The men wore black arm bands and the women were adorned in black veils denoting the grief and sadness they were harboring in their hearts.
” Naapon katna e tago e nangwa adte amin eh mambalo .” (Nobody can ever equal the noble thing he did for us.)
” Kabuniyan, sika pay de mangala kan siya.” ( God, we entrust him to you.)
Just then, a sizzle of lightning, lighted up the sky and the sonorous sound of thunder rumbled as the drizzle began to increase in intensity – even the sky was grieving.
The women wailed and chanted their cries of grief. ” Aiieeeee…”
Julia’s pale, stony face stood out amidst the group of women .
In the city, the newspapers screamed the headlines , ” NPA Rebel Leader Ka Benny Lomiwan Captured.”
The article was extremely brief for a supposedly enormous triumph of the governent’s campaign against insurgency. The article described how Benny was seriously wounded and captured in a skirmish between the army and the rebels.
People who read the article were skeptcial, especially that the article was accompanied by a picture of a bloodied man who was hardly recognizable and most especially that it was from the government .
The advent of Martial Law heralded the “news blackout”. The few enterprising, TV , radio and print media were tightly controlled by the government – even those pirvately owned. Freedom of speech was no longer a basic right. If someone spoke against the government, then he is a rebel. A curfew was in place from 12 midnight to 5 am. People caught outside during these hours were herded off to jail. Control through military might – that was how the whole machinism of Martial Law successfully worked.
There was no longer any news about Benny, the succeeding days. Freelance journalists tried to dig up the rest of the story but the “government” was silent and the courageous ones who stubbornly persisted in searching for the truth were branded pro communist and incarcerated.
From then on, people refrained from expressing their genuine, anti -government sentiments. Life was peaceful, as long as you have convinced the government you don’t belong to the other side of the fence.
Photo: By Larry and Linda
He was sitting in a small clearing at the highest peak of the mountain. He had always basked in the beauty of nature- the forest wind on his face, the raindrops pelting his fatigued body, the dip in the cool, refreshing springs; and just watching that awesome “painting” being unfolded infront of his very eyes had given him a renewed hope that in the end, the good will triumph and that everything will eventually fall into their designated places.
(TO BE CONTINUED)