angle bound by “digressing” about how my beasts aching from the backpack (3 hours over a ambit of 11 kilometers), answer added that I could not allow the habal-habal because I had yet to get paid.
I apparently had no abstraction of how austere the amount of advocate taxation was. The next day on my way aback to the Poblacion, I met humans who could not adumbrate their anemic faces on audition some of my baby talk, and on alive that I was alone. Some did actively admonish me not to be too daring.
The NPA aswell arrive me to appear their affair with the humans in the barangay, which followed appropriate afterwards my interrogation. I obliged. I could not anamnesis now if I acquiesced in to the allurement out of abhorrence or curiosity, or both.
The NPA told the association associates that “higher authorities” had imposed a action that aimed to end the affairs of logs cut from the backwoods areas of Hinabangan and the adjacent boondocks of Calbiga. The angry and about agitated acknowledgment from the humans abashed me (quite literally: one association affiliate affective the mike from the moderator, who was one of the three NPAs). If the NPA is a agitator organization, as some accept it is, why are these barangay association anarchic them (albeit in a chat setting)?
At that time, abutting to 70 percent of assets by households in Cabang and at atomic three adjoining barangays was acquired from timber-based (mostly semi-processed) products. “If absolutely your mission is to advance the abundance of the poor, why are you demography our alimentation from us?” a middle-aged woman angrily asked.
The affair concluded with the NPA advising the humans to accession their apropos with “higher authorities.”
A brace of years after I abutting addition government activity that affianced communities in all stages of a development process–from discussions on accepted problems, identification of solutions, to accomplishing of projects until their acknowledged operation and maintenance.
Together with associates of a team, I afresh had the befalling of visiting hard-to-reach barangays, such as those in Balangiga, Eastern Samar, and Sta. Rita, Western Samar. In Maybunga and Guinmaayohan, altitude barangays of Balangiga, I declared in an beforehand column snippets of how humans in these areas live:
“Hiking and a motorcycle ride brought one from Maybunga to Poblacion, and back. While families were almost arrogant in food, they bare salt, kerosene, soap and added “luxuries” in life. To acquire banknote and accommodated those needs, they awash the accepted acreage crops (banana, cassava, camote, etc.) at the Poblacion. For every 150 pesos account of deliveries, they spent 100 pesos on the motorcycle ride. For the uninitiated, the added demanding allotment was in fact the backpack on a aerial area from Maybunga to Guinmaayohan, the next after barangay, and from area they took the motorcycle ride to the Poblacion. They could action me 5,000 pesos to yield the expedition with a sack of gabi on my back, and I would debris it on the spot.
“Maybunga acclimated to be a advancing community. Afore getting down to 35 in 2003, the barangay consisted of at atomic 250 families in the aboriginal 1980s. Aggressive abuses during aggressive law, and the altitude they created that gave acceleration to insurgency, led to baleful clashes that prompted massive displacement in the countryside. At one time the citizenry of autogenous municipalities in Samar decreased by some 90 percent.
“In 1984, aggressive and insubordinate armament clashed in Maybunga, banishment its association to abscond for safety. Many of them begin ambush as internally displaced bodies (IDPs) at the borough building. For years Maybunga had aught population. In 2003, some of its barangay admiral still had their official residences in Guinmaayohan.
“Having lived in Balangiga for a few years, I abstruse that some of its IDPs during the Aggressive Law years eventually resettled in Tacloban City. Others went to Cebu and Manila. Today, I acquisition it harder not to anticipate of the IDPs if I see hole areas–and of humans active beneath bridges and in the streets–in the big cities.
“Most of the Yolanda casualties in Tacloban lived abutting to the sea. These locations are generally declared as top accident areas, but for the IDPs and their affectionate there are hardly any added abode area they can allow to ad-lib and achieve in. A contempo United Nations abstraction says that violence, conflict, accustomed hazards and abjection are the key drivers of displacement to and aural burghal areas.
“Many of those who survived Yolanda accept in fact been IDPs for the additional time. First as victims of armed battle and poverty, as migrants from Maybunga would show. Additional as victim of a acute adversity that was as absolute in its confusion as Yolanda.”
The Punong Barangay in Guinmaayohan at the time was Mana Maureen Escalo. I bethink the times she showed us pieces of burst cardboard in which “friendly” reminders from the NPA were written. We were implementing government projects (in ample allotment adjourned by a World Bank loan) and the insurgents were allurement for their share. There was no way Mana Maureen could admission such requests, but she and added barangay admiral remained in speaking agreement with the NPA.
Then and now, abnormally in poor villages like Guinmaayohan and elsewhere, every accomplishment by parents to forward their accouchement to academy consistently assumes ballsy proportions. One of Mana Maureen’s sons, Jessie Escalo, was at the time acceptance Criminology in one of Tacloban City’s clandestine colleges, with an eye of acceptable a policeman someday. I did not apperceive that adolescent ancestors would chase him.
And so one can brainstorm how appreciative the parents of Jessie Escalo and Julie Escalo could be, seeing them affected huge humps to eventually accomplish and become full-pledged law enforcers.
But PO1 Julie Escalo did not reside continued abundant to appearance even greater success in his called field. He was almost starting to body a ancestors of his own; it was above acceptance that his life, forth with those of 6 adolescent troopers, could end this way too soon. This accomplished son of Guinmaayohan asleep in a cool appointment with adolescent government armament in Sta. Rita, Samar, on 25 June 2018.
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