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The Escape from Kadlagan
Ramboy thought it was just a dream...
Ramboy holds his breath as shuffling feet of men hurried into the opposite direction. He feel into a shallow ravine, hidden by shrubs. The big guy who searched with flashlight luckily missed his spot.
A muffled cry seemed to escape from his young lips. He still don't know what happened to his parents and three siblings.
It's like a very bad dream, a nightmare that plagued the whole village as the people retired in their homes for the expected peaceful sleep.
Just in the nick of time, he was able to escape when his father threw him out of the window before he heard a loud boom, destroying their nipa hut.
He rolled into the slope down to a clearing where he struggled on his little feet as his eyes adjusted to the dark, moonless night while the surroundings were filled with anguish, children crying and deafening gun shots.
BANG! BANG! BANG!
From his location, he saw a blistering fire consuming the whole village. The acrid smell of smoke is now consuming the clearing. He had to run.
RUN! JUST KEEP ON RUNNING!
He still can hear the voice of his father as it reverberated in his ears. Amid the muffled cry and aching feet, Amboy's little body seemed by to carried away by Unseen Hands or maybe some angels are helping him to just keep going.
He have to make it to the road. It's still very dark. No sounds of nocturnal animals, birds, bats and insects can be heard. It's only his own shallow breathing that he can hear.
He had to cross the rice fields. The newly-planted young stalks of rice are now an array of uprooted plants dumped by his flailing hands to hold on to something to maintain his balance.
YOU MUST MAKE IT TO THE TOWN! RIDE THE EARLY JEEPNEY AND BEG TO CARRY YOU TO THE CITY.
His mother, in between the crying and look of terror from her eyes, Ramboy still cannot understand what was happening.
He's just an ordinary boy who wants to play with his younger brother and two elder sisters.
They're just a simple family in the village of rice, abaca and coconut farmers. They were closely-knit villagers, helping one another to make things end meet whenever crises arise.
WHERE THE HELL IS THAT KID!!!!
A cacophony of voices from armed men awoke his momentary reverie while sinking his little body on the muddy farm. Not making any sound but his breathing and shuffling arms and feet on a shallow water crawling.
He already composed his mind to escape of head on the road. Still he had to cross the brook separating another farm beside the mountain.
He prayed no man is guarding the most accessible way to pass that body of water.
NO ONE SHOULD ESCAPE THE VILLAGE. WE'LL PAY FOR THAT MISTAKE TO OUR BOSS.
Why? He asked himself. Why did they killed my parents, my sisters, my brother and the rest of the villagers. What was our mistakes, our sins?
He bolted into a sprint after he crossed the brook. The voice of his father seemed to guide him on the right path.
STAY SAFE HONEY. TRUST IN GOD.
His mother. ..he cried more while running fast blindly until he stumbled on a shallow ditch. He get up quickly then continue running on the big rice paddies beside the irrigation canal.
Then, a flash of light caught him.
THERE THE BOY!!! SHOOT HIM!
A deafening shot hit him on his left arm, toppling him down the irrigation canal. His cry of hurt and fear muffled as his head bobbed down on the murky waters.
He struggled to get up, until an iron hand tagged and hold his right foot. He resisted but a big hand covered his mouth preventing his protesting scream.
Until he lost consciousness...voices of men vanishing while Amboy was carried into a peaceful sleep.
Away from the KADLAGAN. Away from the forest.
Before it happens...
A woman came to the village when people are having their siesta. It was around one o'clock in the afternoon. She was escorted by two policemen who are maintaining their duties at the local station of the town.
She immediately headed and seek for the old man, the leader of the village.
Amboy's fellow villagers are a diminishing race of the early Filipino ancestors. They just till the land where the local government permitted them to use.
Some town people who don't belong to their tribe, also shared that piece of land who happened to be owned by the family of the woman who's not staying in the United States of America.
When the woman and the two police enforcer left, most of the parents were called by Apong Luan and rephrase the message.
"We must leave the place, she said. The police and the woman showed a land certificate declaring his ownership of this land."
The statement was received with protest by the villagers.
"Where will we go? I cannot think of any place, better than this!"
"We will be forced to vacate this place because we don't own this place."
"Better be ready when the time of eviction comes. We only have one month to do it!"
"We should seek the advise of our mayor. I'm sure they'll consider our request of extension, if we still cannot find a place to settle into."
"What about our children? Where will the continue their studies?"
"Farming is my only way of living. I shall miss this fertile land."
"I thought, the parents of that woman already donated it to the local government for us to settle into."
The old leader, settled the disputes promising to talk with the local legislators regarding the matter.
But to no avail.
A month after, the woman with the same two policemen, visited the place again. And with a megaphone, she ordered the villagers to vacate the place, showing the order from the court, giving her the approval to dispose the people. A cunning smile was pasted on her lips.
The mayor also gave his order, agreeing with the statement of the woman. They didn't agree with the people's bargaining agreement for extension of stay in the village as the harvest season for the corn crops is nearing.
Some even have planted new seedlings at the rice fields. It will take another three months to harvest it.
The woman never showed her irritation, but there's a very dark plan in her mind. She just kept it with herself.
Life in the village continued with the usual chores of tending the fields, harvesting the abaca hemp that the villagers propagated and some coconut trees they planted.
Until that fateful night, after a week of the woman's visit.
A night they will never forget...
The local media of the town immediately sought the blotter's report about what happened in the village of Kadlagan.
No one, even the police seemed interested to talk about what happened. A lot of speculation circled other counties of the town.
The woman was nowhere to be seen. They said that she heeded back to the US before the tragic event happened.
Police-on-duty prevented the media men from looking into the report.
Media men, accompanied with the police visited the village of burnt houses and dead people. Only some tended animals survived, like carabaos, goats, cows, chicken and turkey. Dogs howled and cats hissed at the strangers.
The mayor kept his mouth shut and blamed the local communist group as responsible for the massacre.
And the boy, no one knows where Ramboy is now.
But one thing for sure, he is still picking the pieces of his shattered life and try living like a normal person. Unless, he is still having nightmares regarding that very frightening night.
No one wants to talk about it.
Even this hubber, was cautioned by the informant to be cautious retelling the gist of the event.
The people from adjacent village said that the place is now haunted. Even animals, night creatures are evading it. The place is replaced by thick overgrown grasses, vines and trees that isolate the village from the rest of the town.
During the moonless nights, residents of adjacent village heard voices of anguish that emanated from the heart of that abandoned place. Some even said that they saw ghosts of the villagers crying for help.
The woman never came back. The two policemen were reassigned.
The informant said that rebels made them pay at their kangaroo court in the mountains.
Ramboy is the missing link. If only I could talk to him.
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