By Mortz C. Ortigoza
The first time I saw my military father ready to die for the motherland or probably for my mother, I was in Grade 5 in M’lang, Cotabato Province.
He was then on a soldier’s pass when he brought me and my kindergarten brother Gabriel to a rickety worn out wood walled barbershop I still remembered owned by the father of my playmates Stephen and Toto Felipe.
The latter, a rugged boy, had fisticuffs with me, but that’s another story.
When we were seating at the worned-out couch of the barber chairs, elevated by small wood boxes to raise our heads, some peasant women running and shouting with their lungs out that the Black Shirts (precursor of the Moro National Liberation Front) were already at the periphery of the Peñaranda Hospital.
The hospital was more than a kilometer away from us.
Immediately my father told the frail looking barber Mr.Felipe to forego our military white styled wall haircut (that I detested because I envied the mop haired Beatles) because he had to secure us and promised to return with his weapon and later with us whose side of the heads were already shaved just like those plebes at the Philippine Military Academy where I and my sibling were born.
When we were at our salunggi (flat bamboo trunk panels) walled and nipa roofed house near the bank of the Mlang River in front of our school Southern Baptist College, I saw my father rushing from his room and running toward the hospital with two hand grenades firmly clasped by his hands that were Vietnam and Word War II vintages.
“Don’t follow me or else I will "palo' (spank)" you!” he shouted at me as I followed him running.
I stopped for five minutes mimicking to acquise on his order but I ran again to where he was going.
I want to see how he would throw those “frags” and how those Muslim rebels would shout like “fags” and explode to smithereens just like those Japanese soldiers I saw at the Sulo and Paraiso movie houses in the town.
Near the barbershop, I saw my father exasperated and embarrassed with amused matured men and my relative Alex Paulo, who was in Grade 5 then who later turned as ladies’ man, milling around him and looking curiously at his green and rusty colored grenades he held in his hands.
“No, there were no Muslims. They did not attack the hospital but the next town Tulunan,” the long haired father of Alex, who was an RCPI Man, told him in the singsong Ilonggo vernacular.
|My father (left) poses in front of the U.S Army's P.X or Post Exchange.|
He bought his first Japanese made black and white Samoka Camera.
At the background were native American Indians who soldiered on as part
of their sworn duty to their Mother Land.
But despite that “Radio Puwak (False News, just like the Fake News online), I just realized lately that my father, a Korean War Veteran, was gungho.
With all his reckless bravery, I just realized lately that he could be mowed by the assault rifles of the bad guys as he attempted, son of a gun, to throw those grenades to them.
Where could you find a grenade man rushing to a company of armed trigger happy warriors ready with their rifles’ World War 1 Springfield and World War 2 Garand and Thomson Sub Machine Guns.
But my father’s courage could shame the anecdote of a police general who told us media men, over bottles of beer, in Pangasinan about his exploit, when he was a captain, with armed communist rebels in the Quezon Province.
He told us that when a police substation were peppered by bullets by the New People Army and killed those cops assigned there, somebody frantically flagged his owner-type jeep.
His driver immediately revved the jeep for 100 kilometers per hour (KPH) speed so they could catch and shot those rebels.
But the captain, a graduate of the elite Philippine Military Academy, was not amused by the bravado of the sergeant.
“I chided him. I told my driver to drive 40 KPH.
When the driver posed why 40 and not 100 where the latter speed could overtake the rebels on their dilapidated jeep, the captain explained to him:
“The 100 KPH would surely make us catch them. But we would surely die there because we are two and they are superior in number”.
"Do you want to die?" he barked at his sergeant.
“No sir!,”the sergeant shouted back and saluted, that nearly made the jeep bumped a huge acacia tree, with gratitude and with a new found wisdom called “common sense”.
(You can read my selected columns at http://mortzortigoza.blogspot.com and articles at Pangasinan News Aro. You can send comments too at firstname.lastname@example.org)